Anyone lucky enough to have caught photographer Linda Simpson's multimedia photo exhibition "The Drag Explosion" raves about the rare peek at the underground art form before money, gentrification, and AIDS ravaged much of the New York City scene. It is like a time capsule of drag and underground trans and queer culture there in the 1990s.
"Explosion" includes a website, TheDragExplosion.com, live slideshow presentations, and other formats all done by Simpson, a famed drag performer who since the 1980s has promoted and hosted parties at New York clubs, published the underground gay zine My Comrade, and hosted the groundbreaking TV show Party Talk.
Simpson also released a book focused on one person who stands out in "Explosion."
PAGES is Simpson's heartfelt homage to her captivating transgender friend Page Potter Reynolds, a fixture in the city's club and art world in the '90s, shot by Simpson over the course of their 12-year friendship.
The snapshots in PAGES (published by Peradam, a Brooklyn publishing group specializing in small-run artist books) recall Reynolds's intriguing beauty, wild sense of style, and provocative performances that Simpsons said made her friend a cult figure on the gender-bending downtown nightlife scene.
"Back then our drag lingo was pretty blunt, nobody used the term 'transgender,'" Simpson writes in her introduction. "Page was considered a pre-op — a transsexual who hadn’t yet got The Operation (a.k.a. 'the chop'). While it’s not uncommon for transsexuals to emerge from the drag scene, she traveled the opposite route. Hormones and feminizing came first, then she joined Channel 69’s queeny sorority. (Her name was conveniently unisex; she was born Page Potter Reynolds, in WASPy Vermont.)"
These photographs below are a selection from PAGES, a slim photobook that sold out on its first run but is available again at Peradam.info.
All photos excerpted from PAGES by Linda Simpson (Peradam).