Among the big reveals in Washington D.C. on Wednesday morning was actually more of a wig reveal — that of Pissi Myles, a towering drag queen, who arrived on Capitol Hill in a short red cold-shoulder dress, matching pumps and enormous blond wig as a correspondent for Happs News, a live news source that streams through Twitter.
Her presence in the hallways outside of the hearings caused a brief morning stir on Twitter, where NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla’s photo of Myles, along with the caption “Someone did ask me last night if there’s anything in DC that surprises me anymore,” drew close to two million likes and 615 retweets, plus a cavalcade of comments, many using the opportunity to reminisce about the time, in 2000, when Rudy Giuliani dressed in drag in a skit with Donald Trump for a benefit event.
But Myles, an N.J.-based performer who makes frequent appearances in and around New York City, had serious politics on her mind. During the live Happs broadcast from outside of the hearings, she told commentator Amber Genuske, “My goal today is to bring focus to a lot of the people who can’t be here today — people of color and people who are LGBTQIA — and … to start a conversation, and get people thinking outside of the box they are used to.”
By appearing in drag, she added, “I want to teach them that drag is a queer legendary career… that it is a part of our lives we want to share with people. We want people to be as open to us as we want to be with them, and this is the best way to start the conversation.”
Pissi Myles is broadcasting live from Longworth - about the impeachment hearings. “This is very important to the LGBTQ community,” she said. There have been #impeachment hearings here before but never as live and social media-fueled as these. @CBCTheNational pic.twitter.com/PAQzpg1dLZ— Sylvia Thomson (@thomsoncbc) November 13, 2019
And as of early afternoon Wednesday, at least, Myles reported during the Happs broadcast that the reactions she’s received in-person have been “so refreshing and lovely,” with passersby telling her “it’s nice to see me here dressed this way.” She added, “I think it’s important to address this is a performative dress to me,” and that she was using it in an aim “to make people aware of the issues we face every day… and that these aren’t people who just live in the shadows — they live among us.”
Myles is certainly not alone in blending drag performance with political activism: At the annual drag convention RuPaul’s DragCon NYC, in September, cofounder Randy Barbato told Yahoo Lifestyle that the two go hand in hand, calling DragCon “ground zero of the resistance.” Cofounder Fenton Bailey added, “Ru once said, ‘Every time I bat my eyelashes, it’s a political act.’ And I think it is absolutely the case, because drag is about not fitting in, it’s about not allowing other people to force you to hide your light or to be lesser than you are. It’s inherently political.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a booth at DragCon — and addressed the crowd through a large-screen video — as did organizations including Head Count and Swing Left, the latter of which hosted a politically-themed panel including drag queen Marti Gould Cummings, who had just announced his 2021 run for a seat on the New York City Council. “Me wearing eyelashes and a wig does not make me less intelligent or less aware of what the issues are,” Cummings had told the crowd. “For me, drag is just an extension of who I am.”
As for Myles (whom Yahoo Lifestyle has not yet been able to reach for comment), she offered this assessment of the unfolding impeachment hearing on Wednesday: “People are really hurting for a more civilized conversation, a more open conversation, and I think it’s the crux of what our problem is at the moment,” she told Happs viewers. “We really need to spend more time listening and less time yelling at each other.”
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