And now, for a favourite topic of mine: RuPaul’s Drag Race! In a bonus clip from season 9, episode 4, the queens have a discussion in the dressing room about who puts more work into being a successful and famous drag queen, those who do the performance circuit or those with more followers on social media?
They discuss YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook as examples where some, like Aja, have 25,000 followers and others, like Sasha Velour, has 1,500. Sasha argues it’s all about luck and who you know to make it on social media, but Charlie Hides disagrees, saying it took hard work, time, and dedication to rack up 75,000 YouTube subscribers.
Farrah Moan offers a third perspective, that the two camps aren’t mutually exclusive. She said that she did all of the performance aspects of drag, like shows and contests, she just also shared it on social media. At the time of airing the episode, she had about 22,000 Instagram followers.
I think this all brings up a question of what ‘success’ means for showbiz in an age of social media, especially for a niche genre such as drag. Is it measured by how many shows you do or how big your audiences are for the shows you do? Can you call yourself a successful drag queen if you don’t do any live performances, but amass a huge following on social media? Like Farrah says, can we even see them as separate, or is it all conglomerate into one big pool of ‘success’? Are you an ‘entertainer’, a ‘makeup guru’, or both depending on drag context?
Watch the bonus clip to see even more questions like these pop up while you think to yourself, “man, I wish I could contour like that!”