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Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  632 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Legendary Children centers itself around the idea that not only is Drag Race the queerest show in the history of television, but that RuPaul and company devised a show that serves as an actual museum of queer cultural and social history, drawing on queer traditions and the work of legendary figures going back nearly a century. In doing so, Drag Race became not only a repos ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Penguin
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  632 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Giveaway win!

4.5 Stars

I loved this book!

I would have given it 5 stars, had it been longer. This book was simply too short.

Legendary Children is about the history of Queer culture told through the prism of RuPaul's Drag Race. RuPaul is a legend. He was one of the first Drag Queens I ever saw on tv. I can't remember if I saw Divine in Hairspray or RuPaul's Supermodel music video first. I was fortunate enough to have grown up knowing several Drag Queens. My mom's best friend from high school Bobb
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, ebook-owned
Could this book have been more up my alley? I guess if it had also somehow included Agatha Christie, perhaps, but oh man, this was exactly the kind of niche social history I adore about a topic I love. I learned so much in this book about the history of queer performance communities in the last hundred years (BTW, so thankful to discover I am alive in the same time of history as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence), and I appreciated how the book used Drag Race as a jumping off point to explore ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of this, the authors say they expect you to read it with one hand always googling the folks they write about to get a deeper knowledge than they can give. Let me tell you: they are right. Much like a great oral history (I’m thinking of EDIE or MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM), Tom and Lorenzo’s book is catnip for people wanting an entry into a world they think they know, but have barely scratched the surface on. LEGENDARY CHILDREN is sneaky af in getting you to pick it up for the Drag R ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very breezy, chatty tour through 100 years of LGBTQ++ history. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot.

But I also question it because I do know my RPDR:

Ru did not design the lipstick message, Shangela did it in S2 and production decided they liked it.

Alyssa and Coco were on season 5, not 4.

The 9021-Ho! challenge was season 9, not 7. It included Sasha Velour, who performed her "So Emotional" lipsync at the season 9 finale, not season 10.

And, most egregious of all, during the "Natural Woma
Legendary Children is less a history of Drag Race than it is a primer on a century of queer (almost entirely American) history which uses the show as a lens to examine everything from Tom of Finland’s fetishisation of the male form to the Stonewall Riots, from the iconic lipsync of Tandi Iman Dupree (seriously, look that one up on YouTube) to the communal activism of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez are keen to stress that this is not an attempt to provide
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
There was something cheesy about this but also I learned so much that it didn't really matter. It had a really logical structure, with each chapter connecting an area of Drag Race (lip syncing, runway, acting, etc.) to a larger part of queer/trans history. It's much more about that LGBTQ history than about Drag Race itself. It really is a great read if your main introduction to or knowledge of drag comes from the show, because it gives an incredible amount of context and breadth to the world and ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2020, queer
Legendary Children is a fun and important read that delves into queer history dating back to the early 1900’s to today—but all framed within the context of RuPaul’s Drag Race. How does that work? Oh, bitch it does!⁣

Legendary Children paints RuPaul’s Drag Race as a shrine or museum for queer history and culture. It exposes the show and how everything—literally every detail: from lipstick messages to fashion runways—is inspired by, a reference to or is honoring queer culture, history, and our her
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher as a part of a Goodreads giveaway.

I'll start with the good. The voice of this book was fun--usually breezy but with the ability to dig its claws in when necessary--and it was genuinely a delight to read. Were this a blog, I'd be happy to settle down with a post once a week as a quick read. It also has a great set of suggestions for further reading and viewing with regard to queer history, ball culture and drag, and I've put several of its suggestio
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was really fun and informative! In the introduction, they say that they hope you'll read this book one-handed because you'll want to look up photos and videos as you read, and that was definitely the case for me. It took me awhile to get through this book because of that but it was a good time. I think the authors (GoodReads is showing this as by Tom Fitzgerald but it's by both Tom & Lorenzo from the blog of the same name) did a good job balancing their obvious fandom of RuPaul and Drag Rac ...more
Ross Hunter
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Legendary children was a great overview of LGBTQ* history and culture. It made me really appreciate being a part of a community with such a rich and diverse past & present. Although I don’t think the rupaul’s drag race element really added much.
Diane Hernandez
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
I have watched every season of Drag Race (even the blurry first one). However, I never fully understood the history of drag before reading Legendary Children. This book adds context to Rupaul’s Drag Race that I was completely missing.

Each chapter starts with some section of the show and explains how it fits into drag, and sometimes LGBTQ+, culture. From the Pit Crew to Untucked to the lipstick on the mirror, it’s all here.

I learned a bunch of history by reading Legendary Children. Important hist
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Queerness asks for, if not demands, a level of presentation higher than that of straight or cisgender folks, who don’t, after all, have to come out about their straightness or cisness. There’s no reveal, so there’s no need to present. Queer folks never stop coming out, which means the desire or need to present as queer always exists in our lives in ways big and small.

This book is a thoughtful and extremely well-researched meditation on the queer experience through American history using the fram
John Amory
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
How you feel about this book will likely be determined by two things: how much you know about queer historical figures and movements, and how much you picked this up because you wanted to read a book about RuPaul's Drag Race.

Because this is not a book about Drag Race. It uses the show as a framework (only sometimes successfully), but it's not about the show. There are no profiles of queens, no backstage gossip, no production secrets. This is a guide to important people throughout queer and share
Alison Hardtmann
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
This is a fun and entertaining book that uses the popular reality tv show, RuPaul's Drag Race, to give an introduction to LGBTQ history. The show is not the focus of this book, but the scaffolding for a fast-paced primer to how queer entertainers have been able to make their mark in a society where what they did and even who they were was grounds for arrest and social opprobrium. This is a hopeful book, with powerful examples of what happens when people come together to support each other and to ...more
Thomas Brassington
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
A book with promise which turned out to be more like a tedious collection of undercooked and under researched blog posts hastily smacked together. Not so much a loving record of queer cultural history using drag race as a thematic lens as a cash grab exploiting the popularity of one of the largest reality shows on tv
Kyle Smith
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I learned lots. Easy read.
Margery Osborne
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved this! Loved the way the authors hit my sweet spot between intelligent, witty commentary and truly empathetic cultural analysis. For me, as a person trying to understand drag and Drag Race from a social and historical dimension (rather than as a fangirl) this book is invaluable. Other reviewers commented on having problems with the structure of the book in which the authors move between the history of drag told through short stories and discussions of what occurs on Drag Race (also often to ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very informative, entertaining look at the past century of queer American history as seen through the lens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I initially suspected that this would be more focused on the show and written for fans, but was pleasantly surprised at the depth and sheer volume of significant LGBT leaders and figures discussed. 4/5
Alaina Cyr
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[ARC review] This book is a wonderful read! It serves as an intro to gay (American) history framed through familiar and common aspects of RuPaul's Drag Race. The book is at it's best when using RPDR as a starting point to trace back and contextualize the show within the history of oscillating gay rights (or more often, lack thereof) and the plague, and the role drag and drag performers played in affecting change. The lesser parts are those when the authors uncritically idolize RuPaul. The knocko ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought framing each chapter around an element of Drag Race, and using that as a jumping off point into history was interesting and effective.

However, there are several Drag Race-related errors in this book; errors that a read through by a Drag Race fan or fact checker should have caught easily. These errors make me a bit nervous about trusting the other historical details in the book, especially given that (as noted by the authors) a lot of the history they cover is undocumented. The errors
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review // Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez
The Facts: Non-Fiction, LGBTQ+ Lit, (Pop) Culture Study
The Feel: Her-storical, Nostalgic, Comprehensive
The Focus: Legendary Children is a complete herstory lesson. From the Drag Kings of the roaring 20s to the slapstick female impersonators of the 50s to the Club Kids of the 90s, you get a complete and comprehensive look at Drag and gender expression through the decades, and how they effected and influen
Verity W
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is really great. Really great. Drag race is basically a framing device to take a look into various facets of queer life over the last century and it’s really good. The authors say they want you to be googling as you go along while you’re reading this - and boy was I. I look forward to seeing what google ads serves up to me after this - because I learnt so much. Fascinating, clever and touching - and you’ll watch drag race with new eyes afterwards. And the first episode I watched afterwards ...more
Jessica Davies
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book because i appreciated a few things but overall i had a lot of trouble with the tone the book is written in - the authors seemed to try to gloss over harsh realities that queer people lived through (and continue to live through) to try to tie random things to Drag Race.

The tone of the Stonewall part is just odd and a lot of the other discussions could’ve benefited by interviewing drag queens. Some of the connections made between drag practices of
Jul 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Won in a Giveaway. Overall it was a breezy read and I learned a lot. It took me a while to get into. This book was at its best when it forgot entirely tying in drag race and focused on queer historical moments instead.
Tyler Obenauf
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
At first, I was confused by the structure of the book, but I quickly grew to enjoy it.

I was aware of some of the events and the people mentioned in the book, but did not know the full history of the gay rights/LGBTQ movement.

Definitely a worthwhile read for everyone.
Lisa Kircher
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading Tom and Lorenzo's blog for a very long time and I watched all of drag race to prepare for this book coming out. Normally I read a book to watch a show or movie, this was the first time I had to watch a show to read a book, but for TLo I did that. This book was a great mix of drag race a queer history. It is not something I knew much about at all being a straight woman, but it was good to learn about something new, especially now that I am a big drag race fan. This is a must r ...more
Anna Alexander
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
So much of American history is taught from the cis het white person’s perspective, but as Tom and Lorenzo point out in this beautiful book, there’s so much more to it than that. The men, women and non-binary folks highlighted in this book are the true American pioneers. They were the people who were bulled, beat up, ostracized and ridiculed so we could enjoy so much of our entertainment and culture today. Tom and Lorenzo brilliantly share these stories and the rich, historical culture of queer p ...more
Zach Krohn
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so great. A primer on gay history over the last 100 years, it spends a lot of time on drag... though it is by no means a RuPaul’s Drag Race book. It’s kinda a bait and switch to get RPDR fans to read. So enlightening!!
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a great topic! This is a thoughtful, funny, insightful review of drag culture and an analysis of where we are today and how we got there. So much fun!! I wish they would do another devoted to European or non-US drag performers.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, quarantine-reads

This book presents a great, easy-to-read history of queer and drag culture, relating it all back to RuPaul’s Drag Race. To be fair, there is less about RPDR in this book than the cover would make it seem, which is a great way to entice people to pick up this book who might not otherwise do so. I learned a lot from this book, while knowing a bit about queer and drag history going into it.

Only 4 stars because, while the authors did warn us that we would want to Google a lot of names and informa
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