Atlanta is full of drag queens, kings, and queer performers. Though the competition is fierce and sometimes unfriendly, baby queens emerge every week at newcomer shows like New Faces at Friends on Ponce, Dragnificent at Jungle, Glitz! at Mary’s, and on special “And Then Some” nights at Jungle’s The Other Show. There is something electric about watching these fledglings perform, and not just because they often bust their ass trying to break in those heels. Baby queens are hungry. They take risks, make their own costumes, share new ideas, and go the extra mile to prove themselves worthy in a scene full of established artists.
In 2013, I had the pleasure of working on a unique photography show with a group of extraordinary photographers and drag artists. We called it Legendary Children, in an effort to pay homage to New York’s underground ball scene depicted in the documentary film Paris is Burning. We also wanted to reinforce the notion that although we are young, we still have a place at the ball (or in Atlanta’s drag scene). Our goal was to expand the idea of what drag could be – specifically in Atlanta, which was thought of more as a “pageant” city- and to showcase their art form outside of the bar scene.
Since then, the scene has shifted. These “children” are now major players in their field and are quickly becoming staples at different bars across the city. Founding member, Violet Chachki, was recently crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Mo’Dest Volgare hosts her own weekly show in Midtown with Nicole Paige Brooks. Brigitte Bidet recently choreographed a piece for the High Museum of Art, and Cayenne Rouge, now known as Zaida J., currently writes and edits for Wussy Mag as well as hosting our monthly femme dance night.
None of this would have been possible without the kindness and perseverance of the queens who came before. I have witnessed firsthand the generosity of Atlanta drag staples like Phoenix, Regina Simms, Nicole Paige Brooks (#NPBFAG), Angelica D'Paige, and Ruby Redd. Performers who make huge waves in Atlanta, but always with one hand behind them - leaving the door open for the rest of us. There is a tendency for the gatekeepers of any scene to cross their arms at the next generation - causing the dynamic to remain static and masturbatory. While that sometimes may be the case for our beloved city, a new batch of queens is starting to surface.
For the record, not all of the performers I'm about to mention are considered baby queens. Some of them don't even consider themselves drag queens. However, they all bring a sense of unique freshness to their own brand of performance that has me excited for 2016.
Now that I’ve properly given you all a bit of context and recent Atlanta herstory, I introduce to you my personal favorite up-and-coming, legendary children of Atlanta:
Although Michael Robinson doesn't identify as a drag queen, he does consider his work on stage as "a form of drag". You might know him from his work with the Bedlam events and Sing For Your Life, Atlanta's hugely popular singing competition. Michael made a splash this summer when he performed alongside Jazmin Aviance at the Starlight Cabaret during Atlanta Pride. You can catch him next up at the monthly DUMB party, hosted by DJ King Atlas at Felix's Atlanta on January 23rd. Fingers crossed we'll see him back on the Tossed Salad lineup soon!
Combining old school glamour and gothic horror, Chelsea Daggers is quickly becoming one of my favorite queens in Atlanta. Chelsea is part of the new generation of #VillageQueens, performing regularly at events like Glitz! and Gurlfrandz at Mary's and Tossed Salad at Burkhart's Pub. She slayed week after week during the most recent cycle of Dragnificent, a drag newcomer competition hosted every year at Jungle Atlanta. I knew it was love when she performed that Human Centipede number with Scarlet Vixen. Chelsea also hosts Monday Movie Macabre every week at Mary's, where she inserts witty commentary over her favorite horror films.
Geneva's drag is a little bit weird, a little bit sexy. No stranger to a striptease, she will usually mix it up with unusual song choices like a punk rock ballad or a Marilyn Manson cover. Geneva describes herself as a "Killer Whale plucked from the sea in her youth." Expect to see her regularly at Tossed Salad and performing on the floor at Mary's.
From Atlanta drag superfan to EAV's resident clown queen, it has been exhilarating to watch Pity Soirée's evolution in the scene. From documenting The Other Show to appearing in the Legendary Children traveling exhibit, it wasn't long before drag mama Jaye Lish helped transform Pity into a fully-formed persona. Pity has plans to perform even more this year, and I hope to see her back on the floor at Mary's very soon!
Breaking into the scene earlier this year during the Dragnificent competition at Jungle, Scarlet won us over with her bright red hair and dynamic song choices. She's been a guest performer at Wild Out Wednesdays, Glitz!, and The Other Show, in addition to hosting Emory University's annual drag show.
You can watch our next queen being force fed Taco Bell in this video. Lola Bundy is a trans performer, whose drag is reminiscent of a fucked up Jayne Mansfield or every-woman-on-the-edge ever profiled in pop-culture . She will make you laugh and throw up all at the same time. In April, Lola Bundy was crowned Miss Glitz, which means you can see her every month at Mary's. She has also appeared on the Tossed Salad floor, and even competed in the 2014 cycle of Dragnificent.
Taylor Alxndr has been a very busy queen. This year marked the first ever edition of Southern Fried Queer Pride, an annual alt-queer version of Pride which returns again this year. When we asked about #SFQP earlier this year, Taylor said, "We're a community, not just the first two letters, but an entire alphabet. We need spaces that celebrate all of our different facets."
Every second Thursday, Taylor hosts a queer variety show called Sweet Tea, which will mark its 2-year anniversary on January 21st at Eyedrum Gallery. In addition to performing in drag, Taylor also plans to release more music this year, which you can find on Soundcloud.
Biqtch Puddin' is one of those queens that seemed to come out of nowhere but was quickly on everyone's radar. She got a crash course in art school drag with her Savannah swamp sisters, the House of Gunt, and soon moved to Atlanta. Within no time, Biqtch was invited to be on cast with The Other Show, one of the most notable alterna-drag shows in town. Biqtch also competed in the most recent cycle of Dragnificent, coming in 2nd place - just behind Brigitte Bidet. Expect to see more ass and more about Puddin' here on Wussy Mag in the next year!
All photos by Jon Dean, editor in chief at WUSSY.