Meet the fierce Black drag queen who ran for US president in 1992

Under the slogan “Lick Bush in ‘92”, Joan Jett Blakk became the first ever drag queen to run for US president.

The image is a photograph of drag queen Joan Jett Blakk who ran for US President in 1992. The colour photograph is highly saturated and dated looking. It shows a head shot of a person wearing heavy purple eyeliner . They are smiling and their front teeth appear to be broken at the bottom. They are wearing dangly sparkly earrings with a giant pink pearl style necklace.
Image: @owenkeehnen via Instagram

Page 5, issue 40 of GCN magazine (May 1992) contained an article titled ‘Camp Pain’. It began: “Americans who thought Nancy Reagan went overboard on the designer frocks ain’t seen nothin’ yet! (The) Latest entry in the US presidential race is Chicago drag queen Joan Jett Blakk, official candidate of the newly-formed Queer Nation Party.” Blakk, also known as Terence Alan Smith, hailed from Detroit, Michigan. On her 35th birthday, January 17, wearing high heels and lipstick, the veteran drag queen and fervent activist formally announced that she would be running for president under the slogan “Lick Bush in ‘92”.

Had the drag queen been elected President, she planned to rename the FBI to the Fashion Bureau of Investigation, suggesting, “Crime will be a thing of the past if we arrest the poorly dressed before they do any wrong”. 

She also pledged to rebrand the CIA as the Centre for Intelligent Accessories and to replace the armed forces with the lesbian security patrol, Dykes on Bikes. Lastly, she intended to paint the White House and call it the Lavender House.

Despite her comedic appearance and slogan, Blakk also had some strong policies, including what she believed to be a simple solution to the problems of unemployment and homelessness. In her own words, “We’ll get all the people with no jobs to build homes for the people who don’t have houses.” 



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Defending her right to run for election, Blakk said, “I keep hearing this joke. It starts out (with) Ronald Reagan. Then it goes on George Bush. And the punch-line is Dan Quayle! Now I ask you, how can I hurt the presidency any more than that?”

Running as a candidate for the newly formed Queer Nation party, she committed to speak for “those large sections. of the electorate who no longer bother to vote for the white-bread, carbon-copy candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties”. 

Taking a stab at the incumbent president, Ronald Reagan, she was recorded as saying, “If a bad actor can be president, why not a good drag queen?” Undeterred by her loss, Blakk returned to run again four years later, this time under the slogan “Lick Slick Willie in ‘96”.

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