There was a time when…
That’s the way most boring stories start that our Elders tell to the youngsters. In this case, it’s a story of the origins of drag queen names.
Way back in the dark ages of the 20th Century, after female impersonators and drag queens of the legitimate stage became drag queens of the illigitimate stage, these performers developed humorous stage names.
In the beginning (back in pre-vaudeville days), these women went by their male street names. Mr. John Doe and his amazing illusion, performing as a woman, etc.
After that, the characters became more comedic and slapstick, and took on stage names to match. Not all female impersonators went pastiche, and some kept names like Jackie James, etc., that were interestingly asexual. They could go either way. Street or stage.
By the later years of the 20th Century, those humorous names were a dying breed and the performers took on names of what could be real (or realistic) female names, often picking up high-ritz commercial product names like like Chanel Thompson, Mercedes Lee, or similar pageant girl names. (Google it to read about what pageant girls are.) Our brief history on this page is far too condensed and you should read more on the topic, if interested. Please, no hate mail from queer historians.
What follows is what we called The Grand Compendium of Drag Queen Names, a list that some of our folks here made up over the years, well before the advent of the popular culture drag queens, RuPaul and her racing queens, etc. There’s an interesting overlap here in that one of the names on the list – from the 1980s – pre-dates the name chosen by one such drag racing performer who went on to fame and glory.
So keep in mind that these are a collection of some of the more humorous alternatives when picking out a stage name, in that grand tradition of the self-demuring ever-friendly (at least on stage) drag performer of the late 20th C.
Warning! – some of these names will only make sense if you have read a book or two, seen a movie or two, or generally do something other than live on Grindr and Instagram. If you don’t get it with one (or more) of the names, don’t worry: someone else will.
Please feel free to add your own additions to the list in the comments below.
THE GRAND COMPENDIUM OF HUMOROUS DRAG NAMES
Sue de Fed
Sarah Belle Palsey
Amanda B. Reckonwith
Amily Faye Values