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
Nicole Pasulka writes about gender, activism, and criminal justice for publications such as New York magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Mother 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 Considered. How You Get Famous is her first book.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“This first book by journalist Pasulka is a national treasure… authentically, sensitively, and expansively recording the personal and sociopolitical realities of drag in Brooklyn from 2011 to 2021.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Adventurously intelligent. The skilled reporting and storytelling that characterize the narrative make for an engaging book that will appeal to scholars of gender as well as anyone with an interest in queer culture.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An entertaining deep dive… Pasulka skillfully weaves each performer’s story into a tapestry of messiness, drama, and the complexities of modern queer subcultures.” —Publishers Weekly
“An entertaining, absorbing behind-the-scenes look at drag that will especially appeal to fans of Drag Race and the TV drama Pose.” —Library Journal