How to be a Drag Queen

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?

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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;

http://www.ticketlab.co.uk/events/applause?fbclid=IwAR24qm-M_w9o357EcoQyTxpcP60r17Dr1V-UtsgTUM9wtn-3rCT2xpJp8tk

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;

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/487256?fbclid=IwAR0GTUrxlzv_eZ2uMQEOtT99Flxjsbg6pn-F67E5_Fwbxva3bckmIHd0Pbk

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.

 

Drag Wars 2018

 

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So recently I found myself back in my old university town of Cheltenham when I attended two out of the three shows of Drag Wars 2018 completion. Unfortunately I was unable to go to heat one due to being at Pride. This was the first Drag Wars I’ve attended, or any drag competition to be honest. The competition is a spin off from, Felicia’s Drag Race, done by my friend, Miss Felicia. The competition is run by Misty Monique. A Drag Queen with a unique and literally out of this world look who won Drag Race in 2015.

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So heat two consisted of serval acts for whom we had to use our tickets to vote for. To be fair every act was not only good but very different to each other. Some were just a bit weaker than others. Among them one shone out to me, Ophelia Cox, Gloucester’s youngest Drag Queen. A fantastic act with a few little tricks up her sleeve (or more to the point down her dress) and she has a great classy look. I was definitely impressed by her style and I loved the dress she was wearing. I was able to talk to her afterwards to find out the make and where to get one from. (Which I promptly did with a view of doing a Jessica Rabbit style photo set sometime soon.) So that was one of my votes used before I even saw the rest.

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Another of my votes went to Hevvi Flo, young, energetic, memorising. The show she put on was like nothing I’d seen before. The moves that she did on stage was amazing. It was clear early on that she was definitely a favourite to go through to the next round. The judges voted highly of her.
My third and final vote was harder to cast. I was torn between a few of the acts. True I could have cast a second vote for Ophelia but felt I should spread my vote. In the end my final vote went to Semi Colon, a woman that not only gave a good show but put across a message about accepting yourself. Ultimately and rightly (IMO) it was Ophelia and Hevvi Flo that went through to the final.
So a few weeks later I find myself back to watch the final. Sadly Hevvi Flo had to pull out beforehand due to illness, a shame as she was a favourite to win. There was also an act brought back, Astro, from heat one, who gave an enjoyable performance. Ophelia gave another good performance although it felt a little less snazzy then the first. There were still a few surprises in her performance however.
They were followed by the two winners from heat one, Ravenna Slayshon and Sage. For me personally Sage didn’t hit the right spot for me but the act was good and very emotional. You could tell it was very personal and I couldn’t fault it. Then there was Ravenna. Wow. This Queen knew how to put on a show. Dragged to the stage on a blanket pulled by four guys who then helped lift her up onto stage it was an amazing performance. For a little pub in Cheltenham it was almost like a show by Madonna or Gaga in a stadium. Her performance was faultless. Sadly, for me, her performance was overshadowed by a rather large and very vocal fan base.
So when it came to voting it was a no brainer. All three of my votes went to Ophelia Cox. Sadly however it was Sage and Ravenna who were the clear winners going thorough to the final stage of the competition. This then left me with a dilemma as it was hard to choose who to vote for in this round. Both were very good. Both deserved the vote. I held off for most of the voting time but eventually (maybe wrongly) my mind was made up by Ravenna’s own fans. Their antics and attitude towards the other acts had annoyed me and so Sage got my vote. Ultimately though Ravenna was the winner and to be fair she is going to be fantastic but hopefully many of the other acts I saw will go on to have great success. They certainly deserve it.
So that was Drag Wars 2018 and I loved it and look forward to Drag Wars 2019. There was an incredible atmosphere at both shows, and presumably heat one, with the place packed out. The final finished with the acts, judges and hosts performing Lady Marmalade. A fitting show stopper.
Already I have tickets for Misty Monique’s next show at Christmas, Oh my Drag – An X-rated Xmas.

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It’s going to be amazing and I’m looking forward to because like Drag Wars it will feature a Drag Queen who has become one of my favourites. No not one of the acts but Luna Lakes, Misty’s cohort and pre show host. She performed for the opening of the shows as well as throughout and was brilliant. Ok, I’m happy to admit I may just have a little crush on her. Her look is amazing as well as the persona and she just blew me away. The interactions between here and Misty make for a great double act. Even a live Facebook feed that they did together out of drag just shows how much chemistry these two have.
So not only did I enjoy the show but it’s also made me question even more where I want to go with myself. I’m still not sure if I’m Trans or just enjoy becoming female for a little time in an artistic way to take photos. I do want to get better with both my look and how I model myself in the photos. At present out of two hundred photos maybe only five or six I’m happy with. It may well be that I could be happy in doing drag. I already have a stage name in my head. Cherry Ade, cool yeah? (Well I like it). So this is something I’m going to look into. It’s not the first time I’ve considered it. Many years ago when in College I thought about doing drag but never did. Drag Wars has certainly proven inspirational.
So I have plans to get some professional help with make-up and to talk with Miss Felicia for some tips and I’ll see where I go. I’d love to have a look like Luna and Ophelia, except unfortunately older. Maybe sometime it’ll be me up there on stage trying to impress the judges and the audience without fainting. And I don’t think I’d even be that worried about winning. I’d just love to have the courage to have a go and hopefully not suck. All I’ve got to do is develop some talent first and judging by the acts I saw I’ll have some hard work ahead of me.

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Photos of Ophelia Cox and Misty Monique used with kind permission. Links to their Facebook site below.

https://www.facebook.com/themistymonique/?ref=br_rs

https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheOpheliaCox/services/?ref=page_internal

Plus links to Miss Felicia and Luna Lakes

https://www.facebook.com/Miss-Felicia-215562955978/

https://www.facebook.com/delunasional/