‘Legendary Children’ Exhibit Exposes Atlanta’s Drag Queen Culture

Posted by Rachel S on Monday, September 9th, 2013

 Drag queen photo in Legendary Children

When you think of the Deep South, tolerance and embracing counter-culture is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind. But in Atlanta – smack in the middle of the Bible belt – you may be surprised to know there is a wildly popular drag queen scene that’s been thriving for decades and is now being celebrated in a new photo exhibit – Legendary Children. In fact, the world’s best known drag superstar RuPaul hails from Atlanta and was a smash there before he moved on to TV success with RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Paying tribute to Atlanta’s epic drag scene is photo exhibit Legendary Children which features queens who are shaking up an already subversive scene by eschewing the typical drag shows that have wide audience appeal to both gay and straight crowds. Instead, these daring draggers perform bold burlesque, cutting edge comedy, avant-garde poetry and have radical personas that put even the usual over-the-top queen to shame by comparison.

Legendary Children photo exhibit

The above photo is queen Kryean Kally photographed by Jon Dean who helped develop the exhibit. Dean told Photo District News that the “purpose of this work is to highlight these up and coming queens and paint a new picture of the South.” Dean’s contributions to the exhibit pose the drag divas in experimental backgrounds.

This photo is by Blane Bussey who took his drag queen subjects around Atlanta to photograph them at historic sites and locales like Zoo Atlanta. Dean spoke to Vice.com about the thriving gay and transgender scene in Atlanta saying, “I think Atlanta has become a sort of Mecca for the gay community, especially in the South.”

Matthew Terrell in Legendary Children

Matthew Terrell, another photographic contributor to Legendary Children prefers double exposure on film to salute the lovely ladies of drag. Terrell says he finds inspiration in the movement because, “Drag points out the gendered dichotomy that divides our species; it expands our empathetic abilities. Drag disarms masculinity and honors femininity.”

Legendary Children photographer Blake England

Photographer Blake England exclusively shoots queen Violet Chachki, often in very little clothing which can be a challenge for a drag queen. England said on his Kickstarter campaign to fund this project, “The community that is a part of this, doing what they love and being able to express an idea of what they think ‘Drag’ ought to be, is something that deserves attention.”

Legendary Children photographer Kevin O.

The fifth photographer that made up the quintet of shutterbugs saluting the saucy ladies of drag is Kevin O who says, “I think there’s something really interesting and cool going on in the drag scene in Atlanta.” Rather than Legendary Children starting out as a collaborative work, it came about as the photogs kept running into each other and finally decided to host a group show.

The exhibit got its name from the epic drag documentary Paris Is Burning where famous queens are known as “legends” and newcomers on the scene are referred to as “legendary children.” If you’ll be in Atlanta between now and October 1st, you can check it out at Gallery 1526. And if you can make it to the closing reception on September 28th, you can enjoy the featured queens decked out in all their fab regalia in a show to celebrate the exhibit.


image sources: PDNphotooftheday.com, Tumblr.com, NewNowNext.com, Kickstarter.com

2 responses to “‘Legendary Children’ Exhibit Exposes Atlanta’s Drag Queen Culture”

  1. Ashley says:

    This is a beautiful and important exhibition!

    …I lived in Atlanta all my life. Atlanta has one of the most densely populated gay communities in the country. I have always heard of it being called an oasis in the south. There isn’t anything to “expose”. Everyone I know is aware of Atlanta’s drag culture.

  2. Rachel S says:

    I have also lived in the south all my life and of course those who have long resided here know what a vibrant and long-standing gay community we have in Atlanta. The perspective of this piece was aimed at those outside of our fair city who have misconceptions about this area. Because we dwell in a red state that is in the middle of the bible belt, people assume we’re intolerant. “Expose” meant simply to expose it to outsiders – naturally we as natives all know the scene and how open and accepting our city can be. But not everyone gets this. This article intends to enlighten those about our culture and dynamic drag scene.

Leave a Reply

Must Read