Bold & Beautiful: Post-Op Malone
For Post-Op Malone, drag has been monumentally important for self-expression and personal growth. Describing themselves as having had a fairly sheltered childhood, Post-Op Malone found a community within the world of drag to explore their own identity and push the boundaries of gender.
Post-Op Malone grew up in California and got their start as a drag king after being a cast member for Rocky Horror Picture Show and participating in open mic nights at Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach, CA. From there, they began exploring with cosplay and burlesque. “I started leaning towards male characters, but I wanted to keep it sexy, so it turned into a bearded lady type of thing,” Malone says. After moving to Salt Lake City just a year and a half ago, Post-Op Malone found a community with local drag kings and dove right in.
“I was blown away by the king presence in Salt Lake,” Malone says. “I love getting to see and perform with other kings so frequently.” Coming from an area with a smaller king presence, Post-Op Malone appreciates the sense of community they have found, while also being an advocate for the continued growth of the king scene. “We don’t have as much publicity as queens,” Malone says. “Whenever I tell someone I’m a king, they’re like, ‘What’s that?’ Very few people know there’s another aspect to drag aside from queens.” From pushing for more king-focused shows to raising awareness for classes put on by other drag kings such as Madazon Can-Can, Post-Op Malone only hopes for the king scene to continue to grow. “When you want representation, sometimes you have to go out and be that representation yourself,” they say.
Post-Op Malone’s own performances are funny and quirky, often featuring props and gags to maintain a lighthearted and fun atmosphere. “Sometimes I’m running around, pulling bubble wrap out of my fanny pack, but it’s nice to have a message sometimes as well.” Although on the outside Post-Op Malone’s performances are playful and upbeat, drag is deeply interwoven with their identity and self-expression.
Once Post-Op Malone discovered the freedom to bend gender norms within drag, they found comfort in their own art as well as inspiration in the art of others. “I love seeing bearded queens, like really feminine, glam, glitter, and then a big ol’ beard,” they say. When Post-Op Malone started doing drag as a king, they felt a pressure to always present as wholly masculine in order to be read as a king. Being genderfluid, Post-Op Malone realized they needed to push the boundaries of traditional gender to find their place in drag. “I have to be able to go in between and blur those lines, or else I don’t really feel like I fit into my own drag. It goes hand in hand with being genderfluid and reflecting who I am on the inside with that art,” they say.
Drag is an escape from traditional, cut-and-dry gender expression for Post-Op Malone. Whether they are in full drag or just wearing a mustache to Walmart, Post-Op Malone uses drag to outwardly express their identity. “I feel like I’m constantly learning new things about myself,” Malone says. “Drag is not only a reflection of myself but a way to express the constantly changing person inside me. I’m not the same person I was yesterday or ten minutes ago, and the nice thing about drag is that you can do anything with it. The drag changes with you.”
Find Post-Op Malone on Instagram @postopmalone or stop by Why Kiki on the last Friday of every month to see them perform.