King Justin Bond says of performing in drag,
“Baby, I am never afraid of anything… I love it all.”
He belongs to a troup of British drag queens and kings with Down Syndrome, known as “Drag Syndrome.” Since the group’s first performance close to a year ago, they’ve exploded in popularity, with performances all throughout the UK and Europe with an American tour in the works.
“We now have invites [to perform] from around the world.”
In December 2017, Vais brought one of his Culture Device performers to see a show in London that included drag queens. Vais asked her and the rest of the artists if they’d be interested in performing drag some day. They all jumped at the idea. Vais says.
“…we started researching drag. The history of drag. The styles of drag. We looked at drag queens from all around the world. By the time we met the next time, they knew everything about the history of drag.” And they were ready to give it a try.”
For the performers, this decision to try drag was a particularly bold move. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that audiences are moved by the Drag Syndrome performers. Drag is already a loud, interactive, transgressive, crowd-driven art form. Add a group who is not expected to perform drag and that ups ante.
Vais says his performers often talk to him about this…
“They tell me, ‘People see us as childish. They don’t even think that we can actually watch porn if we want. They don’t see us as people with desire. But we have the dreams and aspirations of anybody else.’”
Vais says that during this first performance, the audience was shocked by their professionalism.
“Suddenly in front of them is an amazing drag queen with Down syndrome performing like a master. [The audience] thought [the people with Down syndrome] were all very cute and very angelic. Suddenly, it becomes so fierce. You have this drag queen going on stage saying ‘Good evening, bitches.’ And it’s an amazing drag queen. And she controls the crowd.”
(T/Y Denial Crisco; via Mashable)