"I actually never liked Arbus’s pictures of transvestites…I think that Arbus’s work is all about herself. Her genius is about not wanting to be herself, about wanting instead to be each person that she photographed. At the time she was photographing them, she was really trying their skin on. It’s the work of someone with empathy that borders on psychosis. But I felt with the drag queens she was seeking to reveal them and that wasn’t my desire. My desire was to show them as a third gender, as another sexual option, a gender option. And to show them with a lot of respect and love, to kind of glorify them because I really admire people who recreate themselves and who manifest their fantasies publicly. I think it’s really brave. I just really have so much love and respect and attraction for the queens. So I don’t like her stripping them and exposing them according to her own preconceptions of who they are.”
-Nan Goldin on Diane Arbus
Andy Warhol enjoyed dressing for parties in drag, sometimes in dresses of his own design. He admired “the boys who spend their lives trying to be complete girls,” so in 1981 he and a photographic assistant, Christopher Makos, agreed to collaborate on a session portraying Warhol in drag. In many ways, they modeled the series on Man Ray’s 1920s work with the French artist Marcel Duchamp, in which the two artists created a female alter ego name Rrose Sélavy for Duchamp.