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Drag and performance

Lily of the Scally APN magazine cover

Modern drag began to take form in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nobody knows where the word drag comes from but drag performance has often been linked with gay communities. Drag is loosely defined as an individual dressing as and/or assuming the characteristics of the opposite sex. Drag is commonly used for performance, often comedic. However, it has historically been used in different ways, including for disguise, to make a political statement or as a form of protest. Why female artists, including Rosa Bonheur and Harriet Hosmer, adopted male dress in the 19th century  is the subject of much debate.

In Liverpool, the pub and club drag scene goes back at least as far as the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s the Merseyside born performer Paul O’Grady became arguably Britain’s most famous drag performer in his alternative persona, Lily Savage. Liverpool still has a thriving drag scene with venues such as Superstar Boudoir, Garlands, Masquerade, The Lisbon and GBar all having nights hosted or supported by drag artists.



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