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25 photos of Dragchester

Life's a drag - well it is for these Manchester artistes as photographed by Lee Baxter

Dragchester

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There's a fabulous line from an episode of 'Round the Horne', the BBC radio comedy sketch show which ran from 1965 to 1968. Two characters, Julian and Sandy, appeared each week, their camp lilts, suggestive inuendo and outright smut presenting the nation with some of the first gay men on air without it ever being explicitly referenced, (although when they talked of spending the afternoon in the vicar's passage, it's hard to see how they got away with it). 

As played by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, the couple would recount tales to presenter Kenneth Horne and in one such story, Julian and Sandy found themselves washed overboard a boat on stormy seas. Horne asks earnestly if they managed to drag themselves up.

'Ooh no,' comes the reply. 'We just wore casuals.' Cue thundrous laughter from the studio audience.

Drag. It has been around forever and it's alive and well, and doing fabulously in Manchester. This year, some Pride celebrations have banned drag, seeing it as potentially offensive to the trans community, but not so in Manchester, where traditional drag has taken a stilletoed step to the side of the stage as more radical performance drag takes hold, as photographer Lee Baxter explains.

'Manchester’s knack of nurturing talent has produced a very popular drag phenomena, through events such as Cha Cha Boudoir, Drunk at Vogue & Tranarchy. It's all about expression, inclusivity and two fingers to conformity.

I’m drawn to taking photos of this particular group of artists for many reasons - the inventiveness in the way that ideas are brought to life via costume & makeup, the breaking down of gender roles and the general joie de vivre of the participants.

These photos only show a very small cross section of the talented people who help make this vibrant city come alive.'

See more work by Lee Baxter.

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