Well, it happened! Drag left the nightclub and is now available anywhere with an internet connection. It’s all over TV-RuPaul’s Drag Race, Dragula and Camp Wannakiki too! Drag queens are getting paid more than ever! Drag kings are breaking on to national TV shows like Dragula and Drag Race Thailand! The UK drag scene has launched companies like Klub Kids and we’re growing by the day!
Hi, I’m Miss Penny Press, and if you aren’t paying attention, I’m a drag queen!
I started as a drag queen as a way to do things I’ve never had the opportunities to do, and now I’m out to help you too. I found a way to make drag work for me as a full-time gig. Now I’m helping my fellow creatives make a living too!
See, I know my audience and I know you guys LOVE to post about what’s popular right now. Many of my clients go mad whenever another hashtag goes trending but they don’t get how to make the most of it! So, I’m picking the main trend in my wheelhouse and breaking it down. Once I walk you through drag, you too can discover if it’s to write about!
Let’s start it simple. What is drag?
Drag is a social and cultural phenomenon which has existed for centuries. Today we associate drag with anyone who changes their gender into a hyper-version of a gender. That can be girl to boy, boy to girl, girl to girl, boy to boy. Trans and non-binary folks also take part, all in the name of performance.
What someone chooses to perform as has no bearing on their gender identity. Anyone can be a drag queen or a drag king! Although most queens and kings are LGBTQIA+, they also can be straight men and women rarely. Drag is for everyone!
So the performance aspect is very important. There’s a million different ways to perform, but unless you perform you aren’t doing drag. What makes a queen is presenting to the public. Either through social media, public appearances, lip syncing, etc.
My performance takes place in night clubs, business expos and conventions. I also use livestreaming services like Twitch! Many queens will find where their drag fits and use that to their advantage. Although, more and more queens are shunning the club to focus on social media!
Versatile queens and kings fantastic influencers. Local performers stick to a specific region, so meet them to find out if they fit your business. Check out their social media and their reputation, too! There’ll be many queens in your area- do any of them fit your brands personality? If so, they may be worth sponsoring and supporting.
There’s no limits based on niche! I’ve seen people who own café’s or restaurants convert over for a pop-up cabaret night to massive success! Any artist can collaborate with a drag artist to create incredible work. Test the waters first, try a collaboration to see how much it engages your audience!
Newer drag artists may be willing to trade their time for experience. They’re called Drag Princesses/Princes or Baby Queen/Kings. Check for performers under 100 or so followers! I don’t work for free and neither will those with a lot of experience. That doesn’t mean you can’t trade for something else other than money!
You have a lot at your disposal for trade. Do you have any space that can can become a venue for a night? Do you make something, say jewellery or clothing, that would be useful for a drag queen? What sort of audience do you have, is it valuable enough for someone to work with you for free?
My main rule is this: If you aren’t going to invest into a performer’s growth, you SHOULD NEVER WORK WITH THEM. The same goes with anyone you want to work with, the benefits have to be mutual!
If you run a personal business, check out your local competitions! If you live in a city with a population above 250k people, you’ll have one competition nearby. Go introduce yourself to the artists competing! Make it clear you’re a fan and collaborating with a drag performer is going to be much easier!
Often times, you’ll not have the chance to communicate face to face. After all, many small business owners on the 9-5 grind don’t have the time or money to go to a drag show! If I’m describing you there, go contact them through Instagram. The direct message feature makes it a great place to contact influencers of any kind, not drag acts! Otherwise, a king or a queen will have a booking email in their Instagram bio. If you’re polite and considerate, you’ll be able to get the contacts you want!
The truth is, the average drag performer knows the nightlife better than anything. If they’d like to discuss payment with you, they’ll often discuss it like a club booking.
The first question will be about pay, for sure. Be up front about exactly what you’re offering them and be realistic! Consider that the average queen might take 2 or 3 hours to get into drag and how much of an investment it is!
Make sure you’ll let them know when they should expect payment. Before? After? A mix of both? All these can be important factors especially when you’re in a more rural location. The performer will need to travel, so putting up some money beforehand makes it more feasible! If you’re not willing to throw out how much you’re willing to pay, ask them what their booking fees are first.
Second, they’ll want to know exactly what you want from them. Most queens do 3-5 minute performances within a line up of performers. As a host, they’ll mingle with the audience and help control the event. Choose a performer that fits your needs!
Let’s say you’re promoting your brand through a live event. You’re going to want a Comedy Queen or King as they’ll be able to work the mic much more than a performance or dance based act.
You can hire artistic, fashion-based Queens for an event to create a social media moment! If people are going to be taking pictures, they’re going to be tagging the location of the event. That’s going to be a lot of free promotion on Instagram. That makes Fashion Queens brilliant for door work or work at a gallery where your art is being showed!
Finally, they’ll want to know how long the booking is for! The amount of time someone is in drag makes a serious difference to if they’ll accept the booking. The average night performance might mean a few 5-minute performances under hot lights. Depending on the performer, it might also mean costume changes and stunts!
A good queen’s makeup won’t melt off in a nightclub. But, if you’re doing a day event under the hot sun, it might! That wig traps a lot of heat which can make even a mild day tough! Be smart, and sensible. If you’re hiring a performer in a place where they can’t wear heels, tell them straight away, or book a King instead! Kings have a better variety of footwear and don’t wear corsets and padding.
After you’ve secured a Drag act, the next step is to make great use of their social media presence. Any queen worth their salt has a lot of local followers, so you should make use of that to advertise your business. You should have them create posts at the rate of about once a week until the last week of the event! That provides the most coverage of your collaboration without overwhelming their audience.
Many Kings and Queens will want that promotion material supplied. If you don’t know how to make promotion material, I recommend Canva! You can use it to make the correct sized content over all social media platforms. Make sure you have good pictures of your performer, if they have them!
Now you may be scratching your head. Penny, what good will this really do? How do I know if this will be valuable for me?
I get you, here’s some key reasons why you should be trying it now.
- The pay rate for smaller queens in the UK is very affordable. Many queens struggle to make a living wage! Some venues don’t pay much at all. So, you can pay over them! £100 can get a local queen hovering around the 1,000 follower mark, depending on the costs involved. At that rate, you can get a great return of investment if you can make good use of their audience!
- Investing once can help spread the word to other drag performers straight away. They all follow each other! They’ll come after you to work out a deal especially if they’re local girls that are struggling to get constant gigs. Those less experienced queens and kings are desperate to prove themselves. Drag is so competitive that paying gigs get filled quick! Show that you’re dedicated to their growth. You can help put them first in line for more gigs. Put effort into vouching for them and they’ll show you that kindness in return. For example, a local queen might come to you, work with you, and then enter a competition. You best be posting about them every week!
- After establishing with a few kings or queens, you’ll show up on their social media as a related profile. On platforms like Instagram, you’ll be right at the top of profiles they should follow! That’s going to lead to way more eyeballs on your posts. If you set up good sales funnels, you can get a lot of their fans to support you! That’s going to be a lot of drag fans that will see you as an LGBTQIA+ friendly business!
Let me remind you, community is the most important factor in small business growth. Once you have a community around you you’ve got a base of people that are going to share and support what you post. That’s going to give you a boost to every post!
Like everything, you’ve got to choose what to invest in. But, if you’re out to be different and you’re interested in supporting the arts, drag can be a fantastic opportunity. You can grow your business and to support local performers, so it’s a win-win!
If you’re struggling to find what to post, or you’re lost in all this marketing mumbo jumbo, download this! It’s my 111+ marketing ideas cheat sheet! Each idea is between 1 minute and 30 minutes long, so they’re great to fit marketing into a busy day. Click right here to subscribe to my email list and get it delivered right to you!