Drag Queen Makeup – Viva Glam

This website is primarily dedicated to women, but this post is all about boys who wanna be girls. If you got a problem with that, feel free to click elsewhere.
From a very early age, I have had a fascination with drag queens and drag queen makeup.

I guess it started with the John Waters movies I loved watching from my youth. Hairspray particularly made an impact on me because of Divine’s double role in the film – as Edna Turnblad and Arvin Hodgepile – I remember thinking “Divine is so much prettier as a woman.”

Even before my fascination with Divine, there was my obsession with Boy George – Do You Really Want to Hurt Me is still one of my favorite songs ever, and he’s just so bright and colorful in Karma Chameleon.

In Trinidad, I knew quite a few out-and-proud gay men (some of whom are family), but the drag culture is more underground, and as far as I know, much less fabulous and more gritty than the queens in America. Let me explain.

My first memory of drag queens in Trinidad… I clearly remember being about eighteen or nineteen, standing outside a popular fabric store on Frederick Street across from Woodford Square. There was a commotion across the street, and I saw a tall, intimidating shemale in heels and a miniskirt throwing rocks at a homeless man who was running away. Lots of cussing and “I will stab you” and that kind of thing, and an interested crowd of onlookers quickly formed. The vagrant had apparently hurled a homophobic insult at a group of very fierce and scary drag queens, who were threatening him with extreme violence. They were scandalously loud, clad in bright clothes and wore badly applied makeup and wigs, and if their stomping ground was Woodford Square, then let me assure you that those queens were rough and tough to say the least!

My fascination with drag queen culture has grown up with me. In my job I’ve interviewed some of South Beach’s most famous and fabulous queens, particularly the glamorous, super fab Elaine Lancaster, and my favorite, Shelley Novak who describes herself as “Barney Rubble in a dress.”

I gained incredible insight into the ballroom scene after I interviewed Wolfgang Busch about his documentary, How Do I Look?, which I am still dying to see.

What fascinates me the most is the aspect of transformation. These are men who love makeup more than I do and know how to work it better than I do – and that’s saying a lot.

For me, there are drag queens, and then there’s Rupaul.

Drag Queen Makeup Effects

I absolutely adore RuPaul! I used to watch her show on VH1, and that was before I was even really old enough to “get” it.

RuPaul is definitely one of my makeup muses, because she embodies transformation. The phrase “Work it, girl,” probably wouldn’t have entered the cultural lexicon without Supermodel.

No wonder RuPaul was made MAC Cosmetics’ first drag queen makeup spokesperson back in 1995.

Drag queen makeup ain’t just for the boys who dress up like girls anymore. Seriously, Ru totally looks like Wendy Williams’ sister in the video for Workout. That wasn’t meant as a diss to Wendy, I love her show! She totally glams it up, and I don’t think she’d be insulted by the comparison.

From the looks of things, Lil Kim is going down the scary-drag-queen route with her makeup. (Seriously Kim, something’s gotta give. And it should be the eyebrows).

Drag queens have made makeup their artform, and women who are uncomfortable with makeup can learn a lot from the queens.

Why? Because they aren’t afraid to experiment with color, or products that I don’t even know how to begin using. Makeup is the foundation of a drag queen’s identity. They can go from scary to sensual with a swipe of lipgloss and some eyeliner.

Some of the best makeup artists cite drag queens as their muses, because they encourage creativity and embrace what’s different. I see drag queens as makeup trendsetters, and I love learning about their process of transformation. A good drag queen knows more about looking pretty than most women do.

RuPaul Drag Queen Makeup

I searched for makeup tips from RuPaul, but all I found was this sassy retort on her blog, saying that her book Lettin It All Hang Out has an entire chapter on beauty.

She does offer a few tips: “There’s nothing i can tell you that will turn you into a genius make-up artist overnight. alls i can say is, get you some good brushes and practice. it doesn’t hurt to videotape or polaroid your experiments to study what works on you and what doesn’t.”

I’ve never filmed myself, but I love taking the time to practice new makeup looks at my vanity, and letting myself be creative with color.

I also found this quote from an annoyingly hard-to-read site on drag queen beauty tips:

“I can do my makeup in an hour, if I have to. I like to take three hours, and that includes my bath. You can’t rush glamour. I do contouring and lashes and lip liner, then blotting, another lipstick, and liner after that. My foundation is M.A.C. Studio Line Full Coverage N8. It used to be N7, but I’m not passing for a white woman anymore….The most masculine thing about me is my jaw. I’m telling secrets now: If I can overemphasize the eyes or the mouth and use hair to soften the line of my face, it de-emphasizes my jaw. Having big hair also helps me proportionately. Because my legs are so long, it lengthens the whole area from my shoulders up,” Ru said to James Servin, in an interview for Allure Magazine in February 1997.

I found the holy grail of drag queen makeup tips here. This site offers a step-by-step guide on applying drag queen makeup, including how to use the stuff I’m scared of like spirit gum, medical adhesive, jewels, and fake blood. I probably will never use fake blood or scabs on my face, but hey, knowledge is power.

My favorite tips from that site? Always use sunscreen, powder your base liberally, great advice for fake lashes – I feel more informed and perhaps ready to give them another try – and finally, take it all off! Makeup removal is absolutely of paramount importance.

Armed with these fabulous makeup tips, I feel ready to do my face up like a queen, and experiment with jewels and glitter for nights on the town. However, unlike most drag queens, for me less is definitely more. That doesn’t mean that this girl isn’t ready to work it!

 

I have one thing to say : sashay, chante!

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Comments

  1. sashay chante! great article. yes, i love the way they wear colors! great tips!

  2. ok Bella you outed me, just about everything i know about beauty i learned from drag queens. my first makeover was from a queen, and honey she beat the hell out of my face, i had/have never looked that good since.if you want a guide to drag makeup i would suggest the makeup books from Kevin Aucoin, his techniques are the very same the queens use. trust. now Lil Kim’s makeup artist must be a woman hating queen, seriously those brows are a shame.and to think it only would take her 19.95 to fix.(Rogaine for men 5%). you should also check out claycane.blogspot.com

  3. rupaul is a handsome man. i loved it when he as on ll cool j’s show “in the house”

    and oh.. for us sistas with the big feet, there’s shoe sites that drag’s go to that sell big shoes & boots. i was told by an ex-drag queen that nordstorms sell shoes in big sizes too…

  4. Hey Bella,

    I met RuPaul a few years ago at a MAC press event. Remember that campaign with k.d.lang?

    He was hilarious. And HUGE!

  5. I definitely think that there is a certain art to drag queens. I Love Rupaul. I so get your point on being to young too get it!! I can remember looking at Rupaul, and boy George and thinking their so pretty, and just being confused as to why & how these men were so much more beautiful than any of the other 80′s girl pop stars. He along with Stephen Tyler of Areosmith (who I know is not a drag queen) confused the hell out of me with their androgyny when I was a child. Its also good to know that there was someone other than me who enjoyed hair spray. Its one of my favorites of all time. I first saw it when I was 10 and I still love it, I hope the remake holds up to it.

  6. Angry Black says:

    Hey Bella,
    Im a guy, but I still love your site. I don’t think I could have finished christmas shopping for mom without it! Anyways, if someone hasn’t alerted you, the new issue of Newsweek has an op/ed about sistas and curly hair.

  7. I swear Rupaul’s makeup is always flawless! I wish I would walk out the house with a fresh face like that.

  8. coiltastic says:

    He is a beautiful woman. and ROTFLMFAO @kim’s eyebrows. I have a serious issue with bushy, catepillar back eyebrows. That can ruin a whole look to me.

  9. Black Honey says:

    Those legs. That smile. Rupaul is beautiful.

  10. jerseybred says:

    Rupaul can give all these youngings a run for their money with his lace front, F-L-A-W-L-E-S-S

  11. hey Bella, you can go to http://www.billybbeauty.com, click on backstage pass and his second entry is a tutorial about turning he to she. what i really appreciate is that he names products that he uses, and he has a question and answer section also, how cool.

  12. I is a mens & I love Rupaul, he is very beautiful & I think he needs to be on ANTM as a judge or a replacement for tired ass Ms J.

    I do think he looks better in an Afro wig as seen in one of my favorite movies; Crooklyn.

    I am not ashamed to say this & am secure in my manliness.

    Peace & Swirls (in the name of the swirl brothers)
    Bygbaby

  13. Whether as male or female – Rupaul is FINE!

  14. I found this website by mistake and i luv it, its great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really luv the Rupaul video.

  15. I found this link today – exquisite detail from a Bay Area local who knows how to put himself together: http://ggreg.com/misc/dragqueen101.asp

  16. Bella, great site. I think Rupaul help put the lace front wigs into play. I love the way she wears it. And the makeup is pretty.

  17. RuPaul was in my work the other night, and he is soooo nice. (Wasn’t rockin’ the makeup)

  18. Pink Raider Mom says:

    i would just like to say i greatly gppreciate your insight and suggestions on what you have found out about queens makeup. i am a lesbian mother of 4 and when i go out i want to GO OUT! lol i dont think im bad at doing my makeup, i get a lot of compliments on it, but I WANT MORE!! so thank you once again!

  19. hey! i would like to know what brands and techniques for skin mae-up contouring. The link you posted didn’t work :(

  20. First i want to thank you for making this page really helpful , but the holy grail of tips link is broken …. is there any way that you had a personal copy of the material shared .. Im newly 19 and desperate for any helpful information, realizing its tough out here espcially with no drag Mom

    or if anyone has found another link to this link or another that has been helpful please feel free to email me
    thanks in advance

    _adam in dallas tx
    afrikhanprince@gmail.com

  21. I absolutely love Rupaul! I’m pretty good with makeup and design, so hopefully a few tips work for me. ^.^

  22. Aladdin hall says:

    i love rupaul drag race

  23. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

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