My First Drag Pageant

This past weekend I had the pleasure of competing in Basement Arts’ first-ever drag pageant (in recent years), Lady Walgreen 2022. As someone who considers themselves a “look queen” and a bedroom queen (ie, someone who focuses on my makeup and looks and generally creates my drag in my bedroom without showing it to many other people or going out in it), this was actually my first time going out and performing in drag. And it was the best experience I could’ve ever asked for. Quite literally, I’ve never seen an audience as packed or as excited as I did in the Newman Studio last Saturday night.

The pageant had three parts: fashion, interview, and talent. For fashion, we got scored by a panel of judges (aka other students who are drag aficionados or style icons). As a look queen known for outlandish makeup, this was the category I was focused the most on. My look was a demon-like creature who had all my skin removed from my face and sections of my body, a ribcage peeking out on my chest, and muscles exposed all across my face and body. This has been some of the most extravagant and ambitious makeup I have ever done, and I couldn’t be prouder of what I ended up creating. 


The makeup was all done by me, mainly using eyeliners, face paint, and a ton of powder and patience. The ribcage is made out of cardboard I stole from a housemate and covered in duct tape, and the hair is similarly held up by a cardboard frame for the horns. The skirt is a long, ugly thrifted skirt I found, cut up, and stained with fake blood just hours before. Who said you can’t create stunning drag on a budget?

A lot of my drag is freaky, alien, and just a tad bit insane, and this look was no different. And the audience loved it, from the cheering I got the moment I stepped out. Not to brag, but I was the only queen to get a perfect score of tens across the board for my look, which honestly was the biggest win in my book. Listen, I’m a look queen through and through and to be validated on my effort in my looks is the most amazing thing for me.

Next came the interview, which might have been the most chaotic part of the night. I’d like to first apologize to the couch, which has incurred a large red mark from when I decided to man-spread across it during my interview. Rip to that couch (and the one section of my body I didn’t set with powder well enough).

The final part was the talent portion, which included performances of incredible dance numbers, live singing, a spoken-word version of “I’m Sexy And I Know It”, and for me, a pair of rollerblades and licking blood off the floor of the Newman. I may not be the best dancer, but I did create a memorable performance of falling flat on my face, spilling blood all across the floor, and then getting up to lick all the blood off my fingers and garner the most wonderfully disgusting responses from the audience as Kim Petras played. Honestly, what more could I ask for of my first live performance?

While I didn’t make top two (congrats to ElleXL, our Lady Walgreen winner, and Tampa, the runner-up), I don’t think I’ve ever cheered louder during a lip-sync than I did for those two going CRAZY to “I Will Survive”. Seriously, you’ve never seen a performance like theirs. Plus, who cares about winning? I not only got to show off my art to a huge audience of my friends and classmates, I also made some of the most wonderful friends. There’s truly something so joyful about a room of queer folks all half in drag, taking shots and helping each other out. When I couldn’t find my eyelash glue, Tampa offered me hers. I did Mrs. Worldwide’s makeup since it was her first time in drag, and Olympia offered me hairspray to keep my wig down. There could not have been a more different group of performers up there on that stage, but each and every one was incredible and it was such an incredible honor to see them all perform. Shout out to the UMich drag scene and shout out to everyone who came out to the Newman last weekend! And to Basement Arts for hosting!

Clowns Have a Union (and I Think That’s Neat)

I saw a post recently about how clowns have a union (which is true) and how strange that is, and how drag queens don’t have a union. I’m no expert on unions and economics, so I’m not going to try and sound smart talking about that here. But the connections between clowns and drag queens certainly interest me. I mean, what really is the difference between them? We both wear a ton of makeup, often try to look a bit ridiculous, and we’re both entertainers– just for slightly different age groups. 

According to, the profession of clown is as follows: “Clowns dress in outlandish costumes, paint their faces, and use a variety of performance skills to entertain audiences. They work in circuses, amusement parks, schools, malls, rodeos, and hospitals, as well as on stage, in films, and even on the street. Clowns are actors and comedians whose job is to make people laugh.”

According to Wikipedia, drag queens are people who “use[] drag clothing and makeup to imitate and often exaggerate female gender signifiers and gender roles for entertainment purposes… People partake in the activity of doing drag for reasons ranging from self-expression to mainstream performance. Drag shows… occur at events like pride parades, carnivals, drag pageants, and in venues such as cabarets and nightclubs.”

Clearly, there are distinct differences here. But when it boils down to the details, there are a lot of similarities too. Drag queens and clowns work in a wide variety of different locations and events and utilize a variety of performance skills to entertain audiences. I’ve seen a drag queen fix a computer as part of her act before, so there’s really no performance skill that hasn’t been utilized as a part of a drag show. They both wear outlandish costumes and paint their faces, and as drag moves further and further away from regular gendered norms, outlandish and bizarre makeup is a more normalized part of what we expect with drag. Some queens even actively choose to paint more like clowns, myself included many times.

So then what really separates drag artists from clowns? Is it just because we don’t have to go to school for it? If I start making balloon animals, will I suddenly switch from being a drag artist to a clown?

I think what defines drag artists from clowns, or makeup artists or gogo dancers or burlesque performers or any of those other performer types is truly the artists themselves and what they make of their drag art. Drag is what you make it, it’s a performance of self-expression. There’s no real rules to drag, certain way things have to be done. It’s all up to the artist themself. Also, we don’t need degrees to do drag. Sorry clowns.

So it doesn’t matter if I’m dressing in a clown-themed drag look if I’m making balloon animals or riding a unicycle or pulling handkerchiefs out of my sleeve. I’m still a drag artist, I’m still doing my drag in my own expressionist way. But we still don’t have a union as drag artists. Maybe that is something that could happen in the future. Who knows!

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!!