The art form of drag and female impersonation has exploded in popularity over the last decade, driven in part by the remarkable visibility created by RuPaul‘s Drag Race. The show, currently airing its eighth season on Logo, has brought great drag into homes across the world and has changed the game for drag as a profession.
Being a successful drag entertainer in the ear of RuPaul‘s Drag Race is a lot more complicated (and competitive) than ever before. Below is a list of ten fierce queens who have taken the art of drag to the next level. From full-length albums and music videos to international tours and talent management companies, these queens have embraced the state of drag fandom and are turning the art into some serious coin.
Know any business-savvy queens not featured on this list? Tell her story in the comments below.
1. Adore Delano
After finishing in the top three of RuPaul‘s Drag Race season six, Adore Delano‘s music career took off. Having sold out venues around the world, releasing two full-length albums and ten music videos (in just two years), Adore has worked her ass off and is showing no signs of stopping. Both her first album (Till Death Do Us Party) and her second album (After Party) debuted at number one on the iTunes dance charts, solidifying her place in music history. Plus, she’s the queen of merch: from posters and shirts to cell phone cases, Adore knows how to make them coins!
Alyssa Edwards was a business-savvy queen well before her run on RuPaul‘s Drag Race season five. In addition to running her Texas-based dance studio, Beyond Belief, she was taking the drag pageant scene by storm. Since her time on Drag Race, Alyssa has toured the world and Alyssa’s Secret, her WOWPresents YouTube show, remains one World of Wonder’s longest running web series, with each episode garnering over 100,000 views. In late 2015, Alyssa and two of her “drag children” (Gia Gunn and Laganja Estranja) were the opening act for Miley Cyrus during her Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz album tour.
There no denying that three years after her run on Drag Race, Alyssa still remains one of the highest profile queens to come from the show.
3. Coco Peru
Coco Peru has been in the drag game for over 25 years, having started in the New York scene before the internet made getting the word out about a drag event easier. In a recent interview with Queerty, Coco shared how she used to create a buzz about her show:
“Back when I started drag, I used to go out every night and have to hand out postcards. I made a stencil and would spray paint on the sidewalks in New York City – not realizing it was illegal. Well.. maybe I did on some level, because I did it in dark clothes at two in the morning. I spray-painted all over the city ‘Miss Coco Peru. She knows.’ People would look at that and think, “Who the hell is Miss Coco Peru and what does she know?” But it created a buzz. You had to do that back then because there was no internet.”
Coco’s smarts have filled her 25-year drag career with a variety of high-profile gigs, from starring in the 1995 Cult film To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, to touring the world with her one-woman act. Coco has done it all, and, if you want to see her perform live, we recommend you heed her advice: “I encourage people to come [see me live] if they have the opportunity because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this.”
Heklina is a business queen through and through. She started the legendary “Trannyshack” shows in San Francisco and then soon began touring them around the world. During the show’s 20-year run, Heklina brought a slew of celebrities, from RuPaul to Lady Gaga, to the Trannyshack stage. Now, Heklina is the owner of Oasis, a San Francisco-based nightclub that hosts regular cabaret shows and drag performances. Through her new weekly show at Oasis, “Mother,” Heklina continues the Trannyshack legacy.
Additionally, Heklina and her drag queen bestie, Peaches Christ (see below), host regular traveling events that take drag on the road (and even the high seas!). The “Mothership” events, as they are appropriately named, take a bus (or cruise ship) of drag queens to various places that are easily accessible from her home base of San Francisco.
Horrorchata (c’mon, don’t you just love that name!?) is a New York queen and the founder of Razor 5000, the biggest underground queer dance party in Brooklyn. She also co-founded the Bushwig Festival, the only drag festival in Brooklyn and the festival to which Lady Bunny passed down the Wigstock torch. In addition, Horrorchata is also a fierce drag DJ who has brought music to hundreds of parties across the United States and Europe, including the legendary Tranny Olympics in London.
Large and in charge. Chunky yet funky. Bold and beautiful. Latrice motha-f*ckin’ Royale!
As one of the most beloved (and most quotable) queens to come from RuPaul‘s Drag Race, Latrice is more than just a big personality. In addition to touring around the world with her drag act, Latrice is also the owner of LRI Talent and Management, a management company that represents “the finest in Female Impersonation and Live Entertainment for any party or event.” The agency currently manages a variety of entertainers, including Kennedy Davenport, Jaidynn Dior Fierce, T.S. Madison and more.
On top of all that, Latrice is also a musical artist. She recently released her first album, Here’s to Life, which features six beautiful and hilarious songs that showcase her vocal talents (now available on Amazon and iTunes *wink*). Eat it!
7. Mimi Imfurst
In addition to being an amazing stage performer (trust us, if you haven’t seen her live yet, you NEED to at some point), Mimi Imfurst is a hard working business woman. Self-described as “the hardest working bitch in show business,” Mimi recently launched a national drag tour, The Divas of Drag, that features 18 fierce queens, including several RuPaul‘s Drag Race‘s queens and other talented non-Drag Race queens. The first run of the tour concluded on April 17th, but more tour dates are expected to be announced soon.
Beyond the stage, Mimi is another queen with a passion for music. In mid-March she released her debut album, The Fire, which she funded with the help of nearly 250 contributors on Indiegogo. The full-length rock ‘n roll album features 10 original tracks and is available now on iTunes.
If you are ever lucky enough to be in San Francisco during the run of a Peaches Christ original production, do yourself a favor get a ticket. (Insider Tip: The VIP treatment is definitely worth it if you can afford it!). The historic Castro Theatre plays home to all of Peaches’ legendary shows, with recent shows starring well-known queens including Katya Zamolodchikova, Willam, Latrice Royale, Bianca Del Rio, Heklina, Alaska Thunderfuck, Sharon Needles, Honey Mahogany and more. Visit Peaches’ website and subscribe to her newsletter to learn about upcoming shows – because you never know when she’ll be taking a show on tour and bringing it to a city near you.
Can’t get to a Peaches show? No problem, you can bring her home to enjoy. As another queen of merch, Peaches’ web store is stocked with several of her original films, a fabulously creepy Peaches costume mask, original Peaches music and so much more.
RuPaul. The MOTHA of drag. From film and television to music and podcasting, when it comes to being an entertainer, RuPaul has done it all. Her Wikipedia page lists 29 television credits, 22 film credits, 17 short film credits, nine award nominations and two published books. Is there any other drag queen who could convince tens of thousands of people to gather in Los Angeles for a two-day drag queen convention (aptly named RuPaul’s DragCon)?
This list would not be complete without Miss Shangela. This former RuPaul‘s Drag Race star is doing and has done it all (seriously). Let’s go through the list:
- Music *check*
- Film *check*
- Television *check*
- Comedy tour *check*
- International drag tour *check*
- One-woman show *check*
Wait that’s not it… we can’t forget to mention that she also owns her own drag queen talent management company, Say What Entertainment. Miss Shangie is a professional and knows how to make them coins.
Want to meet these fabulous queens? All 10 of the queens listed above will be at the second annual RuPaul’s DragCon, coming to the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 7-8. Plus, come find Queerty and Dragaholic at booth 702 for your chance to win some fierce drag prizes! #SeeYouAtDragCon