Beyond the Drag Event Horizon

In six-inch platform stiletto boots, corset and Elizabethan collar, a tall and thin figure towered over the crowd like an alien monarch.

The music began — Röyksopp and Robyn’s dark synth ballad “Monument” — and the figure began to move long sleeves of pink fabric, folded into teardrop-shaped cavities, as if puppeteered, her gestures alternating between robotic and languid. As she raised her head, her face revealed pure black eyes, twice the size of a normal human’s, that extended down her cheeks and pointed toward a buglike mouth.

It was 2 a.m. in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. The beat dropped — “Make a cast of my body, pull back out so that I can see” — and she pulled away the mask that was her face. Beneath the mask? Identically inhuman features. Some gasped, others cheered.

The performance bore no sign of drag’s defining camp. It was somber, with no touch of melodrama. But it was undeniably drag: weird and apocalyptic, drag as seen through a cracked mirror.

Joey SunCreditZachary Krevitt and Thomas McCarty for The New York Times
Dixie Michael JordanCreditZachary Krevitt and Thomas McCarty for The New York Times

The performer, who goes by the stage name Hungry (and who prefers female pronouns when referring to her drag persona), is the creation of a 24-year-old Berliner, Johannes Jaruraak. Over the past year, Hungry’s fame has grown, from a modest social media presence and devoted local followings in Berlin and London to international performances, high-profile editorial makeup assignments and 171,000 Instagram followers.

She is known for looks that showcase a manipulated anatomy: dropped eyes, foreshortened noses, lips airbrushed to appear ephemeral. A designer with couture experience, Mr. Jaruraak sews each constricting costume himself. On the October Saturday that she performed in Gowanus, Hungry wore two looks. She arrived in a sea-punk blue construction complete with moth-shaped fabric nose piece and fitted cap, and changed into a pale peach shell for her performance.

Hungry wasn’t the only attendee whose look invoked the post-human. Be Cute, a monthly drag night hosted by the Brooklyn-based queen Matty Mendoza, known as Horrorchata, bills itself as “a Dance Party for Homos and Aliens from Outer Space that like to shake it on the dance floor.” Amid the crowd, a lethal-looking goth kept company with a queen wearing angular makeup who defined her look as “darkness in a dream that you don’t want to leave.” Others…

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