Legends of Drag: Queens of a Certain Age profiles over 80 pioneers who sashayed their way into queer history. Created by performing artist Harry James Hanson and writer Devin Antheus, the hardcover book includes fabulous portraits and pearls of wisdom from these legendary entertainers. It also features a preface by Miss J Alexander and a foreword by former Drag Race winner Sasha Velour.
The project began as a feature on vogue.com in 2019, “Legends of San Francisco,” which, according to Hanson and Antheus, was inspired by a performance of the Hot Boxxx Girls — in which veteran queens give lessons in shade at the historic Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in San Francisco. The “overwhelmingly positive” response led to the book, out June 21, as well as a 16-city tour. Legends of Drag is also notable as the first drag-themed book published by Abrams.
And there’s much for the younger generation to learn. “We [strove] to record and share many lessons from the legends, but one of the most consistent refrains from the girls has been a desire for the younger generations to study the history of the art form: the role of queens in the riots that kicked off the queer and trans liberation movements, [such as] Stonewall, Compton’s Cafeteria, Cooper Do-nuts,” Hanson and Antheus note. “We hope the book piques interest in the many revolutionary groups and traditions of which our models have been members and participants: the Gay Liberation Front, Queer Nation, Act Up, the Cockettes, the Radical Faeries, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
Hanson and Antheus were among those enlightened by the wisdom of the queens. “We discovered that drag, though impossible to strictly define and comprised of distinct lineages, is a longstanding tradition of joyous survival,” they say. “We learned that queens, especially those who carry the stories of drag’s underground roots, are among the most resilient creatures in existence.” abramsbooks.com
Left Devin Antheus and Harry James Hanson Photo Ken Hanson