Drag

The costume designer's job, usually, is to take attributes of a scripted character, along with attributes of the performer, combined with a director's vision and the designer's own artistic concept, and create something that is utterly unique in it's ability to transmit a story in a particular way. It has been said that 4 people go into the dressing room (writer, director, actor and designer), and one person comes out (the character).

I have turned ordinary men into devils, children into forest denizens, housewives into divas, divas into housewives, size 16's into bombshells, size 3's into warriors. Frequently the task involves turning men into women. While drag has a long and varied history, cross-dressing on stage is not necessarily drag. A panto dame, for instance, has little to do with drag. Dames are about a specific archetype of a particular genre of theatrical performance. Drag, on the other hand is anything but archetypal. Drag has been appropriated in a myriad of different ways by endless numbers of individuals for a million different reasons and in a stream of constantly evolving potentialities. Drag is a uniquely individual pursuit.

A ubiquitous theme common to a lot of drag practice has been to personify certain female ideals. The kind of ideals I have to deal with in my work, and in my personal life. For some, it is about the man looking convincingly "real" as a woman. But for many more, it is about transcending idealized femininity. It is also about the embodiment of a character. This character is almost always the direct invention of the performer. Drag is often expressed as an extension of the self, yet a seprate entity from the self. The drag artist is almost always his own writer, director and usually his own designer. Usually. But not always. In fact, it is in the area of design that we can find the most accepted practices of collaboration in drag art. Throughout my years working as a costume designer, I have been asked by a number of drag artists to assist them in coming up with designs for gowns and methods of padding or understructure.

In this project, I have attempted to approach the practice of costume design for drag, but from my own perspective, not from the a characterization that was previously scripted. I examined my own character attributes, my own attitudes toward physicality, gender and the feminine ideal. I had a good hard look at myself, my own relationship to my body, my own tendencies to try disguising what I haven't liked about myself. My intention was to create a drag version of myself, dealing directly with notions of idealized feminine body. I wanted to create a personalized characterization based on the Female Trinity, the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. In drag, but in argument against my own body issues.

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