Everybody Say Love: The Power of Drag

Drag is having a moment. RuPaul’s Drag Race, the competition reality series has won multiple Emmys both for the show and its iconic host, and has moved from the niche cable station Logo to its home at MTV, with ratings higher than ever. The series has even spawned international versions, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Philippines to name just a few. There are large scale tours going on all the time, a nightly show on the Las Vegas strip and even conventions dedicated to these contestants-turned-celebrities.

Yet, despite this visibility, drag is also under attack. Drag queen storytimes at libraries have been protested throughout the country, mixing with a wider push by certain groups to ban books in public and school library collections, many of which are focused on LGBTQ+ identities. States like Tennessee and North Carolina have put forward “bans” on drag performance, though thus far nothing has been enacted, but their insidious implications are already being felt.

This list of books includes titles written by past Drag Race favorites as well as historical portraits of some queens that paved the way for the performers we are watching today.

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Working Girls: Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Professional Womanhood

Comedic drag duo Trixie and Katya’s previous book purported to be a “guide to modern womanhood.” In their second outing, the queens take a look at the specific issues women face in the workplace. While especially focused on humor, Working Girls still aims to provide plenty of real-world applications, especially from Mattel, who herself runs her own eponymous makeup brand. As visual artists, the photo shoot elements are specially curated. This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?: Doris Fish and the Rise of Drag

Craig Selgiman profiles Australian-born drag queen Doris Fish (real name Philip Mills), who crashed the San Francisco scene in the 1970s. Her life, which coincides with the AIDS epidemic and Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign that directly antagonized drag performers. Fish’s story and the world they inhabited is eerily prescient to today’s current moment. This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

The Big Reveal: An Illustrated Manifesto of Drag

The “big reveal” in the title of Sasha Velour’s memoir can have multiple meanings. There’s the roses-under-the-wig reveal she pulled off on her way to winning the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag race—a move that forever changed how future contestants would tackle lip syncing. There’s the revelations of her journey to actualization as a politically conscious drag performer. There’s also the reveal of how her own drag career has intermingled with the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Part life story, part self-improvement manifesto, and part historical study, The Big Reveal shows Velour is just starting to show her cards. This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

How You Get Famous: Ten Years of Drag Madness in Brooklyn

Nicole Pasulka takes an anthropological approach to her research of the Brooklyn drag scene, focusing on the 2010s. Pasulka not only attends shows that range widely in production values, but also spends time with the performers in their homes as they navigate their complicated lives and careers. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will recognize some names highlighted, but Pasulka makes it clear that the fame that comes with drag on television is a complicated goal that performers wrestle with for both the ones that make it on and those that don’t. This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

My Name's Yours, What's Alaska?: A Memoir

Alaska began her drag journey as a student at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 2000s. From there, she took her unique viewpoint on the artform to Los Angeles and, eventually, our television screens on two seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race—she won the second iteration of the All Stars version of the series. In her memoir, Alaska writes about growing up in Erie with the distinct feeling that she was meant for something more even before her journey as a professional drag artist began, and how the fame that came from being on RuPaul’s Drag Race brought new complexities to her life and career. Full of Alaska’s trademark humor, My Name’s Yours takes readers on a journey beyond the glamorous, otherworldly persona. This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

The Art of Drag

Before RuPaul’s Drag Race propelled the cultural phenomenon into the global spotlight, drag had been around for thousands of years. Immerse yourself in the rich history of drag in this lusciously illustrated guide, brimming with dazzling colors and fabulous facts.

Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul's Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

Fashion bloggers Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez have been writing about RuPaul’s Drag Race since it began more than a decade ago. In Legendary Children, the pair take a deep dive into the nuances of the series and some of the stars that have been created after their time on the show. Using the show as a foundation, they move beyond the screen to frame Drag Race into the wider LGBTQ+ history.