How You Get Famous: Ten Years of Drag Madness in Brooklyn (Paperback)

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How You Get Famous: Ten Years of Drag Madness in Brooklyn By Nicole Pasulka Cover Image
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(Queer Non Fiction)


A “funny, poignant, dishy, and even enlightening” adventure through a tight-knit world of drag performers making art, mayhem, and dreaming of making it big, this book is “the story of America now” (Alexander Chee, The New York Times).

In How You Get Famous, journalist Nicole Pasulka raucously documents the rebirth of the New York drag scene, following a group of iconoclastic performers with undeniable charisma, talent, and a hell of a lot to prove. In the past decade, drag has become a place where edgy, competitive showoffs can find security in a callous and over priced city, a shot at real money, and a level of recognition queer people rarely achieve. But can drag keep its edge as it travels from the backroom to the main stage?

A “joyful and scrappy” (Esquire) portrait of the 21st-century search for celebrity and community, How You Get Famous is “dripping in plush detail and drama” (Mother Jones) and “stitched together with great respect and love” (The Guardian). It’s the story of an aimless coat check worker who sweet-talked his way into hosting a drag show at a Brooklyn dive bar, a pair of teenagers sneaking into clubs and pocketing tips to help support their families, and eclectic performers who have managed to land a spot on TV and millions of followers…all colliding in an unprecedented account of a subculture on the brink of becoming a cultural phenomenon.

“If you like to have a good time, you want to read this book!”—BuzzFeed

About the Author

Nicole Pasulka writes about gender, activism, and criminal justice for publications such as New York magazine, Harper’s MagazineMother Jones, VICE, and The Believer. The recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships, her writing has been anthologized in the Best American series and featured on NPR’s All Things ConsideredHow You Get Famous is her first book.

Praise For…

“Funny, poignant, dishy and even enlightening... it’s the story of America now.”
—Alexander Chee, The New York Times

“Takes us tumbling down a glittery rabbit hole... a vivid portrait of a singular subculture: joyful and scrappy.”

“Original and compelling… stitched together with great respect and love.”
The Guardian

“If you thought you knew everything there was to know about drag in New York, think again. How You Get Famous tackles Brooklyn’s rich and often labyrinthine history of drag with journalistic precision. Never afraid to embrace chaos and nuance, this is a book that’s both informative and, like so many of the divas it takes as its subjects, wildly entertaining.”
—John Paul Brammer, author of Hola Papi

“Can a queer subculture hit the big time without losing its edge? In this richly reported account, Pasulka takes readers on a riotous tour through a spiky demimonde on the verge of breaking through.”
—Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front

“Nicole Pasulka brings the underground world of Brooklyn drag to fabulous life, exploring the triumphs, heartaches, compromises, and catastrophes of trying to achieve fame in a fishbowl—all reality, no television.”
Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer

“Every generation moves to New York City for fame, fortune, and love; this one did it in heels. Nicole Pasulka has written a shady and fabulous history of our time.” 
—Choire Sicha, author of Very Recent History

“Dripping in plush detail and drama.”
Mother Jones

“If you like to have a good time, you want to read this book!”

“Spills the hot-mess tea—then reads the leaves to divine the myriad things drag has meant and could be.”
—Jeremy Atherton Lin, author of Gay Bar
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982115807
ISBN-10: 1982115807
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Pages: 352
Language: English