30 August 2019

DragWorld 2019


August has been an exciting month for UK drag, and smack bang in the middle was DragWorld. Starring kings, queens and artists in between, the weekend-long convention at Olympia London is an annual celebration of modern drag, featuring runway performances from acclaimed UK talent, panel talks discussing all aspects of drag culture and the entertainment industry, meet-and-greet opportunities with renowned drag personalities, and traders supplying everything one might need to transform themselves from Joseph Kent to Aqua Lunge. (Yes, that's my new drag name, and you can follow her on Instagram.)

Poking my camera around last year's event, my eyes and mind were opened to the rich diversity of drag artistry beyond the limelight of reality television. That said, there's no denying that RuPaul's Drag Race - which recently announced the competitors for its long-anticipated UK edition - has elevated this entertaining artform from downtown clubs to the international stage, and certainly Europe's largest drag convention would be foolish not to embrace it. Queues to meet the stars of the show snaked across the floor in every which way, turning the exhibition hall into a colourful Tetris board of drag enthusiasts.

Among the US queens at this year's convention were country singer Trixie Mattel, All Stars 4 winner Trinity the Tuck, and the chunky yet funky Latrice Royale. Although my favourite moment from the weekend was spotting Willam of Season 4 and Race Chaser fame cruising nonchalantly on a hoverboard in Balenciaga platform Crocs and rainbow rocker hair (see above).

But while the queues for the American queens were long and winding, the UK queens commanded the crowds at the catwalk stage, where the likes of Meth, Poppycock, Tayce and Ellie Diamond brought the house down with sensational lipsync and dance performances. Manchester queens The Family Gorgeous, a few of whom I had the pleasure of shooting last summer, also met with fans of their new Channel 4 makeover show, Drag SOS. And the All Drag Is Valid movement, founded by Nottingham drag queen Luna Moon, returned to campaign for greater diversity and inclusivity within the drag industry.

DragWorld is a weekend brimming with as much joy as it is with padding, and much like London Fashion Week, I hope it's an event I shall continue to photograph for many more years to come. Perhaps in time, I too shall perfect my own drag persona and - should I find the confidence - take to the stage myself. Until then, however, I very much look forward to attending more drag shows and getting to know the real tucking deal.

Donna Trump & Meth Eleanor Thomson Dusty Ray Bottoms Ginger Minj Lawrence Chaney, CJ Banks & Miss Peaches Lou Safire Tatianna Miss Zodi Ellie Diamond & Amber Cadaverous Violet Chachki My Blair St Clair Shea Coulee Eva Serration Willam Trinity the Tuck Twinkerbell Joe Black Latrice Royale Stella Marbles & Tequila Addams Donna Trump Trixie Mattel Miss Zodi

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