Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 30th, 2013
Primary Language: English
“If a drag queen is really pretty, and they look like a real female, instead of a man dressed in drag, then they call them ‘fishy’. And if they’re not ‘fishy’, then they’re trout. It’s like a diss, to call someone a trout.”
The informant introduced me to these drag-queen slang-terms during the middle of our interview. She used to work in a costume shop for drag queens, and she learned these terms from hanging out with several drag queens. She said that she enjoyed working in the costume shop because she met many people she wouldn’t have normally had the chance to. She seemed proud that she knew these slang words, because it gave her some authority in the world of drag queens. It made her connections with drag queens more real, because she could partake in their unique culture. Most occupational folklore works on this level. The more folklore one learns about a culture, the more accepted that person is as “one of them”. Even though the informant does not partake in dressing in drag herself, she still likes having ties to the culture.
I thought this piece of folklore was very interesting. It’s always cool to learn new words and their meanings, especially if they’re slang words from another culture. I also thought it was interesting that both words, “fishy” and “trout”, connect to fish. I wonder what the connection between drag queens and fish is, if there is one. Maybe it’s because fish seem like a more gender-neutral animal, and drag queens like to walk the line between genders. Or it could be that fish terms are just more unique than the classic “pretty” and “ugly”, and drag queens like to be unique. Whatever the case, I feel that the words appropriately fit their meanings. “Trout” is more of a blunt, ugly word, while “fishy” sounds more delicate and similar to “pretty”. When a drag queen looks successfully like a real female, he is considered very pretty. I have seen many drag queens in the Mardi Gras festival in Provincetown, Rhode Island. There is a huge range in their female resemblance. I think it’s a very interesting culture, and I’m glad I know a little more about it now.