Right before he turned a domestic title, Justin Andrew Honard worked each odd task under the solar. “I waited tables. I marketed outfits in a boutique. I worked at an adult guide retail outlet. It never ever really lasted or worked out.” Now, he’s an internationally touring performer with a fourth studio album, Red 4 Filth his ebook, My Name’s Yours. What is Alaska? and a musical, Drag the Musical, all accessible now. What changed Honard’s life? RuPaul’s Drag Race, of system. “I am merely a bumblebee in RuPaul’s beehive,” he tells me, Zooming in from his residence in Los Angeles.
Honard, much better known as his drag persona Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, has a Cinderella tale that is not special among the the now hundreds of drag queens who have cycled by means of the many iterations of Drag Race, the Emmy-winning, groundbreaking, international truth-levels of competition collection hosted by RuPaul Charles. Due to the fact appearing on the demonstrate, drag performers like Peppermint, Katya, and Trixie Mattel have gone on to incredibly successful—and lucrative—careers, launching makeup lines, promoting albums, starring in function films, and providing out arenas on the strength of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and expertise, by yourself. While RuPaul may reign supreme as the drag celebrity of the entire world, it’s become significantly clear that you don’t have to be the queen bee to make a pleasant very little honeypot of your have in the planet of drag.
A ton of that is many thanks to Producer Amusement Team, a expertise and management organization that signifies the world’s top drag queen artists, LGBTQ+ talent, and influencers—including all the aforementioned queens. Like lots of queer origin tales, PEG commences with a humorous woman.
“Back in 2010, I was a expertise booker and producer for functions. I was undertaking a demonstrate for Kathy Griffin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I required to reserve an opening act,” cofounder David Charpentier tells me more than Zoom. “And I believed it’d be definitely great to have a drag queen. So I went on the net, did a bunch of exploration and uncovered a queen named Mimi Imfurst and emailed her.” The relaxation, as they say, is herstory. “We went from [David] undertaking this, like, in his kitchen area to now owning two workplace structures and 30-ish complete-time workforce, and possibly a further 10 or 15 freelance element-timers that come and assist us,” claims cofounder Jacob Slane.
Pre–PEG, Slane was an eager assistant in VH1 and Logo’s publicity section. “There’s this new present with the drag queen RuPaul from the ’90s. And it’s really weird, but we have to have a person to perform on it,” Slane remembers his former boss telling him. “So go ahead.” He finished up functioning on the series for 7 seasons before leaving to support Charpentier establish PEG, and give the queens he’d developed to know and love an off-ramp into the world of entertainment after the exhibit. Big as the show’s platform is, he states, “It’s about what you do immediately after that. What is your five-calendar year plan? Your 10-calendar year strategy? The difficult work truly begins right after you are on the show.”
Top up to Drag Race, Christopher Caldwell—a.k.a. Bob the Drag Queen—was performing just fantastic on her individual, thank you really significantly. “I was kind of the toast of the town,” she tells me more than Zoom. In a common 7 days, she would get the job done all-around eight demonstrates more than the course of five nights. “I’ve worked at almost every single gay bar there is in New York Metropolis. Some of the bars do not even exist anymore.” She thinks for a little bit. “Probably truly a couple of them.”
Kevin Bertin, a.k.a. Monét X Transform, can relate. “Before Drag Race, I was functioning six evenings a week. Friday was my only working day off.” Monét phone calls her pre–Drag Race schedule “completely crazy”: “I experienced to be at the bars by 11, which means I will need to depart my residence by ten o’clock. So I began getting in drag at eight o’clock, and then I would work until five o’clock in the morning, and get house, snooze right up until two o’clock in the afternoon,” she remembers. “It was that cycle just about every one working day. And then you have to go down to the garment district to get fabric—it was insane.”
That hard get the job done was shelling out off, to some degree, for each queens. “I was creating fairly decent money prior to Drag Race, especially for a neighborhood queen,” Bob says. “I wasn’t raking in hundreds of thousands or anything at all, but I made adequate dollars to live by myself on the Upper West Facet.” Both Bob and Monét recall building about $150 for every gig—excluding guidelines. “If I labored really difficult for tips, I could make anyplace involving $100 and $300 in ideas for the present,” suggests Bob. “On a good evening, I’d make 500 bucks for turning the occasion, for executing my drag.”
Drag Race adjusted all of that. Bob remembers not knowing what would be following just after winning period 8: “It was not quite like it is now, exactly where the ladies come household with this two-calendar year approach,” she claims. “I was just hoping to get back again to doing the job my gigs.” Just after meeting with Charpentier and requesting that he arrive to a Bob the Drag Queen Present to “really see what my point is,” Bob finished up signing with PEG administration. Now Bob hosts the formal Drag Race recap series, The Pit Cease, cohosts the podcast Sibling Rivalry with Monét X Change, and is now capturing the 3rd time of her Emmy-nominated HBO collection, We’re Listed here, with fellow Drag Race alums Eureka and Shangela.
After she gained Miss Congeniality on year 10 of Drag Race, Monét initially signed with Neverland Leisure prior to switching above to PEG. “In seeking for other management, Alaska, Bob, Trixie, they have been all with PEG,” Monét claims. “And so I go, ‘You know what? These ladies have some of the professions that I would want for myself.’” Now, with a popular on line discuss demonstrate referred to as The X Transform Fee a podcast, Sibling Rivalry, with Bob and now competing on time 7 of Drag Race: All Stars, Monét has the form of post–Drag Race profession she dreamed of.
Charpentier and Slane utilised to indicator numerous of the “top” queens immediately after every single time of Drag Race. In the latest several years, having said that, they’ve begun to “rethink” that strategy. “We really don’t really indicator anybody who’s model new on the exhibit any more,” he says.
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