“Legendary Children” Excerpts and Updates

Posted on March 04, 2020

 

Kittens! We’re out in the world, selling the hell out of our little drag book, and we have many wonderful updates to share with you! First, and most important, Vulture has excerpted a huge chunk of chapter 8, which deals with the history of drag lip-syncing. To wit:

After World War II, drag performing spaces and revues like Finocchio’s in San Francisco, the Garden of Allah in Seattle, and the traveling Jewel Box Revue offered high-end female impersonation entertainment to largely straight audiences who were willing to loosen up just a little, what with having survived a Great Depression and a World War. But as the 1950s advanced and McCarthyism took hold as a political movement and social phenomenon, all sorts of backlashes occurred up and down the culture as a paranoid form of conformity became increasingly common and sought to stamp out social heresy. In short, it got harder and harder to put on a drag show in an America that just wanted everyone to act “normal” and was willing to penalize those who didn’t. In 1956, Seattle’s legendary Garden of Allah, often cited as the first openly gay-owned establishment for gay customers, had to close after many years of providing the best in drag entertainment because the local musicians guild started charging more and more expensive rates to play there, eventually exerting enough economic pressure on the club to shut it down. It was in this atmosphere that lip-syncing acts became much more prominent in the drag world. Lip-syncing, like so many queer forms of art and expression, arose directly out of and in response to oppression, bigotry, and harassment.

By all means, feel free to go and read the whole thing. We’re proud as hell about it.

ALSO: TWO great reviews! The first, from the Washington Post:

“With ‘Children,’ the married duo — known for their taste-making takes on television and fashion for over a decade on their blog Tom + Lorenzo — turn in a 250-plus page love letter to queer identity that uses Ru’s successful show as their entry point.”

“‘Children,’ however, never preaches to its readers. Fitzgerald and Marquez write as if they’re talking over mimosas at brunch. Their style is littered with drag terminology but remains endearing and honest. The book works hard to be authentic, even if its tone might not speak to everyone.”

“‘Legendary Children’ arrives at just the right time — both because season 12 of “Drag Race” just premiered and because the world needs authenticity in its stories. Fitzgerald and Marquez deliver that, giving readers an insight into the important but overlooked people who made our current moment possible.”

And the second, from the LA Times:

“Whenever something niche finds this much success, there’s a risk that its complexities will flatten out, shedding what made it special in the first place. “Legendary Children” aims to broaden our understanding of the rich drag culture driving every scene of “Drag Race.” The book’s 10 chapters turn “Drag Race’s” challenges and recurring elements (the Pit Crew, Snatch Game, etc.) into a deceptively simple framing device for a nuanced exploration of the gender-bending figures, insider lingo and significant milestones in queer history to which the show owes its existence.”

“For a book about reality television, “Legendary Children” is unusually ambitious — an obsessively detailed portrait of modern LGBTQ life and how it came to be. Operating from a baseline position of fondness for RuPaul and all the progress his show has inspired, it also demands more from him. Toward the end of the book, Fitzgerald and Marquez get personal, making a plea to readers that might as well be addressed directly to RuPaul: “We are a happily married white gay male couple who are about as mainstream as the modern LGBTQ community can get, but we would never advocate our own lives as the model upon which all queer lives should be based, nor should anyone else.”

ALSO-ALSO: We sat down with Evan Ross Katz of Paper magazine to talk all things queer and T Lo:

Let me start by asking: How did you two meet?

Lorenzo: Guess! At the gym of course.

Tom: Yeah, we’re a frickin’ walking cliche. I’ll let Lorenzo tell the story.

Lorenzo: Well we met at the g…

Tom: It was 1996…

L: I saw him and thought “My God, this guy is so hot.” I was at my machine and then he approached me and asked if he could work in and I said “Suuuuuuure.” And that was pretty much it.

T: No! You have this completely backwards. First we were eye fucking each other at that gym for three weeks before either of us spoke to each other. And he came over to me actually and said “Can I work in?” And Lorenzo, you’re leaving out the biggest part of this story — the creepiest part of the story — which is that he left a note for me in my locker the week before. I never got it. In fact, we think some poor straight guy got the note. And here we are now.

 

In other news, your lovely hosts launched their book tour in Philly last night and we got a surprise visit from a home-town girl who has some fans on this here blog:

 

Then it was off to New York at the crack of dawn to make a round of radio appearances, first with the hilarious Michelle Collins of SiriusXM, then it was off to chat with one of the earliest fans of Project Runway, some guy named Andy:

 

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