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5. Author & Drag Queen Lil Miss Hot Mess

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Photo Credit Joe Montana

Listen to the episode:

Interview with Drag Queen Lil Miss Hot Mess. She is the author of the children’s book The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish Swish Swish. She is one of the first Queens to host drag queen story hour. She's also on the national advisory committee. She's written for Wired, The Guardian, Salon, and them. She's also performed at venues ranging from Stanford to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She was also a backup dancer for Katy Perry on SNL.


Quotes from Lil Miss Hot Mess:

“I started singing it as a song with the kids. In the beginning, I was just reading and then I was like, we need a little something more. We need something more interactive to get them moving. I was trying to think back to songs that I sang as a kid and they were cute, but I was like, drag is all about working with like materials that are already out in the world and giving them a little bit of a twist.”

“I always say the kids and drag audiences are not all that different. Like there's a bit of unruliness and rowdiness, whether it's drunk adults set midnight in a bar or whether it's over-sugared kids on a Saturday morning in the library.“

“I would say to some people think about it as parody and, and I think [drag] is partly parody, but it's more than that. It's not just parody for the sake of a laugh it's parody or satire to make a point. And historically that's meant a lot of different things. Sometimes it is just about finding a place for queerness and dominant culture and being able to dress up in a high fem kind of look and perform what seems like a heterosexual love song in a way to get that queerness through your body and through your presence on stage.”

“Drag is appropriation, but not in the sort of cultural appropriation way where you're stealing from below, but it's about historically subcultures taking from above and reclaiming it or refashioning it to be about our own lives.”

“Part of why I like the swishing on the hips is that that was something that I was teased for as a kid and I think so many kids are accused of being too feminine or too masculine or too whatever.”

“[Drag] is about like finding a pair of shoes that you might not otherwise wear and exploring what it means for yourself to walk in those. It's not just the high heels of whomever. It's, do you want the high heels?”

“I haven't been to a job interview in a while, but I used to always wear heels to job interviews. It makes me feel different.”

“Perfection is not necessarily the goal. The process is the goal.”

“I always say replace guns with feathers and glitter.”

“[Mainstream drag] is also pushing drag to do new things. The underground has to become even more underground or even more weird and artsy and out of this world to make it stand apart from this kind of mainstream thing.”

“I've been working on a dissertation partly about drag and thinking about how it confuses facial recognition. Can we use some of the techniques of drag makeup proactively as a way of resisting facial recognition?“

“People pull out some amazing stuff. It's one of those things where the constraints really do spawn creativity. Like being forced to do numbers in their bedrooms or going outside, there's a whole genre now of drag on the roof.”

“You have to like walk the runway. I like to prants the runway, it's just a slightly different style. I had to do a little dance that I just felt like a mom at a mitzvah, dancing.”

“That is the spirit of drag is, there's a party and a drag queen is always welcome. And you always have a good time and they make sure everyone else is having a good time, whether she's working or not.”

“I often say to kids or parents when they ask about drag that it is about being yourself and it's often about being a different part of yourself or, exaggerating or amplifying a different part of yourself. But it's not about being something you're not.”

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