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A Brief History of Drag Shows

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Drag shows have been a part of American culture for centuries, dating back to the days of vaudeville. In the early days of drag shows, cross-dressing was primarily used for comic relief. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that drag shows began to be seen as a form of entertainment in their own right.

One of the earliest documented drag queens is Jimmy Marlowe, who performed in a 1933 production of The Drowsy Chaperone. Marlowe was so convincing in his role as Mrs. Tottendale that many people in the audience didn't even realize he was a man!

Drag queens really came into their own in the 1950s and 1960s, with the rise of nightclubs like San Francisco's Finocchio's and New York City's Club 82. These clubs featured fabulous drag performers lip-syncing to popular songs while dressed in extravagant costumes. One of the most famous drag queens of this era was Divine, who rose to prominence in John Waters' films including Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble.

Divine was part of a new wave of drag performers who were unafraid to push boundaries and challenge societal norms. In the 1970s and 1980s, drag shows became increasingly political, with queens using their platforms to speak out against discrimination and injustice. Today, drag shows are more popular than ever, thanks in large part to RuPaul's Drag Race, which has introduced drag culture to a whole new generation.

Murphys Irish Pub is pleased to announce our first-ever Drag Show, "Drag at the Pub"! This FREE fun and fabulous event will be presented by the Central Valley LGBTQIA+/2S Collaborative and will feature some of the best and most beautiful drag queens in the business. So come on down, have a pint, and enjoy the show! Whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying that drag queens have been a part of American culture for centuries. What started out as simple comic relief has evolved into a complex and often political art form. If you've ever wondered about the history of drag shows, now you know!

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