QUEER VOICES

Nina West Of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Wants Kids To Feel 'Loved And Seen' With New Video

The queen says her children's music EP, "Drag is Magic," is meant to encourage young fans to "reconsider the masks we are all forced to wear daily."

Nina West says she hopes young fans will be inspired to “dream big, be kind, and be their perfect selves” when they listen to her new children’s music EP, “Drag is Magic.”

HuffPost got an exclusive first look at the music video for the EP’s title track, viewed above. In it, West appears alternately as a “Mrs. Doubtfire”-like nanny and her bubbly diva self as she extols the virtues of her art form to an audience of youngsters. The video concludes as each child embodies their own fantasy self ― a ballerina and a pirate, for example. 

“I am just a big kid at heart, so this was a natural progression for me and for the character of Nina West,” the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” veteran said of the video, directed by Brad Hammer. “Also, there is nothing like performing for an audience of kids!”

“Drag is Magic,” which hit retailers and streaming platforms last week, happens to coincide another with West project: a five-track comedy EP titled “John Goodman.” While the latter tackles pop culture and politics, the queen opts for a playfully educational approach on “Drag is Magic,” with tracks like “The Drag Alphabet” and “The Reading Song.” 

By doing so, the Ohio native aims to prove that drag is as “an opportunity for children to get creative and think outside the boxes us silly adults have crafted for them.”

"I believe that almost all kids are really less concerned about playing with a toy that’s supposedly aligned to their g
"I believe that almost all kids are really less concerned about playing with a toy that’s supposedly aligned to their gender, and more concerned with playing with toys that speak to them,” Nina West said. 

West’s EP and music video arrive at a time when drag performers have been finding new and creative ways to adapt their work for younger audiences. In recent years, drag-themed story hours have become an increasingly popular, if controversial, pastime for kids at libraries across the country.

Similarly, drag artist Marti Gould Cummings won praise from singer-actress Audra McDonald and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) after performing the ubiquitous children’s song, “Baby Shark,” at a 2-year-old’s request at a restaurant in New Jersey. Video footage capturing Cummings’ performance has been viewed more than 806,000 times after being posted to Twitter and Instagram

West, who cites “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and “The Muppet Show” as influences and has hosted story hours in the past, is aware that some parents may find drag inappropriate for young viewers. To that end, she’s hopeful the “Drag is Magic” video and album will inform skeptics whose exposure to the art form may be limited to nightclub and bar performances. 

“Drag is an opportunity for anyone – including and especially children – to reconsider the masks we are all forced to wear daily,” she said. “Children are inundated with implicit imagery from media about what is ‘boy’ and what is ‘girl.’ And I believe that almost all kids are really less concerned about playing with a toy that’s supposedly aligned to their gender, and more concerned with playing with toys that speak to them.”

She continued: “To all the little boys and little girls who don’t always see their unique selves reflected in other forms of media, or who are being told they are too feminine, or who are told they shouldn’t want to play with that toy – I want this album to be where they feel silly, goofy, loved and seen.”

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