Serving Face: Lessons On Poise And (Dis)grace From The World Of Drag by Felix Le Freak

The Blurb On The Back:

Let the world’s most celebrated drag artists transform and empower you with their sick’ning style, wit and wisdom.

However you want to werk it – out-there eleganza, easy-breezing realness and everything in-between – Serving Face is like the gentle hand of your Drag Mother guiding you towards a life more fabulous.  Featuring interviews with 20 artists, it has all the inspiring motivational and practical tips and tricks you need to jack up your confidence and tease out your own special blend of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.  So dive in, discover your inner diva and bring joy, love and laughter to life’s runway. 

You can buy SERVING FACE: LESSONS ON POISE AND (DIS)GRACE FROM THE WORLD OF DRAG by Felix Le Freak from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Felix Le Freak is an artist, comedian and winner of Drag Idol UK 2018.  This diverse, informative collection of 20 mini biographies on a mix of drag queen and king performers (including contestants from Drag Race and its UK, Canada and Australian spin offs), details on how they got into drag, what they think of it as an art form and tips for those looking to get into it.  If you’re interested in drag then this will broaden your horizons about it.

I picked this up because one of the things that got me through both lockdowns in the UK was RuPaul’s Drag Race and its UK, Canadian and current Australasian spin-offs.  As a result, I’ve become very interested in drag and drag culture (and have booked tickets for a few shows for when COVID is finally over) but am aware that – while very entertaining and serving as a gateway introduction – DragRace only shows certain elements of drag culture so I thought this book would broaden my horizons of what drag is, how to go about it and what it can be.  In this, I was definitely not disappointed.

There are 20 drag queens and drag kings featured in this book, divided into 4 sections: 

– Camp (Dapper Chaps and Bawdy Broads);

– Fierce (Dance, Dynamism and Death-Defying Stunts); 

– Glam (Striking Beauties and High-Concept Look Queens); and 

– Punk (Rebels and Revolutionaries).  

Some of the queens have competed on Drag Race UK (Crystal and Sum Ting Wong and there’s a foreword from Divina de Campo), one is from Drag Race US (Yuhua Hamsaki), one from Drag Race Canada (Tynomi Banks) and one from the currently running Drag Race Down Under (Art Simone).  Having come to this book through Drag Race, I liked that I had some familiarity with the story of these queens but Le Freak gives them the opportunity to expand on it so you learn more about them, e.g. Crystal’s circus skills (which you would only know about vaguely if you watched the spin-off show on the UK tour).  There are also photo shoots of each queen and king so you get to see some of their looks, which I absolutely loved – particularly Adam All whose suits are seriously dapper.

That brings me to where the book really drew me in – I knew that there were drag queens but had never seen any before.  Le Freak features several in this book, which was great and allows them to talk about their experiences in the drag community (including the problem of tokenism) and talk a bit about how they see their art as against drag queens and what they want to explore through their drag.  I’ve certainly made a note of Adam All, Chiyo and Andro Gin and am going to keep an eye out for their shows because they sound right up my alley.  I was also completely unfamiliar with female (or assigned female at birth) drag queens so to see people like MYNXIE and Faye Ludes here was a revelation in terms of what drag could be and I found what they had to say absolutely intriguing – particularly with regard to what they want their drag to do.

The biographies are all only a few pages but it’s surprising how much is packed in and Le Freak cleverly lets each queen or king speak for themselves as much as possible, concluding each section with a mini Q&A section, which raised a smile.  By using four groupings, Le Freak also helps to give you an idea of the broad categories of queen/king and I liked that in the Fierce segment, Calypso Jeté Balmain talks about her experience in the ballroom scene – something that I’ve heard a lot about but didn’t know much about in terms of categories etc so to get an explanation of what that is was really helpful.

All in all, I thought this was a really interesting and informative book and if you’re interested in drag or the drag scene, then this is a really useful way of broadening your horizons and getting more information.  

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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