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How to get into drag, according to Violet Chachki, Aquaria, and Yvie Oddly


TextDominic Cadogan

The three drag superstars and winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race share their secrets on honing your skills and being a standout performer

Halloween and Pride, the two wombs that baby drag queens usually find themselves emerging from. But, with the whole world locked down thanks to Miss Rona – AKA coronavirus, AKA COVID-19 – are we due a drag queen baby boom?

Once you’ve gone through every hair transformation possible – starting with a trim, then bleaching, and eventually shaving it all off – why not stick a wig on your head, beat your face (that’s make it beautiful with the power of make-up for my unlearned friends), and strap on some stripper heels? 

Despite bars being closed, that is what longtime drag performers are finding themselves doing, switching their club appearances for Zoom performances created in their own homes. Tonight, the crème de la crème (not to be confused with BenDeLaCreme) from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be battling it out at Werq the World Battle Royale – featuring Aquaria, Violet Chachki, Yvie Oddly, Gigi Goode, Alyssa Edwards, Vanessa Vanjie Matteo, Plastique Tiara, Brook Lynn Hytes, Asia O’Hara, and Kameron Michaels – performing for fans all over the world.

“Even though we can’t actually go out and support local performers right now, I’d suggest everyone checks into their local scene” – Yvie Oddly

“I’ve been having a really challenging, but fun time whipping myself into shape and really trying to turn out these interesting visual projects that not only will entertain and kind of get people”s minds off what is going on today,” Aquaria tells us about her preparations for the performance. “It has inspired me to create and not feel so bummed about not being able to be at a club or a theatre.”

Even for longtime performers like Violet Chachki, this period of isolation has given her a chance to hone skills she hadn’t previously used before. “It’s not my thing to dance in my living room on a livestream, so I’m really having to figure out ways to elevate the digital world and bring it to the level that I’ve held my drag at for so long,” she says. “It’s been challenging.”

So, whether you’re looking to get into drag, or you’re just a stan, be sure to continue supporting queens during these difficult and uncertain times. “Even though we can’t actually go out and support local performers right now, I’d suggest everyone checks into their local scene,” Yvie Oddly says. “There are so many different queens who are putting on shows from their living rooms and bedrooms, so I encourage everybody to go out and support them.”

Here, we find out what advice Violet, Aquaria, and Yvie – all previous winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race –have for fledgling queens to become drag superstars. 

DO YOUR RESEARCH 

Aquaria: It’s a good time to watch tonnes of YouTube videos because there’s so much information on the internet. It’s a good time to read up on make-up sites and theatrical texts – learn about what you want to do. This is a great time to marinate in your skills and improve on yourself creatively, but as why you want to do drag and what you’re trying to get out of it. Figure out where you think you fall in the world of drag and hone that. 

EXPERIMENT 

Yvie Oddly: My art specifically is an exploration of things that I find beautiful. I like to explore the entire range of what beauty could mean. Sometimes that means what is accepted and conventional beauty – according to society – but other times it means exploring these alien forms of beauty and strange concepts that are kind of terrifying but, at least, captivating enough to shake people up and have them stop and take a look for a second.

HONE ALL YOUR SKILLS 

Aquaria: So many queens settle for their public talents and leave the other aspects of their drag stagnant. There’s so many queens I see that choose not to improve their performance ability or their make-up skills but I think to go from an amateur level to an experienced queen, now is the time to get better at the things you’re not so good at. 

PUT IN THE HOURS

Yvie Oddly: I wish I had known how much work drag was going to be, not in a negative way, but actually in a very challenging way that keeps me hungry. I wish people knew that if you want to be good at dragging, if you’re really passionate about it, you’re going to explore so many different things that you’ve never done before. Whether it’s performing itself or make-up, there’s something there to learn to help you develop your artistry and it’s just really fun to watch people grow and pick up new skills. So try something that you’ve never done before, you got the time.

PUT PASSION IN EVERYTHING YOU DO 

Violet Chachki: It feels like a lot of times when I’m watching people perform, they’re just going through the motions and checking boxes. Costume – good, hair – good, make-up – good, death drop – good; it’s like they’re just going through a checklist of what makes a “good performance” but it’s not entertaining, it’s very disposable. 

For me, I like when someone has something that you can tell they’re conceptualising and really into. They have lots of inspirations and are pulling from different places. You really have to have drive and passion and not necessarily treat it as just a job, it’s a passion that happens to make you money.

TAKE YOUR TIME 

Yvie Oddly: Slow down. It’s in my nature to just rush through things and expect success. I rush through conversations and ideas. But when I started slowing down and actually taking the time to invest in every little detail in life and smell the roses, I found not only was I having a better time, but I was enjoying things that I otherwise would have missed.

JUST DO IT 

Violet Chachki: People always ask me: ‘How do I get into drag?’ and I think ‘Bitch, no one was giving me pointers on this and no one was there holding my hand.’ So, my advice is to just do it. I don’t know what to tell you, sweetheart, you either are or you aren’t. If you were supposed to be a drag queen, and that’s what you wanted to do, you’d be doing it already, you wouldn’t be in my DMs asking me how to do so. When I started I was ugly, but I didn’t think I was ugly. You have to not dream it, but be it – that’s it. 

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