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Drag performance is enjoying a sparkling moment under the international spotlight and its new found popularity is leading to new hybrid forms. Drag has peaked because of TV series RuPaul's Drag Race, which boasts 11 seasons in the U.S., two in Thailand and has recently crossed the Atlantic with a U.K. version.
The journey from the U.S. to the U.K. has exposed some of the geographical and regional differences between the forms. And it has also highlighted some polarized thinking in drag culture that need further disruption.
Rise - Drag - Race - Positions - Drag
Since the rise of Drag Race, there has emerged two positions of drag, often referred to as "old school" and "new school." Old school drag points to drag and artistry in traditional venues such as bars and clubs. It emphasizes the traditions of drag as a performance form.
On the other hand, new school drag highlights the turn to social media as "the arena" in which performance is tried and tested. New school emphasizes make-up tutorials and homemade videos.
Dichotomy - Drag - Differences - Internet - Natives
The dichotomy of drag is often (though not always) mapped across generational differences, between those who grew up without the internet and those who are digital natives. In episode two of Drag Race U.K., Scaredy Kat (one of the new school queens) performs live for the first time. Scaredy Kat's lack of live performance experience is demonstrated in a lip-sync challenge and, when losing their place on the program and sashaying away, Kat comments: "Not bad for a first gig."
Our research into drag cultures and drag performances found that despite this common idea of two schools, drag is much more diverse, particularly when looked at from outside the frame of international television.
Drag - Self-fashion - Elements - Performance - Life
Drag is, and should remain, hybrid. Rather than being formulaic, drag continues to self-create and self-fashion, combining and scavenging elements from performance, life, digital culture and comedy.
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