Why Drag? Why Not?

New coffee table tome profiles drag's brightest stars.
May 02, 2016

Get a gander at Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, Jackie Beat, Adore Delano, Lady Bunny and others in Why Drag?, a coffee table book, depicting well-known drag queens and accompanying short essays hitting bookstore across the country on May 17.

The visually captivating book is the brainchild of photographer Magnus Hastings. Hastings’ name has become synonymous with drag queens ever since he traveled to Sydney, Australia to focus on its thriving drag scene. While there, the publishing industry took notice, and he was offered a ten-page spread by Blue magazine to showcase his dazzling work.

From that point on, Hastings’ demand skyrocketed and after returning home in London, he worked with leading publications around the globe that yearned for the chance to showcase his amazing knack at capturing the drag community and personas in the most appealing and radiating light. It was a dream come true for the sought after photographer.

“I think a big part of Why Drag? is rooted in that little effeminate boy who was shamed out of doing what made him happy,” says Hastings. “I grew up resenting that childhood version of myself until one day, I had such a wave of love for him. I realized how extraordinary and beautiful he was, how fearless. Somehow I think this honors him.”

Hastings first made a name for himself in the London gay scene with his explosive exhibition at The Box in central London. His majestic way of capturing colorful details that provoked awe in viewers was noticed by Time Out magazine, and they picked up the show, quickly honoring him as a respected name throughout the photography and publishing world.

In 2010, Hastings had the amazing opportunity to work with Boy George snapping beautiful shoots of queens that appeared in Boy George’s 2011 coffee table book, The King of Queens. Their work together was so synergistic that a love for one another solidified an agreement that Boy George would write the forward of Hastings’ book. That time came in 2015 when Hastings’ hugely successful 2014 drag photo and short essay exhibit in NYC, titled "Why drag," was noticed by publishing’s Chronicle books, which offered Hastings a book deal.

He spent the rest of the year and 2015 photographing 135 interesting and prominent drag queens throughout the United States asking each one, “Why drag?” As promised, the fun and endearing book has a forward written by Boy George. Hastings has recently partnered with award-winning filmmaker Dimtry Zhitov on a feature length documentary of the book.

“I want people who don’t know drag to be opened up to its beauty and its comedy,” says Hastings. “It’s a wonderland, and I want people to go there.”