Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus spent four years traveling the US, and photographing drag legends, and sharing their stories. James Hosking, meanwhile, pays homage to three drag queens working at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, the only gay bar left standing in the Tenderloin.
Samantha Fielding collaborates with underground personalities, and Poem Baker introduces us to two drag clown performance artists living in Southeast London. Plus, drag icon Linda Simpson tells us about her friend page and NYC in the 1980s.
Stories of courage, resistance, and triumph run throughout Legends of Drag, the captivating book by Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus. Throughout the decades, these artists, who ranged in age from forty-tree (Lady Red Couture) to ninety-one (Darcelle XV) at the time of their photoshoots, didn’t just bear witness to history. They helped shape it. The stories contained within these pages are vital, and even amid uncertain times, they’re often hopeful.
Meet Donna Personna, Collette LeGrande, and Olivia Hart—three drag queens at the historic Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. The photographer James Hosking was endeared to Aunt Charlie’s, which he discovered in an alternative newspaper, in part because of its “can-do” atmosphere. The iconic club has no windows and no stage, and the queens must wind in and out of the crowd during their sets. They choose their own songs.
Despite the demanding nature of their work, Hosking explains that it is profoundly therapeutic. It offers Donna a reason to confront her anxieties head-on, Olivia a motivation to stay sober, and Collette a way to express herself and her femininity. More than just a means to make a living, drag is an enduring and lifelong passion. “I think they’d miss it if they stopped,” says Hosking.
In this series, Charley Murrell photographs drag performers at home, beautifully embodying different personas.
When night falls and the suits and ties have all been tucked away, a magical world emerges from the darkness, setting the cities of London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, LA, and San Francisco ablaze as the rest of the world sleeps. This is the realm of the night performer, the drag queen or king, the burlesque dancer, the fetish artist, and Samantha Fielding, who has devoted years of her life to photographing drag queens and underground performers.
The photographer Poem Baker first discovered the “Jungola Klownz”—aka Tuttii Fruittii and Toni Tits—while delving deep into the city’s underground art world. The photographer was so utterly taken with Tuttii and Toni, who are inspired by everything from queer to clown culture, that she asked to follow them home and into their workaday lives. Routine goings-on for “the girls,” as Baker calls them, are anything but quotidian. Everything from eating breakfast to thrifting is met with the finesse and joie de vivre of a night on stage