The Stonewall Riots of 1969, widely considered the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement, were no laughing matter … or so I had thought.
As it turns out one of its finest moments, at least by my reckoning, came when demonstrators countered an impenetrable wall of helmeted, club-carrying police with a high-kicking chorus line worthy of The Rockettes. The police, incensed with their machismo-spoofing shenanigans, broke ranks and charged at demonstrators with venomous ferocity and truncheons swinging. But they’d met their match. Protesting drag queens, towering over the constabulary in their heels, proceeded to belt the crap out of them with their handbags.
And in its own very small way, that devilish sass, hilarity and exuberance is what draws me to the cornucopia of comedy gold that is a drag queen’s ultimate calling card … her name.
From the rich pantheon of nom de plumes comes the most obvious anatomical word play; Dixie Normous, Penny Tration, Wilma Ballsdrop, Tess Tosterone and Ivana Cockatoo.
Particularly popular amongst drag acts are medically-themed monikers; Ginger Vitis, Ella Phantitus, Angie O’Gram, Anne Thrax, Madam Ovary, Dinah Thirst, Sarabelle Palsy and Anna Rexia.
Then there are those utterly devoid of any delusions of grandeur; Robyn Sevenelevens, Mary KMart, Carlotta Tendant, Summer Clearance, Show White Trash and Lois Carmen Denominator.
On the flip side there are the shining literary classics; Hedda Gobbler, Holly Goheavily, Bridgette of Madison County, Agnes of Gosh, Venus de Mile High-Lo and Barbra Seville.
As well as the star-studded; Marianne Unfaithful, Tallulah Bunkbed, Karen Carpenteria, Estee Lauder Harder Faster, Clare Booth Luce Change, Zsa Zsa Lahore and Gina Lola Golden Gate Bridgeda.
Sydney gay culture vulture and former drag queen Simon Lloyd (aka Mandy Vice Rabies) recalls Lady Bump, Cindy Pastel, Portia Turbo and Victoria Bitter sashaying through clubs in the late 80s with equal parts talent and talons. More recent Australian acts include Minnie Cooper, Maxi Shield, Joyce Mange, Sheila Blige and Dawn Service (who only ever appears on ANZAC Day).
My personal favourite as far as distinctly Australian names go is the indigenous drag queen with the delicious title of Nana Miss Koori.
And it seems I’m far from alone when it comes to the lure of a seriously good drag queen name if the Facebook group Drag Names!!!!!!!!!!!! (twelve exclamation marks mandatory) is anything to go by. 2,600 members have posted hundreds of suggestions including Beverly Hillbilly, Anna Phylactic, Madonna Kebab, Synthia Sizer, Mena Pause, Uretha Franklin and Vaseline Dion.
But don’t despair if your own creative spark isn’t exactly lighting up the room like spotlit sequins under a mirror ball. Let an algorithm do the work for you at Drag Queen Name Generator. And for the littlest diva of them all, there’s The Drag Queen Baby Name book, which is sure to put some bling on that teething ring.