Drag queens and pop divas :: blurring the lines
The best example of a pop diva who’s taken pages from the drag queen performance playbook? Lady Gaga.
Bunny recalls: "When I met Lady Gaga, she said ’I’ve been wanting to do a wig like that’ - mine - which was big in the back and flat on the top. That almost caused me to have a heart attack. I didn’t remember giving the cab driver a blow job, that time, but somehow my wig was flat on the top."
That Lady Gaga went, well, gaga, over Bunny’s wig is no surprise.
Shangela adds that a good drag wigmaker and a good pop starmaker are often one in the same: "So many of the people who put together iconic pop stars are deeply rooted in the gay community and drag culture."
Bunny confirms "Lady Gaga has a team of stylists. One of the guys she uses is Geoffrey Mac, who sews for me. She also uses Zaldy Goco, who has done costumes for costumes for drag queens like RuPaul and Michael Jackson. When you’re creating an entirely different look every day, you’re definitely going to be pulling from the talent pool of top makeup and hairdressers - most of whom most of are familiar with what’s going on in the drag community."
As for her previous observation that most of today’s pop stars aren’t giving audiences a recognizable look, Bunny says Lady Gaga is changing that dynamic. Less charismatic performers are "looking at who’s on top of the charts, and they’re taking notes. Lady Gaga will spark people’s creativity and maybe make people dress more outrageously."
And that doesn’t just go for budding pop divas: Lady Gaga, who is clearly influenced by gay culture, is influencing gay boys in a full circle karma kind of way. Bunny: "The other day, I went to Starbucks. The young gay guy who worked there made a little version of the Lady Gaga crown and was wearing it. She’s definitely resonating."
Jack Chen is producer of the documentary "What’s the Name of the Dame?" - a soon-to-be released documentary about drag queens and their admiration/emulation of ABBA. He says the above dynamic cited by Bunny is indicative of "This conversation that’s going back and forth between drag queens and pop culture; the outrageousness, the makeup, the clothing. That kind of influence on pop stars by drag queens goes back to David Bowie with the red wigs, makeup and gender bending." As for Lady Gaga, Chen reminds us that in her early years, "She spent a lot of time in the East Village. It’s impressive that what she saw there, she was able to take and sell it around the world."