What does a drag performer do?

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What is a Drag Performer?

A drag performer is an artist who transforms their appearance and adopts exaggerated personas, often of the opposite gender, as part of their performance. Through the use of elaborate costumes, makeup, wigs, and accessories, drag performers create visually stunning and theatrical characters that challenge traditional gender norms and expectations. Drag performances can encompass a wide range of styles and genres, including lip-synced or live-sung musical numbers, comedy routines, dramatic monologues, and more.

In addition to their visual transformations, drag performers often use their art to explore themes of identity, self-expression, and empowerment. Many drag performers embrace their craft as a form of activism, using their platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility while celebrating the diversity of gender expression and sexuality. Drag culture has a rich history and vibrant community, with drag performers playing a significant role in nightlife, entertainment, and pop culture around the world.

What does a Drag Performer do?

A drag performer getting ready backstage.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a drag performer encompass a variety of tasks aimed at delivering engaging and entertaining performances while contributing to the vibrant drag community. These include:

  • Character Development: Drag performers create and develop unique personas or characters that showcase their creativity, personality, and artistic vision. This may involve crafting distinctive looks, personas, and backstories that resonate with audiences.
  • Costume and Makeup Design: Drag performers design and execute elaborate costumes, makeup looks, and hairstyles to bring their characters to life on stage. They often invest significant time and resources into sourcing materials, sewing costumes, and mastering makeup techniques to achieve their desired aesthetic.
  • Performance Preparation: Drag performers dedicate time to rehearsing their performances, including lip-synced or live-sung musical numbers, comedy routines, or dramatic monologues. This involves practicing choreography, refining timing, and perfecting stage presence to deliver polished and captivating performances.
  • Stage Presence: Drag performers rely on strong stage presence, charisma, and confidence to command attention and engage audiences throughout their performances. They may interact with the audience, improvise comedic banter, or create memorable moments that enhance the overall entertainment experience.
  • Community Engagement: Drag performers actively participate in the drag community, attending events, fundraisers, and drag shows to support fellow performers and build relationships within the community. They may also mentor emerging drag artists, share resources, and collaborate on projects that promote inclusivity and diversity.
  • Advocacy and Activism: Many drag performers use their platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, visibility, and social justice issues. They may participate in drag activism, fundraisers, and awareness campaigns to raise awareness and support for marginalized communities.
  • Professionalism: Drag performers conduct themselves in a professional manner both on and off stage, adhering to performance schedules, collaborating effectively with venues and event organizers, and representing themselves and the drag community with integrity and professionalism.

Types of Drag Performers
Drag performers encompass a diverse spectrum of talents, styles, and personas, each contributing to the rich tapestry of drag culture. Here are some common types of drag performers:

  • Bio Queens: Also known as faux queens or hyper queens, bio queens are cisgender women who perform in drag, adopting exaggerated female personas similar to drag queens. They showcase creativity, style, and performance skills while blurring the lines between gender and identity in the drag community.
  • Character Queens: Character queens specialize in portraying specific fictional or celebrity characters on stage, from iconic divas and Hollywood starlets to beloved cartoon characters and historical figures. They capture the essence and mannerisms of their chosen characters while adding their own comedic or dramatic flair.
  • Club Kids: Club kids are avant-garde performers known for their bold and unconventional aesthetic, often incorporating elements of performance art, fashion, and surrealism into their drag personas. They push boundaries, challenge norms, and embrace individuality in their creative expression.
  • Drag Kings: Drag kings present masculine personas on stage, often challenging traditional gender norms and expectations. They may perform as exaggerated or comedic versions of male characters, incorporating elements of swagger, humor, and physicality into their acts.
  • Drag Monarchs: Drag monarchs are esteemed and respected figures within the drag community who have achieved recognition and acclaim for their talent, influence, and contributions to drag culture. They may mentor emerging performers, organize events, or use their platform for advocacy and activism.
  • Drag Queens: Drag queens are perhaps the most well-known type of drag performer, typically embodying exaggerated and glamorous female personas. They often showcase elaborate costumes, theatrical makeup, and larger-than-life personalities, combining elements of comedy, singing, lip-syncing, and dance in their performances.
  • Pageant Queens: Pageant queens compete in drag pageants, showcasing their beauty, talent, and charisma in hopes of winning titles and prizes. They often excel in polished and glamorous presentations, including evening gown competitions, talent segments, and onstage interviews.

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What is the workplace of a Drag Performer like?

The workplace of a drag performer is diverse and dynamic, reflecting the wide range of venues and events where drag performances take place. From intimate cabarets and nightclubs to larger theaters, festivals, and drag brunches, drag performers can be found entertaining audiences in a variety of settings across the country. These venues often prioritize inclusivity, diversity, and creativity, providing platforms for drag artists to showcase their talent and express themselves authentically.

In nightclubs and bars, drag performers are a central part of the entertainment lineup, typically performing multiple shows throughout the night to enthusiastic crowds of patrons. The atmosphere is often energetic and lively, with audiences cheering, dancing, and engaging with the performers as they deliver high-energy performances filled with music, comedy, and spectacle. Backstage areas in these venues may be bustling with activity as performers prepare for their acts, collaborate with fellow artists, and interact with fans.

In addition to traditional nightlife venues, drag performers also find opportunities to showcase their talent at special events, fundraisers, pride celebrations, and drag festivals held in cities and towns across the country. These events often attract large and diverse audiences, providing drag performers with exposure to new fans and opportunities for collaboration with other artists. Backstage areas at these events may offer more space and amenities for performers, allowing them to prepare and relax before taking the stage.

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Drag Performers are also known as:
Drag Entertainer