Photos via Lauren Jo Kelly.
When Lauren Jo Kelly decided to check out Manchester’s drag clubs, she didn’t get a very warm welcome—certain drag queens kept telling her that she’d never understand their culture. Undeterred, Lauren went home, put on a red wig and a full face of drag makeup, and headed back to the club. She was a girl dressed up as a boy dressed up as a girl, but she no longer felt like an outsider.
“I’d never been to the ‘Off The Hook’ club night before but it was exactly what I had expected," says Lauren. "The atmosphere was hysterical—queens twerking all over the place and the smell of stale beer filling the air. People wanted to have their picture taken with me like I was some sort of celebrity—it must have been the sky-high eyebrows. There were people in there that I knew from my life out of drag, but I didn’t want to give up the illusion so I kept quiet. It felt like I was in disguise. All my childhood fantasies came true at once.”
Now, a year later, Lauren is working on a photography project called Life’s a Drag, featuring some of the people she met on the queer scene. Manchester’s most prestigious and notorious drag queens have been dressing her up as their alter egos and she documents the results with her camera. You can keep up to date with the project by visiting its Facebook page.
The photos in this article were taken on that first night Lauren experienced life in drag. Can you guess who she is?