Despite the reign of drag queens in popular culture, there are very few actual video game drag queens. Besides aDrag Racemobile game,RuPaul’s Drag Race: Dragopolis, there’s Cloud Stryfe donning a wig and a dress to infiltrate Don Corneo’s mansion inFinal Fantasy VII,and Link dresses up as aGerudoinBreath of the Wild–butthat’s about it for big budget AAA games.
But some femme characters have just the right amount of over-the-top, unnatural looking characteristics that they come close to qualifying. It’s not just their looks–their storylines that possess something of a drag sensibility.
This is no shade to the girls below:Drag Racealums like Peppermint and Monica Beverly Hillz as well as the burgeoning female queen movement have all shown that you can do drag and be a real woman. And it’s a pretty common thread that queer femmes have often shared experience of playing as the one or two women characters available in games from their childhood. In the act of becoming more feminine, often cartoonishly so, this in itself is a quiet act of drag.
Here are 10 video game characters that are secretly drag queen icons.
Madame Broode (Super Mario Odyssey)
This queen from the dark side is the leader of the Broodals, a squad of rabbits hired by Bowser to plan his wedding to Princess Peach. Madame Broode takes the Divine philosophy of “bigger is better” to an entirely next level. She and her golden Chain Chompkins tower over Mario, complementing one another with matching hats. Her paint job is definitely for the back of the room, but she makes it work with accessories including studded bracelets and a necklace made of Power Moons.
The Great Fairies (The Legend of Zelda Series)
From their first operatic cackle, you know you’re gonna be in for a gay old time whenever you enter a great fairy’s cave. Face down, ass up–that’s the way great fairies likes to distribute magical upgrades, and they have no problem shoving their pointy Jean-Paul Gaultier boobs right in Link’s face the entire time. The great fairies took a break from drag and went for the natural look in Zelda: Wind Waker, but they came back flashy in Breath of The Wild with big clown eyebrows and hair piled high to the gods.
Shadow Yamoto (Eternal Champions)
Like a lot of the fatales on this list, mercenary Shadow Yamoto chooses style over comfort and fights jiu jitsu in stilettosand she’s got a front flip that would make any entertainer jealous. Shadow Yamoto makes this list because she can disappear into an actual shadowshe is shade. She also works for a dystopic corporation called Black Orchid, which in itself is a great drag name and possibly inspired B. Orchid, this very padded looking queen from Killer Instinct. Eternal Champions is a video game about time traveling, so maybe there’s a utopian future where queens don’t have to tuck?
Beauvoir (NieR: Automata)
It’s always confusing when robots are gendered and the ones featured in the android psychodrama NieR: Automata is no exception. Blindfolded protagonist 2B could’ve easily made this list, but is outclassed by boss robot Beauvoir, who shrieks tinny opera notes and wears a tattered gown decorated with robot corpses. This tragic diva eats androids in an attempt to gain eternal beauty and find love. What gay guy can’t relate to that?
Kerrigan, Queen of Blades (Starcraft Series, Heroes of the Storm)
Drag is all about transformations. When Terran psychic Sarah Louise Kerrigan was betrayed by her people and kidnapped by the alien insectoid Zerg, she was genetically altered from a basic white girl into an extraterrestrial queen with smoky eyes, chitin heels, and racially questionable daddy long legs dreadlocks. Move over Yara Sofia! Despite the dubious hair, I have to give Blizzard credit for spending so much time giving center stage to Kerrigan, a morally ambiguous brood queen with whom the player often finds themselves siding. Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void saw Kerrigan unite all the species of Starcraft and transform one more time into a fiery phoenix instrumental in defeating the dark god Amon. That kind of felt like a Jean Grey rip-off, but in her own words, Kerrigan’s “basically the queen bitch of the universe.”
Storm (Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, X-Men Arcade, X-Men Legends, Mutant Academy)
I was trying only to include queens that originated in video games on this list but come on. Whether Ororo is in executive white shoulder pads, going punk rock, or in her original thigh high leather look, Storm is always the goddess and the emotional core of any X-Men team. She’s probably best known for games from the house of Capcom, where voice actors imitated the androgynous Shakespearean tongue that became Storm’s signature in X-Men: The Animated Series. But her ability to knock enemies off balance with tornados made her an essential team member in the short-lived X-Men Legends series as well as the early ‘90s X-Men Arcade game.
Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man)
Ms. Pac-Man is a ravenous yellow blob with a bow and red lips. If Leigh Bowery were a video game character, he would’ve been Ms. Pac-Man. Gender-bending is built right into this glamorous yellow amoebas name. Her name’s not Mrs. Pac-Man so she’s probably not married to Pac-Man. Why isn’t her name Pac-Lady? Ms. Pac-Man is perhaps the originator of the “Ms. Male” trope wherein game developers with no imagination create female characters in the likeness of a pre-existing dude. But critics agree: Ms. Pac-Man’s game eclipsed her boo’s in almost every way. Take that, patriarchy.
Bayonetta is a shape-shifting witch with a personality (and hairstyle) ripped right from Absolutely Fabulous. If you’re trying to figure out her game’s confusing plot, maybe don’t bother, but it’s pretty clear that she fights angelic hordes. Gays aren’t usually big fans of religion, so a heroine that fights angels has a certain appeal for a lot of us. Bayonetta models sleeves with long weaves for fringe and her boots have heels made of guns that shoot red lipstick bullets. But the oddest design choice for the Bayo look is probably her glasses. With all the flipping and jumping around, you’d think Bayonetta would’ve invested in some contacts.
Carmen Sandiego (Carmen Sandiego)
Who says edutainment can’t be stylish? Mystery and mystique can be a drag queen’s greatest asset, and this jet-setting burglar has it in spades. She’s also a queen with a cause: despite being the villain, many critics have noted that she was the first prominent example of a capable Latina in games that didn’t rely on stereotypes. And how many other video game characters inspired a game show, a cartoon, and a book series? On top of all that, Carmen teaches the children. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, schools would have special Carmen Sandiego themed days where kids would learn about geography. Carmen’s been off the map for a little bit, but a TV show is currently in the works for 2019, with Gina Rodriguez on deck to voice the gentlewoman thief.
In Kirby, drag is the primary gameplay mechanic. Think about it. In every game, Kirby wins by eating enemies and then interpreting their look, coming right back at ya with a variety of outlandish headpieces and sometimes beating her mug different colors. Whether she has flames coming out of the top of her head or is rocking Bayonetta’s sexy librarian look in Super Smash Brothers, Kirby’s versatility knows no bounds. Also, just look at him. A shrill and sassy pink puffball named… Kirby?
Sindel (Mortal Kombat), Irenes (Chrono Cross), Ivy Valentine (Soulcalibur), Ros (Streetfighter), the entire cast of Guilty Gear, and any of the girls from Bloody Roar.