Meet Linda Simpson, the New York Nightlife Legend Who Just Poked Fun at Young ‘Drag Race’ Queens

Meet Linda Simpson, the New York Nightlife Legend Who Just Poked Fun at Young ‘Drag Race’ Queens

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Drag queens come and go, but only a few endure the test of time. Just ask Linda Simpson, who joined New York City’s nightlife scene in 1987. Over the years she has soared as a hostess, playwright and media maven. Her documentary project, The Drag Explosion, features her vivid photos of New York’s drag subculture from the late ’80s through the mid ‘90s. Ms. Simpson’s latest take on pop culture is a hilarious parody of a younger queen’s RuPaul’s Drag Race audition tape.

“Inspired by the East Village scene, she started dolling up in 1987, aiming for a ‘flirty career girl’ look, and soon became one of the scene’s reigning drag personalities,” Michael Musto explains. “She started a feisty drag zine called My Comrade, which covered go-go boys, celebs and queer politics, and hosted a weekly drag party called Channel 69 at the Pyramid Club on Avenue A.”

Linda Simpson in 1991

Between 1987 and 1996, Linda Simpson took some 5,000 photographs of drag performers posing in clubs, on the street and on gay Pride parade floats. The photos feature rising stars of the day like RuPaul, Lady Bunny and Sweetie.

“New York was a magical queendom,” Ms. Simpson said. “We were pop culture darlings, even though pop culture didn’t quite get us.”

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