Bah Humbug! Where Have All the True Drag Queens Gone?

Halloween Parade

Every year I tell myself I’m not going to go. And every year, I always seem to end up in the Village for the increasingly crowded, increasingly touristy, increasingly boring parade. My excuse this year was that my friend, Rebekkah’s Scottish boyfriend was visiting from Glasgow. And it was definitely fun to introduce an out-of-towner to our annual tradition. I’m just not sure what exactly the tradition is. I remember my first year here (not gonna say when that was…), when my older, wiser, fashion-industry maven friend, Judy, whom I will ALWAYS view as the consummate sophisticated New York woman :) , and her friends, took me to this restaurant / bar in Chelsea and we sat there all night sipping cosmos (which I thought just about the greatest invention imaginable) admist the nastily raucous Chelsea throng of gay men with perfectly sculpted bodies in leather g-strings and stilettos — Judy and friends flirting with them, me by turns gawking and giggling. Voyeur though I may be :) , that was seriously one of my best New York experiences — just watching other people express themselves so freely was kind of freeing to me. And it was the one time I felt like I could walk practically naked through the streets of N.Y. and be perfectly safe (and the city was NOT such a safe place then). I just feel like that’s not there anymore; judging by the eye-rolling and Valley Girlish “Ohkayyyy?!?”‘s at some of the totally watered-down drag costumes, the tourists who come now to see the spectacle would die if they saw the revelers of yore. Maybe, like feminism, the thought is that there’s no longer a need for that kind of expression, or maybe the gay drag thing got commodified so that it’s just silly and annoying now… Or maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and more sated on the city, who knows…

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