Ibi Profane’s: Dragged Through History Review

Hannah Ayres – PhD Sociology (University of Warwick)

On the 7th April 2020, Queer History Warwick forayed into the world of remote online talks with something interesting and accessible. Nick Cherryman aka Ibi Profane, decked out in all her decadence, took us through a history of drag stopping off at various time periods, from Ancient Egypt to the present day. This talk was done with the help of Coventry Pride, as well as the Warwick SU Corona Community. If you have not managed to check this talk out yet, take a look at it here: https://www.facebook.com/queerhistorywwk/videos/345802963061165/

A screen grab from a live session, on the right Ibi Profane is sat in drag, they painted their skin white and are wearing a large red Elizabethan-esque wig. To the left is a photo of a statue of an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh.

Ibi Profane starts out by laying out what drag is and what it is not, stating that drag is a ‘when someone puts on some sort of marker to signify or exaggerate gender in a really conscious way’ and a ‘super deliberate performance of gender’. With the stage set we are taken on a whirlwind tour of drag history, stopping off at Ancient Greece, Medieval England and France, Shakespearean plays, Molly Houses in London, Stonewall, Paris is Burning and the present day. I always enjoy hearing about queer existence in the past, particularly when individuals play with gender, as it shows the development and flexibility of gender norms. Ibi does extremely well at providing just enough information to leave you wanting more. Even areas that I was aware of myself (such as Molly Houses) were discussed using a different lens than what I am familiar with and showcased this history in a new light for me. I think this talk really spoke to the versatility of using a variety of queer lens’ in order to view the past through.

Ibi also told these story’s with flair and humour, bringing life to the past in a fascinating and engaging way. It was incredible to be able to sit and watch along with others, especially as so many chose to engage by asking questions and sending words of encouragement. It was amazing to learn more about queer subcultures in the past and the movement of these cultures throughout time, as well as seeing how the history of drag coalesced with other queer histories. Ibi finishes the talk by discussing how the internet has allowed for an explosion of drag and that we are truly living in the age of drag proliferation and states that she believes there ‘hasn’t been a single golden age of drag but instead this sort of constantly fluid yet rich, beautiful, and incredible history’. I for one cannot wait to hear about drag as it continues to develop, witnessing additions to this tapestry in the moment, especially with the advent of new forms of drag (such as genderless).

On the left is Ibi Profane sat in drag, with white painted skin and a red Elizabethan-esque wig. On the right is a photo of a Grecian vase.

If you would like to do more talks like this in the future, or you would like to put on a talk of your own, feel free to get in touch with us:

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