Linda Simpson’s The Drag Explosion

Friday, April 3, 2015
West Hollywood Council Chambers
625 North San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069

DL: Los Angeles and ONE Archives in conjunction with MOTHA’s Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and Mythologies

Admission is free.
Free validated parking for attendees of the screening will be provided for the five-story parking structure located behind the Council Chambers.

The Drag Explosion is an evolving multi-media “slideshow extravaganza” created by New York performer and nightlife personality Linda Simpson. From the underground East Village club scene and the birth of Wigstock in the late 1980s, to the AIDS activism and mainstream drag explosion of the early 1990s heralded by Supermodel of the World RuPaul, Simpson’s snapshots document the flamboyant performances and offstage advocacy of the era’s drag community. Simpson’s subjects include RuPaul, Lady Bunny, Tabboo!, Tom Rubnitz, Billy Beyond, Willi Ninja, Page, Hapi Phace, John Kelly, Deee-Lite, Lypsinka and, of course, Ms. Simpson herself. For this performance, the first iteration of The Drag Explosion to be presented outside of New York, Simpson will provide live narration to accompany her photos and host a post-performance Q&A.

Simpson’s performance is held in conjunction with Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and Mythologies, organized by the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, or MOTHA, at ONE Archives.

Support for Linda Simpson’s The Drag Explosion is provided by the City of West Hollywood through its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission. Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
City of West Hollywood



Linda Simpson began her multifaceted drag career in the late 1980s. Simpson has contributed to the New York drag scene as a nightlife personality, media maven, performer, game-show hostess and drag documentarian. Known for her witty demeanor, fine-tuned camp sensibility and a unique blend of sass and class, Linda enthusiastically embraces the role she was born to play – a reigning queen! Her recently published monograph, Pages, is her heartfelt homage to her captivating transgender friend, Page, who passed away in July 2002. Set in bygone gritty New York City in the 1990s, Simpson’s snapshots recall Page’s mysterious beauty, outlandish sense of style, and provocative performances that made her a cult figure of downtown’s gender-bending nightlife scene. All of the portraits were spontaneous shots taken with simple, point-and-shoot, 35 mm cameras.



The Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, or MOTHA, was founded in 2013, with the mission of bringing a cohesive visual history of transgender culture into existence. In doing so, the museum asks us to think critically about what transgender visual history would look like, how it should be organized, and if it is even possible to compile such a history around an identity category that is relatively new, still evolving, and often contested. MOTHA also critically interrogates contemporary arts institutionalization and developments within museum practices, with an eye to the transgender artist’s relationship to them. MOTHA is an imaginary museum. While it is forever “under construction,” it takes the form of temporary autonomous events, including performances, exhibitions, panel discussions, public programs, and other occasions that envision the existence of a legitimate and legitimizing arts and history institution dedicated to the cultural work of trans artists, hirstorians, and scholars.


About DL: Los Angeles

A salon of influences, DIRTY LOOKS began as a New York-based roaming screening series, an open platform for inquiry, discussion and debate. Designed to trace contemporary queer aesthetics through historical works, DL: Los Angeles presents quintessential GLBTQ film and video, alongside up-and-coming artists and filmmakers. DL: Los Angeles exhibits a lineage of queer tactics and visual styles for younger artists, casual viewers and seasoned avant-garde filmgoers, alike. DL: Los Angeles is organized by Bradford Nordeen and Clara López Menéndez.

Over the course of four years, Dirty Looks has staged local screening initiatives at The Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, Participant Inc, White Columns, Artists Space and Judson Memorial Church, with a Roadshow touring the West Coast yearly. Dirty Looks: On Location, a month of queer interventions in New York City spaces, was founded in 2012, installing moving image work in significant queer spaces – both contemporary and shuttered – throughout the city. A biennial initiative, On Location will return to New York City streets in July 2015.


Image (Top): Linda Simpson, Donald and Page, 1991. Courtesy of the artist