How to be a Female Drag Queen

After twelve years of performing as a female drag queen, I've learned a thing or two. I gratefully receive mail from bio girls who want to branch into it so have written a basic go to. As I've said before, I'm nobodys Drag Mother, but I'll be your Auntie.
There aren't any rules to drag, these are just my approach to it. Take from it what you will and have a butchers at my other blogs How To Be A Drag Queen and Back to School..Drag 101

1. Is it hard to get into drag?
Yes. There are plenty of people who will tell you you can't be a drag queen because you're a bio female and that drag is only M2F or F2M (particularly those whose only exposure to drag is watching RuPaul's Drag Race and proclaim themselves to be experts). That's utter crap, drag is in the art, not your gender.. There are women doing it, bearded queens, there are trans people doing drag. Now that's progress! Anyone can do drag, just research and respect it's heritage and make it your own.
Drag is expensive, time consuming and you need to be multi disciplined. I'd only advise getting into it properly if you have an insane desire to show off. Or have a rich partner/ parents. 

2.  How do I get gigs?
It's a cliche but it's not what you know, but who. Go to events and clubs, find a group to knock about with and share ideas with, enter competitions, get seen, do free shows. You will do a lot of free shows. And you always will.
Get yourself a strong look, a thick skin and have something to sell.
When I moved from to London from Vienna (where I was doing pretty well around clubs in central Europe), I had to start all over again, it was tough. I sulked a lot and then realised there's no point. Without a (decent) agent to believe in me, I've relied on determination, a love of performing and a bit of hustle to get gigs. If nobody is booking you, create your own, put on a show. Just don't expect to be rolling in a bed of money. Event promotion is tough, few make profit.

3. How do I (insert makeup related question)?
Doing heavy girl makeup isn't drag, you need to pile it on and exaggerate everything. You are attempting to look like a super, over the top, camp cartoonish idea of a glamorous woman, not a cute glittery version of yourself.  My makeup isn't the best but I spend an average 90 minutes, 60 at a push and try to make it neat. The face is the focal point, what humans are instinctively drawn to. Invest in a good base and good brushes. Youtube is full of tutorials. Practice and use heavily pigmented and stage makeup. High street stuff won't cut it. Always clean your face at the end and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.

4. What about my body?
I don't cinch because women come in a variety of shapes. I'm not a shapely lady (but a big old apple) and can't sing in a corset but it's up to you. One thing I don't do is get my tits out, for me, it defies the whole point. You're asking people to question what they think they know about gender. Drag inhabits a complicated space between masculine and feminine, this should reflect in the whole package. The biggest compliment I get is when people think I'm a fella, even after talking to me.  Keep them guessing. Tickle them with a feather, not the whole chicken.

5. Do I need a talent?
Yes, I think so. If you want longevity, get onstage and perform. If you have a talent for comedy, singing, magic, dance, storytelling, acrobatics, sword swallowing, circus etc all the better. If not, think beyond a straightforward-beginning-to-end lipsynch and get creative. Chop it up, tell a story, use props, always give it to them hard, attack and commit to what you're doing. Nobody likes a lazy lipsynch.
Don't depend on venues being able to play music from your phone or USB. Burn it to CD (slower the better) and label it with a marker. Buy high res music, stolen stuff from YouTube sounds dreadful on club systems.

6. What should I do about outfits?
Avoid generic high street clothes unless you're going to chop them up, wear them backwards, make them into something else or wear a shit load of accessories. What's the point of looking like any other girl in a generic frock down the disco? You're a queen, stand out.

7. How do I define myself?
I'm a Drag Queen. Not a Faux Queen. Faux means fake and there's nothing fake about me honey. Drag Witch is good. Bio Queen, meh. Hell, you're a human doing drag, call yourself whatever you want. 

8. Wigs?
I tend to go for unrealistic big wigs these days, I'm also partial to a turban too. I spent the first three years not wearing wigs at all and wrapped a myriad of feather boas around my head, looking like a big feathery microphone. Chuck whatever you want on your head, just wear a damn wig cap. You are creating unrealistic illusion, a fantasy. We don't need to see the daytime you poking out.  

9. Are there problems with misogyny?
Unfortunately yes. You will on occasion get a shady queen trying to tell you you can't do drag. In my experience, these are usually ones without a modicum of talent. Incredibly insecure too.
I recently lost a semi regular gig because of my gender. Despite storming it with the audience, the owners wanted a straightforward man in a dress.  That glass ceiling is a right bastard, we still live in a world where misogyny is rife and people underestimate the audiences capacity to have an open mind. If I complain, I'm accused of being a bitch, same if I'm tough in business. Sod them. I keep on trucking, not to spite them but because I believe in what I'm doing. 
Suffice to say, I won't be going to Cellar Door again...

10. Is there drag etiquette?
* When a queen has a crown on (usually their wig), address them by their drag name.
* Backstage areas get messy. Keep your shit together, respect those around you and don't steal. Rude.
* Be confident. Confidence is pivotal but there's a fine line between it and arrogance. No need to be an arse. 
* If you're asked not to make mess onstage, don't make mess onstage.
* Never plagiarize another act. It's tacky and you'll be remembered for the wrong reasons.

* Double air kisses is a standard drag greeting (at a bit of a distance to avoid smushing your makeup).
* Don't be noisy or trying to pull focus when another queen is performing, a bit of mutual respect is appreciated.
* Go hard or go home.
* Have fun.
* Be nice.



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  2. "Don't depend on venues being able to play music from your phone or USB. Burn it to CD (slower the better) and label it with a marker. Buy high res music, stolen stuff from YouTube sounds dreadful on club systems." I could kiss you for saying that! I was the regular resident DJ at Dr Sketchy's for years and it made my life so much harder when the burlesque performers would hand you their iPhone with their track on it. So much scope for things to go wrong!

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