Bob the Drag Queen takes offense at YOUR offense


Before Bob the Drag Queen appeared on the HBO makeover series “We’re here “…


BOB THE DRAGA QUEEN: My drag daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON # 1: Is it a thing?

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: Oh, yeah. I’m now your mom.

Before he had almost 3 million followers on TikTok…


BOB THE DRAGQUEEN: Bob, the Drag Queen.

MONET: X-change, I am.

BOB and MONET: This is “Sibling Rivalry.”

Before Bob won “RuPaul’s Drag Race “…


Bob the Drag Queen will be America’s new drag superstar.

SHAPIRO : Before all that, Bob, the drag queen, bought $10 bags of fabric scraps in hopes of finding something worth sewing into an ensemble.

BOB THE DRAGQUEEN: The bolts were only the ends.

What was in the bag, exactly?

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: I couldn’t check the bag. They’d just pull out a bag and ask for $10.

It’s a lot like “Storage War,” where you can bid on a storage container.


SHAPIRO (not audible): I don’t even know what it is.

BOB THE DRAGO QUEEN: Sometimes you just get a really nice bag. I got a bag that was stuffed with crushed blue velvet and paisley, which may sound horrible but actually looked really good.

SHAPIRO : We met Bob the Drag queen at Spandex House in New York’s garment districts. The shelves were stacked from floor-to-ceiling with rolls of fabric adorned in a rainbow of colors and patterns, including polka dot, animal print, neon, sparkles, polka dotted, and polka dotted.

BOB THE DRA QUEEN: I have shopped here – not to exaggerate but many times, dozens of time.

When did you first step foot on this property?

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: Yeah, probably 2009.


BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: I was desperate for custom clothes but couldn’t afford them. I could, however, afford fabric. Do you know what I’m talking about? You know what I mean?

He was taught by friends that if he can sew fabric into tubes, he can make almost anything.

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: Make a tube and you can make an entire catsuit. You can make a dress. You can make cocktail dresses. You can make leotards. There’s one seam on the back.

SHAPIRO. These days, Bob’s outfits are made by professionals, and he is recognized in the street, even if he’s not wearing drag. He’s not subtle, he is tall. Even without the black boots that he wore with his denim jumpsuit.

Bob, I love you.

BOB THE DRAGQUEEN: Oh thank you, Baby. Thank you.

SHAPIRO: Mimi West (ph) clocks him immediately. Mimi, a costume designer, is eager to work together.

WEST: Feathers, stones…


WEST: Oh, yeah. And dance team opulence. I love anything that has feathers and stones.

SHAPIRO : Bob said, cool, I’ll follow you on Instagram. Then a horrifying discovery was made – Mimi West did not follow Bob the Drag Queen.

BOB THE DRAGONS QUEEN: it doesn’t say followback. It doesn’t say to follow back.

WEST: No, no, no, no. Don’t do it.

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: Now let’s find out who you follow. Who are you? Why are you following Monet, Trixie and not me? This is…

You know, WEST?

SHAPIRO : They apologize and begin to discuss looks. Bob has an idea.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: I’m looking for a maxi skirt that has a high waist and a button-up shirt to match.

WEST: With collar

Bob’s career grew along with drag’s popularity in the U.S. And, with it, the conservative backlash which has increased exponentially over the years as more and more states passed laws to ban gender nonconformity. Bob experienced this backlash while filming “We’re Here.”


BOB THE DRAG-QUEEN: Hello, my name is Bob. Hello. Can I read your sign please?


BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: (Readings) A man shall not wear a woman’s clothing, because anyone who does this is an abomination before the Lord your God.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON # 2: Yes. You know that this is from the Bible.

BOB THE DRAGONS QUEEN: That’s a pretty good assumption.

On the show Bob and two drag queens perform in small towns with locals, who are given a makeover. And sometimes, the town isn’t thrilled about it.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: This doesn’t surprise me, because I grew-up in a small city. It’s a common thing. It’s obvious that people experience this.

He was surprised to find a vibrant queer community in a place he didn’t expect it.

BOB THE DRAGO QUEEN: Twin Falls, Idaho had a thriving drag scene.

SHAPIRO : What do you make out of that?

BOB: It shows a desire for people to not be alone. It shows how, when in these places you can’t find anyone who looks like you and feel alone.

SHAPIRO – Do you believe drag is a political act by nature?

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: To a degree, yeah. It seems forced. Drag queens are now considered a political issue, regardless of whether the person is politically inclined or not. The only agenda for drag queens is Sunday brunch. There’s no plot or plan to reach children. Most drag queens don’t even want to [expletive] Be around children. I perform drag shows at Barracuda and not at Gymboree. You know what you mean?

Bob said that this was another place where he had history.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: I was arrested on 42nd Street.

SHAPIRO : The cover photo of your EP is that one.

BOB THE DRAGONS QUEEN (Bob): It’s literally one minute walk from where we are sitting.


BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: (Singing), We are black and proud in all that we do. Scream it out loud. Let the haters know.

SHAPIRO : The EP is “Gay Barz” with a Z. Here is “Black,” one of their singles.


BOB THE DRAGQUEEN: Feels so good being Black.

SHAPIRO : The cover image is a Polaroid mugshot. Bob the Drag queen was part of a group that protested for marriage equality a decade or so ago. He says they blocked traffic and caused a scene.

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: This is me in jail.

I bring up the photo and ask Bob for a description.

BOB, THE DRAG-QUEEN: This is me in a picture that I’ve seen a million times. I don’t have to look. So, I am wearing a red hairstyle – an afro. I’m wearing a vest, a tie, a leopard print fur shawl from H&M. You can’t tell from the picture that I am wearing…

SHAPIRO: You brand name-dropping H&M on NPR (laughter).

BOB: That’s exactly what I was wearing. You asked me to explain it because it seemed important to the plot. You can’t tell that I did not know how long I would be in prison. What you cannot see is that my breasts are actually made from cashews.

You brought the snacks, right?

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: There’s a bagel in my wig…

SHAPIRO : (Laughter). Oh, my god.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: I’ve got a CLIF bar under each hip pad.

You are ready.


SHAPIRO: That’s incredible.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: I didn’t stay in prison long enough to be able to use anything.

Bob was initially scheduled to accompany Madonna on her world tour in the summer of this year, but health issues forced Madonna to postpone. Nashville was one of the stops on this tour. A Tennessee judge recently ruled Tennessee’s law that banned some drag shows was unconstitutional. Bob said he was fine with performing drag on the biggest stage in Tennessee, a place that has tried to ban it. He said that he would be prepared.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: I think there’s a bagel in my wig.

Are you planning to join Madonna onstage in Nashville, Tennessee with cashews as a snack?


BOB, the Drag Queen: Just in Case. You never can tell. It’s not easy to be on stage. It’s okay to be fearless. It’s OK for you to be visible. I think there are a lot laws that tell us to go into the closet, hide in the corner or stop being out and about. Some people find the presence of queer people on public transport offensive. That’s offensive to me.

SHAPIRO (in Spanish): Bob the drag queen, it was great to see you again and speak with you. We also visited some of your former haunts. Thanks a lot.

BOB THE DRAGONSQUEEN: Thank you. I still wander around these places. You can hear them whispering Bob the Drag Queen if you listen carefully.

Transcript provided to NPR by Copyright NPR.

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