Reading time at the library just got fabulous

Eleanor Wenman/FAIRFAX NZ

Drag queen LaQuisha St Redfern is dressing up reading time these school holidays.

Hoping to keep your kids quiet these holidays?

Drag queen LaQuisha St Redfern has a solution - let her read to them.

"The kids are mesmerised, they're really quiet," she said, adjusting her bright pink beehive wig.

010317. Capital Day. KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ. Laquisha St Redfern will be reading stories at Wellington Central Library ...
Kevin Stent

010317. Capital Day. KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ. Laquisha St Redfern will be reading stories at Wellington Central Library for Drag Queen Story Time.

LaQuisha is one of the queens of Wellington reading to children these school holidays. As part of the Beyond the Page festival, she's visiting libraries around the region with a stack of stories.

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LaQuisha debuted her story telling at Upper Hutt City Library. Kids as young as three stared in awe as she told the tale of Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.

 

The book follows a young boy who loves wearing a bright orange dress and the story resonated with the drag queen.

As a child, LaQuisha's mum had a bright yellow dress decorated with sunflowers and LaQuisha would often steal it to wear, along with her makeup.

"When I was a young person in small town New Zealand in the 1980s, there was no rainbow content at all.

Faith Morrison, 3, (left), Maryclare Morrison and Elizabeth Morrison, 5, sit spellbound at Upper Hutt City Library's ...
PHOTO:ELEANOR WENMAN/STUFF

Faith Morrison, 3, (left), Maryclare Morrison and Elizabeth Morrison, 5, sit spellbound at Upper Hutt City Library's Rainbow Storytime.

"When you realise you were different and your society actively tries to hide it, I have to say, it's not great."

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She read several books with similar "rainbow" content including Worm Loves Worm and said they were picked out with the help of library staff.

A bit of practice reading aloud at home and LaQuisha was ready to go.

The idea of drag queen reading time originally started in a public library in New York and has travelled around the world. Earlier this year, LaQuisha was invited to read at Wellington City Library for Pride Week.

"It was really beautiful," she said. Showing kids the diversity that exists in our world was an important part of growing up.

LaQuisha identifies as non-binary, neither fully masculine or feminine. "It's [a term] the cool kids are saying."

With her beehive wig complemented by her beard, LaQuisha blends both manly qualities with her feminine side.

She originally tried out the more traditional female-impersonation style of drag when she started out in the early 2000s but found it didn't quite sit with her. A trip to Europe and an encounter with a bearded drag queen beard lead her to explore her own fluid identity.

Since her first foray into drag, LaQuisha has come a long way. She now has 20,000 followers on Twitter, an app of iMessage stickers and a following in North America.

*LaQuisha St Redfern and other queens will be reading at Wellington City Library on July 23 

 - Stuff

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