The New York Times just published an extensive, well-written in-depth look at the state of drag in 2018. Written by queer raconteur Isaac Oliver, the feature profiles more than 50 drag queens interviewed by Oliver. We’ll save you one spoiler: One of those queens was not RuPaul, as she declined an interview request for his piece.
The overall takeaway is that drag is having a moment, but despite this golden era, the careers of our favorite drag queens — even the most successful ones — aren’t easy.
Here are our favorite quotes from 7 drag queens interview in the piece:
Eureka O’Hara on fear
“I live in constant fear that the Drag Race thing will end. I don’t want to go back to driving everywhere and working for no money, when you put so much love and money and time into this craft. I know what it feels like to struggle every single day to do this.”
Bianca Del Rio on hanger oners
“Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Anyone on Instagram who wears mascara is a makeup artist. Anybody who knows two queens is a manager.”
Charlene on Drag Race
“Who is good at Drag Race is equated to who is good at drag, and queens palette themselves to get on. There’s this dance you do on Instagram and way you network yourself. We’re like, in ‘Toy Story,’ the aliens in that machine waiting for the claw to pick them up. We have this stagnancy of queens doing the dance rather than focusing on their art.”
Bob The Drag Queen on loneliness
“It’s lonely. I’m home maybe five days a month, but they’re never next to each other. You don’t really know anyone in towns you go to. You don’t establish connections outside of ‘Girl, you’re fierce,’ or someone saying your quotes at you. Sometimes you get laid, and you’re like, I could’ve finished Stranger Things.”
Katya on the challenges
“There’s athlete’s foot, joint pain, U.T.I.s, pink eye. There’s bizarre sexualization, not being sexualized when you want it, and the almost complete forfeiture of a regular gay relationship.”
Lady Bunny on what people want
“[The bar owner] said the fans watch the first number and go get in line for the meet-and-greet. When getting a picture with someone you’ve seen on TV so people can like you on social media is more important than the performance? That’s not Drag Race, though. That’s the way of the world.”
Linda Simpson on a lack of opportunities
“Ru is incredible. But it’s telling that the top person of the genre has been the same since 1992. Drag is still a ghetto. The entertainment industry is still unsure of what to do with drag. Why not give Bianca her own talk show? Why not have Sharon Needles do some sitcom? They’re wildly popular. Not to unseat Ru, but is there room for other sensibilities?”
To read the entire feature, head here.