Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Amy Krull (Director), Dr. Matt Pruitt, Dr. Steve Groce

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Academic interest in drag entertainers began in the late 1970s and has since been slowly growing. The literature has, thus, far largely examined entertainers’ life stories as well as whether drag reinforces or transgresses traditional gender roles. Little research has focused on the interactions between drag entertainers and their audiences. Based upon observational data and in-depth interview data, this study examines the tipping interactions that occur between an audience member and a drag entertainer during a drag show, positive and negative aspects of performing in drag, and rational techniques that entertainers use to encourage audience members to tip. In addition, it explores whether gender roles are reinforced or transgressed as well as the maintenance of the illusion of heteronormativity. Entertainers reported using several rational techniques to engage the audience, which included performing popular songs, wearing interesting outfits, and interacting with the crowd. These rational strategies were based upon the entertainer taking the role of the generalized other, the audience. Entertainers in this study discussed positive aspects of doing drag that made performing a positive symbolic experience for the performer. Through their stage performances entertainers reinforced traditional gender roles and, as a byproduct, also reinforced heteronormativity.


Gender and Sexuality | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology