Man Up

How a Drag King Parodies—and Finds Joy in—Masculinity

The art of glued-on facial hair, lip-syncing to 2 Chainz, and skewering male swagger.

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On Man Up, host Aymann Ismail invites men and women to tell embarrassing, funny, and sometimes disturbing stories about their lives as they try to figure out what they still have to learn—and unlearn—about being a man. They’ll talk relationships, family, sex, and identity, trying to understand their experiences to help listeners make more sense of their own.

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Episode Notes

Pretty Rik E, a D.C.-based drag king, talks to host Aymann Ismail about what it means to treat masculinity as a performance. Rik E is part of a group called Pretty Boi Drag, whose drag shows involve lip-syncing to hypermasculine songs, dancing confidently, and sporting glued-on facial hair. In their performances, drag kings simultaneously celebrate and skewer male swagger. In the case of Rik E, sometimes they even carry their onstage personas into their offstage lives.

Tell us what you think about this and other topics by leaving a voicemail at 805-626-8707 or emailing manup@slate.com. We may feature you on the show. And please tell us what you think by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.

Podcast production by Cameron Drews and Danielle Hewitt.