This Week’s Guest: Jaymes Mansfield
How much do you know about the people who paved the way for you? We all benefit from foundations laid by those who came before, but so often -- and particularly for queer people -- those forebears are lost to history. But my guest this week is dedicated to shining a light on the incredible queer pioneers who led unimaginably fascinating lives and blazed the trail we now walk. You might know Jaymes Mansfield from her appearance on Drag Race Season 9. And these days you can catch her on YouTube, where she's become one of the internet's leading drag historians with her series Drag Herstory, shining a light on the people and stories that you won't believe you've never heard about before.
We'll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick reminder -- I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest, performer Timmy Roghaar. That's this weekend -- Saturday November 24 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.
The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.
And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.
This Week’s Recommendation: Drag Herstory
Thanks again to Jaymes for joining me. I cannot recommend her series Drag Herstory highly enough. They're well researched, insightful, educational and entertaining. I thought I knew a lot about queer history but I've learned so much by watching this series.
In particular, check out Episode 2, "A Brief History of Drag Queen Music," a fascinating look at artists like Sylvester and Divine. I also felt a particularly satisfying frisson of nostalgia from Episode 6, "A Brief History of Drag Queens of the 90s."
So far there are 19 episodes in all, and after every single one I find myself thinking, "why haven't I ever heard about this before?" Drag is one of the far-flung frontiers of queerness, where you can find some of the most daring experiments into gender, performance, and art. So of course, some drag has often gone over the head of mainstream audiences and even other queers, disappearing into obscure history.
That's why I'm so glad we have Jaymes to excavate those forgotten or just under-appreciate creators who blazed a trail over the last century. Folks like Charles Busch, Lily Savage, and the performers of Finnochios never became household names, in part because they came along at a time when one didn't discuss gender outlaws in polite society. But today, it's clear that they were visionaries whose work not only withstands the test of time, but outdoes many of the icons we're familiar with today.
We owe it to those pioneers to remember them. And we owe it to ourselves to indulge in their art.