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Diary of a Drag Queen Paperback – July 10, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this rambling memoir–cum–cultural study, essayist Harris (The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture; Cute) describes the time he spent dressing in women's clothes to attract heterosexual men. "In the bedroom of the drag queen, the heterosexual and the homosexual, like the lion and the lamb, lie down on the same sheets," he writes in a typically purple passage. Harris himself admits he didn't make a particularly convincing woman; nevertheless, "Denial"—as Harris called his female persona—met sex partners in Internet chatrooms far more easily than 45-year-old white, gay Daniel found dates in regular New York. And the men who came by to hook up didn't require much convincing. The book alternates chapters narrated by "Him" with ones told by "Her." "Him" provides a taxonomy of the kind of guys who go for a really bad drag queen: closet cases, straight men who like sex without having to pay for it or date women, "genuine fetishists" and the just plain horny. "Her" details the humiliations of shopping and makeup expeditions, and enough dates gone wrong to fill several new Bridget Jones novels. Harris is most provocative when discussing the place of a white drag queen in an urban black neighborhood. His observations on the messiness of sexual identity pack less punch. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (July 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786715162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786715169
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,667,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So maybe my review's title is unfair. While the book's title is inaccurate, I am not sure what else Harris could have called it. Daniel Harris was not a drag queen (or female impersonator, faux queen or any kind of public entertainer), but rather a cisgender gay man struggling socially and professionally. He was a journalist relegated to routine writing tasks and, no spring chicken, was often ignored by men. Recalling a friend named Christoph's success in getting double takes from traditionally masculine and handsome men of all sexual orientations on Halloween due to being in drag, Daniel Harris takes on the task of finding men online interested in him in drag. Despite being towering in height and not pretty, Harris meets men across the spectra of identity, culture and subcultures as well as feuds and truces with crossdressers, gender variant individuals and transgender women.

This memoir is a bit odd in that it jumps around in time and it is not well organized (each chapter is labeled either "Him" or "Her"). While it is interesting to read the struggles of him preparing and trying to at least get in the ballpark of women's clothes, make up, etc., I think it was even more fascinating to read about his feelings of wearing this "mask" to gain attention from suitors. Unfortunately, this part of the book is short-lived and in the beginning. There is a lot more written about the actions, mannerisms and words of the men she meets. This is also interesting and credit to Harris for making a certain feeling of mystery or even suspense each time "Denial" or "Dani" (Harris' alter egos) would meet "Him."

Harris comes across as likable and very intelligent. I cannot help but feel bad for his low-points in career and love life at the start of the book.
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Format: Paperback
A fun read, sometimes hilarious (the guy who wanted him to put a paper bag over his head), sometimes scary (the cat fights that go on in the CD chatrooms), and occasionally touching (the author's frustration with his life and loves). A major theme of the book is the isolation and miscommunication that goes on over the Internet... and as I type this, I note, on the Amazon page, that I am being invited to search for "Diary Queen" restaurants in North Carolina... Anyhow, I recommend this to anyone looking for a glimpse into a rarely-seen world of offbeat sexuality. Breezy style (no doubt the product of his five years at Hahvahd!) and never boring.
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A fascinating memoir that describes, with great intelligence, self-awareness and self-deprecating humor, a creative response on the part of the author to the dilemma of the aging gay male (of which I am one), at the same time offering an interesting anthropological study of the behavior and motivations of the men whom the author meets in the process.
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More of a transvestite than a drag queen, the author ventures into the world of femininity in the hopes of capturing the ever elusive " All Man." Her search for cosmetics, beauty, men and truth are all too comical and disturbing at turns. With Gay Men as with Women, beauty and viability are one and the same same and the shelf life of which expires all too soon. Does one accept a certain loneliness and solitude with grace or go down fighting? Does the tyranny of beauty rule absolutely or are there utopias beyond? Even more entertaining than the notions of gender and beauty are the fluid sexuality of men who will do anything to have sex without being labeled gay. The willingness of her men to believe that they are straight and to hold onto their rigidly defined sexuality is just as revealing as the gay man who goes to any length to avoid being alone.
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