It’s no surprise that with the country on lockdown, people have turned to the arts to pass the time and provide comfort. From the legendary Tiger King, Dua Lipa’s modern classic Future Nostalgia, and even National Theatre and West End broadcasts, the industry has stepped up to provide entertainment to the world in one of its most turbulent times.
One section that has managed to do this from the beginning of the UK and the US being affected by the pandemic, is drag. Usually performed in bars, on stages to masses, and on worldwide tours such as Werq the World, the art of drag has adapted to the shutdown of all its usual venues with surprising speed and deftness. Whilst other artists have faced cancelling their world tours by singing John Lennon’s ‘imagine’ in one of their mansions, drag stars have united through various platforms to continue delivering shows to fans. Stageit’s Digital Drag Fest, which boasts big names like Alaska and Bob the Drag Queen, started streaming shows in March and will continue until April 30th with the possibility for further extension, and Werq the World streamed a one-off special with icons like Season 12’s Gigi Goode and Yvie Oddly. Whilst shaky at points, it showed promise for the future and helped showcase more than just the lipsyncing talents of the features queens. Despite the production not being the same as on a tour, queens have adapted seriously well- Violet Chachki delivered an aerial hoop number and Aquaria went above and beyond, doing her own lighting, filming, and editing for her number. Proceeds go not just to the performers, but local queens in the USA, who don’t have the platform afforded to the pre-mentioned names, all of whom found mainstream fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, it would be good to try feature some of these queens in the bigger performances- the only non-Drag Race queens we saw in the Werq the World performance were Rubber Child and Symone, who are Gigi Goode’s housemates and frequent backup dancers. Whilst donating some of the proceeds helps them pay their bills, showcasing their talent would help their careers after quarantine ends, and wouldn’t make them rely on their more famous peers.
But the online world isn’t a complete mystery for drag queens, with many seeing the value in an online presence long before the quarantine. With YouTube channels like Chachki’s, where she discusses fashion and makeup, or Miz Cracker’s, where she releases ‘Review with a Jew’, a weekly recap of Drag Race, drag queens are one of the latest group of entertainers to turn to the platform for self-created content with roaring success. With the ability to showcase any talent to anyone who will listen, social media has well and truly transformed how people consume drag. You can often catch your favourites on Instagram live doing their makeup and interacting with fans, or if you want a one-on-one connection many queens are doing personalised messages through cameo, though it comes with a fee. Finally, for beginners, Netflix is currently releasing episodes of Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race Saturdays at 8am, and has instantly-recognisable queen Trixie Mattel’s documentary Moving Parts ready to stream now.
Despite the lack of live shows, drag is thriving in quarantine, with possibilities in whichever form of media you prefer, from podcasts, to music, to YouTube. With 100% of the money for paid shows going to the performers and crew, it’s a great way to support the industry whilst not having to leave the comfort of your quarantine fort.
Image Credit: Entertainment Weekly