1st Edition

Drag, Interperformance, and the Trouble with Queerness

By Katie Horowitz Copyright 2020
    136 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    134 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This story of drag kings and queens at Cleveland, Ohio’s most popular gay bar reveals that these genres have little in common and introduces interperformance, a framework for identity formation and coalition building that provides strategies for repairing longstanding rifts in the LGBT community.

    Drag, Interperformance, and the Trouble with Queerness is the first book centered on queer life in this growing midwestern hub and the first to focus simultaneously on kinging and queening. It shows that despite the shared heading of drag, these iconically queer institutions diverge in terms of audience, movement vocabulary, stage persona, and treatment of gender, class, race, and sexuality. Horowitz argues that the radical (in)difference between kings and queens provides a window into the perennial rift between lesbians and gay men and challenges the assumption that all identities subsumed under the queer umbrella ought to have anything in common culturally, politically, or otherwise. Drawing on performer interviews about the purpose of drag, contestations over space, and the eventual shuttering of the bar they called home, Horowitz offers a new way of thinking about identity as a product of relations and argues that relationality is our best hope for building queer communities across lines of difference.

    The book will be key reading for students and faculty in the interdisciplinary fields of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; performance studies; American studies; cultural studies; ethnography; and rhetoric. It will be useful to graduate students and faculty interested in queer culture, gender performance, and transgender studies. At the same time, the clear and relatable writing style will make it accessible to undergraduates and well suited to upper-level courses in queer theory, LGBTQ identities, performance studies, and qualitative research methods.

    Introduction: "Radically Different Agendas"

    Chapter One: Kinging

    Chapter Two: Queening

    Chapter Three: Gesturing Back: A Genealogy of Drag Genders

    Chapter Four: Gesturing Forward: Drag Spaces and Solidarities

    Conclusion: Is Drag Still Queer?


    Katie Horowitz is Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies and Writing at Davidson College, where she writes and teaches about intersectional queer, feminist, and transgender theories, body politics, and radical social movements. Her work has appeared in Signs, Porn Studies, and CrossCurrents.

    What do drag queens and drag kings have in common? Not much, it turns out. In this fascinating ethnography of drag in a Cleveland bar, Katie Horowitz uses the difference to challenge the concept of queer and propose a new way of thinking about identity.

    Leila J. Rupp, University of California, Santa Barbara, coauthor of Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret