Drag Queens In Their Dressing Room – An Intimate Portrait


Photographer Ellen Rosenberg is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  These images are from her project ‘Lessons in Glamour‘  To see Ellen’s gallery of projects click on any image.








“He slides on a dress and steps into heels. He slips on his jewelry and puts on his wig. He applies his lipstick and shadows his eyes. His transformation is almost complete”.

To complete the transformation,  one needs the performance. And although the performance is the end result, it is the transformation that most fascinates me.

Over the years, I have been privileged to be invited into the dressing rooms of many amazing drag queens, as a friend and a photographer.

It is in the dressing room, where the lines of gender and sexuality become purposely blurred.

Makeup is applied in the most exact and dramatic specifications, stockings are donned, hips are built where there were none and breasts are sculpted.  While this evolution occurs, the “male” is chattering away, either to himself or to others in the dressing room.


              “Now who has my lipstick”,

             “I forgot my eyelashes”,        

            “Honey, this is a Bob Mackie dress.”

            “Oh my god, she is beautiful.”

            “The face doesnt’ come together until you have on your lips.”

            “Girl, I was doing that song tonight.”


Drag queens are not pretending to be women; they are creating an illusion of femaleness. But they feel deeply identified with that “in-between” gender role and they’re performing in this way. They are beautiful.

For the audience, the drag queens create a space, in which nothing is as it is in the “real world”. At the same time, they are challenging all of us to shift our views on defining the terms, male and female, feminine and masculine. It is my hope that through my photographs, one will see how easily there is a fusion of male and female within all of us, and that the “self” lies along a continuum.




















These specific photographs were taken over time at the Raven Bar and Night Club, New Hope, Pa.


See also:

In the Spot Light

By Ellen Rosenberg



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