One of Webster's definitions for drag is (a) Costume, Outfit (b) clothing typical of one sex worn by a person of the opposite sex. However when you are around it as much as I am you come to realize there is so much more to it than just a costume or outfit. Drag comes is so many styles, it's not even funny. What follows are the styles I have had the pleasure of seeing. These names are how Vivian and I discuss the different styles we have seen. I'm sure it varies depending on what part of the country you live in and how you view drag. This in no way is meant to be the bible of drag, just my take.
Fish - Yes the heart of drag is the attempt to pass as a woman, however what I call Fish Drag refers to those queens who attempt to do their painting and dressing more in the style of women than queens. When a Drag Queen paints they shade and dress to highlight and hide to give the illusion of woman on stage. Fish Queens attempt to look like a woman up close as well as on stage. Their goal is to look like a real woman, both with painting and clothing.
High Drag - High drag is about over aggregating all the stereotypes of not just femininity but what one thinks of Drag Queens. It involves big hair, big boobs, and big hips, over the top costumes. These Queens are, for the most part, larger than life. They command attention and normally become the center of attention when they walk into a room or bar.
Skag/Bear Drag - Skag or Bear Drag depending on who you speak to is a style of drag where the queens do not attempt to hide their male appearance. In Columbus Ohio it normally involves big burly men with facial hair dressing in drag with make up but they don't shave their facial hair. Just imagine a big 300 lb man full beard and full face in a dress. They will typically reveal a big old hairy bear belly as well. Done correctly skag/bear drag is quite hilarious. If you have never seen it I highly recommend it.
Androgynous - This style involves bending or blurring the lines between male and female. Think Raja from RuPaul's Drag Race. It normally involves dressing partially female and male at the same time. I have seen Queens in this style come out on stage with an amazing wig and skirt with no shirt or top showing their chest which is unmistakably male.
Broadway/Production - I'm not sure if this is really a style or if it is more of a style of a drag show, or if it even exists outside of Columbus. It involves Queens from all these styles that join together and deliver a Broadway level drag show. In Columbus you can see these style shows every few months. These shows involve sets, choreography, costuming and normally an underlying theme that ties every number together. Vivian and I have had the pleasure of planning one of these and Vivian has also performed in a few planned by others. These shows are extremely entertaining for all in attendance.
Pageant - Pageant Queens are girls that compete in Drag Pageants on a regular basis. A Drag Pageant is basically a beauty pageant for Drag Queens. It involves judged categories that include gown, talent, on stage question and depending on the Pageant System, more. This type of style can be extremely expensive but for these girls it is very rewarding. It gives validation to what they do. There is a ton of expense for pageant queens, the competition and presentation gowns themselves can cost thousands of dollars.
Impersonation - This is when Drag Queens perform as stars. These queens spend years perfecting their impersonations and some will even have plastic surgery so they can look more like the star they are portraying. Some of the favorite personalities for Queens to impersonate are Madonna, Cher, Tina Turner, Reba McEntire, Liza Minnelli and Barbara Streisand and many more. Impersonation Drag can lead to a very lucrative career. Some of these Queens land positions with the stars they are impersonating and appear in their tours.
Camp - A camp queen is one who goes for the laughs. They accomplish this through their painting, costumes, performance or any combination of theses. Their style can be completely off the wall and original or it could be any of the above styles but done with comedic take. For me Divine is the Queen of the Camp Queens.
One style of drag is not better than another. It's all about personal opinion and how the performer chooses to express her or himself. There are some styles I enjoy more than others, however I respect every style. What these Queens do takes a lot of courage, and until you walk a mile in their heels respect them as artists whether drag is your cup of tea or not.
For those of you that may be wondering what style of Drag Vivian falls into, in my opinion she is a cross between High Drag and Camp. She may disagree but I'm used to that.
Be sure to read more about drag at Diary of a Drag Queen's Husband
Follow Tom Bartolomei on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vonbrokenhymen