Fabulous images of (mostly) pre-fame drag faves from artist/photographer Jeremy Kost, collected in his new book Like One of Your French Girls.
Captured largely between 2009 and 2012, the painted Polaroids feature friends and collaborators who have since gone on to incredible success with the luminous rise of RuPaul’s DragRace. Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck, Detox Icunt, Raja Gemini, Trixie Mattel, Violet Chacki, and Willam Belli are just a few of the subjects featured in the book and now relative household names.
“Like One of Your French Girls” is a fine art, mixed media photographic series lensing the world’s most renowned Drag Queens. The photographer, Jeremy Kost, known for extensive his polaroid pieces returns to his roots – albeit in a lace front wig – to debut “Like One of Your French Girls.” The book features Mr. Kost’s original work where he lensed the world’s most famous drag queens in glamorous, surreal, and most shocking, daytime vignettes. Far too long have drag queens been relegated to creatures of the night; however, the inspiration came to the artist at night. Well after midnight. The book features many well-known subjects – Amanda Lepore, Sharon Needles, Willam, Alaska, Violet Chacki, in haute couture, as never seen before.
“Like One of Your French Girls” will launch Thursday, May 25th in the US and May 31st in the UK.
Check out these exclusive images Trixie, above, and Raja, Violet, Sharon and Amanda, below.
And pre-order your copy of the book here.
A note from the artist:
A Junior Vasquez live recording from Twilo goes on. A stack of Polaroids is sifted through. The memories come rushing back. Inspiration strikes. With a relatively quick gesture, a Polaroid is painted. The images on these pages are all from my archives—2009 to 2012, to be precise (all painted in 2016). Perhaps they were a secondary portrait from a collage, or a single Polaroid made for posterity of unbelievable private performances evoked, in public, with these extraordinary queens.
Giants in their own right, captured before RuPaul’s Drag Race became an insane phenomenon, these characters are my everything. We made this work for the sake of art. We didn’t make it for likes or followers but for timeless images that showcase these queens in their glamour, charisma, and talent.
The first of this series began by chance and through frustration. I had taken a painting on canvas a few steps too far, effectively “knifing” the piece, and in a childish fit, I slapped the painting with a Polaroid that had been sitting on my desk. The result was intriguing.
A serendipitous visit from the artist Richard Hawkins, whom I greatly admire, coincided with the return of a group of drag queen Polaroids from my first show in Washington, D.C. His suggestion to use oil paint from a tube to “get better mud” happened to make a lot of sense with these images.
I felt the daubs of swirling pigment brought the work to a different level. The relationship between makeup and color and costume, the masking, the layering, the covering up—it all worked together.
I knew I wanted to get this work out into the world as soon as possible. Taking those precious images and revisiting them with this new approach made them feel all the more impactful to me. This process also added a new sense of permanence to this very ephemeral medium, the Polaroid. Once the paint was slapped down, there was no turning back. This seemed like a poignant contrast.
In the series seen here, there’s a tension between the photograph and the paint. Which is more important? We have been trained to place painting on a pedestal, but I believe that no matter the medium, in art it is ultimately an expression and understanding of character that we seek.