Hear, hear, dear readers! We’ve got a royal announcement to make: the queens are not the only ones reigning on Dragadventures anymore! You see, when we discovered RPDR a few years ago, it seemed that the art of drag mainly revolved about queens, and we are very grateful we got to start our journey with so many amazing artists to support through our TV screens. However, as a brand and as individuals, we are always striving to expand our own horizons and to support and showcase all kinds of drag, because this is what all these amazing performers deserve! And while it‘s been a journey of learning and educating ourselves, there’s one group that has not yet been represented the way they should, so today, we‘re very happy to tell you that we got an amazing interview guest to kickstart a new adventure of learning and evolving and making sure these performers get the spotlight they deserve: please welcome the team behind Macho Man Drag UK and read on as we talk about their upcoming digital pride event, being a drag king and much, much more! Long live the drag Kings!
Dragadventures: Who is the team behind Macho Man and how did it get started? Is the name a big “F U” to men that think women shouldn’t/can’t do drag?
Macho Man: So our team consists of 3 people, it’s a little family group we’ve got our host and king with the most, D Sasstrus Doe, we’ve then got our elf prince video production Born Cold Productions/Defton Nightmoon and our social media busy bee LilyPad Social Media/Emma, who deals with all the scheduling, comments, etc. The name came from Crystal Methyd’s Phenomenal Phil and how RuPaul enjoyed it yet continually does not refer to drag kings as drag kings, but instead as man drag, macho drag, boy drag, etc.
DA: What has been the biggest challenge when putting together Macho Man? Was there an open opportunity for anyone wanting to apply, or did you have a set of names you really wanted to perform?
MM: The main challenge for the pride show has been losing everything a week before the show. We scrambled over the last weekend to get everything together, we lost graphics, posters acts. Everything but hosting… So kids, don’t forget to have a backup! We’re lucky that we haven’t had any hate our way, I’m sure we’ll get it at some point but for now, we haven’t had to deal with any challenges like that. Everyone has been so supportive.
Our first show and pride were hand-picked, but we opened up our second show to submissions and found some really amazing people and we will be opening up our fourth to submissions so please keep an eye out on our socials if you would like to take part.
DA: What can audiences of the Pride event expect? Why call it an unofficial pride event?
MM: Oh boy, oh boy, there’re so many good acts in this Pride! We’ve got people from all over, so there’s a lot of different cultures and we’ve got a few videos in different languages. We’re so excited for people to see drag from around the world as our audience was mainly UK-based.
We class it as unofficial as we are not an organisation or charity producing it, it’s simply a passion project to showcase our community, so we didn’t feel right calling it an official pride.
DA: So, we have to admit, we are kind of new to the whole drag king realm so to speak and we did some research on the concept – but before we give you some quotes to comment on, could you tell us a little bit about what being a drag king represents to you? Are there different types of kings and everyone has a kind of their ‘spirit animal’ that they refer to when becoming their drag persona?
MM: A lot of people are new to drag kings and that’s misogyny considering Kings have been around just as long as Queen’s. Look at our history segment (on our Instagram or dragkinghistory.com) 18th-century actors, turn-of-the-century Harlem cabarets, and literally, Stonewall Kings have been everywhere. Drag is each to their own, you can bring whatever you want; be a barbarian like Oedipussi Rex, comedy Kings, boylesque performers, want to do a bit of cosplay with your drag like Baron LaVey, go for it! There are sexy kinds of kings, formal, nerdy, theatre kids, makeup-up artists, alternative kings… We have just as much variety as queens and just as much talent!
DA: As we said, we did some research and came across some articles and quotes and we would love for you to share your thoughts and opinions on these with us! So first, from an article in Vogue:
Historically, drag kings have been female performance artists who wear masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes. But as understandings of gender have become more fluid in recent years, so too has this definition; now, there are trans men kings, nonbinary kings, and even cisgender men who perform as drag kings—just as there are cisgender women who perform as queens. “Today’s drag is more expansive, gender-bending, and really pushing the edge from all sides,” says Murray Hill, a veteran of New York’s downtown scene who appears in this portfolio. “It’s a raw, kinda messy, fuck-you, anything-goes vibe.”
MM: Murray Hall is an amazing performer, he’s been entertaining for years and he’s exactly right. Anyone can be a king or a queen, there’s no set definition that says gender or genitals have anything to do with queer art. Look at Chiyo, look at Faux King Dix, look at Effy Raine. Like the quote says there are cisgender women doing queen’s too, like Lacey Lou and Lilly SnatchDragon. There are no rules, drag is drag. There are no boxes, even if people want to put us in them.
DA: What would you tell people who want to do drag but are scared of being judged (since there is no possible way of ignoring the misogyny in the gay community) and when it comes to drag, the majority of the stories seem to be about queens, not kings?
MM: Start small, grow your confidence, do looks in your bedroom, engage with other drags and queers to be inspired. Please go learn about our history and culture, listen to LGBTQ elders and see all the people who started our community and learn Stonewall. If you get some hate, tell them to jog on, and remind yourself there’s a whole group of us that will back you up! If the narrative is queens only then steal the spotlight, we need more kings!
DA: In a 2019 article by sleek, there is a quote by Johnny Woo: “Kings are really deciding for themselves what it means to be a King. (…) The scene is still in its infancy, so they can explore these ideas of masculinity in all of its forms. Would you agree and what are your thoughts on the state of the “drag kingdom”?
MM: I wouldn’t personally agree we are in our infancy, it’s a more awkward rebellious teenage stage when nothing quite fits right and we’re trying to figure out our place in society, a society that often discounts our perspective and devalues our creativity. The drag Kingdom feels like an afterthought / tokenization in a lot of media and pride organizations, so we’re all just working damn hard to be noticed, but it’s even worse for BIPOC and differently-abled performers.
DA: With shows like RPDR making the drag industry kind of go ‘mainstream’ all while blatantly ignoring, hell, excluding women doing drag (we all have read Rupaul say that ‘drag is only punk rock when men do it), what are your thoughts on the growing requests that have been voiced by drag race alumni such as A’whora, Bimini or Alaska for including more king representation on the TV screen?
MM: We’d like to thank them for using their platforms to advocate for us even though it’s an unpopular opinion too so many. You can see by the responses on their tweets, interviews that people are starting to learn more and more about us because of these mentions and big Kings wins from the likes of Landon cider and Tenderoni. It’s great that some alumni champion us but it should really start from the top. Look at the Boulet Brothers (though that competition is not perfect) they preface the critiques with ‘this isn’t about your drag style it’s about how you approach the theme’ I could never imagine that being said on drag race. Gatekeeping really damages mental health and the variety in gay spaces.
DA: Of course, Alaska has taken it into her own hands and created an all-inclusive drag pageant, where Chicago King Tenderoni took the crown this year. Also, of course, we can’t forget the Boulet Brothers and Dragula, who have made it clear they welcome drag kings on their show and have had the fabulous Landon Cider crowned on season 3. Do you think these events are the first step in the right direction? What would be your take on an all-king competition? What would the challenges be?
MM: Definitely the first step, although having it called Drag Queen of the Year is beyond me if it’s an all-inclusive drag pageant. In most of these shows (Camp Wanakiki with Boris Tudeath, in Haus of Drag New Zealand with Hugo Grrrl, Boulet Brothers Landon Cider) it’s one token AFAB who wins the hearts of the audience. Imagine the quality of drag with two or more women/kings on each bill, maybe then it would be a fair competition.
DA: What is the best way to support your movement, how can people support you and expand their drag horizons beyond drag race?
MM: Support your alternative performers and go to their shows digital or in real life, and if you can afford, buy their merch. Interact with content – Follow, share, comment, like and repeat. It takes a small amount of time to like someone’s post when you’re scrolling and it makes all the difference for reach and exposure.
DA: Where would you love Macho Man pride to be in five years’ time, what would be the ultimate drag goal?
MM: Honestly it’s less about Macho Man and more about our overall message of showing that Kings exist, are talented and deserve to be booked. Ultimate goal is to show producers, bar owners and those in positions of power to see that Kings all over the world should be equally represented in Drag / Pride events and shows. Side note actually consult with us, don’t just use our edgy subculture to seem current, don’t tokenize us and please be aware of gendered language in queer spaces, not everyone’s a sis to shout yass queen at!
The Macho Man ‘ Unoffocial’ pride Digital event airs this weekend, so tune in on 1st and 2nd May at Macho Man Drag UK’s YouTube channel