The new book Legends Of Drag: Queens of a Certain Age by Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus has been released by ABRAMS Books and New Orleanians may recognize some familiar faces. Five of our most popular (and favorite) drag performers are featured prominently within the New Orleans section.
To create Legends of Drag: Queens of a Certain Age, authors Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus visited 16 cities to meet 81 legendary entertainers who shared boundless wisdom and powerful anecdotes from their own lives. The fabulous Regina Adams, Teryl Lynn Foxx, Vanessa Carr Kennedy, Moanalot Fontaine, and Agnes de Garron grace the pages of this beautiful hardcover photo book and archive of living drag history,
The idea for this book was formulated in the winter of 2017 at a Drag show at Charlie’s Bar in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. On weekends, they host shows by the Hot Boxxx Girls who according to them “have been around the block enough to know you wouldn’t know what to do with them if you had the chance.”
At one of these shows, Harry and Devin realized that all the performers were of a median age of between 55 to 60; this began their journey. The photo shoots started the following year and continued through September 2021. Even though they were sidelined slightly by the pandemic in 2020, they picked up again in June 2020. According to Harry, “since we already had the aesthetic of shooting the photos outdoors, it was easy for us to adapt for the pandemic.”
Drag has proliferated in the entertainment industry recently, spotlighting mostly a younger generation. Rarely do you see a space for older performers. Legends of Drag is thus a tribute to the groundbreaking drag icons who helped pave the way for the queens of today. Drag is an art form and mastering it comes with age and experience. In that regard, the authors explained, the Queens featured in their volume are in their prime.
Harry is an artist, creative director, and lifelong drag performer based in Brooklyn. He explains that drag is an ancient art form passed down for generations. It is empowering to be connected with such history. He never had a drag mother when he started doing drag, but now after doing the book, he has 80 of them. The people featured in Legends of Drag have torn down obstacles and have made it a much easier path for the Queens today. Hanson’s photography has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dazed, PAPER, New York Magazine, and Rolling Stone.
His co-author, Devin Antheus, is a floral stylist, spirit worker, and writer living in San Francisco. They are a devotee of the Goddess Flora, a founder of the Temple of Dionysos, and the Thiasos of the Flowering Branch. They teach classes on floral design, Mediterranean mystery traditions, and queer spiritualities. Hence the gorgeous floral elements in the photos.
I wondered how they picked the cities for the book. The authors had ties to San Francisco and New York, and their hometown is Milwaukee. Beyond that, they chose cities that had a distinctive drag culture such as New Orleans and Atlanta. Their biggest challenge was narrowing down the cast, especially picking only five performers in NOLA; which gives way to a possible Volume 2.
When shooting in the Crescent City they wanted to pick locations that were indicative of our great architecture. Harry joked that in New Orleans even the houses look like they are in drag.
This Saturday, December 3, there will be a book signing and show at GrandPre’s starting at 8pm. All five NOLA performers featured in Legends of Drag will be on hand as will special guests from other states–Egypt LaBeija, Kelly Ray and Harmonica Sunbeam. There will be books on hand to purchase and you can get yours autographed by the authors as well as the Queens of a Certain Age.