Exploring The Connection Between World Leaders And Drag Queens

An artist who uses the pseudonym Saint Hoax explores the unexpected similarities between iconic world leaders and drag queens in his latest work. NPR's Jacki Lyden explains.

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

A Middle Eastern artist who goes by the name Saint Hoax observed a different kind of spectacle. He attended a drag show for the first time in 2013 and was struck by the glamour. Saint Hoax tried to break down the essential components of what makes an iconic queen. He decided on the following: a fierce persona, a flamboyant name, and one hell of a PR team. And he realized that memorable world leaders require similar elements to be successful, if you add in some defining outfits and a trademark feature. Saint Hoax says he also got to thinking that behind every great man, there's a queen.

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LYDEN: He explores that idea in an art project called "War Drags You Out," a series of digital illustrations depicting presidents, dictators and popes in drag. Saddam Hussein has been transformed into Madame O'Sane. His bushy eyebrows groomed into painted arches, he dons a bustier and a crown of vibrant daisies. With silver hair pulled into a tight bun and lots of black eyeliner, Vladimir Putin becomes Vladdy Pushin. The look is completed with a satin slip, a bejeweled fringe choker, and lavender gloves studded with sequins. Saint Hoax has actually received death threats over the project. He's trying to make a political point, which is to remind us that the world's most idolized leaders aren't much more than performers in costume. Point taken, and they sure do look fabulous too. We've posted some of Saint Hoax's "War Drags You Out" images on the NPR Weekend Facebook page. Don't miss them.

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