Top Five Songs About Donning Drag


Growing up in a generation presented with such fine, cross-dressing friendly films like “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Ladybugs” and “Mulan,” it ought to be a given that the end result of dressing as the opposite sex can only be positive (that is, if you kind of forget the unfortunate endings to all of these movies). Right? Yes. Well, in junction with JASMYN’s drag show coming up (check the story), I’ve compiled a list of Top Five Songs About Donning Drag. If you’re a dude and are curious about the breezy goodness of skirts, do it up. If you’re a girl dying to experience the coziness of facial hair, go for it (although it might be a little harder for you).

1) “Lola” by the Kinks

From the sadly out-of-print “Lola vs. the Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Pt.1,” to which your loony aunt on your dad’s side knows all the words. Also, how delicious does champagne that tastes “just like cherry cola” sound? Ray Davies’ romantic escapades with a transvestite in London’s Soho district has emblazoned itself forever as one of the two anthems for drag aficionados. Most of the song speaks through Davies’ soft, dreamy vocals and slow instrumentation, striking home on our dear theme this week with “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls/ It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world except for Lola.” Davies might have a point.

2) “Walk On the Wild Side” by Lou Reed

The counterpart to “Lola” in the canon of two most obvious odes to cross-dressing, the Velvets’ frontman seductively pairs spoken-song lyricism with elongated upright bass shimmies. It’s rumored to be a sort of memoir of Reed’s pal Andy Warhols’ circus of misfits at his creative playground aptly nicknamed “The Factory.” Reed details a hitchhiker’s transformation of man to woman in transit from Miami, among other eccentric gender-flexible folks. Ignore the implications of prostitution and direct your attention forward to that chorus of all those “do, do, do, do-da-do”s, the part you rendering you totally incapable of keeping the song out of your head.

3) “Vicar in a Tutu” by the Smiths

“He’s not strange/ He just wants to live this way,” lead singer Moz sings on the seminal 1986 release “The Queen is Dead.” It’s a rollicking, fun type of exploration into the life of a man dressed in “A scanty little thing/ … That wouldn’t cover the head of a child.” The notion of this dude being anything other than a regular guy with seemingly odd yet totally harmless tendencies to drag it up is swept away through a rain of jaunty guitars, subtle vibrato and Morrissey’s own omnipresent sexuality. Take note.

4) “I Wanna Be a Girl” by King Khan and his Shrines

Psychedelic ripples and garagey guitar slick the surface of the always-garish King Khan’s gender-confused ditty. Khan and the gang (including Mr. Speedfinger on guitar) warp together a total party vibe, complete with lots of 13th Floor Elevators-esque hollering and fake eyelashes. Khan laundry lists the most intriguing aspects of the female specimen along lines like, “The way that they hurt, and the way that they scream/ The way they scratch, and the things that they dream.” The pro-drag group really hits the nail on the head only the way a band that performs with a personal cheerleader could.

5) “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” by Aerosmith

Please don’t take this as my personal consent of Steve Tyler (who officially quit Aerosmith last week anyway …) and his huge mouth at all — this proves itself as the one exception. After all, “Mrs. Doubtfire” rocks this song to an almost embarrassing level. Throughout the tale of a far-from-androgynous man passing as a woman, Tyler emits some trademark androgynous yowls of his own. But really, the song plays out like some raucous, seventh grade pool party – only enjoyable should you place your pride on pause. “So never judge a book by its cover/ Or who you gonna love by your lover.” You heard the man with the mouth.