In a movie review from Time (http://time.com/5440357/bohemian-rhapsody-freddie-mercury-queerness/ ), there is a sentence I don’t understand.

He fluidly presented along the femme-butch spectrum, equally convincing in glam drag, in drag drag, and in the cartoonishly masculine “Castro clone” uniform (tight jeans, tank top, an imposing mustache, muscles) that originated in San Francisco in the early ’70s.

There are some difficult expressions for me. Here what does “along” mean? Does it mean “further” here? What is glam drag? Is it a different from just “drag?” Then what is drag drag? Why is the first drag italicized? I’m not familiar with gay culture and the sentence is difficult to understand.


According to this writer, there is a "spectrum" of femininity/masculinity, that might be represented as something like a number line:

more feminine <-------------------|-------------------> more masculine

Freddy Mercury's features and personality allowed him to dress and act (present) himself anywhere on (along) this spectrum. "On" is generally more common for talking about positions on a spectrum, but "along" implies a dynamic rather than a static value.

You don't have to be familiar with the culture to get the basic sense of the difference between "glam drag" and "drag drag". "Glam" is short for "glamorous", and there are many images on Google showing "glam drag" performers. It seems to be a particular "look" based on a combination of makeup, costume, and hair style.

When English speakers repeat a particular word, with emphasis on the first word, it means an archetype or extreme of that word. For example:

He's a vegan's vegan -- he'll unfriend you just for posting a picture in a leather jacket.

She's a celebrity, but not like a celebrity celebrity. What I mean is, many people know her name, but no one asks for her autograph when she's out on the street.

In your example, a "drag drag" means Mercury could dress in whatever way is typical of drag performers. I don't know either exactly what this means, but it doesn't seem like an important detail. What is important is that he could appear attractive in many different styles.


"Glam drag" is when a male dresses in female clothing, but it's an outlandish, cartoonish version of drag, with overdone makeup (often in wild colors), enormous wigs, and so on.

In English, saying a word twice that way emphasizes the lack of a modifier -- "drag drag" means "basic, standard, regular drag", to draw a strong distinction with "glam drag". But it's also a slightly childish or overly-informal way to expressing that idea.

It would read strangely to say "glam drag, drag, and ...", and while they could've said "glam drag, regular drag, and...", in this case the author injects a little humor into the line by describing it that way.

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