Cover Image: Glitter and Concrete

Glitter and Concrete

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Member Reviews

SUCH a good book. Extremely well-researched but so readable, covering drag queens and drag kings, gender performers and gender impersonation, clubs and spaces, and the scenes as they evolved. It has a heavy emphasis on the influence of cultural elements at play behind the changing scenes.

An excellent read if you want a look not just at drag performance in New York, but at evolving elements of gender and sexuality starting from 1865 and going decade by decade until now, from vaudeville through the pansy craze through the tie to organized crime and speakeasies, with biographic focus on so many major performers (both male impersonators, female impersonators, trans queens, genderfuck performers, rugirls, and more).

I will probably end up getting a physical copy so that I can have the proper layout and the photos as well. Five stars.

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This is a vibrant, living story of drag history. Or herstory. Or theirstory. Love the freshness. A wealth of resources here. I wanna share it with my queer youth students!

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This book was a little bit more than I was expecting it to be, I throughly enjoyed the history lesson and didn’t realize how far back documentations do Drag truly went.

You can tell the author loves the topic and is very well versed in it. At times I found it was a little bit *too* much information and causing it to drag on but nothing that didn’t keep me from wanting to continue to read.

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This was exactly what I thought it'd be. I like that it was based close to home. It scratched that itch in my brain and really opened my eyes to things.

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An amazing cultural history of drag culture and New York City. After reading Ricky Tucker’s “And the Category is,” I was excited to hear an additional take. Glitter and Concrete is a fresh, informative perspective on drag culture during a time when it needs advocacy and amplification more than ever. A brilliant book.

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Thank you netgalley for this ARC.

I am so glad i got approved for this novel because i love anything drag and to read such an amazing novel that was researched and written so well and showed so many of the people who paved the way for drag was wholesome.. So many of these performers went through so much but still never gave up and showcased talent and class and bravery especially during the times they were alive this novel had alot of figures which ive known about but still even reading about them was great i also was introduced to many figures that i didnt know at all and im thankful for books like this so that our history is always talked about and the people who came before us deserve the flowers and stories need to be shared for a whole new generation for people to read i am so glad this book was written.. From crystal, to candy, to holly woodlawn, sylvia rivera, marsha, flawless sabrina too just soo many more people. Yall need to read this one if you love drag it showcased so many different elements of drag.

Also sharing alot of facts about movies and plays and people who broke down so many barriers and doors this book was great.

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This was a very interesting and very detailed look at the history of drag - and was clearly a labor of love for the author. The book is a mix of narrative descriptions of history, generally broken or by decades, and what felt like bio sketches of individuals and performers. I must confess to preferring the former to the latter, because I enjoyed the bigger picture presentation. The individual stories were great as examples to highlight the timeline but sometimes over-powered the overall narrative. Still it was a fascinating peek behind the curtain and a very interesting and thorough read that led me to Google search so many fabulous images and videos!

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A thorough portrait of an unsung community! Perhaps a bit unfocused—there’s just so very much to cover—but clearly well-researched and an excellent starting point foe readers who want to see beyond the Drag Race gloss.

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This book takes you on a deep dive into the vibrant history of drag in New York City, from the late 1800s to the present day. What I appreciated most was how the author made this complex subject accessible, even if you're new to the world of drag. Goodman's research is impressive, and she introduces you to various fascinating characters and events that have shaped drag culture. The book doesn't shy away from the challenging moments, like the AIDS crisis, and it beautifully illustrates how drag has always been a political art form. Plus, it touches on RuPaul's emergence and influence. While it can get a bit name-heavy and dense in places, it's an essential read for anyone interested in drag, LGBTQ+ history, or the vibrant tapestry of New York City's queer culture.

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I enjoyed this book a lot and I think it's a very important one for the queer community at a time where drag artists and trans people are increasingly targeted on multiple fronts. That being said, it is a cultural history book and it is name heavy and sometimes really quite dense, prepare to take notes (or get yourself a paper version and use up some of that beautiful annotating material you've been stockpiling) if you're anything like me and can't remember names to save your life.

Maxx Goodman really starts from the ground up and doesn't presume that the reader knows much about the topic at all so if you're new to the idea that drag history is even a thing or to the world of drag itself. Long story short, it's a good book to build a solid foundation.

Even though the tone is quite matter of fact the book still relates a lot of heart wrenching stuff and it had me in tears a couple of times.

4.5 rounded up.

I received a digital review copy of this book ahead of its release (release date appears to be set for September 12, 2023) from Harlequin Trade Publishing/Hanover Square Press through Netgalley for review consideration, my thanks to both for the opportunity to read an review this book.

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Glitter and Concrete will be published Sept 12, I was lucky enough to read an ARC via NetGalley, thank you!
This book really highlighted for me how every group has a deep history, and how so many of these groups’ histories are only often partially known by some members of the group itself, and rarely by people outside the group. Having a book like this, which pieces together the history of drag, specifically set against the backdrop of New York, is a really powerful thing. The book is incredibly well-researched and provides the information in a loosely chronological manner, with chapters dedicated to different eras, like Taylor Swift’s recent concert.
I learned a lot about drag, about the different types of performers and what drag means to them, about the house system in New York, and about the ways the culture changed to become what it is today, post-Drag Race. I was fascinated by how far back the roots of drag extend, besides what we always hear about all the roles in Ancient Greek plays being played by men.
I appreciated reading and learning about this underrepresented and often misunderstood community and would recommend this book to anyone!

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If you're curious about drag performances this is the book for you. I've worked in the entertainment field and this type of show is no news to me but this book contains details, history and information I knew nothing about. Truly fascinating.
Not a dirty book. Has nothing to do with exhibiting sexual activity. It's more or less about how some gay people cope with our heterosexual society. And amazingly, some straight people indulge in this dress up/carrying on too.
While the book is undoubtedly entertaining I have to criticize the contruction. The author goes from one location to another and back again, from one time period to another, jumping around ceaselessly. Dizzying. It has Chapters but they don't really make sense.
But the one fatal, horrible flaw is that there are no photos. You just CAN'T talk about dress up and out-there performances without some pictures. PLEASE drag up some photos before you publish this!

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Glitter and Concrete follows the history of drag in New York City.

I really enjoyed this one. I loved learning more about the history of drag. I will say this read like a history textbook. So that left me a little bored while reading this. But still enjoyed learning more about it.

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Glitter and Concrete will be published September 12, 2023. Hanover Square Press, an imprint of Harlequin Trade Publishing, provided an early galley for review.

Growing up in the 70's seeing Milton Berle, Flip Wilson and Bugs Bunny on television, drag was always just another aspect of the entertainment industry to me. It was something that I felt normalized to. It was not offensive. It was not subversive. It was something that went back to the times of Shakespeare and likely even further. And, I have always been a huge fan of The Birdcage and The Adventures of Prscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I must applaud Goodman for doing her research. She presents so many amazing profiles from the history of drag, stretching back to the middle of the 19th Century up through the first fifth of the 21st Century. I appreciated how she explained the evolution of the art-form as the times and social norms changed as well. She weaves in the ongoing in the Big Apple with the lives of the interesting individuals, creating a living breathing narrative. I learned a lot about the culture from reading this book.

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“There is great power in having access to one’s history, which should be a right and not a privilege.” This is such an important book, Goodman is able to connect with and preserve so many important members of the community that could easily be forgotten.

Every page is full of nuggets of queer history that make up a beautiful glittering tapestry. We have over 100 years of New York City drag history beautifully researched and organized. Starting from 1865-2023 this book is full of information on the history of drag in New York City. It’s a beautiful collection of information and stories about drag and the queer community from 1865-2022. Drag has always been a political art form. From the back rooms run by gangsters in prohibition to Stonewall to modern clubs, drag has influenced and been influenced by the city that never sleeps.

Every chapter is bursting with information, you and all your friends should buy and read this brilliant accumulation of information.

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This gave me everything I needed. I loved everything I needed. I loved the history of drag and the stories that was told.

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Harlequin’s nonfiction publishing arm has put out a recent title, “Glitter and Concrete,” that captures a history of drag especially in New York. The author’s first on-screen encounter with drag was a film called “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newman” which starred Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo as they play drag queens to drive cross-country to get to Los Angeles. When the author got older, they went to their first drag show with their parents, and then to another drag bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And eventually, of course, watched RuPaul’s Drag Race. That notion of glamour triumphing over negativity is a powerful one, that guided the author through self-doubt, self-acceptance, and self-love. They view drag as an art form to be revered. People who are unapologetically themselves.

As the author asserts, it is important to preserve the tales of those who came before, and who have since passed on, as icons within the drag communities. Whether libraries and archives like to admit it or not, and in spite of the push toward more institutions that highlight LGBTQIA+ archival and other materials that should be preserved, the are many political forces that are trying to fight that and the information workers have had to push back very hard.

While other cities have deep histories of drag including Atlanta and LA, New York is the global, urban epicenter of culture and that has always made it a sacred place for drag.

There’s a lot more to drag than what’s on the surface.

The author takes us back to 1865, right at the end of the Civil War, in New York City. Learning about Ella Wesner doing a photo shoot, a woman as a male impersonator, she was also a dresser to male impersonator Annie Hindle. Moving on to the 1910s and early 20th century, readers learn more about what happened, for instance, with the onset and throughout the First World War. Prohibition. How this affected nightclub operations. One of the other performers to have come from this time period was Savoy, and countless others including one readers may be more familiar with, Hollywood actress Mae West. She wrote ‘The Drag as The Pleasure Man,’ and keeping a drag ball as integral to its setting as a Broadway play, despite the calls for censorship. West continued to work with drag performers and with gay men.

Legendary Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes is also discussed in the book, as the author discusses how drag balls continued to find wide audiences. “Local papers and national Black newspapers covered the [Hamilton Lodge Ball] every year.” New York royalty like the Astor and Vanderbilts purchased box seats, as did Tallulah Bankead and other ‘gay icons’ of theater.

As the reader moves to the sections that overlap the Second World War, they also get introduced to the role that the mafia had with nightclubs and how their world pushed up against that of drag.

Some decades are more interesting than the others, and of vital importance is the discussion of the Stonewall Uprising, which became “an inflection point for queer liberation.”

As the decades roll on, the author covers the AIDS crisis that dominated most of the 1980s and 1990s. There’s also some discussion of the documentary “Paris is Burning,” which I won’t spoil for readers, although I will say that Dorian Corey is quoted in this section, which was great. I want to call attention to because I know that this vital piece of queer history and of the ballroom scene is of crucial importance.

Readers also get the history of how RuPaul came onto the scene, including the lead-up to his song, “Supermodel” released in November of 1992.

The section from the 2000s on talks about other drag performers, and while it caps off the book chronologically, it might have been more beneficial to include more prominent figures from today like Leiomy who was a judge on all 3 seasons of the reality series “Legendary,” or to discuss more about the show “Pose” and how it changed discussions of ballroom and drag culture. Overall, it’s a good primer and text that will help people understand more about the subject matter from an insider’s lens.

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