It’s that time of the month again where the new classes go up and we round off the month with a Day of Creation (a collection of workshops and showcases) and a final (stunning, of course!) class.
If you want a sneak peek at the month ahead and would like to start booking events, check out our eventbrite page here
Saturday 25th September – Day of Creation
This month’s Day of Creation is the last in a while so don’t miss it! It’s a morning session running into the afternoon and, as usual, it’s a pick and mix. Come for as many or as few sessions as you like! Sign up here
10 am – Writing Workshop – G V Pearce – Hints of Joy in Gothic Story-Telling
11 am – Writing Workshop – Hayleigh Barclay – Writing Vampires
12 noon – Author Showcase – Lara Kinsey – ‘Bump in the Night’
12.15 – Edited Collection Exploration – Dan Pietersen – ‘The Return: The Literary Resurrection of Robert Murray Gilchrist’
1 pm – Gothic Drag Workshop – Vanessa Jupiter – ‘Make Up, Pop Music and Horns: Create the Perfect Lipsync for the Devil Inside You!’
2pm – Craft Workshop – Pamela Berry – Boo-Bees!
Sunday 26th September – Thomas Brassington – ‘Beautiful, Scary and Stupid’: Introducing Gothic Drag
Since RuPaul’s Drag Race began airing in 2009, drag performance has exploded into mainstream popular culture. The franchise currently includes 13 television shows, with at least one season of Drag Race airing seemingly at any time in a calendar. Following this are numerous ‘Drag Race adjacent’ shows such as The Boulet Brothers Dragula, which follows the reality drag competition format, but with a vested interest in ‘alternative’ drag styles that are recognisably punk, fantastic and Gothic. With this explosion, then, comes a heightened visibility of drag aesthetics that do not neatly conform to a popular cultural stereotype of a cisgender gay male donning makeup, dresses and shoes to fabricate a stunning feminine illusion.
Indeed, in a curious note in David Punter’s The Literature of Terror, a foundational work in Gothic Studies, ‘It is no accident that […] in Gothic occur some of the finest acts of female impersonation in literature’ (1996: 191). Drag, as an artistic practice which brings together performances of gender and sexuality, is right at home in the Gothic mode, itself a space which George Haggerty calls ‘the one semirespectable area of literary endeavor in which modes of sexual and social transgression were discursively addressed on a regular basis’ (2006: 3). However, when Gothic, horror and drag are pulled together, two oppositional images recur in popular culture. On the positive side, there is an ostensible affinity between queerness and horror. Put simply, gays love horror. On the negative side, there is the pervasive image of the psychotic crossdresser—a queer and transphobic image which haunts popular culture from Psycho to the present day. Gothic drag, at first glance, may dance a fine line between these two poles, but in this paper, I hope to demonstrate that is not so much the case.
Travelling backwards from my own first encounter with Gothic drag in the present day and Sharon Needles as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, through a range of texts, this paper seeks to introduce Gothic drag as a conceptual tonic to the queer friendly and phobic poles mentioned previously. The talk shall begin in the twenty-first century, considering the range of ways drag performers engage with and use Gothic motifs. Then, I move through a series of texts to begin situating Gothic drag’s historical presence within and against the Gothic mode as a tool which can newly articulate Gothic queerly. In doing so, I hope this talk will provide an illuminating exploration of how drag can be used as a critical frame for queerly analysing Gothic that does not return to these familiar queer friendly and phobic grounds, whilst at the same time illuminating a palpable queer historical thread within the mode.