Kiwi drag star Ivanna Dr’nk thinks it’s about time we put a stop to misconceptions around drag.
There are various misconceptions and unrealistic expectations that are thrust upon drag queens. We hear it often enough. Being a drag queen is all about the sequined outfits, extravagant wigs, and extravagant club lifestyles. The truth? Behind the eyelashes and the layers and layers of make-up there is skill, plenty of personal struggle, and a hell of a lot of commitment.
Before I began to dabble in the art of drag, I was very much absorbed in the public perceptions of what drag was. I thought that drag queens had a simple job of putting some make-up on, fastening on a wig and putting on a show or two. Now that I am involved with the art form, I can’t begin to explain how perception differs from reality.
Getting prepared for drag is more than make up and hair. It is a process of self-navigation and re-birth. It can take anywhere from an hour to three hours to do a face (and that just before you leave the house) but the time put into creating your persona and finding heels that fit can take a very long time. You tuck your penis away (which at the best of times can be very uncomfortable) and adorn towering stilettos for the majority of the night. We are barefoot back-stage, usually nursing red toes before heading back out to the crowd.
Something that a lot of people tend to think is that anyone can be a drag queen. This is true to a point, anyone can try drag and anyone can make a hobby out of it. But, in order to be an effective drag queen, you must have the “it” factor and this doesn’t just mean killer contour. We are more than entertainers, we are there as ambassadors for finding your true self. Often we are approached by various members of the community congratulating us on being as confident as we seem.
Sometimes, performers use their performances to explore deeper issues in our community such as gender identity, as well as personal struggles. This is certainly the case for myself and many of my friends. The aim is to evoke a certain emotion from the audience, and you use your face, body language, make up, and costumes to do this. There is a very intensive process behind the division of a performance – those three and a half minutes take a lot longer to conceive.
The world of drag is all about expressing yourself, embracing suppressed parts of your personality and being able to evoke things about yourself you’d usually keep hidden. There is more to it than the wigs, the make-up, and dresses. We are not just there to entertain, we are also there to educate and to ensure that every person in that jam-packed club knows it is okay to be themselves, no matter what that may be.
Photo: Ivanna Drink with punters during Drag Wars at Encore Cabaret on 15 July by Maria Bumanglag