The Arty Semite

All About 5 Jewish Drag Queens

By Elyssa Goodman

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There is no shortage of Jewish contributions to the arts, even in the world of drag. Drag dates back to the days of Shakespeare, if not before, when women were not allowed to perform onstage and men would appear on their behalf in drag, or “dressed as girl.”

The Kinsey Sicks

Today, of course, women perform onstage and beyond. But drag queens have stayed.

The latest Jewish contribution to the drag world is Jinkx Monsoon — the Seattle-based “narcoleptic Jewish drag queen” who recently won “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” And Jinkx isn’t the only one.

Take a look at this list of other prominent drag queens who prefer kosher lipstick:

Virginia Ham

In Harvey Fierstein’s three plays that make up the legendary Torch Song Trilogy, Virginia Ham is the stage name of Jewish drag queen and main character Arnold Beckoff. Originally played by Fierstein himself, the series of plays follow Beckoff’s life in 1970s New York and offered one of the first theatrical insights into gay life at the time. First produced in 1978 off-Broadway at the now iconic La MaMa Theatre in New York, the play moved to Broadway in 1982. Fierstein consequently won the 1983 Tony Award for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play. In 1988, Torch Song Trilogy became a film, also written for the screen by Fierstein.

The Kinsey Sicks

The Kinsey Sicks, so named for biologist Alfred Kinsey’s designation of level six (homosexual) on his famed Sexuality Rating Scale, is billed as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet.” The comedic acapella group was founded by Irwin Keller and Ben Schatz, two former lawyers who were actively involved in the gay rights movement and in fighting the AIDS crisis.

The Kinsey Sicks are made up of four members who perform in drag: Winnie (Keller), Rachel (Schatz), Trixie (Jeff Manabat), and Trampolina (Spencer Brown). Keller and Schatz play their roles with a comedic Jewish flair (Winnie is said to be releasing a Passover cookbook shortly, delightfully entitled “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Chometz!”). The Kinsey Sicks have performed internationally and been recognized by high-profile nominations with the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards, as well as their famed extended run at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross

Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross

The creation of Israeli-born, Jewish educator Amichai Lau-Lavie, the Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross is an elderly Jewish Orthodox widow to six husbands, an expert who teaches traditional Jewish rituals and traditions, “a personal soul-trainer to the ultra-orthodox elite (and elitists from all faiths and backgrounds).” Lau-Lavie designed the Rebbetzin to broaden the scope of the way Judaism was taught, to make it more modern and engaging.

Lau-Lavie has performed as the Rebbetzin, “the first lady of Judeo-Kitsch,” internationally.

All Beef Patty

All Beef Patty

A neon swirl of glitter, hair, and makeup, All Beef Patty is the live-singing Jewish drag queen alter ego of performer Jason Gerber. In 2012, Patty wowed the audiences of America’s Got Talent with her powerful vocals and became quarterfinalist on the program.

Gerber has been singing since a young age, and has also performed with the Gay Men’s Chorus at Carnegie Hall, alongside famed performer Kelli O’Hara. All Beef Patty currently performs at Lips, a drag performance cabaret and restaurant in New York and resides in Brooklyn.

Silvia Sparklestein

A regular at Jayson Littman’s He’bro events in New York City, Silvia Sparklestein is a curvaceous blonde drag yenta from Queens by night. By day, she is Yudi K. [who asked that his full name not be used], an interior designer on New York’s Upper West Side. As Sparklestein, Yudi K. hosts and presents at a variety of Jewish LGBT events in New York and Washington, D.C. Sparklestein performed “All I Want For Christmas is… Jews!” at the most recent He’bro Jewbilee in December to an ecstatic crowd.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: drag, Torch Song Trilogy, Silvia Sparklestein, Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross, Kinsey Sicks, Jewish, All Beef Patty

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