Build an Archive: Drag Queens and Young Men

“Pass This On” by The Knife. A (rather muscular) drag queen singing in what looks like a Bavarian Football club.

Folks, I need your help. I’ve been seeing a trend in indie and eletro-ish music videos towards scenarios that involve ostensibly “straight” young men and older drag queens, usually involving some sort of wordless, eye-to-eye communication that causes some sort of transformation or breaking of boundaries. I want to figure out what this is about and why this is a popular theme right now, but first I need to build an archive of them. You can help me by posting links to music videos in the comments (or emailing me if you prefer), and then I’ll update this blog post and add your suggestions.

“Pass This On” by The Knife. The young man who is drawn to her.

Here’s what I have so far:

1. “Pass This On,” by The Knife. This is the video from which the images above have been taken. It starts with an awkward scenario: a glamorous drag queen performing in a tiny, tacky room filled with demographics commonly associated with homophobia/genderphobia: working-class white folks, ethnic minorities, presumably heterosexual men. Why the emphasis on hostile-looking young brown men, in particular? What kind of potential drama does it create, and for whom? What has changed when the young man pictured above starts dancing with the performer? How does Karin Dreijer’s voice complicate things when it’s laminated on the drag queen?

Can’t see the video because of copyright zoning? Try this one. It’s lower-resolution, but it’s still the same video.

Bonus: a “live” version of the same song, with apparently the same performers.

2. “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” by The New Pornographers. Interestingly, the only non-electronic song/track of the archive thus far, but the title references techno directly. The song starts with an unappreciated drag performer working a nearly-empty and rather divey bar. There’s a lonely and defeated-looking straight (?) guy at the bar, who crosses glances with the drag queen and starts to flirt. There’s a twist in the seduction narrative of this video that makes it really interesting. Tell me what you think in the comments!

3. “Cold Star,” by Kai Stänicke.Set in a public swimming pool, this one involves the starkest contrast in age-class, with the younger man looking like a peri-pubescent boy and the drag queen appearing to be in his/her sixties at least. Notably, s/he appears first as a man—and catches the eye of the young boy in that form—before returning from the changing rooms in full drag to accompany the boy off the diving board. Sexual anxieties are channeled into anxieties about diving into water, although most of the hostility magnetizes to the drag queen as she makes her entrance. It ends in a pan-sexual orgy. Again, there is the conspicuous presence of Hostile Brown Guys, which seems to be something of a cliché.

So, any other suggestions?


  1. i seem to remember one of my swedish friends who is friends with olof (dreijer) telling me the drag queen in that video is super famous in sweden and is good friends with the siblings and they wanted to work together on something and the video came out of that. btw, welcome back to berlin! too bad im not there right now.

    1. Hey thanks for the inside information, Pablito! I’ve got a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend–etc. who knows Olof, so I should see if I could get some more details on it. Soon, I’ll actually be writing a slightly more scholarly analysis of these videos to go on the front page of the IASPM-US blog.

  2. As Luis Garcia said , Rickard Engfors is very popular in Sweden and in the clubbing scene .
    America has IT girls , Europe has drag queens. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s