The Drag of the Punchline

The other night I was lucky enough to be invited with a group of friends to see a well-known drag queen at an equally well-known gay club. Having recently got in to RuPaul’s Drag Race (yes, I know I’m a latecomer) I was expecting one heck of a show.

The drag queen came on stage and let out a tumult of jokes that absolutely levelled the floor; everyone was enjoying themselves. After the introductory remarks, the drag queen moved to the main event – a dance off. Calling up members from the audience, each was greeted with their own cutting insult: the “ugly dyke,” the “bottoming faggot” and the “boring, desperate het woman.” Aside from the severe issues that I have with the word ‘faggot’ (no derogatory word for ‘homosexual’ offends me more), the fact it was said by a drag queen seemed to make this moderately acceptable. After all, is it not the purpose of a drag queen to shock and offend?

Well here I think we have found the limit. The next person to be brought up on stage was someone of Asian descent and a whole rafter of jokes spewed forth: were his parents in the beauty industry, how small his cock was etc etc. A lot of the “jokes” uttered were of a deeply racist and stereotypical nature and whilst they were taken in good jest, I still found it difficult to watch. You wouldn’t belittle someone for something they had no choice over now would you? That wouldn’t be funny at all.

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10/10 Would Bang: Queer desire and the aesthetic scaling of bodies

He’s pretty hot. She’s so fit.

A total 10.

Sound familiar? You bet. For those who identify as sexual, it’s life. Whether internal monologue or cheeky chat with friends, these little declarations of desire punctuate the everyday.

We’re conditioned with a framework of beauty ideals. We know what makes the perfect male or female form. Sure, we combine these with our own idiosyncratic wants, what turns us on. Some of us might have a ‘type’, others embrace the unexpected. But the truth is, these concepts of beauty, culturally specific and constructed, exert a huge pressure on sexuality.

Beauty, that set of unattainable ideals. That audaciously fraudulent fiction.

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