E. Patrick Johnson is Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University, the coeditor of
La Marr Jurelle Bruce, 2016. "The Body Beautiful: Black Drag, American Cinema, and the Heteroperpetually Ever After", No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, E. Patrick Johnson
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La Marr Jarelle Bruce focuses on three films—To Wong Foo, Romeo + Juliet, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—that feature black drag queens who serve a particular use value within the rhetorical mise-en-scène of each film’s racial, sexual, and gender politics. Bruce’s analyses ground his theorization of the insidious regime of “heteroperpetuity,” which he defines as encompassing a range of political imperatives, social arrangements, and cultural practices and productions mobilized to protect and perpetuate heteronormative dominion. Highlighting its hegemony over black drag queen characters whose spectacular queerness and blackness would seem categorically to antagonize the heteroperpetual, Bruce argues that these films stage black queer misbehavior—and orchestrate black queer sexual and ideological advances—to ritually manage and subordinate it to heteroperpetuity. Bruce illustrates that these rituals of subordination sometimes fail, and the figure of the black drag queen disrupts heteroperpetuity’s power through “her” spectacular queerness and blackness.