Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 29, 2009

Common Ground hosts drag workshop

There is great skill in drawing the perfect eyeliner beard and the tips and tricks to thickening eyebrows. Common Ground’s drag workshop on Monday intended to teach members of the Knox community how to do those things and more: how to tie ties, bind breasts, shave, and round out facial features in order to look like the opposite gender.

“We’re just having fun,” said freshman Common Ground member Charles Ely. “Drag stuff kind of falls into the goofing-off category.” Though they hosted the workshop for fun, members of the organization hoped that people would come out to learn drag techniques and also talk about related issues.

Ely explained, using freshman Emily Young as his student model, the eyeliner technique for beards, drawing on what looked like hairs and sealing it with dark eyeshadow to give the look of a five o’clock shadow. Senior Madeleine Ettlin also explained the cork method, in which, “You light a cork on fire, let it go out, and rub it on your face.” Ettlin explained that this method works better when viewed from a distance.

Of the 15 people at the workshop, the majority were female, so most of the workshop was spent teaching how to dress drag to make oneself look like a man. Junior Common Ground president Ellie Poley demonstrated the technique of breast-binding with an Ace bandage, though there are actual breast binders available for around $30, said Ely. While many observing the binding said it looked incredibly painful, Poley said, “Actually, it’s not.” The general consensus was that being bound just takes some getting used to.

Members of Common Ground explained that there are two kinds of drag: intentionally tacky drag and “nice” drag. The latter type is the kind that is most related to “passing.” While intentionally tacky drag involves over-the-top wigs, large amounts of glitter, and dresses that might only be worn on a Las Vegas stage, a person passes for the opposite gender in “nice” drag because it emulates everyday dress.

Annie Zak


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