Vancouver, British Columbia
I’ve been fascinated by drag artists for a long time. There’s something so magnetic and compelling about them, and I longed to explore their world as they see it. Often drag queens are portrayed as vulgar, even grotesque, caricatures, but this doesn’t touch the heart of who they really are: passionate, dedicated artists. I don’t see them as outcasts from society, but as leaders who set their own course, charting an individualistic path the rest of us could follow.
When I first saw the group of five drag queens called the Bratpack, I was particularly drawn to document them and their lives. Usually drag queens perform alone, yet here was a group of five, coordinating to share the spotlight. I worked in the music industry when I was younger, and they reminded me of a band, but with one key difference—there was no single “lead singer” or “lead guitarist.” In the Bratpack, each performer is the star with lead billing—that creates an unforgettable performance, and is a fascinating, unique energy to capture on film.
In my work with the troupe, I wanted to document them respectfully and sensitively and to take time to build their trust so I could share their authentic selves. I wouldn’t just show them onstage, when their intensity and charisma shine, but would also explore their more tender moments backstage as they prepare. Each drag queen puts hours into makeup and costuming during her transformation—hours full of energy, passion, and hard work. And some of the most heartfelt scenes are those while the performers don their female personas, slowly capturing the essence of another side of themselves.
My primary goal has been to showcase the heart, vulnerability, kindness, and love that are so evident to me in these performers. As true professionals, each drag artist puts her heart into every show; one member of the group even pulled herself together to perform the day after she was in a serious car crash. Just stepping into one of their shows, you can feel the vibrating electricity of their performance, and the dedication of their fans. My hope is that this intensity, beauty and devotion come through in my images.
I hope to continue this project for a long time; this work is my love letter to the truth of these performers.