“As soon as I finish my make-up and put my wig on… bang! She’s there. The bitch has arrived”
Cleoncé, Drag Queen

From drag troupe DENIM performing at Mario Testino’s birthday party, to cult club night Sink the Pink hosting parties all over London, drag culture and its audience is growing fast. In London, influential drag performers such as Jonny Woo and Jodie Harsh continue to reign, while across the pond, the popular American TV show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ has brought drag to mainstream audiences.

The exact origins of the term “drag queen” are debated, but “drag” is generally considered to hail back to 19th century theatre slang, referring to men dressing in women’s clothing. Aesthetically, exaggeration is key: elaborate costumes, contouring and synthetic hairpieces are a staple. But while drag culture champions fun and frivolity, the ethos at its core is one of respect, inclusivity and freedom of expression.

INFRINGE meets three London drag queens to talk inspiration, liberation and what drag means to them.

drags

Gley aka Gleymourpuss


Occupation: Designer for a modelling agency
Drag Queen for: Twenty years

“I consider it a liberation, moving away from normal life”
Gleymourpuss
GLEY_047_EML
Gley aka Gleymourpuss
Gleymourpuss drag queen

How did you get into drag?
Growing up in Brazil, whenever my mum went out, I would run into her room and practice doing my make-up. I thought it was fascinating. Once I started doing a bit of theatre, this enhanced it even more, the fun of doing drag.

What does being a drag queen mean to you?
I consider it a liberation, moving away from normal life and becoming this. When I’m not in drag I’m shy and reserved, but when I’m Gleymourpuss I’m really outgoing.

You’ve been doing drag for twenty years. How much has the culture changed?
When I first started it was still a bit of a new thing, especially in Brazil. Now when I go back there they’re far more accepting. In London it’s always been great, but it’s got even better. I used to work as a professional drag queen now and then, but now I receive requests all the time. People want me to host and perform more than ever before.

What is a question that people don’t ask but you would like them to?
‘Are you happy?’ When you ask someone if they’re happy, it means a lot. My answer is ‘yes’. We all go through difficulties in life, but overall its what you make of it.

Gleymourpuss Drag

Ruben Jean aka Miss Fit


Occupation: Fashion Stylist, Performer, Dancer 
Drag Queen for: six months

“I’ve met some really interesting people who fought for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the 80s, who’ve been part of drag and trans history”
Miss Fit
Miss Fit Drag
Ruben Jean aka Miss Fit

How long have you been a drag queen?
Six months! I’m a baby drag.

Do you see drag primarily as a job?
It’s so much more than that. I see it as something really interesting and joyful. It makes me think: what do I want to express today? As a stylist, I love the aesthetic. You don’t have to look like a woman, just do what you want. You can mix things together and create a story for a few hours… for me this is a new kind of art.

What is the relationship between you, as Ruben, and as Miss Fit? Does one influence the other?
Miss Fit does what she wants, Ruben doesn’t have any control over her. And what Ruben can’t do, Miss Fit can. I’d say Miss Fit is my liberation. If she wants to do something crazy she’s free to do it. She’s an independent woman! It’s like a kind of therapy, I think I know myself more since Miss Fit came along!

Miss Fit drag
Ruben in drag

How would you sum up the drag culture in three words?
Limitless
Miss-Fit
Hopeful

Why hopeful?
Since doing drag I’ve met some really interesting people who fought for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the 80s – people who were part of drag and trans history. I’ve realized that it opens people’s minds.

What question would you like someone to ask you?
 ‘Would you give up on Miss Fit one day’? My answer would be ‘no’. I grew up in a very Catholic culture and was always stereotyped. Look at me now, I’m a drag queen, wearing more make-up than my mum.

Ruben in drag

Cleo aka Cleoncé


Occupation: Make-up Artist and Dance Teacher
Drag Queen for: ten years

“Learn from the best, learn from Madonna. She was the one to open the door for all these queens”
Cleoncé
cleoncé drag
Cleo aka Cleoncé

How would you describe drag culture?
A lot of people think that it’s just about putting on a wig and women’s clothes, but there’s far more to it. You have to be very friendly, open and bubbly, there’s no point in being a serious drag. It’s about having a good time, making people laugh, always treating people with respect.

Tell us about Cleoncé, your drag persona.
As Cleoncé, I’m not the same as Cleo. It’s definitely a persona, as soon as I finish my make-up and put my wig on; bang! She’s there. The bitch has arrived! It’s a huge transformation.

cleoncé drag

Where do you get your inspiration for your looks?
When I’m creating costumes and looks, I’ll look at celebrities, magazines, videos… I like Lady Gaga, and of course I’m not going to look like her, but I’ll take elements of her look and put something new together.

So would you say Lady Gaga is an inspiration?
Oh NO! Beyonce! That’s why my name is Cleoncé! She’s my girl. She’s so fierce.

What about older generations, like Madonna?
Madonna will always be the queen. Learn from the best, learn from Madonna. She was the one to open the door for all these queens.

Cleoncé in drag
Credits

Interviews Emma de Clercq
Images Panos Damaskinidis
Video Antonio Celotto
Special Thanks Cleoncé, Gleymourpuss, Miss Fit

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