“RuPaul Drag Race” Season 8 started on March 7. Who would have thought drag would be so popular? Just look right here in the Queen City. More and more drag queens are popping up all around.
Many new faces, on top of the old seasoned faces, are everywhere. It is frankly hard to keep up — and that’s not a bad thing. Variety is good and so is competition to have more talent and better quality shows. But, as show director, it can be a challenge to remember names, much less determine who has the talent when booking new ladies.
So take it for what it is, but here are my 10 tips for new ladies (and some older drag queens) when it comes to how to get a booking.
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Be strong. Be true. Every drag queen has their reasons for doing drag. For some it is purely entertainment, others it is a way to explore their identity, some it is for charity, pageants — or for others it is a mix of all that. There is no right or wrong to why you chose to do drag. Just be sure you stay true to yourself. Don’t sell out to be like someone else or capitulate to a bar owner.
Develop your name, your brand. Find a unique, positive way to make a name for yourself. Strive to do something different or be unique. Always consider ways to promote your brand and be part of the local community. Volunteer for fundraisers, special community events, do pageants, talent shows, etc. Before you can get, you have to give.
Show off your talent. Be sure to do video clips of you performing on stage and send those to show directors when asking for a booking. I will not book a new performer unless I have seen what they have to offer. Even then, be prepared to share three to five bar locations and names of people for references.
Invest in your drag. Drag is expensive, especially starting out. Plan to spend money before you start making any money. You will likely not get a booking if you don’t invest in your hair, costumes, pantyhose, jewelry, etc. You need to dress to impress the show director and the audience. It’s a business for those who get consistent bookings. It’s not just a hobby.
Be professional. The children are watching you and listening to what you say and do. Everything you post on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Grindr can be seen by a show director. Cut the needless drama and try to be positive to other people. Nobody wants to work with someone who comes across as negative all the time. Your goal is to attract business to the bar, not scare them away. Also, be sure to keep your recreational habits to yourself.
Promote your bookings. I love when I see new drag queens actively promote bookings. It causes me to pay attention to who they are. Engage fans on social media and do your best to get your friends and fans out to see you. If you can turn out a crowd, you better believe I’ll move you to the top of the list and book you.
Make a good impression. Build a relationship with the show director. Come out when you’re not in shows and say hello. Smiling and being kind goes a long way. Warning: I have had drag queens cancel repeatedly or not show up for their very first booking. It is an awful first impression and shows that you’re really not interested and not dependable. It’s one of the worst things you can do.
Keep it fresh. If you’re booked more than once at a bar or a couple bars, don’t do the same numbers, hair and outfits over and over. Realize as a show director, I want something special for the audience. You can’t rely on the same two to four numbers and expect to be booked again.
Know your lyrics. Duh.
Be persistent, but not annoying. After you have asked for a booking via Facebook or email, you may follow up a couple times, but don’t pester a show director. I don’t mind someone kindly checking back in, but there is a limit. Realize there are only so many bookings in a month and there are drag queens who have been around awhile. It is competitive. Don’t take offense, just keep trying to build your name and brand.
This is my advice. I’m sure there are many more tips and expectations from show directors on what they look for in booking drag queens, particularly new ladies. Some may have very different feelings. Ask the show director and feel free to post thoughts and ideas in the comments.
Like I said, there are more drag queens out there than ever before. Listen to these tips and remember that bookings are not a right, they are an earned privilege. Don’t be mad that you are not being booked. Show me why you deserve it more than someone else.
DRAG TIP: Say thank you. Show appreciation when you get a booking.
SHOUT OUTS: Every Monday night come watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8 at The Bar at 316. Part of proceeds each week support Campus Pride for LGBTQ youth. Also buy tickets for Buff Faye’s Annual St. Patty Party Bus on Friday, March 11 and see Pearl from Season 7 on the bus that night at Chasers Charlotte. Buy at CampusPride.org/PartyBus.
— Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and plans to retire making cat memes (plus she loves to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her monthly Saturday night shows, Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye