Philosopher Judith Butler theorized in 1990 that gender is performative. She noted that how people dress, how they style their hair and even the way they walk indicates how feminine or masculine they wish to appear.
Butler’s theory of performativity applies to everyday life, but it also applies to drag, which involves dressing up to literally perform gender. Drag, the practice of exaggerating gender stereotypes through dress and performance, is an experience for performers and audience members alike. It’s an art form, an artistic expression of self, and a connection to an entire community.
When many people think of drag, they picture men dressed as glamorous women with long lashes, high stilettos and massive wigs. However, this is only a small slice of the world of drag today. Local performer Wednesday Munster (Morgan Chrisman) is an AFAB queen (someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies as genderqueer, neither male nor female). The drag community hasn’t always embraced performers like them, despite their undeniable talent and passion.
Wednesday actually started performing as a drag king (a woman who performs as a man) five years ago. Since then, drag has been an anchor in battling addiction, pushing boundaries and gaining confidence. “Drag persona is like a parasite and your body is the host — it takes you from there,” Wednesday says.
Now embracing a more feminine punk style as an AFAB queen, Wednesday has watched the drag community grow to welcome gender-nonconforming and nonbinary folks like them. In the past, AFAB queens and bio queens (women who perform as drag queens) faced criticism from other drag performers for embracing — rather than rebelling against — femininity, simply because of their anatomy. Now, instead of being seen as appropriating gay culture, they serve as an extension of the LGBTQ community.
[pullquote-1] Many know Wednesday Munster for their comedic take on everyday experiences such as stubbing their toe, enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and recreationally smoking marijuana. Wednesday even invites audience members to laugh at their own expense if it alleviates the heaviness of everyday life.
However, sometimes Wednesday wants to piss people off. As an artist, Wednesday is fully aware that art is a reflection of the world. Consequently, sometimes they aim to make the audience uncomfortable with controversial topics such as mental health and politics. They want to encourage people to think about what is going on, and to stop ignoring systemic problems such as hate crimes against LGBTQ folks — specifically trans women of color. The goal isn’t to upset members of the audience, but to inspire and encourage people to want to make a difference.
Wednesday wants to embrace a feminist voice and to be an ally to women by standing up against misogyny. Having experienced double standards firsthand, Wednesday supports every type of performer.
It is this sincere empathy and determination that inspires them to utilize drag as a springboard to get involved within the local community. Aside from participating in Drag Story Time, occasional events where drag performers read stories to children, Wednesday also performs and serves as a mentor for LGBTQ youth at Inside Out Youth Services. As an audience member at youth drag performances, Wednesday offers advice such as, “Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of being weird. You have to be happy in your own skin to be happy in your own art.”
As for the naysayers, there’s nothing Wednesday loves more than people who poke the bear. Wednesday’s motto: “Tell me I can’t and watch me do it.” And for those looking for hope, inspiration and encouragement, Wednesday implores people to “run to what scares you. Sometimes it’s not as scary as you think.”
Wednesday Munster will be performing at the Anita Tea Party, Friday, Dec. 6, 9 p.m. at Club Q, 3430 N. Academy Blvd. More info at facebook.com/ClubQOnline.