Today is my stop on the Boy Queen blog tour and I am here today with a guest post from George Lester for you all.
Title: Boy Queen Author: George Lester Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Published: 6th August 2020 Format: Paperback Source:: Publisher Add It:Waterstones. Goodreads. Summary: Life’s a drag until you try . . .
Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realizes there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.
Top Tips For Performing As A Drag Queen by George Lester
I don’t claim to be an authority on drag or drag performance. It’s something that I do, it’s something I enjoy watching and it’s something that I studied, but no one is that authority, not even RuPaul herself. Drag is sort of without definition, so these tips are based purely off my own experiences. If you’re considering doing drag, which I hope you are, it’s fun(!), then I hope these little tips help you out!
CONSUME! This may seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but if you want to do drag, you need to watch a lot of drag. And I’m not saying you need to go and rewatch all seven thousand seasons of drag race (though that is a decent place to start), what I’m saying is you need to go out into the world or, if you aren’t able to do that, jump on Instagram or Youtube, and see some live performance. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Drag Race only shows a tiny amount of the spectrum of drag performance. It’s doing marginally better in recent years but there still isn’t an equivalent platform for Kings and (at time of writing) there still doesn’t seem to be room for AFAB and trans queens on the show. (Don’t talk to me about Gia Gunn, they threw Gia under the bus and you know it!) That doesn’t take away from the incredible queens that have featured on the show over the years and the really brilliant things that they have done and continue to do, but it’s just worth noting that there are a lot of artists that either cannot compete because of their rules or simply do not fit with their format.
Once you open your eyes to the wonder of all the drag RPDR isn’t showing you, it will blow your freaking mind. I promise. There are some incredible drag artists out there doing some really cool things and if all you watch is drag race, you’re seriously missing out. If you’re unable to go out to a live show, watch live performances on Instagram or on YouTube (there are a lot out there) and absorb it! This will also help you figure out what kind of act you want to be and what kind of performances you want to do. There is so much drag out there!
Live performance is a feeling like no other. Whether you are in the room or in your pyjamas, watching an act perform a lip sync live or a performance art piece, a dance or a burlesque act, is just electric. There is something about the lived experience of it that is so necessary, I think, to understand it. (I think the same applies to people who do musical theatre and acting, any kind of performance. You’ve got to see it!)
PRACTICE! It makes perfect, let’s be real. It also makes it permanent. If you find a face that you love painting, by all means, stick with it and perfect it! I have a face that I love doing and that I will always reach for if I need to do some drag, however I like trying out new things and doing different faces. At the start of your journey, I think this is a good thing to do! When I first started getting into drag, I would try as many different tutorials as possible (much like Robin does in the book!) This was for a few reasons. (I’m sorry, I don’t know when this became a list of lists, but here we are!)
It helped me figure out the proportions of my face and what works to make it look its best. So that often meant adapting what I am being told to do by the artist running the tutorial to make it work on my face. All faces are different, obvs.
It helped me improve my make-up skills. This isn’t something that you’re just going to have. You’re going to have to look a little bit busted, before you can be dusted, and that’s that on that.
It helped me figure out what I like! I like a sharp nose contour, and a big ass eye! My first few drag looks for performances were a mix of Me (a drag queen called Me, formerly Meth!) and Trixie Mattel, that I then adapted it to be more That Gurrrl (my drag name). But even now I continue to try new things and perfect techniques because you can always become a better make-up artist. Just look at every glow up from any drag artist ever! You do your first look and think you are THE ONE(!) and then a couple of months later you realise you were not and think that now you are THE ONE! You’re still not, you can keep improving. Practice Practice Practice.
When it comes to performing, it’s the same as any performance skill that you have. You don’t walk into your first dance class able to do a triple pirouette or a timestep, you don’t walk into your first singing lesson with perfect breath control and placement, you don’t walk into an acting class and know all about diction and speech, you have to work at it. So when it comes to creating a performance, a combination of consuming lots of drag and being open and messy when creating your own pieces, will help you improve. Get feedback and edit. Listen to what someone is telling you when you get that feedback. Not all of it will be relevant, take what you need and leave the rest.
Some of the first numbers I made for drag performances were not good(!) but I have edited one or two of them since I first made them and they are things that I will probably use in the future. Some I will never look at or touch again. It’s all part of learning. You have to be wrong before it can be right!
HAVE FUN! Sure, drag is expression and freedom and political and a whole lot of things, but above all else, drag is really fun! At least I think it is. When you’re learning and educating yourself, don’t panic about being the best or being America’s Next Drag Superstar, focus on the art and being the best that you can be. And enjoy it.
About the Author
George Lester is a freelance editor, musical theatre lover and drag nerd who lives with his wonderful partner in Twickenham. He semi-regularly posts videos online talking about books and writing mostly. He is also a Drag Queen under the name That Gurrrl.