Linda Simpson: Drag Explosion
La MaMa Galleria
The Drag Explosion is a photographic time capsule, spanning the late 1980s to the mid ’90s, of New York City’s drag-queen subculture. All of the photos were shot by longtime drag personality Linda Simpson, back when film ruled and it was the exception to hobnob with a camera.
Drag Explosion was highlighted by the New York Times in August 2015.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Linda took hundreds of snapshots of her friends and cohorts as they joyfully pushed the boundaries of gender expression. The collection traces a groundbreaking era in drag history, as New York’s downtown drag craze transformed from an underground art form into a pop-culture phenomenon.
The earliest photos date back to the gritty East Village where Linda joined a kooky and avant-garde drag scene centered on the Pyramid Club and the outdoor drag festival Wigstock. As drag’s popularity gained steam, drag queens galore and their club kid comrades went on to conquer NYC’s pulsating nightlife, including the Limelight, Palladium and other mega-clubs. By 1992, the mass media came calling. Gender-bending suddenly became the latest fad and Gotham’s drag sorority emerged as pop-culture darlings. Never before had drag culture reached such incredible heights. It was a Drag Explosion that still resonates today.
During the years covered by The Drag Explosion, Linda Simpson worked extensively as a nightlife and media personality, including publishing the “gay revolutionary” magazine My Comrade and hosting the cable TV show Party Talk. Nowadays, Linda continues her varied career and shares her life at lindasimpson.org.
The Drag Explosion is a multi-media project, including a live slideshow presentation narrated by Linda. Since the project began in 2012, she has presented at various art spaces, schools and theaters, including being invited to Los Angeles by the One Archives. In 2013, Peradam Press released her debut photo book PAGES, an homage to her friend Page. Photos from the book were exhibited at ClampArt Gallery in NYC in 2014. Another book is in progress.