Joan Lorrine McCollom (joanie@leland.Stanford.EDU)
24 Apr 1995 19:09:51 -0700

Ralph, I'm really interested particularily in your work in a gay community
in Southern California. I was wondering what kind of community? Around
clubs? (Arena, Circus, etc.)

Also, someone asked about what I meant by the "politics of style." To begin
with, I'd have to say that I am part of a tradition of feminist anthropology
that considers pretty much all work in academia political because it's
working within some kind of paradigm, etc.

I believe that style has meaning. It says something about a person. I am
interested in the way identity and community is created about the performance
of a style. And I am interested in the multiple meanings a style can have,
and how the way we read style can have political effects, despite intention-

I wrote my MA thesis on drag queens in San Francisco, and I considered the
meaning of drag politically--how does it both subvert and reinscribe gender.
(I use Judith Butler a lot, of course.) I also photographed, and because
I see part of the politics of style to deal with reception (how someone
reads style), I am interested in film theory. I'd have to say that the most
exciting thing I discovered is that many of my interviews of white drag
queens reminded me of Frankenburg's study of the social construction of

I don't want to babble on, but I did want to answer the question. I hope I
did. If you are interested in specifics about drag queens (or Qiu Jin, my
favorite cross-dresser in Chinese history), feel free.

By the way, I really liked Stanford, and I hope to get my PhD at Santa Cruz.
Of course, there's few good places that will let you study drag queens...