Because of the recent popularity of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” there has been a huge boom in new drag performers hoping that, one day, they’ll get a chance to enter RuPaul’s Hall of Fame.
While that might not be every queen’s goal — there’s more to drag culture than just aspiring for a crown — here are six non-“Drag Race” performers that you should be supporting.
1. Lucy Stoole
A bearded beauty from Chicago, Lucy Stoole is one of the top drag performers that should be on your radar. Her performances are usually energetic and campy, but her talents don’t stop there. Even after only briefly browsing her Instagram, it’s obvious that Stoole has impeccable makeup skills that surpass the classic drag queen beat. Her versatility in looks, performances and willingness to explore gender beyond the norm makes her an impressive queen to watch.
Today, Stoole is a well-established queen in both her home drag community and nationwide. She regularly hosts and performs in local shows and is dubbed the “Mother Hen” of Chicago’s drag scene. Being a black queen that messes around with her gender presentation in drag can pose challenges when conventionally pretty white queens seem to be the norm and garner the most attention, but Stoole has made a name for herself and has already created her own iconic legacy.
2. Creme Fatale
Contrary to popular belief, drag performers aren’t always men. Known for her campy performances and bright, high-femme looks, Creme Fatale is a female drag queen (often called a “bio” or “faux” queen) from San Francisco. Fatale doesn’t let the label define her, as she goes above and beyond with her drag just like any other performer would. A self-proclaimed “Professional Cupcake,” she is a sight to behold. Her looks alone are stunning, with an arsenal of intricately detailed poofy dresses and monstrous jewels adorning her brightly colored makeup and hair.
Fatale’s performances align with her aesthetic: full of drama, surprises and lots of pastel. She is both soft and dynamic and knows exactly how to work a crowd. Her Barbie-princess-cupcake aesthetic is captivating to watch as she glides around effortlessly, commanding the attention of everyone in the room with a sweet smile hidden in her cutesy pastel makeup. It’s impressive that someone so pretty can perform shows with so much movement involved and still look that flawless in the end.
3. Ivory Onyx
Drag isn’t just about impersonating womanhood either. While drag kings don’t tend to get as much mainstream attention as other popular queens, often seen on “Drag Race,” there are still multitudes of talented ones out there. Ivory Onyx is a dapper king that has the credentials to prove it, being featured in Vogue, winning multiple drag pageants and being featured on podcasts.
Onyx’s 20 years of experience in drag definitely shows through his performances. Typically decked out in expensive-looking, jewel-encrusted suits and vests and doing very technical and refined dance moves, Onyx has a sultry but classy stage presence that’s easy to get lost in. With so much accomplished already, I have no doubt that he’ll be doing things even bigger than “Drag Race” one day.
4. Venus Envy
If you don’t like to limit your interests to one specific type of drag, Orlando’s Venus Envy is the drag chameleon for you. Her looks range from hilarious parody like her James Charles bit to cosplays such as her Beetlejuice fantasy to flawless celebrity impersonations. Every other post on her Instagram looks like an entirely different person.
Having a home base in Orlando, Envy has done a lot to lift up the queer community affected by the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting. She’s spoken on panels, done news interviews and protested in support of gun control to bring awareness to the issue, especially regarding LGBTQ safe spaces like Pulse. While pretty looks and wacky performances are great, being able to stand up for your community comes with the territory of being a drag performer, and Envy encapsulates it all.
5. Iv Fischer
Atlanta’s Iv Fischer is fairly new to the scene but is already a fierce performer. She also has a variety of other ventures beyond drag, including making Youtube videos and writing for Wussy Mag to highlight and create a dialogue about important issues within the LGBTQ community. Even if going to drag shows to support local performers isn’t your thing, Fischer’s online content is both informative and entertaining.
If you do ever make it to a performance, Fischer’s dreamy, vintage-inspired looks create a commanding yet delicate stage presence. She seems to always be glowing, and not just from the highlight on her cheekbones. It’s clear that she loves what she does when she’s on stage, which makes for a great drag show experience for everyone involved.
6. Jupiter Velvet
If spunky, upbeat ‘80s inspired drag is more your cup of tea, Miami’s Jupiter Velvet is your girl. Velvet looks like a character straight out of a comic book with mile-long eyelashes and vibrant, neon makeup looks and hair colors. As a trans woman, she has said her drag is a way for her to live out the female teen years she didn’t get to have, hence why her looks and performances are so over the top and fun.
Velvet’s high-energy presence both on social media and onstage brings her already visually exciting drag character to life. There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a one-note classic number by Velvet; she brings a completely new and fresh routine nearly every time she performs. You might get an alluring Spanish-inspired number, an upbeat pop performance or anything in between. Even though she’s only 22, she’s quickly gaining traction and making a name for herself in drag.
Whatever a performer’s goals for their drag career might be, talented people aren’t hard to come by if you’re looking in the right places. Chances are, there are some in your town right now that could be your new favorite performer.