Fashion photographer Gregory Kramer has created a new book called DRAGS, spotlighting the art of drag. Centering on his home base of New York City has helped him focus on various drag icons in the Big Apple.
Kramer has a strong background, photographing for companies/stores such as Bloomingdale's, Club Monaco, Macy's, Target and Saks Fifth Avenue.
As a director, he has created commercials for Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Gay Men's Health Crisis. He's directed music videos for performer/actress Bridget Everett ( who WCT interviewed recently ), and was the assistant director for the Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped.
Windy City Times: How long have you been doing photography?
Gregory Kramer: I have been shooting professionally for 20 years, but I've always been interested in photography. I got started shooting for my high school year book!
WCT: Why the fascination with drag for this book?
GK: I have always been a huge fan of drag, whether it was seeing Sweetie hosting at High Life/Low Life or Linda Simpson pulling bingo balls out for her weekly gig Linda Loves Bingo. I was looking for a project, and got inspired by Irving Penn's book Small Trades. After looking through it, I thought "That's it. I want to do a photo book on New York City's drag scene."
WCT: Why is the book only in black and white?
GK: I wanted to strip down the campiness of drag and really focus on each individual persona. Black and white also lends itself to classic, timeless photos.
WCT: Why were some subjects allowed to write about themselves and others not?
GK: Everyone wrote their own penned description that appears next to each photo. As the project was coming together, I wanted a few stories to come from within the book. So I reached out to Sasha Velour, Linda Simpson, Sweetie, Charles Busch and Goldie Peacock, who all offer a distinctive point of view on drag.
WCT: The RuPaul Drag Racers were just from this past season. Why not others?
GK: I did approach a few past contestants and, for one reason or another, our communication just fizzled out. The cover shot of Sasha was already in production before Aja, Peppermint and Sasha were announced as contestants for season nine. We were really excited when they got selected to be on the show, and even more excited when Sasha won!
WCT: RuPaul has made drag very popular. Why else do you think drag popularity is growing?
GK: There are a few factors. One is a generational change. Being gay is more accepted in todays society. The other is accessibility to resources, and each other. Getting a size 13 shoe is now just a few clicks away. I hope the book inspires and makes drag even easier for the future king and queens.
WCT: All of the subjects had to be currently living in New York?
GK: Yes, I really wanted to focus on the scene in NYC.
WCT: How is the price of the book decided on?
GK: It all started with an Italian printer. Nobody does it better than the Italians. From there we decided not to cut any costs and wanted DRAGS to stand on its own, not only for the photography and subject matter but also as a museum quality book. Which we achieved as MoMA and The Andy Warhol Museum stock the book in their shops.
WCT: Have you ever dressed in drag?
GK: I have not done drag. After witnessing numerous transformations, I decided to leave it to the professionals!
WCT: Any plans for a book-signing in Chicago?
GK: The publishers and I are working on upcoming engagements so hopefully we will be able to make it to Chicago in the near future.
WCT: What are your future projects?
GK: I just started shooting a project called DOWNTOWN. It's studio portraits of the downtown scene, including burlesque dancers, cabaret performers, writers, influencers and, of course, a few more drag kings and queens.
Purchase DRAGS visit DRAGSBook.com or try locally at Unabridged Books, 3251 N. Broadway. More on Kramer can be found at GregoryKramer.com .