Falsies and Duct Tape: I’m a Drag Fan Girl

Around the age of twelve, my friends and I began going to the movies and mall without our parents, which felt like delicious freedom. There were rules, of course, and movie choices required approval. My friend Charlotte and I, blossoming theater nerds and proto-liberals, were desperate to see To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Our conservative parents insisted we did not. Down the road, there would come bigger acts of rebellion, but this felt like a doozie at the time: we went anyway. Charlotte and I concocted a story (I really hope I’m not ratting Charlotte out here) about seeing a different movie. We even picked a movie we’d already seen (I think it was The Babysitters Club but I wouldn’t swear to it) so that if our parents questioned us on the plot, we wouldn’t get caught, claiming to have loved the movie so much it demanded rewatching.

Mainstreamed and Hollywood as it was, that was my first peek into drag culture, and I will continue to press my face against the window for more. These days, you’ll find me at the bar every Monday for Ru Paul’s Drag Race, which is, in my opinion, the best reality series on tv today. (Spoilers ahead) The bar is always hazy with smoke, packed with people there to cheer for Sharon Needles, our spooky hometown ladyboy and the experience has a lot of parallels to watching a Steelers playoff game in a crowded sports bar. Instead of touchdowns, tackles, and interceptions, we cheer and jeer for fierce runway, acerbic bon mots, and flying wigs, but the energy is the same and the excitement is palpable.

The surface trappings of drag might be enough to explain my ongoing interest: high hair, heels, and drama laced with humor are a pretty good sell on their own, but I think there’s a deeper fascination. Drag pulls back the curtain a little on the beauty myth and demonstrates handily that femininity is whatever the fuck you want it to be. A few years ago, I watched, rapt, as a dear friend rearranged his brow line and brushed on different cheekbones in our ragtag dressing room before a cabaret.

Disclaimer: This photo is of a different, less rag-tag dressing room

He is a handsome man in day to day life, but in drag, she’s downright beautiful. Even towering 6’7 in heels and hair, she looked more mainstream feminine than my cisgendered ass.

I'm pretty sure Bunny is sitting, while I am standing

I found a roll model in Patrick Swayze’s Ms. Vida Boheme, kicking down doors in pink satin jammies. Drag plays with the fun parts of gender without getting trapped in them. A recent episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race found straight dads challenged to rock the runway as pregnant ladies, mentored by the queens in competition. There were varying levels of success, but I don’t think any one of them lost a drop of masculinity by being open minded and playful. Queens like Sharon and Latrice, and yes, even the otherwise unlikable Phi Phi (I’m biased!) fought hard for acceptance and success; seeing them hang with these tough dude dads who say they’ll love their kids gay, straight or whatever tells me they’re making a difference. Shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race and its predecessors are part of the “how” that goes along with every “It Gets Better” video. Real change sometimes comes wrapped in pleather and lace. Support your local drag queens, not just for social change but because it’s probably one of the best shows you’ll see. Oh, and GO SHARON!

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That’s a dealbreaker, ladies

Online dating. Everyone’s doing it. Much like any kind of dating, there are pitfalls, but in general, it’s been pretty good to me. It’s the usual bell curve of total duds, mediocre nice-enoughs, and actual sparks, plus a handful of real connections. But before you get to the date, you have to get through the profile and there are about a thousand reasons to pass. Many, like an inability to utilize the English language (non-native speakers exempt!) require actual reading of a profile, but there are a few completely instantaneous factors within the first glance or contact that guarantee a Liz-shaped hole in the metaphorical walls of OkCupid.

Your Stupid Username
Like Greek and Latin roots, there are parts of a screen name that can be translated to learn about the person in question. Some are more meaningful than others. Mine, for example, translates to mean that I will make dated and semi-esoteric references to a cheesy anime I was obsessed with in my early teens, and that my favorite number is 28. Others are far more telling. Let me list a few key phrases and their translations.
If your username includes:

  • “Nice Guy” – You have a chip on your shoulder about being a doormat.
  • 69 – Virgin.  
  • “Username##”/”Screenname##” – You’re embarrassed to be on a dating site and hope that your wry sideswipe at the convention of creating a handle will cover your aching vulnerability.
  • xxx – You drink jagermeister.
  • ForYou/4You/ForU – For me? Really?! Gee whiz.
  • Cunnilingus reference – You learned everything you know about sex from American Pie.
  • “Lonely” – You will use guilt as a seduction technique.
  • “Looking” – Your twitter feed would be insufferably boring.

Lack of a Profile Photo

This seems pretty obvious, but I don’t count this as an instantaneous dealbreaker because of attractiveness (although, yes, let’s be realistic, this is important). I don’t assume you’re ugly if you don’t have a profile photo–I assume you’re trying to cheat on someone. In an era where you have to actually go out of your way to buy a phone without a camera, not having a digital photo seems awfully calculated. It seems less about keeping potential love interests from seeing you and more about keeping someone you know in real life from realizing you’re on a dating site. Don’t be shady.

Mentioning My Unmentionables Too Soon
I don’t mean underwear, but “unmentionables” has a better ring to it than “tits,” and in extrapolating this to an audience wider than myself, I really mean “sexual attribute or desired sexual activity.” Now, I’m not naive. I have gotten the memo that dudes love boobs and sex. Hey! I love my boobs and also sex, so maybe this war of the sexes has some common ground after all. But if you can’t get through one measly email without referencing breasts or blow jobs, I probably don’t have time for you. My boobs will, presumably, be there for a good long time and I need to know we’re capably of talking about something else.

Did I miss something? Are there a different set of dealbreakers for dudes? Lesbians? Weigh in, please.