After the global spread of the novel coronavirus forced the cancellation of RuPaul’s DragCon, which was set for May 1-3 in Los Angeles, and the bars and clubs shut down in West Hollywood, drag queens and other LGBTQ artists quickly adapted to streaming content to help save their livelihood.
“We don’t miss a beat, honey,” Los Angeles-based drag performer Alaska, who was runner-up on season five of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and winner of the second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” said during a recent phone interview.
“It was like the bars got shut down in Los Angeles and the next day, Rhea Litré moved her Monday night show to Instagram Live,” she continued. “I’m pretty sure she made more money on Instagram than she did in person, so I think it’s an evolution of the art form. Drag queens are extremely innovative and, I mean, we will persist through plague, famine, war or pandemic. We will prevail.”
Alaska is one of dozens of drag queens, kings and LGBTQ performers taking part in the first-ever Digital Drag Fest, which was the brainchild of drag management company Producer Entertainment Group in partnership with webcast site, Stageit.
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PEG Presents: Digital Drag Fest will run March 27-April 11 and feature dozens of unique 30-minute performances from artists such as Peppermint, Sherry Vine, Divina De Campo, Ginger Minj, Trinity The Tuck, Jackie Beat, Miz Cracker, Nina West, Tenderoni and country singer Brandon Stansell.
All shows are $10 and are limited to about 100 people per show to keep the intimate feel of true live experience. Fans will also be able to chat with the artists and each other directly and tip the performers as well. A full line-up of all of the performances can be found at stageit.com/digitaldragfest. As these shows sell-out, more have been added so the Digital Drag Fest could be extended past April 11.
“I love that because it’s just more personalized and it won’t just be 100 people sending heart and virus emojis in a chatroom,” Alaska said. “My favorite part of performing is interacting with the audience so it’s weird to not have laughter or applause, so that takes a bit of getting used to but I plan on providing my own laugh tracks so my jokes will still be really funny.”
Alaska will be performing The Quarantine Cabaret multiple times throughout Digital Drag Fest and promised a “visual variety” and costume changes. She’ll also be supporting her fellow queens and kings by tuning in to some of their shows as well since she said it’s important to support the community at this time.
“Bars in our community aren’t just places to get drunk, though we do love that as well, they’re queer gathering spaces where we can feel seen and empowered and feel like we’re among our people,” she said.
The performers are sharing their Venmo information and Alaska said that’s an ideal way to not only financially support your favorite artists, but to communicate with them as well.
“Even if you give a dollar or five dollars, you can also send a little note and they can like your donation, too; it’s a good way of connecting,” she said.
To keep herself occupied as she practices social distancing and quarantining in her home, Alaska is constantly working on her drag and participating in the online Quarantine Couture Runway Challenge with her friends.
“We choose a theme and then we just put it out there and if you want to do a 15-second runway walk in that theme, whether it’s disco, animal print or the color blue, it’s a fun way to see what you have around your house,” she shared. “It’s creative.”
She also insists that just because people are not going into the office and are now spending the bulk of their time at home, we should still groom ourselves and practice self-care.
“My biggest fashion tip for quarantine is, honey, just because we’re homebound doesn’t mean you can’t put on a gown or a nice jacket, do your hair or put on a winged liner, just go for it,” she said.
As for something anyone can do at home if they’re getting anxious and want to change up their look, Alaska said she’s seeing a lot of friends change their hair color.
“I think this is the time to do something bold and crazy that in the regular world you’d never get a chance to do,” she said. “Go ahead and go down that Clairol box hair color aisle and try something out.”
For the time being in her household, the quarantine beverage of choice is either champagne or white wine.
“It’s really about the presentation though,” she said. “We have these amazing wine glasses that are ‘Golden Girls’ themed and Jeremy, who is housing with me right now, he gets the Rose Nylund glass and I get the Dorothy Zbornak glass, and that’s the way it goes.”