Queens of the Desert

Written by
Kristof Steiner
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For Israel’s famous drag icons, dressing up for Purim is just another day at the office...
 
Kay Long
Kay Long

© Wikipedia

Kay Long had been a long-time icon of the Tel Aviv nightlife when her name made headlines all across Israel in 2015: the stylist-turned-drag-celebrity was crowned Israel’s top queen for three years in a row. Kay – who was born a boy, and identifies as a woman – visited the Western Wall in a humble black dress, yet at two meters tall “without heels”, in her own words, was not allowed to enter. “My message is to stand up for yourself, don’t change for anyone, and don’t let anyone decide who you are for you,” she says. 
 
Uriel Yekutiel
Uriel is not your average drag queen - and he  doesn’t even identify  as such - but more as a gender-fluid performer. Some say he is Israel’s Conchita Wurst, yet he was rocking the “diva with facial hair“ look years before the Austrian Eurovision star. His name became internationally known when he was honored on a prominent  LGBTQ site for International Drag Day, and listed on their countdown as one of the most influential drag stars, alongside Dame Edna and Jodie Harsh. “His gender-blurring eccentric caricature has landed him in nightclubs throughout Europe and South America, pride parades around the world - and even on an Israeli sitcom.”

Osher Sebbag

© Ran Yehezkel

Yet another artist who is not simply a drag queen, but also a successful opera singer, Osher is one of Israel’s most talented tenors, having played parts in Strauss, Mozart, Verdi and Bellini operas, and even performed with the Mannes Orchestra in New York. Yet, when on the stage of TLV Pride he changes his whole vibe: he recently covered Sia’s “Slive”, produced by one of the White City’s popular gay party lines, Dreck’s Dj and producer Eyal Dan. “Five years ago I couldn’t even think about dressing up like this. I had no courage. But my masculine side lives pretty well along with my feminine side, and I have no fear anymore,” he says. 
 
Suzi Boum
Suzy Boum

© Dekel Lazimi Lev

The Suzi Boum phenomenon became unavoidable in Israel when a grand interview for a major publication introduced her, mentioning her name as a pioneer for LGBTQ visibility in Israel, alongside celebrated local TV host Assi Azar and Amir Ohana, a member of the ruling Likud party. Lior Yisraelov’s transformation from a religious boy to one of Israel’s most famous drag queens hit the headlines hard: “I always say I came out three times: as secular, as gay and as a drag queen.” Yet throughout the journey, she’s never stopped feeling at home – as she says: “Israel made me famous.” 
 

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