How to Become a Drag Queen and Make Money?

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The lifestyle of a drag. We are very open minded and are open for anything and accept others.

Happy pride week!

What is Drag?

Drag is the art of dressing in gender-bending clothing and adopting an exaggerated feminine persona. Drag queens are men who dress as women for performance. Drag allows people to break traditional gender roles and experiment with gender expression.

The origins of drag can be traced back centuries to the theatre, where men would play female roles. However, modern drag culture emerged in the late 19th century from the balls held by the LGBTQ community in New York City. Drag entered the mainstream in the 1960s with competitions at gay bars. RuPaul’s hit reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race has recently popularized drag even further.

Drag is a creative outlet for self-expression and a celebration of femininity and queer culture. Drag queens carefully craft their looks, personalities, and performances. Being a drag queen requires creativity, courage, and confidence.

Why Become a Drag Queen?

There are many great reasons to try drag:

  • Self-expression: Drag allows you to take on a different persona and fully express yourself. You can explore your feminine side or exaggerate your masculinity through drag.
  • Confidence: Developing the confidence to perform as a drag queen can increase self-assurance. The validation from audiences builds poise.
  • Creative outlet: Drag lets you channel your creativity into developing looks, routines, and performances. The only limit is your imagination.
  • Community: The drag scene provides a supportive LGBTQ+ community. You can find friends, mentors, and collaborators.
  • Money: Successful drag queens can earn an income through tips, performance fees, and merchandise. With hard work, it’s possible to make drag a full-time career.
  • Fame: Drag queens with large followings and star power can gain celebrity-like fame and status—appearances on TV shows and social media open doors.
  • Activism: Drag allows you to celebrate LGBTQ+ history and culture. By being visible, drag queens advocate for equality and self-expression.

Dressing could be a gratifying hobby or career if you desire any of the above.

How to Get Started in Drag

Breaking into drag takes research, preparation, and practice. Here are some tips for drag newbies:

Learn About Drag Culture

  • Study drug history and learn about pioneers like RuPaul, Divine, and Sylvester.
  • Watch drag shows in your local area or online. Observe how seasoned queens apply makeup, style wigs, perform, and engage the crowd.
  • Follow drag queens on social media to get insight into their process. Instagram and YouTube have a wealth of drag content.
  • Watch drag competition shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race to see high-level drag. Take note of challenge concepts you could incorporate.
  • Research the vocab, style, and drag conventions to understand this complex art form.

Develop Your Drag Persona

  • Choose a drag name that reflects your character. Make it memorable and meaningful to you.
  • Decide what type of drag you want to do. Options include club/nightlife drag, comedy, singing, dancing, celebrity illusion, and more.
  • Craft your drag personality. Will you be fashionable, funny, sarcastic, glamorous, or subversive?
  • Create a backstory for your character. Include influences, hometown, and other details.

Learn Drag Skills

  • Take makeup lessons to master exaggerated drag makeup. Learn techniques for eyeshadow, highlight, contour, cut creases, brows, lips, and face shaping.
  • Take dance classes like hip hop or heels to improve your movement skills for performances.
  • Take improv or acting classes to polish your on-stage presence and comedy.
  • Learn how to style, stack, and secure big wigs and hairpieces.
  • Shop for your first drag outfit and accessories like padding, tights, shoes, jewelry, headpieces, and props.
  • Practice walking, dancing, lip-syncing, and emceeing in drag at home. Record yourself to improve.

Connect with the Drag Community

  • Attend drag shows and chat with performers backstage. Let them know you’re new and interested in drag.
  • Join Facebook or Meetup groups for local drag queens and kings. Introduce yourself.
  • Get a drag mentor. Reach out to seasoned queens to take you under their wing.
  • Volunteer to help with shows by assisting behind the scenes. This builds connections.
  • Attend drag makeup or costuming workshops. Talk to the instructors afterward.
  • Tip queens well and compliments them. They’ll remember you.

Start Performing

  • Look for local drag amateur nights or open mics to test your skills.
  • Audition at clubs for regular performance slots or to be backup talent.
  • Offer to perform at LGBTQ events at colleges or Pride celebrations.
  • Build a social media following and post-performance videos. This gets you booked for shows.
  • Be professional about booking gigs. Show up on time, be reliable, and don’t get too intoxicated.
  • Start an online merchandise shop with photos, albums, pins, t-shirts, etc.

Drag Makeup Tips

Drag makeup is designed for stage lighting. It involves intense contours, heavy eyeliner, thick lashes, dramatic eyeshadow, overlined lips, and dense coverage foundation.

Here are some tips for mastering the drag look:

  • Prep Skin

Moisturize and prime skin well. Use mattifying products to control oil and create a smooth canvas.

  • Contour

Sculpt and shape your face by darkening areas you want to recede, like hairline, temples, and jawline. Highlight cheeks, nose, and under eyes.

  • Eyes

Use white eyeliner inside the waterline to open up your eyes. Make eyes look bigger with fake lashes, cut creases, graphic liners, and bright shadows.

  • Browse

Fill in, define, and exaggerate brows for high drama. Use darker shades than your hair and square off the shape.

  • Lips

Outline lips boldly outside the natural line to increase fullness. Use lipstick 2-3 shades darker than your lips for impact. Add gloss.

  • Foundation/Powder

Opt for complete coverage and matte foundation to conceal beard shadow. Set with translucent powder to reduce shine.

  • Blush

Place blush high on the cheekbones in a large circular shape. Avoid the apples of the cheeks.

  • Highlight

Add pearlescent highlighter to the tops of cheekbones, cupid’s bow, and center of nose for sheen.

  • Setting Spray

Use a setting spray to lock in the look and prolong wear. Avoid powdering too heavily.

Essential Drag Gear & Costumes

Drag requires extensive costuming and supplies. Build up your drag wardrobe over time with key pieces:

Makeup and Skincare

  • Foundations in multiple shades for contouring
  • Concealers to sculpt the face
  • Pressed and loose-setting powders
  • Eyeshadow palettes with brights and dark mattes
  • Liquid eyeliners for graphic wings
  • Strip and individual lashes
  • Bold liquid lipsticks in every color
  • Blushes and highlighters
  • Makeup brushes and applicators
  • Makeup setting spray
  • Cleansing wipes and makeup remover
  • Moisturizers designed for men or drag queens

Hair

  • Wigs in varied lengths, colors, and styles
  • Hairspray, gel, and wig grip
  • Toupees and hairpieces
  • Bumpits for teasing under wigs
  • Hair brushes, combs, and styling tools
  • Wig caps and wig stands

Padding & Undergarments

  • Hip and butt pads
  • Breastplates or foam bra inserts
  • Cinchers, girdles, and corsets
  • Pantyhose and fishnet tights
  • Dance belts
  • Gaffs for tucking

Shoes

  • High heels at every height
  • Knee-high boots
  • Platforms and stripper heels
  • Thigh-high pleather boots

Costumes

  • Cocktail dresses, gowns, bodysuits
  • Sequins, rhinestones, and sparkle
  • Leather, pleather, and PVC
  • Neon and animal prints
  • Miniskirts and hot pants
  • Tailored menswear
  • Robes and kimonos

Accessories

  • Jewelry like big rings, necklaces, and hoops
  • Boas, capes, glasses, fans
  • Nails, false eyelashes
  • Gloves and stockings

How to Make Money Doing Drag

Performing

The most direct source of income for drag queens is performance fees and tips. Here are some typical ways to earn:

  • Shows at clubs: Negotiate a fee ($50-$300) or split cover charges/tip buckets. Build a residency at one venue.
  • Tipping: Audiences tip queens during or after their numbers, especially at bars or nightclubs. Encourage tipping by flirting with patrons.
  • Pageants & competitions: Winning crowns at drag pageants can mean prizes from $100 to $5000. Earn tips for performing throughout the contest.
  • Private events: Get booked for parties, weddings, birthdays, and corporate events. Rates start around $150/hour.
  • Touring: Big names earn thousands for short tours of clubs across the country. Open for headliners.
  • Cruise ships: Contracts to headline drag shows on cruises can pay up to $1500-$3000 a week plus travel.
  • Merchandise: Sell homemade or branded merchandise during shows and online. Popular products include pins, shirts, photos, and stickers.

Online Income Streams

The Internet provides many money-making opportunities for drag queens:

  • YouTube: Monetize popular YouTube channels showing drag tutorials, performances, or vlogs. Get sponsorships from brands.
  • Twitch: Stream while getting ready and interacting with fans. Receive donations and subscriptions.
  • Cameo: Record custom video messages for fans starting at $1/video. Set your rate.
  • Affiliate marketing: Earn commission promoting makeup, wigs, costumes, or drag gear on your website and social media.
  • Sponsored content: Get paid to showcase brands and products. A single sponsored Instagram post can earn $500-$2000.
  • Digital performances: Entertain at virtual events or sell pre-recorded shows on platforms like Vimeo.
  • Mobile apps: Develop money-making apps with exclusive drag content for fans. Charge subscription fees.
  • Web advertisements: Run ads on a drag website or blog. Services like Google AdSense share ad revenue with you.

Additional Income Sources

Some other creative ways drag queens make bank:

  • Host viewing parties at clubs for RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes and significant TV events. Get a cut of drink sales.
  • Appeal to drag fans on Patreon with exclusive content for monthly subscribers.
  • Sell creative services like drag makeup lessons, costume design, pageant coaching, or image consulting.
  • Get product sponsorships and brand ambassador roles from companies targeting the LGBTQ+ market.
  • License your drag name and likeness for merch, apps, or ad campaigns.
  • Release music, comedy albums, podcasts, or books that attract an audience.
  • Appear on TV shows, movies, commercials, or high-profile events.

The key is to diversify income beyond just performance fees. Combine live gigs with online platforms, merchandise, sponsorships, licensing, and passive income sources. Successful drag queens can earn a substantial living with business savvy and creativity.

Maintaining Longevity in Drag

A drag career requires perseverance, consistency, and reinvention. Here are some tips for maintaining longevity:

Look After Yourself

The demands of drag can be taxing. Make sure to:

  • Remove makeup thoroughly after shows to protect your skin.
  • Stay fit and active to handle rigorous performances.
  • Avoid drugs, excessive drinking, and reckless behavior.
  • Get enough rest between shows. Drag is exhausting.
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated – your body is your instrument.
  • Take breaks when needed to prevent burnout.

Keep Growing Your Skills

Stagnation means death for a drag queen. Constantly improving by:

  • Taking regular dance classes to increase movement vocabulary.
  • Learning new makeup techniques from YouTube or seminars.
  • Taking acting, improv, or voice classes to enhance performance abilities.
  • Studying fashion and costume design to create fresh looks.
  • Attending pageants and conventions to network and get inspired.

Build Your Brand

Market yourself wisely by:

  • Crafting a distinct brand image with clear aesthetics.
  • Maintaining a consistent persona and level of quality.
  • Promoting yourself actively on social media and booking platforms.
  • Developing merchandise and supplemental content to engage fans.
  • Collaborating with venues, promoters, or other queens to expand opportunities.

Reinvent Yourself

Freshen up your act by:

  • Trying new performance genres like live singing.
  • Adding new skills like aerial acrobatics.
  • Completely revamping your drag name and look.
  • Targeting new audiences on different online platforms.
  • Venturing into acting, TV hosting, or another related career move.

Overcoming Challenges in the Drag Industry

Succeeding in drag takes work. Be ready to tackle obstacles like:

  • Rejection

You’ll face constant rejection from bookers and promoters. Persist and better your skills. Build relationships over time.

  • Competition

The drag world is saturated with talent. Stand out with unique attributes. Find your niche instead of competing directly.

  • Costs

Drag is expensive between costumes, makeup, wigs, and fees. Stick to a budget and buy quality items that last. Renting can save money.

  • Discrimination

Homophobia and transphobia are still common. Protect yourself, but don’t let fear stop you. Educate when possible.

  • Criticism

You’ll deal with internet trolls, mean judges, and rude patrons. Develop resilience and believe in yourself.

  • Health Risks

Bad diets, lack of sleep, excessive tucking, intense makeup, and strenuous heels can damage the body. Listen to your needs.

  • Family Issues

Conservative families may disapprove of drag. Give them time and space if needed. Find support from mentors and friends instead.

  • Legal Barriers

In some areas, antiquated laws restrict venues from hosting drag shows or limit performers’ gender expression. Know your rights.

  • Isolation

Balancing a nightlife career with a day job and social life is complicated. Make time for loved ones and your mental health.

While challenging, none of these obstacles are insurmountable. With grit and resourcefulness, you can achieve your drag dreams. Believe in your talents, and don’t give up.

Conclusion

Becoming a victorious drag queen takes raw talent, business savvy, and nonstop hustle. Start by immersing yourself in drag culture and developing onstage skills. Experiment with your persona, polish your makeup and build a versatile wardrobe. Perform as much as possible, be professional, and make connections. Promote yourself heavily online while exploring diverse income streams. Stay resilient through challenges and keep growing your skills and brand. With fierce dedication, drag can provide the ultimate creative outlet plus a stable career. A fabulous drag life awaits if you’re willing to work for it. Now sashay away!

 

 

mandy b.
mandy b.https://iammandyb.com
Founder, owner, writer Iammandyb.com & artistheat.com (coming up this summer)
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