If you're under fiftyor over thirtyyour education in drag has probably consisted of lip -syncing glamour girls giving you face, nails and massive wigs. The culture and technology of the DJ came right up with drag and went hand in hand, ushering out a need for the pre-Stonewall vocal drag performers. Nowadays, the queen of vocal drag, Rupaul, has once again made it standard issue for drag performers to carry a tune if they want to take it to the next level. Drag hasn't been associated with decent aural qualities for years ( see Amanda Lepore ), but there is a plethora of fantastic drag albums and EPs out there to swing you into the summer party season. Here's quick rundown of the essentials.
While the Billie Holiday of drag, Joey Arias, and John Waters' muse Divine broke ground in the late '70s and early '80s, much of their output is all over the place and hard to find. The real '70s mother is the departed Sylvester. While not, in my book, a "drag queen," she certainly lived her life genderfucking across the disco era and putting out such classics as "You Make Me Feel ( Mighty Real )," "Do Ya Wanna Funk" and "Dance ( Disco Heat )," as well as discovering The Weather Girls ( "It's Raining Men" ).
After the passing of Divine and Sylvester, the drag vocals dried up, leaving RuPaul to take the reins. She came smashing out of the velvet curtain with what to this day is her finest effort, "Supermodel of the World." Chock full of catchy hits, strong vocals and humor, Ru's put out great songs with every annual album, but now rushes so fast to squeeze in 10 jobs, that she's failed to top her debut.
That said, if it weren't for Rupaul, we would not have some of the best party albums of the past seven seasons. While Sharon Needles' PG-13 failed to capture her true spirit and sounds like a warmed over Ru release, Alaska Thunderfuck ( Anus ) and Willam ( Shartistry In Motion ) have, in the past year, put out releases that rival any modern pop artists, drag or not. Both CDs are inventive, edgy, sexy and, most of all, fun. Also, no surprise that the vocally talented Adore Delano blew us all away last year with Till Death Do Us Party, which I called the drag Miley/Bangerz.
While it's not a stretch to expect Adore's debut to be amazing and on-point, due to his American Idol past, it is sad to see that the phenomenal Courtney Act has yet to pull together enough songs for an eagerly anticipated debut, and same for Shangela, who recently did an amazing cover of "Uptown Funk." Here's hoping both strike while the flattening iron's still hot and start serving us up more vocal realness.
Catch DJ Moose with Debbie Fox at Replay Lakeview's Tat-Tuesday, July 14.