The Stanford Dragfest

From the Stanford Events Calendar for 5/20: at 7 p.m. on Wilbur Field:

(#1) The poster

The announcement:

Dragfest: Drag Show + Lip Sync Competition

This season’s extraordinary competitors in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14: BOSCO + DEJA SKYE as our amazing emcee’s for the show.

The fierce and glam stylings of the STANFORD DRAG TROUPE [AZ: undergraduate drag troupe of a more or less traditional variety, with guy performers, for some value of guy; note the drag names,  each with a complex history, though everyone should recognize the portmanteau name James Bondage] will transport you to Draglywood

And, now that we have your attention, come through for performances of a lifetime from our very own FIERCE leadership [AZ: Stanford faculty and staff, all women, so they were doing a kind of meta-drag]: Dr. Persis Drell, Dr. Susie Brubkaker-Cole, Dr. Mona Hicks, Dr. Shirley Everett, Ms. Jeanette Smith-Laws

Doing drag. The extremely short story, from NOAD:

noun drag: … 4 clothing more conventionally worn by the opposite sex, especially women’s clothes worn by a man: a fashion show, complete with men in drag | [as modifier]:  a live drag show.

(For the snowclonelet patterns X drag ‘attire appropriate for/to X’ and ‘in a form appropriate for/to X’ (figuratively dressed like X), see the bonus appendix.)

The history of drag — so-called in English, though cross-dressing has a long history — is complex, associated with gay black men, minstrel shows, male brothels, vaudeville, burlesque, night club acts, comedy performances by straight men, female impersonators, gay bars, organized crime, effeminacy, drag balls and courts, African American and Latino drag ball culture in NYC, and more, but modern drag is primarily a performance art (turning crucially on the doubleness of the performer) strongly associated with gay men and gay culture.

From the Wikipedia entry on drag queen:

A drag queen is a person, usually male, who uses drag clothing and makeup to imitate and often exaggerate female gender signifiers and gender roles for entertainment purposes. In modern times, drag queens are associated with gay men and gay culture, but people of other genders and sexual identities also perform as drag queens.

… For much of history, drag queens were men, but in more modern times, cisgender and trans women, as well as non-binary people, also perform as drag queens. … Cisgender female drag queens [like the Stanford faculty and staff in the 5/20 event] are sometimes called faux queens or bioqueens, though critics of this practice assert that faux carries the connotation that the drag is fake … Drag queens’ counterparts are drag kings: performers, usually women, who dress in exaggeratedly masculine clothing.

Meta-drag at Stanford. The chief good sport here was Stanford’s provost, Persis Drell (accompanied by staff associated with undergraduate education). From her Stanford profile:

Drell is a physicist who has served on the Stanford faculty since 2002. She is the James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering, a professor of materials science and engineering, and a professor of physics. She is the former dean of the Stanford School of Engineering and the former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford.

The inspiration. RuPaul in Wikipedia:

(#2) Poster for season 9 (2017)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is an American reality competition television series [first aired in 2009], the first in the Drag Race franchise, produced by World of Wonder for Logo TV, WOW Presents Plus, and, beginning with the ninth season, VH1. The show documents [drag queen] RuPaul in the search for “America’s next drag superstar.” RuPaul plays the role of host, mentor, and head judge for this series, as contestants are given different challenges each week.

Bonus appendix. On the X drag snowclonelets. On this blog.

— in my 1/22/10 posting “drag”:

[A report of] a use of drag (OED2: ‘feminine attire worn by a man’) in a snowclonelet pattern X drag, conveying roughly ‘attire appropriate for/to X’ (OED2 glosses this use of drag as ‘clothes, clothing’, and gives a 1959 cite for teenage drag and a 1966 cite for Arab drag), followed by a semantic extension to figurative uses, referring to something that appears in a form appropriate for/to X (that is, figuratively ‘dressed like X’)

… as the now-considerable literature on drag points out, it’s usually a kind of performance in which the audience appreciates the double nature of the performer. And, it seems to me, that doubleness carries over to both sorts of X drag examples.

Examples with the ‘attire, costume, dress’ sense (as when I sometimes tell friends that I’m going to some event in “professor drag”): business drag, dominatrix drag, Elvis drag.

Some figurative examples: a different occurrence of business draggeneral interest magazines “in business drag” — religious drag, spreadsheet drag.

And then two examples of my professor drag, showing the snowclonelet in context:

— from my 1/2/16 posting “The news for urinals”:

Some companies have executive washrooms, so that higher-ups will not expose their bodies to the gaze of the masses. Schools have separate bathrooms for teachers. Until recently, some colleges and universities had similar arrangements for faculty, and maybe they still do. (This was the way things worked for some buildings at Ohio State when I taught there. Some quarters, the men’s room closest to a room I was teaching in was a faculty men’s room, and more than once I was challenged by other faculty about my right to use these facilities. Well, I was young and didn’t dress in professor drag, but even so I was astonished by these guys’ vehemence in defending the privileges of their position.)

— from my 6/29/18 posting “Swiss spin-off: herringbone tweed”:

in an ad photo, a black and white herringbone tweed sport coat, of the sort that was my serious professor-drag for over 50 years (along with blue Oxford-cloth button-down shirts, khaki chino-cloth pants, and mahogany or black penny loafers, in a clothing scheme that I picked up as an undergraduate at Princeton)


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