dr.a.g is the second coffee table book edited by actor Christopher Logan that I’ve reviewed. You can see what I thought of Burlesque here.
Christopher Logan creates these glorious books to help fund independent film projects. Both dr.a.g and Burlesque can be purchased directly from the Book the Film website.
There’s the full gamut of drag in dr.a.g. From traditional pantomime dames to representations of recognisable actresses and singers like Cher, Madonna and Tina Turner, the men in this book embody the tradition and glamour of theatre and film perfectly. Indeed, the premise of the book is this: ‘In the early days of theatre, male actors played both the male and female roles. They were either dr.a.g. (dressed as girl) or dr.a.b. (dressed as boy).’ This reminder took me back to my days of studying and teaching Shakespeare and helped me appreciate the quality of dr.a.g even more.
On a surface level I really enjoyed spotting the famous faces portrayed, but I gained more satisfaction in trying to identify the more subtle references to theatre and film such as the black and white make up and costumes of a Pierrot type from the commedia dell’arte tradition or in identifying a Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music.
The images are not just about a man putting on women’s clothes and wearing make up. There’s so much that rewards closer inspection. The arch of a brow, the curl of a lip or the engagement with the photographer all help to build a story behind the portrait. There might be a vamp, a prostitute or a royal princess for example. There are parodies such as those men dressed as 50’s housewives or as punks as well as more glamorous Betty Davies types. A few of the colourful and beautifully photographed images are obviously men in drag, but mostly looking through these pages I forgot the drag element and enjoyed the portraits as ones of people in their own right. I particularly enjoyed the range of ethnicities presented as I know some cultures find drag an uncomfortable concept and dr.a.g helps alleviate such difficulty.
dr.a.g is a colourful celebration of beauty which just happens to be exemplified by men dressed as girls. It is well worth a look, especially if you’re interested in art, theatre, photography or sexuality.