Bryan Lowder of Slate reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
Drag performance, the art of female impersonation for entertainment or competition, used to be the kind of thing you could only see niche clubs, but with the wild popularity of shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race" and "Kinky Boots," drag is sashaying right on in to the mainstream. This week, we feature two books that explain how it got there.
Photographer Gerard H. Gaskin has put on a gorgeous show in his impressive new photo book, "Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene." Published in November by Duke University Press, Gaskin's collection of portraits of the primarily African-American and Latino queer competitive drag scene is both a work of art and of history, documenting drag "houses" (or families) in New York and across the country as they strive for the most "realness" in categories ranging from butch to femme and beyond.
If Gaskin's images leave you curious about those categories, pick up Lucas Hildebrand's "Paris Is Burning," an accessible study of the iconic film of that name, out in February from Arsenal Pulp Press. Part of the Queer Film Classics series, this book is as sleek and savvy as filmmaker Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary about the New York drag ball scene, which is probably most famous as the subculture from which Madonna stole voguing. Hildebrand engagingly examines the film's creation and reception, perfect reading for after you've enjoyed "Paris is Burning" on Netflix, whether for the first or, if you're like me, 15th time.
For more fierce titles, check out the Slate Book Review, slate.com/books.