Logans photo book 'dr.a.g.' serves international drag glamour

Christopher Logan is an actor and filmmaker with a passion for drag performance. With a memorable part as a queen in the comedic drag film “Connie and Carla,” as well as more traditional roles in “Saving Silverman,” “Tron Legacy” and “Alcatraz,” he has taken his love of the art and found a way to support his love of film as well. Logan’s glorious brainchild, the stunning coffee table book of the top drag performers shot by fashion and celeb photographers, "dr.a.g." was recently released from Tectum Publishers and is to raise funding for independent film production, including a musical drag fantasy film he is working on now.

The book features some of the biggest names in the New York drag scene (Lady Bunny, Joey Arias, Sherry Vine, Hedda Lettuce, Charles Busch), from the Vegas Strip (Frank Marino, Larry Edwards, Mr. Kenneth Blake), “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Nina Flowers, Raja, Chad Michaels, Tammie Brown, Jujubee, Bebe Zahara Benet, Shannel, Ongina) and icons like Jackie Beat, Miss Coco Peru, and Jimmy James. The photography from Austin Young, Magnus Hastings, Mike Ruiz, Peter Palladino and Jose A. Guzman Colon, among others, is nothing short of stunning.

Logan and I chatted about how and why he attempted such a wide-scoped project, the reactions of the female impersonator community and his own experiences with drag.

Hollis Hollywood: Congratulations on your beautiful book, Chris. I ordered an advance copy and was so excited when it arrived. Of course, it was only a matter of days before a drag queen ran off with it for a week! Every artist I’ve shared it with has completely flipped out. One thing I love about the book is that there are drag queens from all over the world included. Was there any particular criteria for which girls you and the photographers selected? Did you learn anything new about drag from the project?

Christopher Logan: The only criteria was great photos. It is a photo book, and it had to be about the images. It’s through tracking down these great images that I got to know a lot of the performers from around the world. Joan Jullian, Carlos Bieletto and Philmah Bocks, (Belgium, Mexico, Australia respectively) were all people I was not familiar with before, but drawn in by their photos. The same goes for the edgier drag stars, like Sal-E, Glitz Glam and Krystal Something-Something. The images really speak to their art and what they’re about. We ended up with quite a diverse cross-section of styles of drag and a book that is a great representation of the art.

If I learned anything from the process, it’s how generous, open and helpful people can be, when you allow them the choice. Let them be themselves, respect who they are, and everything else falls into place.

HH: How did you become interested in drag performance in the first place? Are you a drag queen yourself, obviously you are a huge fan of the art of female impersonation.

CL: I fell hard for Vancouver’s drag diva Myria LeNoir many years back and started doing drag in an amateur show she hosted. I placed and then began getting booked around town. I’m always been enamored of the live singers. Lipsinking is it’s own art and can be done well and throw us a curve we haven’t seen before with a song, but I was blown away by live performers like Joey Arias, Larry Edwards, and Jimmy James. All of whom, were gracious enough to be included in the book.
I performed on the circuit for about five years and then ‘retired’ from drag when my acting career (always in the works) started to flourish. It all connected when I won the role of a drag queen for the feature film, CONNIE AND CARLA, Nia Vardalos’ follow up to the smash hit MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. I’ve done a few smaller roles, character parts, in drag but CONNIE AND CARLA was the most notable. Working on that film was wonderful. I got to work with the choreographers from Chicago, met and sang with Debbie Reynolds, and meet and work with one of my favorite actors, Toni Collette.

HH: The performers who appear in dr.a.g. truly represent the gamut of drag and female illusion approaches, from the far-out weirdness of Krystal Something-Something to the glamour of Erica and Roxxy Andrews, celebrity impersonators like Frank Marino and Jimmy James, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants and pageant queens. The photographers are equally varied and unique; how did you not only pick who you wanted to contribute, but talk them into donating their work? Did you choose the artists or did the photographers? What was the process of choosing the images like?

CL: I started with photos that appealed to me, performers that inspire me, and went from there. The performers connected me to their photographers, and the photographers always had suggestions of other never before seen photos that I never would have known about. Photographers Austin Young and Peter Palladino were great in helping fill out more than a few spreads in the book, and both were extremely generous with their work and helping me connect to some of the performers they had shot.

HH: You mention legendary female impersonator Larry Edwards aka Hot Chocolate as a key contributor to the book. As a longtime performer in Vegas, a TV and film actor and former Miss Gay America, Larry must know an incredibly diverse range of drag queens. Tell me about the doors she opened for you.

CL: Larry believed in the project from the get-go, and there was an instant easy chemistry between us. I think Larry just got the feeling I would do a respectful take on drag, and so he connected me with icons like Frank Marino and Mr. Kenneth Blake, and recommended others like Miami’s Elaine Lancaster. Those first recognizable name connections, is in large part what gave me credibility and allowed others to say yes.

HH: dr.a.g. was conceived as a fundraising project for independent films you are working on. In particular one that revolves around drag performance. Can you tell me about that project?

CL: I’ve never seen drag done in film the way I would like it. It’s always viewing it as if you’re in the club, watching the show on stage. But you’re not in the club, you’re at the movies…and there’s a lot more places we can take you. Our drag film will have more in common with Dreamgirls and Chicago, and films that have a fantasy element to their performance sequences.

HH: dr.a.g. is not your first book; you’ve written a children’s book and have lots of other book ideas. What motivates you to write books in addition to acting, plus writing and directing films? What are you inspired to write about in the future?

CL: Daphne (“The Penguin Who Wanted to Fly”) was a birthday gift to a friend. A lesson in how to let go of expectation, embrace yourself and allow the impossible into your life. Whether as a actor or writer or director, I am at heart a storyteller. A friend referred to me as that one day and it just made complete sense to me. I’ve embraced it as much as I can, and will continue to tell stories as long as I feel I have something worth saying and that there’s someone out there that needs to hear it.

I have another children’s book in the works, and several films I’ve written. Currently, after meeting a lot of the performers in the book on the mini book launch tour, I’ve started doing the final rewrites for a film on drag, which the book raises funding for.

HH: I know dr.a.g has been well received by the female impersonator community. Are there any reactions from performers that are particularly memorable for you?

CL: When I first showed the prototype book to Miss Barbie-Q in West Hollywood, she welled up. Edie, the host of Zumanity, gasped. Overall, the reaction has been great. I think the performers see the way the book is put together and truly feel the respect I have for them. Charles Busch, Dixie Longate, Elaine Lancaster and many others all wrote me wonderful notes saying they loved the book and our proud to be in it.

One of my favorite moments was when Larry Edwards was about to drive me to the airport in Vegas. He was chatting with Eddie Edwards, and Eddie was clutching the book close to him like a child at Christmas and they were both so lit up, chatting about it. It feels great to have that reaction. It feels like you did something good.

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