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Ask Izzy: How to become a drag queen

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Photo by Kamaji Ogino / Pexels
Photo by Kamaji Ogino / Pexels

Ask Izzy is a biweekly advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Looking for some more guidance? Submit your question to [email protected] with the subject line: Ask Izzy Submission.

Dear Izzy,

I'd really like to get into drag, but I've never done it, and I don't know what the first steps are. I have a name and look, but where do I go from here? Is there a class for beginners I can take?

— Dreaming of Drag

Dear Dreaming,

If you already have a name and a look, then you are already well on your way to reaching your dreams. Being a performer of any kind takes courage and passion, but in my opinion, drag queens are the bravest, most badass of people. So, bravo to you for wanting to use your creativity in this way!

According to Backstage, "the first step to becoming a drag queen is figuring out your personal concept, persona, and aesthetic in the privacy of your own bathroom or bedroom. Remember, drag can be any form of artistic expression that plays with gender stereotypes, so your goal does not necessarily need to be to realistically impersonate another gender." Have you spent time on every detail of your look, makeup, hair, and costume?

Once you have perfected your ideal look and persona, it's time to become familiar with the local drag scene. '"Go to the shows and watch the queens in your community," says Lady Camden, who took second place on season 14 of RuPaul's Drag Race. "Start by going out of drag, then maybe in drag when you feel more confident. Support the queens, get to know them, introduce yourself, and express your interest in performing. Be eager and excited and supportive — while being respectful — and let them get to know you."'

Here are a few of the most popular bars and clubs in the Seattle area that host regular drag shows:
• The Comeback, 1950 First Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98134
• Julia's on Broadway, 300 Broadway Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98102
• Kremwerk, 1809 Minor Ave., Seattle, WA 98101
• Pony, 1221 E. Madison St., Seattle WA 98122
• Queer Bar, 1518 11th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122
• Unicorn, 1118 E. Pike St., Seattle, WA 98122

Make the most of your time in the audience, watching veteran performers. "It's important to learn from folks who have been doing this for a while, so watch the show with a critical eye and dissect what is working and what isn't working, in a compassionate way," said KaiKai Bee Michaels, a San Francisco drag queen, in an interview with Them.

Once you have built up your confidence and are ready to step on stage, Lady Camden recommends finding a drag spot that you vibe with and offering your time and performance for free. "Be like, 'Hey, I've never performed before. I'm looking for my first opportunity. Can I please perform for you and do a pop-up number for free?'" The worst they can do is say no! It doesn't hurt to ask.

If all else fails, karaoke events and open mics are another way to practice your art in front of a live audience. A quick Google search of "open mic events Seattle" should do the trick.

Another tip is to follow your favorite local spots on social media to stay up to date on the happenings within the community.

Finally, to answer your question about a beginner's class, City Academy, based in London, offers an online class called "Drag Up!" As well, popular drag queen Crayola routinely hosts online courses at their School of Drag — follow her on social media for the most up-to-date courses.

Last but not least, the famous RuPaul offers a masterclass on self-expression and authenticity. All are great options to grow your knowledge on the art of drag and performing.