Drag king

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Drag kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes as part of their performance.[1] A typical drag king routine may incorporate dancing and singing or lip-synching.[2] Drag kings often perform as exaggeratedly macho male characters[3], portray marginalized masculinities such as construction workers, rappers, or "fag drag", or they will impersonate male celebrities like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, or Tim McGraw.[4] Several drag kings became British music hall stars in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and British pantomime has preserved the tradition of women performing in male roles. Starting in the mid-1990s drag kings have begun to gain some of the fame and attention that drag queens have known for years.[5][6]

Contents

History

While the term "drag king" was first cited in print in 1972,[7] there is a longer history of female performers dressing in male attire. In theatre and opera there was a tradition of breeches roles and en travesti.[8] Actress and playwright Susanna Centlivre appeared in breeches roles around 1700.[9] The first popular male impersonator in U.S. theater was Annie Hindle, who started performing in New York in 1867;[10] in 1886 she married her dresser, Annie Ryan.[11] British music hall performer Vesta Tilley was active in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a male impersonator.[12] Other male impersonators on the British stage were Ella Shields and Hetty King.[13] Blues singer Gladys Bentley performed in male attire in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco from the 1920s through 1940s.[14] Stormé DeLarverie performed in male drag along with female impersonators at the Jewel Box Revue in the 1950s and 1960s, as documented in the film Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box;[15] DeLarverie is also a veteran of the Stonewall riots.[16]

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