Tag Archives: Paris is Burning

Pageant & Ballroom Queens

In my last post, I explored and gave you a brief description of one of the subgroups within the drag community: camp queens. So I thought for this post, I would continue the education, hun-tee. I know that I am not an expert of the world of drag, but I’m a gay man, so close enough, right? Haa.

When you place the definition of a pageant and/or ballroom drag queen next to the camp’s definition, it seems like they come from two different worlds and the only thing keeping them in the same category are their sickening tucks. Haa. While this may be true to some degree, the art of illusion and entertainment is in full effect. While camp queens are more about entertaining the crowd with jokes and over the top performances, the pageant and ballroom girls are more refined.

Within the pageant world, the queens are trying to persuade the audience and judges that they can become a passable woman. The look is very important. There are numerous drag competitions that are held across the country. The best thing I can compare them to are the typical Miss USA or Miss Universe competitions. The women competing in Miss USA or Universe, are not simply resting on their looks, they have to portray the expected elegance of being a woman, brains and concern when it comes to worldly issues, and talent that shows of their more playful and youthful side. The same sets of standards are expected of the drag queens.

l Cancun 2010

Alyssa Edwards (right) and Coco Montrese (left), both contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5, both won Miss Gay America 2010. (I’ll get into that hot mess of a topic in a later blog)

While it seems that the Pageant Queens and Ballroom Queens are interchangeable they differ on some degrees. The Ballroom queens are part of their own community and culture known as Ball Culture. (Yeah I know out of all the things to call it, Ball Culture had to be the one) All joking aside, the Ball Culture is one of the strongest forms of drag because of the family and unity aspect of it. The men that are involved in Ball Culture just don’t do it for fun; they do it as a living. A great film that descries the troubles and the alliances between the queens is ‘Paris is Burning’

These drag queens work together, live together, they do everything together. Most of them were kicked out of their homes for being gay, left because of abuse or a number of other miscellaneous reasons. These queens have created a safe place and a sense of community for one another because without that, they wouldn’t have anything. The world was, and some aspects, still is a cold and horrible place if you don’t fit into the social norms. That’s why they created ‘houses’ for all the displaced queens where there is a drag mother in charge taking care of all the occupants. Although their lives might have not been ideal, they don’t let that get them down, just like the pageant queens they hold competitions, base on how fierce the contestants are.

Ever heard of voguing? Well of course you have, Madonna made the underground art, which was originally crafted by drag queens, mainstream.

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You betta workkkk.

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