Defined as a form of entertainment performed by drag artists impersonating men or women, typically in a bar or nightclub, modern drag shows originated in the speakeasies and underground bars of 1920s Prohibition America. Since then, they’ve become an important part of LGBTQIA+ culture, and have gained increasing recognition and acceptance as an art form.
Drag has graced many high profile stages, both physical and digital: drag was a regular fixture at the renowned LGBTQIA+ bar Stonewall, and drag “queens”—performers presenting as female—were prominently featured in the cult documentary ‘Paris is Burning’ (1990). More recently, the American reality TV show ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’, which launched in 2009 and premiered its 15th series on MTV earlier this year, has made drag accessible to the masses. Through its competition format which sees contestants battle through a series of challenges focused on different areas of drag performance—such as lip syncing, runway walking, dancing, singing, or comedy—the show has produced a new generation of drag superstars, such as Sasha Velour and Symone.