Drag queen is a concept that some know very well and others very superficially or even not at all. However, it is a search with which it is worth becoming familiar, if only for reasons of tolerance and knowledge of a unique art. Who are drag queens and what is the purpose of their performances? What adversities do they face on a daily basis? In an interview with GentleWoman Poland – Mariolkaa Rebell.
Table of Contents:
- Who is a Drag Queen?
- The art of image
- Makeup inspiration from Drag Queen
- Drag activism
- Tolerance and artistic aspects
- One person, two personalities?
- Mariolkaa Rebell and her work history
- Drawing what is most beautiful
Who is a Drag Queen?
The phrase drag queen itself originated in English, but its exact origins leave many inaccuracies. Drag is a woman’s clothing worn by a man or a man’s clothing worn by a woman. Queen, on the other hand, means queen. The very word “drag” from English also means to pull. It has to do with the dresses that dragged on the ground. There is also talk of an abbreviation derived from the phrase Dress Resembling A Gril, meaning “dressed like a girl.”
The term is currently being used to describe male persons playing female characters. Many people mistakenly claim to be homosexual or transgender. This form of artistry, however, has no gender rules. Drag queens create their image in a feminine but exaggerated way. All this for the sake of performance, to entertain the audience. They wear specific, strong makeup, controversial outfits and even stilettos that are several tens of centimeters high! Women who play male roles, on the other hand, are called Drag King.
The art of image
Drag queen is not just about putting on an artistic outfit and adjusting the makeup to match. Their image is created through their names, the style of running their shows and now social media. There are four basic images of drag queens.
- The queen of the grotesque, who brings satire to life with her behavior and appearance
- The queen of parody, who often resembles famous Hollywood figures such as Britney Sprears, Dolly Parton and Madonna
- A beauty queen who resembles to the maximum the appearance of women participating in beauty contests
- The queen of postmodernism, which is what we can most often meet at various parties and events. This is a person who creates his own script of speeches, which for the audience are unexpected and often have many turning points.
In addition to taking the right path for you, you should also choose a stage name. Here, too, several options arise.
- Satirical, which is based on wordplay
- Extravagant, which are often chosen by the queens of the grotesque. These types of names are meant to emphasize the glamour
- Female variant of the male name
- Name borrowed from famous figures
Interestingly, there are also special websites called drag name generators. These sites have no copyright on the names in question and do not assure that each of their proposed names is free for use. However, the sheer possibility of being inspired by them is unique.
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Makeup inspiration from Drag Queen
Current makeup trends also love the art of drag. Contouring the face, the popular baking or perfectly gluing false eyelashes are secrets taken from drag queens. Currently, we can find a great number of channels on the Youtube platform run by drag queen makeup artists and makeup artists. There they show not only the steps that make it easier to create makeup, but also techniques to keep it longer, look perfect and create the right illusion on the face. After all, who else would know better than the people who regularly, successfully, change their image?
Drag queen performances are designed to evoke emotions in the viewer. Hence the strong makeup, exaggerated outfits, high-heeled shoes and a lot of controversy in prepared speeches. Styling is often associated with kitsch, mainly to emphasize and highlight the stereotypical view of the sexes. Drag queen performance can be very elaborate.
The combination of dancing, singing, acting out scenes of parody, drama or satire, and conducting monologues is a performance worth watching and appreciating. This type of performance can be seen in Poland mainly in gay-friendly clubs and dedicated LGBTQ clubs. Also worth noting is the American reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race, tasked with searching for America’s next drag superstar. The show’s host and juror is RuPaul, known as a drag queen, actor, songwriter and singer. One of the most colorful and recognizable drag queens.
Drag performances can also be seen as a form of activism. Scenic clothes, makeup and sequins are not everything. The art of the drag queen is also the manifestation of her self, her views and beliefs. During major political turmoil, the dragnets are among the first to touch on this topic. Doing it in various ways – hilarious, serious, satirical – they express what is in their heads and hearts. With their speeches, they convince the public to spread tolerant views and that a world full of respect for others is a world that is colorful, warm and full of smiles.
However, knowing the rules of the world of activism, we know that it can be brutal. This was also the case with Mariolka Rebell, a well-known drag queen who performs in LGBTQ clubs across Poland. In 2019, after one of her appearances at Mr. Gay Poland 2019, Mariolkaa Rebell stood trial. She was charged with public incitement to commit a crime, incitement to hatred based on religious differences and insult based on religious affiliation. The court case went on for four years, until the court finally acquitted Mariolka. According to the court, the evidence gathered was not sufficient and did not support the contents of the accusation. The judge also pointed out that a court in criminal proceedings cannot act as an art reviewer.
Although the court case was an extremely difficult time in Mariolka’s life, as an artist and activist she has learned her lesson and continues to meticulously fulfill her mission. “I understand that the performance took a shape that exceeded the limits of self-expression. I took all the comments I received to heart,” says the drag queen. After winning the trial, she published a statement on her Instagram “(…) I am a drag queen and I am proud of it. Because it is a centuries-old art form that is both my passion and my profession.”
Tolerance and artistic aspects
Although drag queen art has been around for many, many years, one often encounters a lack of tolerance for such a message of artistry. The public often hurls triggers at drag queens. Freak, clown, alien are some of the lamest insults heard. However, that doesn’t make them give up their lifestyle. “What I like most is the contact with the audience. I love people and unplanned actions! It happens that someone throws some text in my direction, but I immediately have a retort, even though he does not prepare anything beforehand!” – says Mariolkaa Rebell in an interview with GentleWoman Poland.
The drag queen, as well as the entire LGBT+ community, has to face not only social opinion, but also family. Popularly known as coming out (the process of self-disclosure in front of other people such as family, friends, acquaintances or co-workers, of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or views specific to a minority of society) is one of the most stressful and most difficult moments.
“I haven’t experienced family displacement. My mother is very supportive of me. She comes to my performances, buys me gifts related to them, for example, a wig or a palette! I’m sorry that not everyone has that. Some people doing coming out know that they will lose their family.” – confesses Mariolka.
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One person, two personalities?
It may seem that to impersonate a character on stage is to create a completely different, new identity. Many times this is exactly what happens. For many drag queens, it is a certain form of therapy, entertainment and life. Mariolkaa Rebell, however, did not opt for such a drastic separation of personalities. In the interview, Mariolka alternately used the masculine and feminine varieties. Asking which form she preferred, she decided that it just depended on the convenience of the caller.
“Friends and acquaintances call me Mariolka, because everyone has already gotten used to it. Even new people mostly address me this way. On the other hand, when I’m at work or in a meeting for an event, of course I’m Marek.” Asked what the difference is between Mariolka and Marek, she replies: “Mariolka is more daring. When I am already embodied the character of Mariolka 100 percent, that is, I have the wig on, the make-up, the whole costume then I am more daring and can do more things than as Marek. In fact, the only major difference between Mariolka and Marek is that Mariolka is asexual and Marek is not!”
Mariolkaa Rebell and her work history
“I have been a drag queen for 4 years, full time! I ascend all the time. I previously worked as a children’s entertainer. I treat drag performances as animation for adults, because they are such big kids. I would impersonate some character, such as: Peter Pan, Pirate, Mickey Mouse or Mini Mouse and entertained the children, the same is true for adults at the party. It’s only easier with adults because adults can drink alcohol!”
Mariolka is an event manager for LGBTQ clubs, allowing her to perform regularly and manage the clubs. Initially, she performed in Poznan, Poland, on her own stage, which opened the way to her career.
Drawing out what is most beautiful
Fulfilling one’s passions, searching for love, finding fulfillment where others have not, has never been one of the easiest tasks. Years ago, women were burned at the stake, claiming they were witches, simply because they had different knowledge from the rest. Socrates was sentenced to death for his views. Where would society be now if we simply listened to each other and supported each other? They respected the uniqueness of each person, admired art, and were empathetic. We may find out in the future.
As Mariolkaa Rebell said in an interview with GentleWoman Poland, “After all, the most important thing is love. It doesn’t matter what it is, because love is one! It is love for one’s neighbor.”