YAP: What about drag inspires you to pursue it as an artistic medium?
LEE: A lot of people think drag is just dressing up and lip-syncing in gay clubs. While that’s perhaps the most conventional way to do drag, it’s not the only way. Drag is just gender performance, and how that can realize itself is up to the artist. For me, the open-ended nature of what drag can look like is so appealing because it allows me to explore other forms of art in conjunction with drag.
I love art, but I’ve never seriously considered myself as an artist. Now, I’m not here to define who is and isn’t an artist, but personally I just never felt I devoted enough time to any specific medium. But with drag, I get to incorporate so many elements from other mediums, like costuming and dance, and synthesize them into something new or take a new spin on something established.
I also find it fascinating how I can do anything from going to a party to modeling for a photoshoot and just because I’m wearing a different outfit and some makeup it becomes drag. Drag is an art form that can insert itself into any other medium. I’ve heard of drag artists doing violin concerts, web series, and even figure skating. I think that’s amazing and what’s particularly interesting to me is the appeal drag has to audiences across so many different platforms.
I think ultimately it’s because we all perform gender every day and that resonates with people on some level. We all make choices like how long our hair is or what clothes we wear which affect how our gender is perceived, even though most people aren’t even explicitly thinking about gender when they are getting ready. What drag does is it takes all of these choices people make every day and uses them to put on a show. Sometimes it’s self-expression and other times it’s satire, but I think people are intrigued by the dramatic and often transformative take on gender that drag provides.
As a person who doesn’t really feel like a boy or a girl, drag has given me an outlet to take control of my own gender expression and remember that gender is all kind of arbitrary and at the end of the day you might as well have fun with it.