Tips on How to Do Drag for the First Time
With the rising popularity of Rupaul’s Drag Race and the thousands of queens putting their names out there, the state of drag has never been more vibrant and exciting. One of the main appeals of drag is that almost anyone can do it (yes, that includes you). There’s no limit to what drag is or should be; only your imagination and creativity. Drag performers are iconic inspirations for their ability to break through barriers and conventions that people once thought are inviolable.
And if you’re looking into doing drag, there’s no need to be intimidated. For the curious and fascinated, we’ve gathered some of the best tips and tricks from professional drag artists so that you can get your drag off in the right direction.
Creating your own drag style
The beauty about drag is that your style can be anything you want. Crowd-thrilling acts can captivate an entire audience while cultivating gender-bending confrontations can smash the patriarchy. If the thought of being as masculine as a drag king excites you, well go ahead and be crazy with your ideas.
Whether you’re eager to make a strong political statement or just wondered whether those big pumps would look perfect with your calves, then drag is right for you. Nothing feels better than crafting a character and taking that persona as far as it can go. The acts, the makeup, and costume can serve as gateways to discovering sides of you that you never knew existed — but watch out, as drag can also open up your bank account and drain it far quicker than you may realise.
There’s a unanimous agreement between drag queens regarding their own personal drag style and drag outfits and that is to go big or go home. Kaikai Bee Michaels, a non-binary drag queen from San Fransico, says that drag is an embodiment of your gender expression and ideas.
“Drag is parody, in essence. It's a bigger version of whatever gender expression you have chosen to put under the microscope,”she says.
Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 agrees. “The best drag personas are just who you are but with the volume turned all the way up. It’s based on your own personality.” And to truly find the persona that’s the most comfortable, practice! Get onstage wherever you can and you can feel what works and what doesn’t,” she added.
If you’re having trouble figuring out your own drag style, try to look at your favourite drag artists and take inspiration from them. This amalgamation of ideas can help form the ideal character that you truly want to present yourself with. Costumes are such a huge part of creating your drag persona, and as a beginner drag queen, one important thing to do is find a place where you can explore costume ideas, that will fit you just right, and not break the bank. That’s why stores like CHARISMATICO.com is such a great place to start as they have thousands of costume ideas and the costumes are tailor made to fit you jut right.
Drag makeup tips
Most aspiring drag artists are concerned about how they’re going to approach their makeup. The good news is that you can look up some of the best makeup teachers in the world with just a simple click. One example is Rock M. Sakura’s phenomenal pastel unicorn look tutorial on YouTube which made her an absolute darling on RuPaul Drag Race’s Season 12.
Keep in mind that with drag, more is really more. Don’t be afraid to cake all that makeup on and go as exaggerated as you can. It could be blasting the eyeshadows or dialling up the glitter. Either way, you can always scale it back to find the right shapes and styles that suit your personal tastes.
Some drag artists like Alaska learned to do their makeup by taking inspiration from other queens. She said, “I learned how to do drag by looking at pictures of other queens online and trying to emulate their looks. Become a Frankenstein of the parts of queens’ makeup you like until you find the look that is particularly you.”
Go to Instagram and visit the profiles of your favourite drag artists. You’ll get a good idea of how they do their makeup and use them as inspiration for your own unique look.
Finding a drag venue and getting booked
Like with most industries, having good connections is key to landing your first gig. It’s all about knowing the right people and putting yourself out there as much as you can. Jelly Jellyfish acknowledges that it takes a bit of effort to find a drag venue and getting booked for the first time.
“Find any gay or queer-friendly bar,” says Jelly. “Meet other queens, and most importantly of all be kind, courteous and helpful. Cheer other queens on, take photos or videos of the numbers, help pick up tips for the performers. Save the diva attitude for the stage.”
Having a positive attitude is key to succeeding as a drag artist and this is something that Alaska strongly resonates with. “You may have to be willing to work for free (or for tips) when you’re first starting out. But making yourself available shows people you’re a professional who wants to work, which leads to opportunities and it’s a great way to meet people and make friends.”
But even if you decide to perform just for the tips, don’t let the word “free” be your standard rate. When performing unpaid gigs, the key is to make the most of your time with the audience. Make a statement and give it all you have every single night. With a bit of experience and exposure under your belt, it’s only a matter of time before an entire audience falls in love with you and propel you to the bigger stage.