A study into the relationship between the lives and performances of drag artists, with close reference to the extent that normative gender expression and the gender binary are subverted.
This study aims to find new understandings in the relationship between the lives and performances of drag artists, with close reference to the extent of subversion of gender expression and the gender binary. Drag performance is an area of queer theatre with currently limited and repetitive academic research. Through employing primarily the theories of Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, this study will analyse the relationship in regards to the crossover or blur of distinction between the lives and performances of Alexander Steinberg/Sasha Velour. The analysis of Steinberg/Velour is developed from a range of sources including published written interviews, broadcast live interviews, recorded performance and live performance viewed by the researcher. The discussion has been divided into three main areas of focus: The Appearance of Drag, Drag Culture and Drag as Activism. Through these chapters this study will compare and contrast analysis of Steinberg/Velour to other drag performers as well as the findings of previous studies. The overall conclusion of this study found there to be a substantial crossover present in the relationship between Steinberg’s personal live and their drag persona Velour. The influence that their life had on their performance, and vice versa, was found to be of equivalent weight and significance to each other. These findings bring relevance to the study of performance as an extension of the self, and would be beneficial to further study in this topic. In terms of subversion of gender expression and the gender binary it was found that although there was freedom of fluid gender expression experienced in life, this was not always equally reflected in the performance of Velour. While there were definitive crossovers between life and performance, the extent of subversion did not always transgress in both. These findings exemplify the agency drag possesses to subvert normative gender expression, but that in some aspects drag performance can be mediated or diluted by mainstream, or heteronormative influence.