Yesterday I made the trip down to NYC to attend DragCon2018 at the Javits Center. For those of you who are unaware of what DragCon is, it’s a convention for, you guessed it, drag queens! Now before you look confused, I am a straight, married woman with 2 kids, who lives in the ‘burbs. That being said, I have had a fascination with drag queens for a long time. Of course, the beginning of Rupaul’s Drag Race fit right in with my love of queens. At that time, I didn’t know of any queens by name, but I loved just seeing them on TV, in movies, or passing by if I went into the city. I started watching the show, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Through all the seasons, I have been an avid watcher, and I’m always left a bit in awe.
I know it may seem a bit surprising to some that I am so fascinated by drag queens. The fact is, I see what they do as an art form. I love the makeup artistry (a skill I don’t have), the entertainment aspect, and honest? I appreciate how these people can put themselves so OUT there. I also can appreciate the fact that they take people out of their comfort zone, yet can make them feel comfortable at the same time. Lastly, I find it kind of amazing (and also a little funny) that some of these men in dresses and wigs can look so incredibly beautiful and womanly.
I wasn’t planning to dress up for DragCon, although many people, including women, do. My sister in laws were also going, and they were dressing up and getting into it. (They looked absolutely AMAZING, btw). I didn’t decide until a couple of days before I was actually going due to funds, and then it seemed too late. My hairdresser (who has done drag) firmly told me I’d better step up my game and do SOMETHING, even offering to bring me one of his wigs. He brought in a massive wavy pink wig with dark roots, told me to brush it out and it should be fine. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to style it, and I would have felt bad asking. He said he pictured me in a black leather biker jacket, ripped jeans, and a tank top with black boots to finish it off. I had or got most of it, and I got a tank top I had made with a funny saying from the show. I was ready to go, but I felt so….nervous.
I often assume I am “too much” for people sometimes. I’m sometimes brutally honest, not seeing any point in blowing smoke just to make people happy. I’m not good at sugarcoating things, although as I’ve gotten older I do try to be more tactful and gentle when laying down a truth sandwich. I have red hair, I swear too much, I have tattoos and my nose pierced, and I feel that I can be overwhelming at times. I’m ok being too much, or at least I thought I was.
Yesterday the truth hit me like a truck. What I realized yesterday, is that I am actually much more shy than I first thought. As I have gotten older, I have turned into pretty much a “basic bitch” who likes her comforts in life. Ugly Ugg boots, coffee, and jeans? Yes please. I wear makeup daily, but not a lot. I’m awkward (reinforced on the DAILY, my friends!). I also realized I have a harder time getting out of my comfort zone than I originally thought.
I got up early, slathered what felt like a ton of makeup on my face (but actually looked like regular outside makeup for many people), yet got slightly derailed when it came to my eyes. I was fairly pleased with my eye shadow, but it started to go downhill with the liner. I abandoned my standard pencil in exchange from a liquid black liner from Wet and Wild. It’s waterproof, which I thought was a favorable choice. It was fine on the outer edge but pooled a bit in the corner of my eye, then dropping onto my lower lid. I learned something…..Soap, water, makeup remover cloths…non of them are any match for said Wet and Wild Liner. I had to take everything off of that eye, and barely got the liner off. I redid the eyeshadow, was able to correct the liner issue, then I attempted to put on false lashes. I’ve never been able to get the suckers on easily or without incident. This time, I managed to glue one eye shut. While I was frantically trying to get that unglued, I had to then try to get the lashes placed correctly. The damned lashes felt so heavy, I felt like my eyes were at half mast all day. I pondered if eyelids have muscles, and could one strengthen them by lifting heavy false lashes on the regular. I got the wig on, threw on my clothes, and set off for the train. The wig felt MASSIVE. While I have long hair, it’s not insanely thick. I kind of loved the baby pinks and mauves in it, although I felt like it made my hair line very reminiscent of Teresa Guidice. I struggled to get it to sit just right. It also kept getting stuck on my lipgloss. I found new found admiration for you ladies with the thick, flowing locks. In other words, I got the job done ok, but I was a hot mess during the process. I was tired just from getting ready.
I sat down on the nearly empty train and started responding to texts I’d received. Before I knew it, the train had gotten increasingly busy, and seats were scarce. The seat next to me remained empty. A woman walked up, looked down at me, and turned to go look elsewhere. Then I saw a look of resigned “oh, what the hell” cross her face and she asked to sit. I’m not sure what it was about me that made her so hesitant. The pink hair? The leather jacket? The hooker makeup? She sat down looking uncomfortable, and I immediately felt very self conscious. I tweeted what was happening, making light of it, but I felt awkward and shy.
When I arrived at the convention, I was in heaven. Drag queens, average folks, men in leather….all together in one room. I spent the afternoon roaming the floor, just looking at the artistry and the creativity everyone displayed. I know I get inherently shy and awkward around celebrities, so I didn’t stand in lines to meet anyone. I didn’t need to. For me, the joy was in seeing the local folks, or even those starting out, and complimenting them on their looks. One of my favorite local queens I learned of and met last year (Kari Kerning) was in a booth with a queen from the show, so I didn’t get to see her, but I met a delightful queen dressed up with a prosthetic pig nose and ears. We asked to take a picture with her and she couldn’t have been more lovely and gracious. If you see Selma Nilla on the scene, she was fun and kind, and I imagine her shows are probably great. Another queen came through on stilts, which was pretty amazing.
My biggest takeaway from the convention, however, was how “out there” the people who do drag (and many who attended the convention) put themselves. Whereas I felt shy and a bit nervous, these folks were rocking their outfits, rocking their personas, and were ok standing out. When some of these folks came out of the closet, they burst through in a sea of rainbows, glitter and lipstick. In a world that often tells them they are “too much” they strive to be exactly as much as they should be. I loved how bold and bright and happy everyone looked. It was just such a happy vibe there. I think the best part was probably what a judgement free zone it was. It was joyous. If only we all were as uninhibited as some of the folks I saw yesterday, what a world it could be.
My amazing sister in laws I went with and I talked about how we would go next year, and that outfit/wig planning would begin much earlier. I’m nervous, but excited to try to reach a new level of comfort with being fully out there, giving up inhibitions, and just rolling with it.
We could all learn a lot from a drag queen. (And if one could show me the trick to false lashes, I would be eternally grateful).