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I wanted to explore performers and how they put on a persona. I came up with the idea to do a series on drag queens.
I chose this culture because I find it very interesting how a man can transform into a woman, revealing a different side to his personality after putting on some makeup . I got inspiration from Leland Bobbés series ‘Half-Drag’. In this series he took portraits of drag queens with half of their faces made up fully and half of their faces as men. I found it really interesting to see the transformation and the way in which he showed both sides of the person both masculine and feminine. Through my research I also found that many drag queens aren’t actually gay, it’s just a performance, a way in which to gain confidence and do things they don’t ordinarily do. A good example is ‘All Beef Patty’, a man who is very shy but has an amazing voice, the only way that he has the confidence to get up on stage is to become ‘All Beef Patty’, his drag persona who has the confidence to sing in front of many fans. There is also a story that is being made into a documentary called Drag Dad, which is about a young man who was homeless and he and his girlfriend had a child and in order to support his family he became Tyra Sanchez, who is now a drag queen superstar.
While the drag culture can be controversial because many people don’t agree with it there is much respect to be had for these men, they do things they could never do, showcase their talents, entertain people and some even use it as a way to support their family.
This is why I decided to do a series on the process of a man becoming his alter persona as he puts on makeup which acts as a mask, giving him the confidence that he does not have as a man.
In my first photo I have him as a man, no make up with his arms crossed to show the manly side of his personality, not particularly outgoing but with a sense of pride. I tried to run this pride theme throughout the five images as in each stage of his transformation his pride and integrity remains. The middle three photos are the process, he becomes more feminine and elaborate as he puts on more makeup. The first of these three is him putting on his hair net, not adding any femininity but covering up part of himself, his hair, his confidence has not quite emerged yet, the emotion expressed is similar to the first image. The next two are when he applies the makeup, he is not only starting to look more like a woman but act like one. His hand positions as he applies his makeup become more those of a woman than a man, he also becomes more theatrical, showing more emotion.
The final image is of the woman, the completed alter persona after the transformation. With the wig and full makeup she has emerged as a beautiful woman. His arms that were once crossed are now hers, stretched out and open. The seriousness and shy face of a man has been replaced with the polished face of a bubbly outgoing woman, who acts, dances and sings, she has the confidence to do everything he doesn’t.