Drag royalty Alaska Thunderfuck once said ‘straight people love to steal from drag queens. It happens all the time’.
And though she may have been referring to Taylor Swift at the time, the same can be said of the art of drag.
After all, why should us queers have all the fun? There’s room for everybody in the world of drag.
We’ve put together a list of straight drag queens you should know about, and answered your burning questions about straight men doing drag.
5 Straight Male Drag Queens You Should Know About
Ok, ok, before we dive in I need to state that there are caveats aplenty to this list!
The headline says ‘straight’, but perhaps the more accurate description is ‘reportedly straight’ or ‘allegedly straight’.
And, language is important, too! These performers may not refer to themselves as drag queens – rather female impersonator or illusionists.
Dame Edna Everage
Played by Barry Humphries
Perhaps the world’s most famous drag queen (sorry RuPaul, I said it) Dame Edna debuted in 1955 (!) and has been going strong ever since.
The character was first created to lampoon a particular type of Melbournian housewife, and always wore sparkly costumes, a purple-rinse wig, and elaborate eyeglasses.
Barry Humphries, the character’s creator, has been married to four women and has fathered four children.
In 2018 Humphries showed that he may not be such a great friend to the LGBTQ+ community when he made transphobic comments.
Played by Tyler Perry
Based in part on Perry’s mother and aunt, Madea has been a lucrative creation for him, making him the highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011, earning an eye-watering US$130 million between May 2010 and May 2011.
The character, an older, tough African-American woman, has appeared in numerous films and tv shows, and has been described by Perry as the type of woman who ‘would beat the hell out of you but make sure the ambulance got there in time to make sure they could set your arm back’.
Played by Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko
Best known for representing Ukraine at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’, Verka is the creation of Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko.
The song may not have won, but Verka DID manage to win the Barbara Dex Award for Worst Dressed at Eurovision, and that’s something – right?
Danylko has had a difficult relationship with Verka, even going so far as to announce his plans to ‘bury’ her in 2017.
Luckily for us he had a change of heart (or a really big cheque) and Verka has danced out of retirement several times since then.
Played by John Linehan
The pantomime dame is a uniquely British institution, with men dressed in drag popping up in Christmas pantomimes as the frumpy, matronly character.
One of the most famous of these is John Linehan, who has played his character May McFettridge for a whopping thirty consecutive years at the annual Christmas pantomime in the Grand Opera House in Belfast.
In 2004 Linehan told The Guardian:
I’m straight and married – and people always assume the dame is gay. In rehearsals, you can always see the male dancers making certain assumptions – then I mention that I’m off to see the wife and the grandchildren, and suddenly their voices drop about half an octave.
Old Mother Riley
Played by Arthur Lucan
As part of a double act with his wife, Lucan became famous as Old Mother Riley, and starred in numerous productions across radio, film and stage.
Lucan was a true pioneer, and one of the first drag queens to achieve mainstream success. Audiences related to the salt-of-the-Earth, no-nonsense washerwoman, and his films had sustained success over a number of decades.
I would LOVE some insight in to the dynamics of his relationship with his wife. The two played mother and daughter for years, and I can only imagine how strange that would be!
Has there ever been a straight male contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
To date, there have been no straight cis-male contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
However, in season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK there was a bisexual contestant, Scaredy Kat, who was in a relationship with a cis-female at the time of competing.
Why aren’t there more straight drag queens?
It’s hard to say exactly why there aren’t more straight drag queens.
In reality, it’s likely to be a combination of things. However, with the stigma surrounding homosexuality it’s probable that many straight men have avoided drag so as not to appear ‘gay’.
With a wider acceptance in many countries in the last decade it will be interesting to see how this impacts the diversity of drag queens.
Is it only a matter or time before we have our first straight male winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race?