Ellen Wallenstein

Photographer, Book Artist, Professor of Art
Pocketbook of Drag Queens, 1996-2000
Location: New York City
Nationality: United States
Biography: Ellen Wallenstein is a photographer, book artist and professor of art from New York City, currently living in Sherman, Connecticut.. She works on long-term documentary projects, visually responding to her daily life experiences. She also... read on
Public Story
Pocketbook of Drag Queens, 1996-2000
Copyright ellen wallenstein 2021
Date of Work 12/31/69 - 12/31/69
Updated 05/15/18
Archived as , ,
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.

Also by Ellen Wallenstein —


Love & Death in the Time of Covid-19

By Ellen Wallenstein — My mother died on March 31, 2020 after 10 days in a hospital in Florida, alone.  Her death had nothing..

Paternal Bloodline, Collages from the Archive

By Ellen Wallenstein — These photocollages were made during a four-month artist residency while on a sabbatical from teaching at..

NYC Pairs of Squares

By Ellen Wallenstein / New York City — New York City Pairs of Squares: On the  Street, From the Car & Underground; Museums

Ellis Island: Self-Portrait as an Immigrant, 1988

By Ellen Wallenstein / Ellis Island, New York City — The Ghost of My Ancestors Ellis Island Self-Portraits

"Respecting My Elders"

By Ellen Wallenstein

NYC Square: Street Photography

By Ellen Wallenstein / New York City — These photographs were made in New York City, where I live and work.

East Harlem, Spring, 2014-2015

By Ellen Wallenstein — During the Spring months of 2014 and 2015 I was an Artist-in-Residence at the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello..

Opus for Anne- A Still Life

By Ellen Wallenstein — Synopsis: These photographs were made while I was a Hospice Volunteer to Anne, a woman in her late 80s who..
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