All Dolled Up, A New Book Asks: Why Drag?

Written by | Books

Drag has long been a staple of gay culture, an important part of what makes us “us.”

Book cover: Why Drag?

Why Drag?
By Magnus Hastings
| Chronicle Books; $50
But over the last few years — specifically the eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race — the artistry of drag is has garnered both new respect and mainstream love. This has offered a bevy of worthy subjects to photographer Magnus Hastings, whose beautiful professional portraits (of both Drag Race contestants and some of the world’s other best-loved queens) have made him the Annie Leibovitz of drag photography. In a 2014 exhibition, he presented this work under the question: Why? Why the primping and plucking? Why the effort and expense? That show has become this beautiful collection featuring more than 200 queens from the U.S., U.K., Germany and Australia, many whose names you may know and — importantly — many you do not. Each queen is also given space to answer the question “Why?” The result is a sleek depiction of the entertainers who, as Boy George says in the book’s foreword, “brighten up the horizon” for us all.

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Last modified: October 25, 2019