Becoming Statuesque : The Empowerment of Drag

Three Queens, who can only be described as statuesque, embark on a cross-country journey to Hollywood, California, where they will compete in the Drag Queen of America contest in Beeban Kidron’s To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. The 1995 comedy stars Patrick Swayze as lead Queen Vida, Wesley Snipes as the fierce Noxeema, and John Leguizamo as Queen-in-training Chi-Chi, three actors famously known for not playing Drag Queens. To Wong Foo is a fun twist on your typical “fish out of water” story, wherein our three fabulous heroines become trapped in the small, backwater town of Snydersville, after their chariot, a 1967 Cadillac Deville convertible, breaks down. The majority of the film takes place in Snydersville. While we easily could have had a film about Drag Queens going on a road trip culminating in the ferocious competition of the Drag Queen of America crown, we instead have a story of how Drag Queens make a small town a little queerer. So, what is To Wong Foo trying to say about the power of Drag?

Drag is all about becoming a character. Noxeema’s definition of a Drag Queen is, “A gay man who has too much fashion sense for one gender.” It’s a fun explanation for why men decide to do drag, but in a way it’s flawed, we know that straight men also perform drag. The thing about drag is, it’s less about becoming a gender and more about becoming a character. Patr