Lip syncing has always been, in the minds of common folk, one of those faux pas we only see when a member of the Real Housewives collective tries their hand at so-called “singing.” (Believe it or not, those microphones in hand are as dead as a clueless possum trying to cross the 405 freeway against the flow of traffic.)
But in the world of gays and their fruitflies (think “girls who like boys who like boys”), lip syncing is a treasured pastime. Every week all across metropolitan America, thousands of people flock to gay centralias and check-in to clubs and bars for Drag Night. From New York City to San Francisco, from Chicago to Austin, Drag Nights have become inclusive events where lip syncing talent showcase their best renditions and gays of all circles and cliques come to D.M.L. (drink, mingle, and laugh)
As it has been known to all of TV-watching mankind for many a recent
decade or so, people of the homosexual persuasion enjoy taking
downward trends in fashion, art, and music, and breathing a glamorously
bedazzled second life into them.
Remember the extreme v-neck phenomenon, where gay men started wearing shirts with an open neckline plunging
down to their navels causing aspiring metrosexuals everywhere to start
trimming more than their pubic hairs? Remember the skinny jeans
phenomenon in which a sexually confused boy-or-another somewhere decided
that his older sister's hand-me-downs would finally be put to good use?
How about those roided-out cartoonish men in police and firefighter
uniforms? Random, right?
Whether by accident or incident, the camp and
corny have become tool-like fixtures for the achievement of
self-awareness and self-expression in the gay world. Lip syncing,
post-October 23 ( the day Ashlee Simpson single-handedly gutted the practice
of moving one's lips to a pre-recorded performance track on SNL and of course,
soiled the good image of the Irish Jig), has in many ways found
exceptional notoreity in gay culture thanks mostly in part to the boys
who do drag.
For all their fabulousness, drag queens have become the ultimate figures
of self-expression in the gay world, branding themselves as a metaphor
for the way gays subvert society's perceptions of homosexuality. In the
hands of these boys, music of all genres (yes, even classical opera)
come to life through bombastic renditions as performance art.
and Rihanna have taken cues from these singing/dancing queens and vice
versa–creative make-up, big hair, and sequins galore are all part of
this circle of life. Imagine a music video of Gaga or Rihanna being
realized and coming to life, but with spur-of-the-moment choreography
and a sense of silliness or profound introspection, depending on the
drag queen, depending on the song.
These queens take their lip syncing
jobs seriously. In general, too, the more tragic the performance, the
better. We're soliciting laughs and tears here–not uncomfortable
silence. (See the above video.)
Even more artistic is the upcoming
generation of drag queens featuring “graduates” of RuPaul's Drag Race,
applying exacting performance practice to their onstage renditions of
classic hits of the Gaydies. Whether your fancy or not, you gotta give
it up to these serious heavy-hitters of the lip syncing world. To them,
lip service sans soundbyte is a way of life.