IF TO BE British is to cherish understatement, DragWorld is essentially the most treasonous gathering for the reason that Gunpowder Plot. Tread the pink carpet at London’s Olympia conference corridor and your eyes are drawn to both a 10ft-tall silver stiletto or a well-chiselled man in nothing however multicoloured pants and striped socks. Donna Trump, Poppycock and Rococo Chanel work the gang. Punters hunt for gold amongst stalls hawking faux eyelashes, fishnet tights and wigs in outrageous shades of yellow, purple and pink.
There’s, after all, nothing new about males in tights. In his ebook “Queer Metropolis: Homosexual London from the Romans to the current day”, Peter Ackroyd likens 18th-century “mollies” to present-day drag queens. For a lot of the 20th century, drag acts had been a mainstay of homosexual bars and golf equipment. However the crowds flocking to DragWorld display how an underground pastime has damaged into the cultural mainstream. This yr greater than 10,000 folks confirmed as much as the two-day occasion, now in its third yr. The BBC will broadcast a British model of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, an American expertise contest, in October. And a choose from the American present will compete within the newest sequence of “Strictly Come Dancing”, one of many company’s greatest hits.
Most of the new followers are straight ladies. Nathan Stone of the MJR Group, which organises the occasion in addition to excursions for drag acts, reckons a bit below two-thirds of audiences are ladies aged 16-21. “It isn’t only for outdated homosexual queens anymore,” says a stallholder, who says he flogs as a lot of his glittery clothes to ladies as males. “We’ve simply had somebody purchase one as a marriage gown.”
Maybe surprisingly, ladies appear eager to take make-up ideas from the queens. One such fan, queuing for a £17 ($21) meet-and-greet session, confesses to copying a few of their seems, albeit in a toned-down approach. The wonder trade was fast to identify the market’s potential. Fairly Polly, a tights model, and Lush, a cosmetics agency, have stands on the present. “In the event you take a look at the queens, we might study one thing from them,” says Joanne Etherson of Sally Magnificence, which sells hair merchandise and sponsors the present. “The hair color, the flamboyance. It’s the acute of every part we have a good time.”
Others are attracted by the broad array of physique sizes and style types on present. The conference presents a much less restrictive thought of what it means to be a girl than do shiny style magazines, argues Mr Stone. A barrister’s clerk, who has donned silver sequined trousers and a vibrant pink prime for the day, says she appreciates the liberty to put on no matter she likes with out judgment.
Homosexual males largely welcome drag’s newfound recognition. One, who’s gathering queens’ autographs in a notepad that booms “OMG u okay hun?”, reckons it exhibits society has moved from tolerating homosexual tradition to embracing it. Brad Williams, who sells faux eyelashes together with his enterprise and romantic accomplice, agrees. “Earlier than it was: ‘Right here’s a cookie cutter. Slot in’,” he says. “Now to slot in you nearly should be totally different.”■