The art of drag

| March 26, 2013

For some, drag is a lifestyle. For others it’s what pays the bills. Many people have yet to experience a drag show, and don’t understand the process behind this coveted performance art.

Scarlet Fever host Buf-Faye working the crowd

Scarlet Fever host Buf-Faye working the crowd

Local Charlotte dance troupe Basic Instinct lit up the stage with their Beyonce Super Bowl performance.

Local Charlotte dance troupe Basic Instinct lit up the stage with their Beyonce Super Bowl performance.

UNC-Charlotte queen Deja Armani

UNC-Charlotte queen Deja Armani

UNC-Charlotte queen Isabella Mynx

UNC-Charlotte queen Isabella Minx

UNC Charlotte queen Bianca Huggnkiss

UNC Charlotte queen Bianca Huggnkiss

This past friday, UNC Charlotte hosted it’s annual drag show, Scarlet Fever. Scarlet Fever is put on by PRIDE every year and all of the proceeds benefited AIDS walk Charlotte. Hosted by local drag personality, Buf-Faye, Scarlet Fever served as an outstanding variety show featuring drag queens, Charlotte-based dance troops and singers giving their all to get tips donation for the AIDS walk. Scarlet Fever was able to raise $1,500 dollars this year. These shows seem to get better and better each year with turnouts that keep growing and growing. If you weren’t able to witness the greatness this year, make sure you mark your calendar for next year.

If you aren’t already familiar, a drag queen, generally, is a man who who dresses and personifies himself as a woman through performance. Although there is such thing as a drag king, queens are the more popular of the two.

“I wanted to be a drag king because I thought it would be fun to don another gender and parade around. It looked like a lot of fun, so I gave it a shot,” said Bonnie Green, PRIDE president and drag king.

When you think of a drag queen, usually what comes to mind is colorful (and very detailed) costumes, fabulous wigs and flawless makeup. While all of that is a part of the package, it isn’t what completes the package. There is a lot more than the superficial qualities of being a drag queen. You’ve got to have a spectacular, entertaining performance, killer choreography and overall star quality. Usually, that’s not something you can just pick up. Most are born with it.

A lot of the money made performing goes back into the complete package. The elaborate wigs have to be bought and kept up, you need special make-up to achieve a certain look and costumes have to be made or bought from a seamstress.

Drag shows can consist of lip-synching, comedy acts, single and group acts and skits. The level of experience varies as well. From an amateur performing in a bar, to a coveted elaborate pageant queen performing in a theatre.

Usually, a queen will have her own persona and perform around the essence of that, but a lot of the classic queens are known for impersonating famous female singers and personalities such as Cher, Bette Midler and Diana Ross.

“A big misconception about drag is that you don’t have to be l/g/b/t/q/i/a/anything to do drag, you can put on a dress or a suit and tie and dance around without needing to question your own gender identity,” said Green.

There are many different types of drag and drag queens. Categories include pageant, skag drag, camp, theatre and comedy, but the list doesn’t stop there. Thanks to prominent queens like Sharon Needles (winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season four) categories like spooky and ‘death drag’ are starting to surface. Due to the great deal of recent exposure of queens, the categories are broadening, and the cookie-cutter mold of a drag queen is diminishing.

Thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race, a drag reality competition that has since become a cult classic after it’s premiere in 2009, queens have a great platform for exposure and are even rising to celebrity status. This show has allowed fans to see the break down of  the art–preparing for lip-synchs, the beauty process and the inspiration building that contributes to the the finished look.

We see the make-up process that the girls go through, the costume process (most queens make their costumes themselves) and all the work that goes into the hair. If you didn’t have an utmost respect for these men and their talents, then you will after watching the show. In the end it seems like glitz and glam, but you have to remember that as gay men, these people are experiencing hate, discrimination and are faced with ignorance from time to time.

all photos by Scarlett Newman


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