That Lip-Syncing Feeling: Drag Performance as Digging in the Past

Farrier, Stephen (2015) That Lip-Syncing Feeling: Drag Performance as Digging in the Past. In: Queer Dramaturgies: International Perspectives on Where Performance Leads Queer. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 192-209. ISBN 9781137411839


This chapter starts with a curious observation: given that drag queens are often known for their quick acidic wit, it is puzzling why many of them give so much stage time to other people’s voices through lip-synching. The discussion that follows looks at drag as a queer performance form, rather than as an activity that exemplifies theorising around gender performativity. The chapter is interested in seeing drag, in part, as a manifestation of a voice and channel to the past. Of course, the gender aspect of drag is crucial to its functioning but here a slightly different journey is taken: one that looks at what drag does, enacts or brings about without a singular focus on gender. Rather this discussion examines drag form as a material effort in the making of local community through a performance practice that is commingled with popular culture and — apparently — strangely de-voiced. In particular, the chapter will focus on lip-synching as a key technique in drag’s dramaturgical toolkit, proposing that drag performance in specific locations serves to communicate or exchange historical material related to local LGBTQ communities without recourse to heteronormative structures of heritability. Importantly, the chapter also explores the practices of performers via a particular drag queen, Meth, who stands as an exemplar of how performers develop their lip-synch skills and put them to use in performance.


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