The Fourth Annual Drag Video Verite Festival played to a full-house as drag queens, drag kings, other gender-variant folks and their admirers packed into the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
The evening began with a slide show of drag portraits by Leee Black Childers with live piano accompaniment and arrangement by Jacqueline Jonee. Jonee entered in a lavishing zebra-print dress, hat and bag ensemble toting a stuffed Pomeranian who she instructed to "stay" during her performance.
Following the portraits, Joe E. Jeffreys, the producer and editor of the evening, introduced himself and the footage of Video Verite. Jeffreys states: "The series of four video essays documents, preserves, explores, celebrates and screens the faces and places, past and present of NYC's vibrant drag scene." In a video mash-up of over 60 NYC drag personalities, spanning 50-plus years of footage in 82 minutes, Video Verite offered both poignant and hilarious glimpses into drag culture. From Lypsinka's sidesplitting performance in the year 2000 of Lypsinka's Phone #1 and #2 to an absurd news story of a man arrested for committing fraud by dressing as his mother (and fooling everyone he encountered) in order to receive social security benefits from the government.
It was clear from the packed audience and the vociferous response that Video Verite offered the best kind of celebration to this eclectic and inspiring community of performers. The crowd hooted, hollered, cried and sat in the isles as drag culture history was celebrated and made. Although the night was great fun , it had a serious side as well: preserving and presenting the history of drag performance.
For more information about drag culture check out your local Library. Be sure to take a look at The Drag King Anthology
by Donna Jean Troka, Kathleen LeBesco and Jean Bobby Noble or, for a personal viewpoint, try Daniel Harris's memoir, Diary of a Drag Queen.
For another evening of poetry, music, movement, gender expression, juiciness, and more, check out A Night of Three Goddesses
at the Performing Arts Library on Monday, June 28th at 6pm. Featuring MilDred Gerestant, Tantra-zawadi and Sokhna Heathyre Mabin.