Gender-bending music videos -- Comedian Hedda Lettuce judges the cross-dressing efforts of Beyoncé, Ciara, and The Killers

By Leah Greenblatt
May 04, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Gender-bending music videos

Sure, boys in bands have been dabbling with eyeliner for decades. And pioneering pop stars like Madonna and Marilyn Manson have taken cross-dressing to wild — and wildly successful — heights. Now younger artists who’ve habitually played it straight are (gender) bending it like Bowie in their latest videos. So, how do they compare to their predecessors? We asked a pro, NYC-based drag comedian Hedda Lettuce, to judge their efforts.

Beyoncé, ”Upgrade U”
The Look Ms. B goes B-boy — scraped-back hair, baggy jeans, and masculine sneer — to impersonate boyfriend (and guest star) Jay-Z in her ode to high-class living. Hedda’s Verdict ”I think she’s kind of playing it safe, giving you Beyoncé but without the weave. I can tell she was nervous. She’s much more comfortable when she’s shaking her boobies and booty. Still, it’s Beyoncé; she’s a brand, a cover girl, a movie star. So for trying to do the gender thing, I give her a solid B.”

Ciara, ”Like a Boy”
The Look Do-rag, wifebeater, and major (fake) tattoos in one guise; fedora, swank suit, and boyish cornrows in another — her way of flipping the script on dating double standards. Hedda’s Verdict ”I can smell the masculinity coming off of her! She’s kind of Michael Jackson-ish, like that video when he smashes the windows [1991’s ”Black or White”]. She’s channeling that, a little bit of Prince, a little Usher, and she does it very naturally. She went for it! I would give her an A.”

The Killers, ”Read My Mind”
The Look The Las Vegas boys hit the streets of Tokyo — and go native in geisha dress, though only drummer Ronnie Vannucci does the full makeup and wig. Hedda’s Verdict ”A bearded geisha? Well, I’m sure you could charge a few more yen for that. It seemed like they did it with a little bit of shame. The poor drummer looks depressed. Dave Grohl does it so much better [in videos]. He commits to it. These guys are amateurs. I’ll say an A for effort, but a D for execution.”