My Name is Minette, Chapter Seven: Another World

The forge wasn’t far from home. She could see their huddled little roof and stone chimney from here. There was a nice view of town, too. The smithy sat alone on a hill on the outskirts of town, but still inside the great stone walls, observing the cramped, messy streets from above. From this perch, Minette had done quite a lot of people-watching, guessing at the lives of the little ant-sized citizens that rushed to and fro down below. Droz wasn’t massive, but it wasn’t empty, either; it teemed with life. There were districts and people Minette had never ventured to or met. She’d been relegated to her little corner, her little life.

She’d never made it past the walls. The gates were always guarded, and if she went too close, her parents screamed at her about the dangers of the Outside World. Drozians rarely left, and when they did, it was for essential reasons, not because of some secret, hard-to-describe yearning.

Her parents had set her up on playdates with other children in town, but the boys she’d played with were all so rough, so violent. She didn’t understand them or their equally brutish fathers. Some of the people in Droz motivated Minette to just stay home, cooped up inside of walls upon walls.

Maybe her parents were right. If she could barely handle Droz, would she even be remotely prepared for what lay beyond its walls?

Minette admired the tenacity of the weary blue sky and the stubbornness of the dying, tawny grass stalks, the exhausted bumble bees searching bravely for the last of the late summer flowers to pollinate. They all persisted despite the heat and dryness. She understood them, the effort it took just to grow.

A titter grabbed her attention.

A real, actual, dictionary-definition titter.

She looked up and found two ladies walking past, staring right at her. What they were doing all the way out here where the streets were mud was a mystery. They stood out in this tired landscape like gemstones among pebbles.

She didn’t know how old they were, or who they were, or where they were from, only that they wore maroon dresses and high stockings and boots. They carried a parasol between them, keeping fair, unlined skin from the sun, and they smiled over at Minette when she caught their eyes.

Minette was enthralled. Just like with Sir Edric, the sight of them drew her into vivid, rose-tinted fantasies. Their very existence spoke of a different world, a different reality that called to Minette in dulcet tones.

What “Makes Up” A Drag Queen

Makeup and I have a very strange relationship. I’ve gone through phases of wearing a full face, wearing no makeup, nothing but red eyeshadow, winged eyeliner, funky colorful eyeliner… you get the gist. I started experimenting with drag makeup two years ago, and back then everything on my face mainly came from drug stores. And to be totally fair, most of what I use two years into my drag career still comes from CVS and Target, since a lot of it is cheap and totally works! So I’m gonna break down the makeup I use on the regular for my drag, and my favorite brands to buy from!

The look I’m using utilizes most of the makeup I use and pretty much all of my favorite brands! As seen above, it’s a green medley artistry look with funky eyeliner shapes, glitter and sparkles, and my distinct black lip and lack of brows.

Like most drag queens, I use Elmer’s disappearing glue sticks to glue down my eyebrows. Surprisngly, those kindergarten glue sticks are still the best for glueing brows! I use elf Hydrating Face Primer and cover my brows with The Crayon Case concealer in the lightest shade, as well as my foundation in Wet n Wild photofocus Stick Foundation and Krylon Paint Stick in “TV White”, a staple of many drag queens. My eyeliner is NYX’s Epic Wear eyeliner, and I use Kim Chi Chic Beauty’s The Most Conealer in shade “White” to create my eye crease. And then the fun stuff:

The greens and yellows here are part of the Mango Tango and Virgin Mojito palettes from Kim Chi Chic Beauty. The glitter on my lips and nose is from Midas Cosmetics in shades “Soul” and “Mermaid”. All the eyeliner detailing is either NYX or Glisten Cosmetics, and the black facepaint on my neck is from the Amythest Painting Palette. My go-to black lip is a mixture of NYX Epic Ink eyeliner and Sephora black liquid lipstick.

Besides my drug store basics, I try to mostly shop from queer-owned, black-owned, or other small businesses for most of my makeup. The Crayon Case is an amazing black-owned beauty brand themed around school supplies, Midas Cosmetics is a afro-latina-owned indie brand that offers cruelty-free and vegan glitters and eyeshadows, and Beauty Bakerie (which I didn’t use for this look) is a black-owned makeup brand themed around, you guessed it, a bakery! My current go-to brand is Kim Chi Chic Cosmetics, created and owned by Kim Chi, an Asian drag queen who’s makeup artistry is To Die For! Her brand has adorable themeing with teddy bear palettes, drink-themed eyeshadow palettes, adorable heart-shaped blushes and highlights… literally the cutest brand. So if you’ve learned anything from this article, it’s that Pinball is Obsessed with KCC Beauty and that cheap makeup doesn’t have to be bad makeup!!

 

 

My Name is Minette, Chapter Six: Irons

She couldn’t see any alternatives, though, as she was the eldest Coppersmith, their proud “son,” their strong heir. She’d worked in the smithy for years already and knew it well. Paw never smiled, except for when he talked about when Morty would take over the family business one day. 

One day soon.

And, of course, Minette could only do that with a good wife who had child-bearing hips.

Those were the thoughts that made her particularly dizzy, and being dizzy in a tiny dark room full of liquid copper was not a winning combination.

Minette forced herself to ignore her brain once again, grabbing one of the broad mallets from the tool bench and putting her smithing helmet on. Paw poured copper into the cauldron above the flames, and off to work they went.

It was silent in the smithy, the way Paw preferred it. He considered words a woman’s tool, and was expertly talented at never giving voice to the worries and grumps that ran around inside his head like hungry voles. Trying to talk to him about anything important was like trying to stuff your hand into the dirt and catch one of those voles without looking.

So Minette worked in silence alongside her father.

The process was, of course, all strength and brutishness and griminess, but Minette didn’t really mind the end product. The delicate, beautiful art they wrought from tough, raw, hot metal was something to behold.

Their first order today was one they’d done together millions of times: a weathervane.

Farmer Foster wanted a cow-shaped weathervane to sit atop the barn on his dairy farm. Paw did all the grunt work, slamming and shaming copper into delicate sheets, and Minette helped work it into art, into something tangible: two interconnecting pieces that looked like delicate cows with the cardinal directions sitting atop their backs. She etched the fine details, drawing twin, smiling faces on the cows.

It was an everyday item, something so commonplace that most people never gave it a second glance, but Minette appreciated it. She found it beautiful, magical, even, knowing the work and care that went into it. They made a lot of household items and decorative pieces, things that others saw only the utility in, but she saw the art in them.

Plus, they were getting paid to make it. Nothing fostered a sense of appreciation more than a gold Drune.

All that was left was the crafting of it: heaving it onto a stake, adding decorative marbles, and all that. Paw did that work–he was still too particular about it to let Minette do it on her own–so Minette wandered to the forge’s mouth for a breath of fresh air.

There’s More Drag Than Just Drag Race

The premiere of season 14 of the Emmy-winning competition show Rupaul’s Drag Race airs tonight, and while I still plan to watch it with my housemates, I think we should take a moment to remind the audience that Rupaul’s Drag Race (or RPDR, as I’ll shorten it to in this article often), is NOT the bible of drag nor the ideal goal for most drag artists. And just because you watch RPDR does NOT make you an expert on drag. While Drag Race has been amazing for bringing drag into the mainstream, supporting tons of nightlife performers and drag artists, and giving queer people a platform to showcase their art unlike everything else, it’s also done a lot to harm drag artists and drag as a whole.

Drag Race began in 2009 and was the first drag competition show to ever hit a mainstream audience. It was, in its early days, unapologetically queer and made some jokes that have since been removed because they were… well… Bad (looking at you “shemale”). The show was incredible for gay representation, awareness around HIV with Ongina in season 1, heartbreaking stories about gay men, and a beautiful (and sort of insanely unhinged) platform for drag queens to be seen as real artists. But it was also inherently misogynistic and transphobic. Drag itself is NOT misogynistic or transphobic, let’s make that very clear. Crossdressing, female impersonation and drag itself has never been those things. And drag has always been an art form populated by more than cis gay men: cis women are drag queens and kings, trans women are some of the original creators of drag and most prominent queens in our history, and nonbinary people have always been involved in drag since it’s earliest days. But RPDR did not showcase these elements of drag. Only cis men were allowed to audition for the show, and in season 5 one of the queens on the show, Monica Beverly Hills, revealed she had to stop her transition as a trans woman to even be on the show because they wouldn’t allow her to come if she had fully transitioned.

Season 9 of Drag Race featured the first trans woman who was out prior to being cast on the show as Peppermint. Peppermint was very open about her transness on the show, but it was rarely brought up aside from her “tragic backstory” moments to win the show an Emmy. Gottmik was the first trans man to be cast on the show in season 13 last year, who was very open about his own transition and place in the drag community, wearing runways that showed off top surgery scars on the main stage. This year also saw the return of Kylie Sonique Love, who came out as a trans woman at the end of season 2 of the show and returned to win All Stars 6 this summer as the first trans winner of the show, and this season has introduced Kornbread “The Snack” Jete and Kerri Colby, two trans women who are competing on this season. 

So certainly in later years, RPDR has started making strides towards being more inclusive and featuring trans artists on the show, but for a show that is meant to show a community that was literally built on the backs of trans women, it’s horribly behind and paints a very skewed image of drag as a whole. And it’s been, for years, not showcasing the trans people who even make up so much of the drag community across the world. So don’t go congratulating Drag Race for having a few trans women on season 14: they’re doing the bare minimum fourteen seasons late.

RPDR also had it’s first cis woman on season 3 of the UK version of Drag Race, also this year. Cis women have been drag queens forever and are a huge part of the drag scene, so RPDR’s refusal to include them and cast them on the show does not go unnoticed. Drag kings are also a huge part of drag as a whole, and not a Single drag king has ever been cast on drag race, despite the show often doing “masculine drag” challenges thatalmost feel like a mockery of drag kings.

Does this all mean we shouldn’t support Drag Race anymore? No, not entirely. While the show has tons of other issues besides these (their villainization of black queens, the heavy editing, the psychological abuse of the contestants, problematic challenges and queens, etc), it’s still a fun show and has been incredibly queer representation for years, as well as incredible for helping drag queens who would never have had the level of success and financial support the show has given them. But it’s important to be aware that there is SO MUCH MORE DRAG than just what appears on Drag Race. There are other shows that feature drag artists such as Dragula, Camp Wannakiki, La Mas Draga, and beyond that, there’s local drag in every city across the United States AND drag queens to create content online if you’re can’t find any local drag (Evah Destruction, Nemesis LaCroix, the Stream Queens network, etc.). So enjoy the season premiere of Drag Race, but don’t let your consumption of drag end there!

This week’s look is just a fun one to get hyped about the new season of RPDR cause yeah, I’m still excited for it.

My Name is Minette, Chapter Five: The Smithy

Minette opened her mouth to respond, but Maw wasn’t done.

“And why do you keep it like that anyway? I keep me own hair shorter’n yours. It’s practical.”

“Practical,” Minette snorted. Sometimes that felt like the only label people slapped on her. That she was useful, like a tool.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Maw demanded, hand creeping toward the dastardly wooden spoon. She jerked her head toward the open front door. “You’d better be off to your father. He’s redder than that apple of yours.”

Minette swore, curses drowned out by Paw’s laments about his lazy, tardy son. She popped the slice of bread in her mouth and ran out the door.

Paw was waiting by Lumpy, their beefiest workhorse, and one of their carts. His face was indeed ripening as Minette watched. He shook his head at her, climbing astride Lumpy with a grunt. “Fix that hair,” he barked.

There was no room for discussion. Minette nodded, swallowing the last of her bread. She hopped into the back of the cart just as it began to judder and rumble away from the house.

Paw’s hands were especially tight on the reins today. It was almost definitely about Irma. Minette knew better than to ask him about it when he was in a mood like this. Paw was an angry worrier. He meant well.

Minette watched the streets pass in silence instead, wondering at all the lives going on around her of people she’d never met, wondering if, hidden away in some shop, there was anyone else even remotely like her.

 

***

 

The worst thing about the forge was how hot it was.

Minette could admire the tools adorning the walls, the private space all to her and Paw. The run threading through the field outside, dry in this part of summer but still full of pretty stones and the occasional pot-bellied toad.

But the heat. The heat got to her.

The center of the room held the tall iron fireplace where they did the majority of their work. Inside it, a cross-hatched plating sat over where the flames roared. It was on this plating that they did what the Coppersmiths did best: smith the copper.

It involved a lot of gruntwork, heavy lifting, shouting, pounding, and blasting.

There was molten metal, soot, ashes, sparks, flames, and smoke. It was grimy work. Even working at the forge for just one hour turned her entire face black and made her feel like her lungs were clogged up. She worried over Paw, whose voice had turned from gravel to crushed up bones, to something throaty and crackly.

Minette did not want to be like him.

My Name is Minette, Chapter Four: Minette Sets Off

Every time Minette saw the dress, it gained form. It was simple, but it was royal and delicate, and it punched the breath out of Minette with each new dainty detail.

It was gorgeous, fit for one of Sir Edric’s many rescued princesses.

“Mort! Get your clouds out of your head!” Maw squawked, sending Minette careening out of her fantastical distant valleys and back into their cramped little kitchen.

“Yes, Maw,” Minette said, slipping past her mother. Maw was by the sink, scrubbing at some dirty dishes with a vigor that felt somehow murderous, like the dishes had wronged her.

Maw’s behind was large enough that Minette bumped into it as she wormed past, scooting her way over to the kitchen table on the other side of the room. The bread and butter was already set out for her, and a tasty-looking apple.

Minette collected her food, munching and crunching on the tart apple. Maw always had something out for the family to eat, and the kitchen was a natural congregation space where most of Minette’s fondest memories took place.

Speaking of. “Where’s Rhys and Irma?” Minette asked past a mouthful of fruit.

Maw dropped her brush in the sudsy sink slush and turned to face Minette, propping her broad hip against the counter. “Off in town, most like,” she said. “Paw sent them out on errands.”

“Irma too?” Paw was usually so careful with Irma, a fact Minette knew drove Irma absolutely bonkers. Sending her out on the town was a true test of faith for the man.

“Oh, yes,” Maw said. “She’s there to keep Rhys in shape. He’s going on about school again.

School. Rhys’s only dream, and the only thing he’d asked for for his last three birthdays.

It was also the only thing he’d never get.

Well, that, and a gilded carriage or an estate in the woods. The Coppersmiths were in no way rich or well-connected. And in Droz, there was only one school. Paw thought it a waste of a good working boy and Maw thought the few Drunes it required were too large of an expense.

Minette felt for Rhys. He was smarter than a crow. She could imagine him in some far off land, too; as a scholar or an inventor.

“That hair of yours,” Maw added, continuing from some long ramble that Minette had completely missed, “is gonna get you in some trouble with your Paw.”

“Don’t tell him,” Minette pleaded past a mouth full of apple.

“Tell him? Irma’s blind, not your father, dearie.”