Trixie Mattel Credit: Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Drag has become so much more than queens lip-synching covers of diva classics. The more original your act is, the better, and in 2020 the possibilities are endless. The art form has permeated pop culture’s language, fashion, and notions of beauty, and it’s crossed over into other creative disciplines as well, including comedy, television, and film. It’s long been a symbol of liberation, and drag queens have increasingly become leaders within the LGBTQ community and beyond, using their platforms to elevate conversations around oppressive policies and aim deserved outrage at issues such as anti-trans legislation, sexual violence, and homelessness among queer youth. Milwaukee-born queen Trixie Mattel has parlayed her appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race (including her All Stars win) and her sparkling personality into a career in bluegrass-tinged pop, cementing her self-proclaimed status as a “Skinny Legend.” She’s got three albums under her belt, and on the brand-new Barbara, she furthers her exploration of identity, belonging, and love on songs such as “We Got the Look” and “Girl Next Door,” where she mixes up her Americana sound with bits of 60s surf rock and pop-punk hooks. But Mattel’s southern-influenced songs still reign supreme: on “Stranger” (a take on “I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You” by pioneering queer country band Lavender Country) and “I Don’t Have a Broken Heart,” she summons raw emotion and creates a space for deeper intimacy and vulnerability in the community. She’s as real as it gets, with all moving parts.   v