For a decade and more, the photographs of Del LaGrace Volcano (previously Della Grace) have set the agenda for intense discussions about gender and identity within the queer world and beyond. Volcano's camera has most recently come to rest on the drag king phenomenon, primarily its incarnations in San Francisco, London, New York, Berlin and Paris. A drag king, according to Volcano, is "anyone (regardless of gender) who consciously makes a performance out of masculinity", and his kings--ranging from butch dykes to transsexuals--ooze the kind of camp masculinity usually reserved for pimps, Las Vegas balladeers, gay porn icons and the more sartorially sussed end of gangland.
Here Volcano teams up with academic Halberstam, interviewing drag kings and essaying some provocative observations. But while both authors and subjects insist on the fun, fun, fun of it all, there's often a seriousness in these incarnations that sits uncomfortably with Volcano's notion of "fag camp". The academic business of dissecting drag king and other trans-cultures has started with excellent work by Kate Bornstein, Halberstam and Jay Prosser, but here moves an important step further. While Halberstam's complex questions seem to perplex some of the king interviewees, The Drag King Book stands as a shining example of what can be achieved in the edgy confrontation between academy, activism and scene. But Volcano's photographs remain the raison d'être of this book--always striking, witty and, whatever you think your sexuality might be this week, ridiculously horny. --Alan Stewart
About the Author
Del LaGrace Volcano is a photographer whose work has been exhibited and published widely across the UK, Europe and USA. Del is a gender variant visual artist, constantly seeking to abolish conventional notions of gender and cross the line as many times as it takes to build a bridge we can all walk across.