QUEENS AT HOME
WORDS BY TRACY RAMSDEN
PORTRAITS BY JAN KLOS
originally appeared in Marie Claire UK no.364
Away from the bright lights and glamour of the nightclub scene, photographer Jan Klos was invited into the homes of the Uk’s most popular drag artists to explore the power of performance and identity
Blurring the boundaries between character and self, performance and identity, drag has been popularised by mainstream theatre, advertising and tv shows, such as RuPaul’s Drag Race. But across the UK, more LGBTQ+ people are experimenting with drag in all its forms as a space for creativity and self-expression.
‘Drag has broken out of the gay scene and acts are now being booked for corporate events and weddings, but the imagery of drag queens is often of them on stage or in their dressing rooms, which i found counter inspiring,’ says photographer Jan Klos, who first became fascinated by drag subculture in 2012 after spending time on Londons’ night scene. He started photographing drag queens at home last year. ‘As with fashion, our homes are an expression of ourselves - you get a sense of a person by looking at their house, what colours they use, what pets they have. I wanted to photograph them in character, because those characters are part of their story - this wasn’t about “peering behind the mask”.’
Jan juxtaposes the everyday spaces with the colourful people who inhabit them.’There isn’t one definition of drag - like gender, it’s a spectrum,’says Klos.”You have those who have been doing it since the 90’s, like Holstar, who is also a dominatrix and very well-respected on the scene. Their experiences are completely different to the younger generation of 21-year-old drag queens who are big on Instagram. For some, it’s a full-time career, and for others, it’s a persona they inhabit away from their mundane day jobs.’The unifying factor for all the drag queens, Klos found, was a feeling empowerment. He says, “Why drag?” I would ask them.”Because it’s freeing. You can be anything you want to be,” They would reply.’