“You better WORK!”, the phrase popularized by the indomitable RuPaul as a song’s refrain, has become a universal anthem for drag performers. The practice of dressing up in ornate fashion, donning robust makeup, and using exaggerated cis-gender female signifiers in performance–a lot of work, indeed–has been seen across many cultures long before RuPaul’s song topped the charts in the early 1990s.
The word drag as a twist on the “grand rag” term of late-19th century European masquerade balls referred to male actors dressed as women. Drag has since developed its own culture, practice, and yes, work, with crossover from vernacular roots to popular culture and firm connections to visibility and equal rights movements of LGBTQ+ communities in the U.S. With performers calling upon a unique multilayered system of language, costumes, and varied performance styles ranging from the acrobatic to pageantry, from live singing to satire and comedic commentary, mastering such practices can take years–with some styles passed down generationally, or among performers. Only when a performer’s style is molded into a distinct look, name, and persona are they crowned as queens or kings.
Magnolia Applebottom is one such queen, with her reign stomping across catwalks, stages, and platforms throughout the Eastern Shore. Earning her title for her impressive show-stopping live vocals and celebrity impersonations, Miss Applebottom, as she is known, can be found regularly in Rehoboth Beach’s historic Blue Moon bar and the Sunday drag brunch at Salisbury’s own Revival. She has been featured in The Real Housewives of Potomac and has performed with internet sensation Randy Rainbow and noted Broadway actor Jennifer Holliday. Engaging audiences in her one-woman shows or leading cabaret showcases with fellow performers for over a decade, Miss Applebottom is a true symbol of drag performer pride.
For a special performance at this year’s Maryland Traditions Folklife Stage, she once again calls upon her royal court of Rehoboth and Eastern Shore drag renown. Magnolia Applebottom will be joined by Tamia Mykles, Diamond Doll, Vicky Fisher, Jenelle Collins, Rebecca Blaqueout, Regina Cox, Katrina Colby, Miss Mann, and Kandi Pop to show their regal diversity and how Eastern Shore drag performers truly “werk” in this highly interactive performance.