This week, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) showcased folks with Down syndrome dressing and performing in full drag.
“Meet Drag Syndrome – the outspoken performers with Down’s syndrome who are creating a stir on the drag scene,” the BBC captioned a four-minute video. “These drag queens and kings were brought together in 2018 by choreographer Daniel Vais, to provide a platform for performers with learning disabilities and to challenge stereotypes.”
“They have received criticism along the way, but with a performance at Glastonbury coming up, could they be about to hit the big time?” the public broadcaster posed.
In the video, ”Drag Syndrome” is described as “a collective of artists with Down syndrome who are drag queens and we have a drag king, as well.”
Those included in “Drag Syndrome” are Francis as “Lady Francesca,” Otto as “Horrora Shebang,” Danny as “Gaia Callas,” and Ruby as “Justin Bond.”
In October, NBC News similarly showcased “Drag Syndrome.” The network highlighted performances by the group’s members at a popular gay venue called Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
“Then, without warning, the steady electronic beat of the music shifts to a more familiar Divine track, and out pops a drag queen dressed to the nines in a skin-tight catsuit, draped with purple sequins, and a blond wig to top it all off,” reported NBC.
“Good evening b****es,” Otto, dressed as Horrora Shebang, said to the audience.
“I don’t do nervous,” Otto Baxter, the man behind the feisty Horrora Shebang persona, told NBC News before the show.
Daniel Vais, the choreographer for Drag Syndrome says the “starting point” for the performances “is the art. Before Down’s syndrome, before extra chromosome, before disability, before anything.”
Vais previously told Mashable that the group’s first drag event “fully sold out.”
“And while we were performing it, the audience came up to me and said, ‘This is revolutionary,” he said. “This is history happening here. The artists that performed it did such a good job.’ The audience realized we were doing something out of this world. This was not just people with Down syndrome dressing up. This is proper, proper drag. It was so new to them.”
“Suddenly in front of them is an amazing drag queen with Down syndrome performing like a master. [The audience] thought [the people with Down syndrome] were all very cute and very angelic,” he continued. “Suddenly, it becomes so fierce. You have this drag queen going on stage saying ‘Good evening, b****es.’ And it’s an amazing drag queen. And she controls the crowd.”
Vais called the performances “avant-garde art.”
“When my artists are dancing on the dance floor it’s like Rihanna came. This is not a social experiment. It’s not an after-school club. This is proper avant-garde art,” he told Mashable.