Ellen Wallenstein

Photographer, Book Artist, Professor of Art
    
Pocketbook of Drag Queens, 1996-2000
Location: Sherman, Connecticut, US
Nationality: American
Biography: Ellen Wallenstein is a photographer, book artist and professor of art originally from New York City, currently living in Sherman, Connecticut.. She works on long-term documentary projects, visually responding to her daily life experiences. She... MORE
Public Story
Pocketbook of Drag Queens, 1996-2000
Copyright Ellen Wallenstein 2022
Date of Work Dec 1969 - Dec 1969
Updated May 2018
Topics drag queens, LGBT, portraits
From 1995 through 2001, I worked as a Tarot-card Reader at Lucky Cheng's, an East Village restaurant that employs transgender waitresses and drag performers. I was able to document some part of the lives of the people who surrounded me. The waitresses and performers became friends; they allowed me to photograph them both "on" and "off". There was mutual trust.
As a woman photographing men dressed as women, I was doubly aware of the surrealism involved. It made me question what I used to take for granted, about appearances and what constitutes gender.

This project was originally published in print in 2000, in Metrosource Magazine. It was nominated for an Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography (in the portrait/essay category) and self-published by Blurb in 2008 http://www.blurb.com/b/281595-pocketbook-of-drag-queens 
It was first published online as a photo essay in Visura Magazine. http://www.visuramagazine.com/spotlight-ellen-wallenstein#.UPgMgGdZ98F (Thank you Graham Letorney.)

I'm showing it again here because I think it is still relevant and interesting, twenty years later.
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