Absolut drag-u-lous

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

Baby’s first drag show

By Jessica Berget, Staff Writer


It was Saturday night, I had just finished a RuPaul’s Drag Race marathon, and I was drunk—very drunk—meaning it was the perfect recipe for my first ever drag show experience.

Ever since I watched my first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) I knew I had to experience the real thing. I loved their performances, humour, outfits, and most of all, passion for the craft. Going into it, I was quite nervous for my first show because I had no idea what to expect. My friend and I had a few drinks, got ready, and were on our way to The Junction on Davie street in Vancouver. The event was called ABSOLUT DRAG-U-LOUS hosted by Carlotta Gurl, one of Vancouver’s most popular drag personas.

The show was amazing. It was everything I loved about RPDR and more. The performances were so fun to watch that I could not take my eyes off the queens. My favourite performance was the first of the night, Raye Sunshine. She came out in a beautiful blue sparkled sequin jumper with a big, black curly wig to perform a memorable lip-synch of “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer.

In hindsight, I have no idea what I was nervous about. The show was fantastic and I had a great time, but going to your first drag show can sometimes be a bit intimidating. For any drag show first timers out there, here are some tips that are helpful to know:

Tip your local drag queens! In a lot of cases, drag queens aren’t paid at all for their performances and have to rely on tips. Some high rollers tip about $20 a performance but $5–10 is the average. As for how you tip: The queen will usually make her way to the audience during her performance to collect tips, or you can just walk up to them and tip them while they perform—just don’t get in the way. If you are unsure, just look to see how everyone else is doing it.

Do not put the money in your teeth or cleavage (it’s gross). Do not hold the money and make her “work for it,” she already is working for it. And do not put the money in the performers cleavage unless you are prompted—believe me, you will know when you are being prompted.

Do not heckle or boo. It’s just rude, no matter where you are, to harass a performer on stage, and it can throw off their performance. You’ll just be ruining the experience for everyone else.

Do not touch the queen’s hair or face. I don’t know why anyone would do this. Their hair and makeup takes hours to do. It’s a work of art and an essential part to the show. If it’s tampered with, in any way, it can ruin the performance, or worse, you’ll piss off a drag queen.

Dress nicely. Something comfortable and cute will do. You don’t have to go all out, but you don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed either. There is always a chance you could be pulled on stage, so be prepared.

Do not put your hand up for anything unless you want to be made fun of. Usually during performances drag queens will ask if there are any first timers or something to that degree. Drag queens are well known for their sass so unless you are prepared for a good ribbing keep your hand down.

Other than that, feel free to hoot, holler, scream, and clap. Even a “YAAAASSS” or a “WERK” is appropriate—anything to encourage the performers. Drag queens love attention, so don’t disappoint them, and, most importantly, enjoy the show!