Long Island Drag Culture – What’s Hot What’s Not and How it’s a Form of Self-Expression

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What started as a form of minstrel entertainment in the late 1800s, Drag culture, is now one of the most renowned aspects of the gay community. With the aid of the media, the popularity of drag in the United States has been on a steady incline and is thriving. While Long Island Drag is hot right now, your local Drag Queens want you to know they’re ready to celebrate and entertain all year round.

East Northport’s very own Venus Osiris who got her start into drag through cosplay, is one of Long Island’s younger Queens who likes to give old school drag a new school twist. At an Osiris show, you can expect some lip syncing to Celine Dione, lots of shade being thrown and a high energy dance performance. Osiris makes sure to her audience a night to remember.

“My style is very glam, it’s very pretty,” describes Osiris. “I feel like I’m a bit old school because I still like to have big sparkly costumes, really big hair, exaggerated makeup. I do hair reveals, costume reveals and wear big lashes— which is all considered new school. Also, I take pride in the fact that I sew all of my costumes like how old school, traditional drag queens did.”

Another local Queen, Koko Del Rey, expresses herself through the lens of Latina Chonga girl, giving femininity a spicy flare. Ruling from Lindenhurst, Del Rey uses attributes of her Guatemalan descent to enhance her persona.

“I like to be fishy, I like to give you the woman, the femme-fatale,” stated Del Rey. “Many Queens like to use their Drag as a form of expression where they are the canvas. I think that’s beautiful. For me, that’s giving you pink, cutesy, femme vibes while being a versatile performer. I do numbers ranging from musicals to Rap and R&B. I’m not afraid to play with the different types of Drag. Whatever it is, I will give it to you.”

Long Island has come a long way in terms of accepting the LGBTQ community. However, the Drag community is still in the works of creating safe and consistent places for locals to watch Drag. 

“In terms of the Drag community, I definitely think we can step it up some more,” Del Rey expressed. “But there are a few places on the Island that host Drag shows like Off Key Tikki and One Eyed Jacks.”

Fire Island is a really good place to go.” Osiris stated. “Cherry Grove does a Miss Fire Island Pageant which is probably the biggest Drag pageant in New York.”

One way to stay in the loop and to find local performances is through social media.

“A lot of Queens do stuff locally like booking out a venue,” shared Del Rey. “There definitely are shows to go to— if you follow Queens on social media, they do amazing promo for their shows.”

And to make sure you get the best experience at any Drag events, the Queens have some tips on proper Drag etiquette. 

Group shot at Long Island's 54th Miss Fire Island Drag Queens Pageant
The 54th Miss Fire Island Pageant 📸: Billy Hess

“Etiquette for us Queens— be nice, but have boundaries,” Osiris stated. “And don’t use someone else’s stuff especially without asking. A lot of the time people’s things go missing in the dressing rooms. We’re all rushing to stay fresh and like hair sprays will go missing or some makeup.”

“I definitely think the personal space boundary is a bit blurred,” Del Rey explained. “Like people want to shove tips down our clothes or play with our hair. Just understand that we are people too. We are here to put on a show. We’re here to laugh and kiki. But, it’s to an extent for our own safety.”

Long Island drag is on the rise as entertainers bring more and more to the community. And as local Queens blaze their own trails, they are giving LGBTQ culture a place on the Island.

“Drag is everything. It is also nothing,” expressed Del Rey. “Drag is a self defined thing, there is no concrete meaning. It is a vessel of self-expression.”

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