From tackling self-doubt to shrugging off societal norms, we asked some of the UK’s top drag artists to share the benefit of their wisdom…
If you were advertising for the job of agony aunt, you’d be hard-pushed to find someone better suited to the job than a prominent drag artist.
From dealing with adversity to mastering self-expression, the drag world is an absolute goldmine of life experience.
So who better to turn to for advice?
We spoke to four UK drag artists to learn about their lives on the scene, and to hear some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
1. Try not to put too much stock in your appearance
Drag may be a highly visual medium, but despite all the sequins, a big part of the ethos revolves around worrying less about how you look.
“It’s great to have those moments of fabulous glamour, but ultimately, doing drag makes you own that moment as an illusion,” says Cheddar Gorgeous, one of the performers participating in ethical cleaning company Method’s Drag Cleans campaign.
“The joy of drag is not having to worry about how I look in my everyday life – it sounds obvious, but beauty really is less than skin deep.”
“Anyone with a bit of time and paint can pull it off.”
Truly, words to live by.
2. Don’t overwork yourself
Given that a lot of drag artists tend to work some extremely unsociable hours, they know a thing or two about work-life balance.
It can be tempting to push yourself too hard, particularly if you’re trying to get a new project off the ground, but the lesson to learn from drag is that you need plenty of recovery time…
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I have in this particular role,” says drag king Adam All.
“I’m juggling a lot with residencies, events, promotion, admin, costume making, music editing, rehearsals, travel, social media, not to mention the obvious creation and performance.”
“I think that’s par for the course in this field. I love my job, but it’s definitely not for the work-shy.”
“That being said, I’ve learned to allow myself to rest, because performance energy is utterly exhilarating but equally exhausting.”
“Being focused and achieving your best means treating yourself as well as possible – it’s important to remember that.”
3. You don’t have to live by other people’s rules
Drag is all about shrugging off the binary rules imposed by society, so if you feel constricted by them, it might be time to step outside the box.
“My first two schools were Roman Catholic and most of the teachers were nuns,” says drag artist Freida Slaves, “so I was taught a very narrow-minded view of life.”
“As much as I learned new ways of life through high school and college, I was a stickler for rules and morals set by something I don’t truly believe in.”
“Surrounding myself with a world full of queers and sex workers has taught me that not everyone lives by these set rules and binaries, and they’re happy – they’re living their best lives.”
“Most things are in a scale and they can change and differ – not everything is one thing or the other.”
“The queer world taught me that, and I feel far more at ease living this way of life.”
“I recommend it.”
4. Put yourself out there
Wanting to try something but worrying about what will happen if you do is pretty much the founding principle of Self-Sabotage 101.
If you feel like you’re holding yourself back, take a leaf out of drag star Anna Phylactic’s book.
“I think being a drag queen you have to be a bit of a one-drag band,” says Anna.
“You’re constantly learning things and putting yourself out there in ways that would possibly scare you and that you would shy away from in everyday life.”
“There are no rules with drag – it’s a beautiful thing.”
“You have the freedom to truly express yourself and explore elements of your personality that are maybe restricted in real life.”
New motto, whenever you’re feeling a bit tentative… “what would a drag queen do?”
5. Trust your friends
Worried what your friends will think about something? It’s a feeling that a lot of drag artists have had to confront at one time or another.
But in most cases, trusting your friends with your most intimate feelings tends to bring out the best in them.
“Drag has taught me that your friends and family love you, no matter what,” says Freida Slaves.
“Announcing to the world that I’m a drag queen was like a second coming out.”
“For some reason I was nervous about telling my oldest friends and family, but no one batted an eyelid or was surprised – or particularly cared!”
“Turns out I’m not the most important thing in the world after all.”
Ethical cleaning company Method has teamed up with LGBT Foundation to create a dazzling new Drag Cleans campaign that sees the worlds of cleaning and drag collide in a burst self-expression and fun. Join the Cleans in being loud and house-proud by using Method’s vegan-friendly products with plant-based biodegradable ingredients that blitz away dirt and outdated toxic stereotypes, all while being kind to the planet. Join Method to loudly and proudly support the LGBT Foundation here.