They're wild, fabulous and some are so incredibly beautiful it's enough to make a grown woman green with envy.
Some also sport names like Miss Barbie-Q, Hedda Lettuce, De De Deville and Disco Dollie and are featured in a new coffee table book on shelves now, dedicated to some of the best drag performers in the world. D.R.A.G. was compiled and edited by Vancouver actor Christopher Logan, who in the past had been known to don the odd frock or two.
The large book is filled front to back with glossy professional photos of drag performers, some of whom have taken the word "camp" to a whole new level, while others are pure glamour and look eerily like the stars they're impersonating such as Cher, Tina Turner and Bette Middler.
Logan got the idea for D.R.A.G. while brainstorming ideas for ways to fund an independent film he's written about the genre and in which he'll eventually star.
"The book is a means to an end," said Logan, who can be seen in drag in the 2004 comedy Connie and Carla, a movie shot in Vancouver depicting two women (Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette) who go undercover in the drag scene of Los Angeles while hiding from mobsters. "I had this ambitious plan to do five books in one year, including one on female athletes and another about Vancouver musicians, but this one is keeping me busy."
Logan said it was Connie and Carla that lent him some credibility while approaching drag royalty about participating in his project. One of the first performers he contacted was Las Vegas-based Larry Edwards, who Logan credits with opening many doors in his quest to approach perfect strangers about allowing their images to be used in the book.
"Larry liked the idea so much he started calling all of the Las Vegas performers," said Logan. "And none of them said no. Some of them even said, 'I loved you in Connie and Carla.' I thought, 'They actually know who I am.' That was pretty exciting."
Some of the drag icons who appear in the book include Frank Marino, Eddie Edwards, Jimmy James and Jim Bailey, who closes the book. Nina Flowers, who placed second in the reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race, also makes an appearance. Vancouver drag performers featured in the book include Raye Sunshine, Guy Lebrecque, Vegas Van Cartier, Jaylene Tyme and Cotton, who has since moved to Toronto. Vancouver designer Mamio Marias helped assemble the book.
Once Logan had the performers lined up, the next step was getting permission from photographers to use their images. Logan said not only were the photographers more than happy to oblige, they also offered up never before seen photographs.
"And because it was their work going into the book, they were very particular about the quality of their photographs," said Logan.
He added that an unexpected sidebar to the book are the photos fans are posting to his Facebook page showing them posed with their copy of D.R.A.G. Logan wasn't immune to the trend and has posted some of his own photos, including one where he can be seen posing alongside someone dressed as a giant pickle. Some of the featured photographers also took the time to pose with the book open to their spread of photos.
Logan had a goal to raise the $2 million needed for his film in two years, but the response from the drag community and readers has been so overwhelming he's about six months ahead of schedule.
Logan describes the film as "narrative fiction," which explores the drag scene in various lights, including the fact some use the genre as an escape.
"Some performers use the makeup as a mask to hide behind," said Logan. "And it often takes place in a dimly lit room with bad sound. Sometimes it doesn't get presented in the right light, so that's what I want to do."
D.R.A.G. is for sale online at Amazon. com, at select Chapters stores and at Priape boutique and Little Sister's book store, both located on Davie Street.
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