Words of wisdom from drag artists
Ok, so I’m making to push towards performing as a drag artist. I started thinking about it back in 2010 but it was one of those things I regrettable never did at the time. Now I’m looking at ways to go about it. I’ve had a make- up lesson from Jenny Wave, (see photoshoot post) and started burlesque courses at Mizz Twisted Cherry Studios with a Great Gatsby theme routine. And of course I’ve watched countless you tube videos and read up on everything I can find to give me advice and tips. I’ve even started my own Facebook page under the name Cherry Ade in order to start pushing myself out there.
But I figured the best place to get some advice is from some of the drag artists I know and so I asked some of them, what is the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone trying to become a drag artist?”
The first person I turned to was my close friend Miss Felicia, a drag queen for over ten years, bringing her own version of drag race to Gloucester, discovering Misty Monique and thus being the originator of what would eventually become Drag Wars. She now lives and performs regularly at the Golden Cross, Cardiff and has her own Christmas shoe coming up. What did she have to say?
“Don’t be me.” Maybe meant as more of a joke but still solid advice. One of the things that I’ve found with drag is that the performances and the styles vary greatly. Miss Felicia, Luna Lakes and Isabell End are all very different. I’d love to be able to sing as well as Felicia or dance and look as gorgeous as Luna. And as much as I love Doctor Who Isabell has already scared a number of Daleks in her performance. So simply copying my friend isn’t a great move. What I need to do is to find the persona that suits me that I feel comfortable with. What kind of person is Cherry?
I turned next to Misty Monique. The host of Oh My Drag and Drag Wars at the Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham. She is someone who had helped other drag artists get a chance and recently won a ‘We Are One’ Awards Young Adult Upstander Award, (which I’m really pleased about as I was one of the people who nominated her. Misty also puts on another show. Flock aimed and new artists to get a chance to perform, something to keep my eye on in the future.
Misty gave me this advice: “my advice would be to research, go online, go on youtube etc. The internet is a fantastic resource for learning the basics of drag. Get to know your local scene and ask those involved for tips etc, but don’t be reliant on having a ‘drag mother’ to teach you everything – you learn so much more without one. Don’t use drag race as your only resource – you will find out so much more by going to local shows”
Along with the Oh My Drag shows in Cheltenham I’ve also visited The Golden Cross in Cardiff. Along with guest artists at both these events and Drag Wars this has allowed me to see a great variety or acts. Most of the artists I have spoken to at these events have been friendly and helpful. I’ve helped Miss Felicia behind stage at the final of Drag Wars this year and will be working backstage at Miss Felicia’s show at Christmas all of which has given me a chance to learn a lot. Even after a year or so of working towards this goal I’m still find stuff on the net.
Luna Lakes: my advice would be to make sure you do drag for yourself first, always! As a movement, drag is all about non-conforming and embracing the weird, wacky and wonderful parts of self-exploration and it’s crucial you remember that. More often than not, you will find there are people both within and outside of the community that will try to police or censor you on how you should express yourself, but just remember that drag is yours to enjoy, and finding what drag means to you is the key part of the experience. All art is subjective and unique, and drag is art, so don’t dull your shine by sticking to any ideals and traditions thrown your way when presenting yourself as a drag artist. The biggest gratification you get from drag is a pat on the back from yourself! Once you have that, you’ll be ready to conquer the world! ”
I’ve been questioning why I want to do drag. I just really want to do it, I’m not thinking about it as a way to earn extra money and I’m not after fame. To me it feels like a way to express myself, to feel a part of something. It certainly isn’t because it’s easy. I’ve learnt there is a lot of hard work involved. I did my first performance in drag at the end of my first burlesque course this week and despite the practise I put in I forgot the routine half way through and struggled, luckily it was only in front of the rest of the class but it would have been nice to watch the video with pride and not notice all the mistakes. I still take pride in the fact that I got up there and did it though and at times when I did mess up the moves I was able to improvise. And while my performance was lacking I did have plenty of good responses to my drag. I overcame my anxiety at doing it and I think I can pat myself on the back for that.
This also feeds into the advice I got from Isabell End. “I think my main advice would be to enjoy yourself, however the performance is going. The audience love it when you’re having fun and engaging them ”
Despite my mistakes and my panic over doing the routine I loved it. I felt relieved when it was over but I enjoyed doing it. It felt like an achievement and I got a good response from the class.
So to reiterate. Try not to copy another artist and to find myself. Find out how to express myself and don’t let anyone else chance that. But at the same time take time to research and get advice and tips from others. Above all enjoy myself when performance regardless of how it’s going and just try to entertain the audience.
I’m ready for the next time which is in eight weeks’ time with a Rocky Horror Show theme. Yes I was pleased with my makeup this time but there is still a lot to learn and to practice and this time I will put even more practice time in on the routine. The goal is to perform at the Mizz Twisted Cherry Showcase next year. I have song in mind and the first ideas of a routine. Hopefully by next year Cherry Ade will be performing.
As these Queens helpped me out with their advice for this post:
Miss Felicia’s show, Applause: A Christmas Special is on Friday 20th December at Rhiwbina Memorial Hall, Cardiff. Tickets available from;
Misty Monique will be at Flock Vol 2 at The Sober Parrot, Cheltenham and Oh My Drag: Nightmare on Elf Street is at the Frog and Fiddle on 7th Dec. Ticket available here;
You can also catch Luna Lakes and Isabell End at Oh My Drag. If you want more Luna, she is also performing along side Lilly Love at the Little Vic, Stroud for the next three Tuesdays (7th, 14th & 21st with their Drag Race UK Viewing Extravaganza.