Essential Drag Albums

3.20.2008

By Smith Galtney

Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich in London (1965)
Recorded 34 years after Morocco, the benchmark film that featured Dietrich seducing both sexes while garbed in top hat and tux, this cherished performance bends its genders strictly by association. She was the picture of mature femininity, but that voice -- vulnerable yet virile, coquettish yet cocksure, silly yet oh, so serious -- had its own coy twists.

Sylvester
Step II (1978)
Calling Sylvester a drag queen is like saying the Beatles were just a rock group. Sure, he works a gold lam' muumuu-lookin' thing on the back cover of this historic breakthrough album. But as the eternal roof-raiser 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)' proved, no mere pretender can coo 'kiss me there,' moan like a bitch, and still convince you he's a top.

k.d. lang
Absolute Torch and Twang (1989)
As a cowgirl who just looked awkward in conventional women's clothing, k.d. lang posed in low-key ranch-hand regalia for the cover of her third major-label album. She'd soon go pop and trade in her shit-kickers for spats, but Absolute's sultry alt-country classics 'Pullin' Back the Reins' and 'Full Moon Full of Love' are artistic high points. Come back to the barnyard, k.d. lang, k.d. lang!

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