monica mod finds strength in drag


photo courtesy of monica mod

Drag is a cultural art form — an avenue of self-expression that should be celebrated rather than penalized. It’s an art form that dates back hundreds of years, long before drag even had a name to define it. Especially in theater, it was the norm for men to take on female personas, but now, the pendulum has switched. 


As a way to mask the integral problems in our society, some right-wing politicians are using drag as a scapegoat — normalizing the attack of queer artists through discriminatory laws and dangerous accusations. While the unjust portrayal of drag queens continues to regress in mainstream media, many in the drag community continue to embrace the art form and refuse to be intimidated into submission. 


Olivia Kozlowski, better known by her drag name Monica Mod, is relatively new to the drag world. It was exposure to media such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” that first introduced her to drag, and she knew she wanted to immerse herself in the art form ever since.


Mod has a background in makeup, theater and fashion and has a huge appreciation for the queer community. 


“I always say drag is a combination of all the things I have loved throughout my adolescence,” Mod said. “It’s truly everything that I love most in the world; that’s what drag is to me now.” 


Mod tried full drag for the first time in December 2021, and she knew that was the right path for her. Being a novice in such an expressive and engaging community can be intimidating, but since the very beginning Mod has only been met with the utmost support and positivity. A couple months before her drag debut, she was given tips and pointers from some queens in the community — an act of kindness that depicts how familial the drag community truly is. 


One of the biggest factors for Mod’s drag decision was her opportunity to perform. With a background in musical theater, her drag performances are a way to express her passion for performing with her audience. 


Around two months after starting drag, Mod got adopted into the Haus of Dupree by her drag mother Daphné Dupree — who many know as Miss Gay Akron America 2022.

monica mod and her drag mother, daphné dupree // photo courtesy of monica mod

Dupree stumbled upon Mod’s first drag performance via Instagram and shared her love by reposting the video. Two weeks later they met for the first time and talked about Mod being a part of the family. Mod recalls Dupree telling her, “I want you to be my drag daughter, I see that passion for performance in you.”


“I love my family so much, they truly are my family,” Mod said. “There have been so many times I’ve gone to Daphné when I needed someone and she always knows what to say.” 


When asked about her favorite part about drag, Mod expressed she loved that you have the freedom to do whatever you want while performing: “Nobody is putting you in a certain box, you can do whatever you need to do to express yourself.” 


From lip-syncs to dancing to singing, there are no creative limits. The beauty of drag is that performers are able to express themselves however they want to be expressed without the pressure of societal rules. More than that, Mod appreciates how drag is a way to give back to the community. She enjoys interacting with the audience while performing, seeing their reactions and the energy they give back to her. 

photo courtesy of monica mod

“It’s so fulfilling, there is no other feeling like when you’re performing drag, truly,” Mod said. 


Some members of the conservative right are currently working to violently undermine the drag community under the guise of “protecting children.” Laws have been presented banning drag queen story hours, criminalizing public performances and even going so far as working to make drag a criminal offense. But through all the hate, Mod won’t cower down. Mod was joined by other drag queens for a story hour, a reading event for children, that enraged specific individuals.


“In the weeks, even months, prior we had been getting threats from the Proud Boys and the Ohio Blood Tribe,” Mod said. “They said they were going to come, protest and it was going to get wild.”


That was just the first threat, however, things worsened when conservative groups realized the event wasn’t going to be canceled. Matters were taken to extreme levels when someone threw a burning cocktail into the church trying to burn it down days before the event. 


“We were all so terrified and scared about what was happening,” Mod said. “As the weeks went on, more and more security had to be added. It’s so disheartening that the entire basis of why people don’t like drag and story hours is based on a lie.”


Mod has received some backlash from spineless bigots — but with her back straight, head held high and makeup on point, she continues to tread forward. No one deserves to be treated in the manner the drag community has been subjected to, all due to stark misunderstandings and harmful allegations.


Mod explains she agrees not all drag is for children, but that it is up to the parents to decide how much children are getting exposed to. “I don’t want to see a child in an 18+ show or a bar where there are sexual connotations to [the] performance. No child should be subjected to that,” Mod said.


Mod explains that drag queens are there to spread the message of acceptance and kindness.  “I wish that there was a way that we could change their minds, but there really isn’t. They will just hide behind this lie and this fear of the unknown that they don’t understand. That’s really it,” Mod said. 


The positivity of drag speaks for itself. The art form is continuously celebrated and acknowledged for its ability to bring out inner confidence — an experience Mod herself can attest to. “Drag has given me so much more confidence truly,” she said. “I have really bad social anxiety and drag has forced me to come out of my shell.”


Mod describes drag as life-changing and she is not the same person she was before. “I truly couldn’t have picked a better art form and path to lead myself down, especially during this time of my life,” Mod said. 


Through these battling times, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community has never been so important. While there are various ways to show allyship, Mod suggests being consciously aware of the issues going on around the queer community in the political and social world is a great place to start. 


“There has been such an influx of hate towards us and the trans, queer and drag community have never felt more threatened,” Mod said.


Vote for politicians that support the queer community, donate to the ACLU Drag Defense Fund and show up for your local drag queens. Conservatives may try as hard as they can to eradicate the drag community, but taking cues from the fearless resistance of Mod and the rest of the drag community, the battle for freedom of expression will prevail — and we only accept victory. 

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.