Why Drag Queens Are Imitating Kellyanne and Melania—but Not Ivanka
"Ivanka's only memorable 'look' was being wrapped in that $5000 foil dress, which not even the tackiest drag queen would wear," one drag queen explained.
Daisy Deadpetals as Kellyanne Conway, photo via @Daisy_Deadpetals Instagram
With the exception of the Trump administration's flip-flopping views on LGBTQ rights, the current White House staff shares several similarities with drag queens. They love pink jumpsuits with pussy bows, break social decorum and sit on chairs with their legs open, and often accuse others of lacking self-awareness. White House aide Omarosa Manigault has long gone solely by her first name, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has even rebranded her lies as "alternative facts"—the kind of nonsense typical of a bottomless mimosas drag queen brunch.
Trump's women hit so many requirements to become gay icons and/or Real Housewives that Esquire felt the need to beg gay men not to make First Lady Melania Trump a gay icon. Now, drag queens are imitating Melania, Conway, and Secretary of Education/Amway heiress Betsy DeVos at protests and across Instagram and YouTube—and not because they're dying to dance with DeVos at the Abbey.
The trend seems to have started when Conway wore a Revolutionary War-themed Gucci outfit to the Inauguration. (In response to jokes about the ensemble, she quipped she's "sorry to offend the black-stretch-pants women of America with a little color" to the Hollywood Reporter.) Two months later, drag queen Daisy Deadpetals showed up in the outfit at the Rumors gay bar in Fort Lauderdale. (She brought a television screen as an accessory.) Chicago-based queen Muffy Fishbasket also wore the same ensemble to another club last month.
Simon Leahy, impresario of the gay punk band Bottoms and founder of the Bushwig drag festival (which comes to Los Angeles this month), believes queens have chosen to portray Conway to mock her. "Drag queens never emulate other drag queens," Leahy explains. Few gay men would ever advise a girlfriend to copy Conway's outfit for a date.
In downtown Philadelphia, performer M Hisey has donned Conway's inauguration dress as a means of protest. He has picketed across the City of Brotherly Love in the dress, while calling his drag persona Altfact Kelly. (Hisey, Deadpetals, and Fishbasket did not return Broadly's request for comment.) At one protest in Philly, Altfact Kelly sat in the street Conway-style. The back of his couch said, "Guys, the couch smells like pee." He has also taken on other Trump women, walking around as DeVos and holding up a sign that says, "You're Fired."
They don't know how to lampoon someone who's mostly maintained her composure even when her dad says he would fuck her.
Drag queen Yola Fabulosa has taken a similar approach to Melania on YouTube. In one video, she wears a pink dress and poses as the First Lady in an interview. She speaks in broken English. When the interviewer asks Fabulosa about the women's march, she stutters, "I believe that, uh, yes—could you repeat question?"
Although drag queens are protesting the women in Trump's administration, they can't help admiring their camp factor. Conway has been delivering better one-liners than any Real Housewife as of late, and at gay brunches, it has become common to hear someone say, "I can't help but watch Kellyanne!" Gay men finding camp in conservative women is not a new trend. Both Ann Coulter and Camille Paglia have alienated liberals while attracting strong gay male fan bases for years. When it comes to drag queens, mockery is often somewhat of a compliment.
Noticeably missing from gay men's love-to-hate-them adoration and drag queens' scorning imitations is First Daughter Ivanka Trump. Although she has reportedly defended LGBTQ rights in the White House, she is the antithesis of gay culture. In her television interviews, she has spoken in a well-polished, PR-trained manner and advocated a tame corporate worldview. Her social mead bio reads, "Wife, mother, sister and daughter. Entrepreneur + passionate advocate for the education and empowerment of women and girls. NYC native, living in DC," and her Instagram revolves around pictures of her children and lanky husband.
San Francisco-based drag queen Mama Celeste believes the lack of Ivanka drag queens is due to a lack of originality. They are, at their essence, imitators. "SNL hasn't figured out a regular cast person to impersonate her yet for them to copy," he says. "They don't know how to lampoon someone who's mostly maintained her composure even when her dad says he would fuck her on TV."
Where Kellyanne and Melania drive themselves into infamy whenever they appear on the news, Ivanka remains composed, and complicit, in even the most ridiculous situations. The more transitive reason, Mama Celeste believes, stems from Ivanka's lack of aesthetics that have boosted other Trump-associated women but not her: "Ivanka's only memorable 'look' was being wrapped in that $5,000 foil dress, which not even the tackiest drag queen would wear."