TOOL's MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN: Wearing drag onstage "had nothing to do with Florida" | Revolver

TOOL's MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN: Wearing drag onstage "had nothing to do with Florida"

Singer says his Welcome to Rockville getup was not a protest — but he is down with the cause
Tool maynard james keenan drag 1600x900, Jacquelin Goldberg
TOOL's Maynard James Keenan
photograph by Jacquelin Goldberg

Yesterday (May 22nd), TOOL frontman Maynard James Keenan became one of the internet's trending topics when photos emerged of him performing onstage in drag during TOOL's show in Florida the night before.

The alt-metal titans headlined the 2023 edition of the Welcome to Rockville festival in Daytona Beach, and Keenan sported a new stage getup that included sizable prosthetic breasts, garish red lipstick and a messy blonde wig. Many onlookers interpreted Keenan's outfit as a middle finger to Florida's newly-enacted anti-drag laws, which threaten the viability of drag performances and aim to criminalize expressions of trans and LGBTQ pride throughout Florida.

Since Welcome to Rockville is an all-ages event, Keenan's getup technically challenged one recently signed bill by Governor Ron DeSantis that prohibits minors from attending drag events. Many TOOL fans thought the timing was too coincidental and Keenan, ever the provoker of social norms, must have been wearing drag onstage as an act of protest.

But according to Keenan, that's not the case at all. In a new interview with The Messenger, he revealed his outfit had "nothing to do with Florida," but that he does stand in solidarity with drag performers everywhere, and disagrees with efforts to silence that type of personal expression.

"I've been cross-dressing since long before these clickbait-junkie dupes were out of diapers," Keenan, who has indeed adopted feminine garb onstage for decades (including prosthetic breasts during TOOL's 1997 tour) told The Messenger.

"It's pretty crazy the technology and the prosthetics nowadays, how they've come along, and I just was considering bringing the look back," he said of his Welcome to Rockville getup. "And that's really all there is to it. I'm not a political fella — had nothing to do with Florida."

He also confirmed that Florida law enforcement hasn't been in contact with him about his legally questionable outfit. "Nobody's enforcing it," Keenan said. "They just do that and they throw it out there to shore up their base for an election year."

Elsewhere in the interview, Keenan relayed his feelings on the anti-drag legislation that's been sweeping conservative states in recent months.

"I think limiting people's access to anything is absurd," he said. "Good parenting allows you to teach your kids how to be reasonable and reason and puzzle things out and decide for themselves what the fuck they wanna see or not wanna see."

He also revealed that he considers himself a member of the drag community, even if he hasn't been donning the outfits as frequently as other performers in that world.

"I guess so, yeah," he said when asked if he claims drag membership. "On occasion, I am a drag queen; I've been a drag queen. I'm casual, so the hardcore people are going to dismiss me as being a tourist.

"Let's be honest, I'm 59. So last night's performance looked more like [Game of Thrones character] Brienne of Tarth on her worst day," he quipped.

"Solidarity with people who are not afraid to express themselves? Absolutely," Keenan underscored. "People that want to express themselves in whatever fucking way they want to express themselves, as long as they're not physically directly hurting someone? Yeah, go for it. I'm all for ya."

"If there's any takeaway, it's be yourself," Keenan added. "Don't be afraid to be yourself."