Drag goes digital

Three Dublin drag artists spoke to The Liberty about the transition from live performances to online shows.

Left to right: Dylan Jordan, Annie Queeries and Dr Count Evil. Photos courtesy of the performers

With the last 12 months hitting most industries hard, the performance industry is one that was hit hardest – including the drag community. 

The Liberty caught up with performers Dylan Jordan, Annie Queeries and Dr Count Evil to talk about their experiences with the scene moving online.  

“I think it’s pushed queens to think on their feet and given them a real opportunity to work on their craft, in a visual sense,” says performer Dylan Jordan, who was performing in city venues two to three times a week prior to Covid-19.

“I’ve seen so many drag artists create amazing work in lockdown, whether it’s virtual shows, homemade music videos, comedy videos or just turning out amazing artistic looks. I think it’s pushed us to take our drag to the next level,” Jordan added.

Has the transition to online helped those who are just starting off in the drag scene?

“It takes off the pressure to feel the need to perform,” Jordan says. “It’s given them the opportunity to just go for it and figure out their look.

“There are some queens who held online competitions so queens could still have a platform to showcase their work, which I think is great!”  

“You can keep us at home, but you won’t stop us from creating or doing what we love.”  

Dylan Jordan. Photo courtesy Dylan Jordan

“I believe the drag community were among the first entertainers to adapt to digital shows,” Annie Queeries says. “I think it is a product of the creativity and resourcefulness that a lot of drag performers possess.

“For some drag artists who are very focused on the visual and the costume aspect of drag, and those who already had an established online presence, it seemed to be an easier transition – as photography, staging and filming were probably already in their wheelhouses.”  

Annie Queeries. Photo courtesy Annie Queeries

With the closure of many popular venues in Dublin such as The George and Haus of W.I.G, new performing platforms have been emerging.

During lockdown, Queeries – alongside fellow queens Viola Gayvis, Lavender and Coco Ri – set up the digital show Disco Utopia, which donates 25% of the money raised towards helping people in Direct Provision.  

Drag artists have been kept deep in the shadows, with little to no coverage on the effect that Covid-19 has had on their community. 

“You can keep us at home, but you won’t stop us from creating or doing what we love,” Jordan says.

“Drag performers are often the ambassadors or spokespeople for the queer community,” Queeries says. “So losing live drag in a way is like the queer community losing its voice. But there is no danger of us being completely silent!”

The 2020 DCU drag race winner, Dr Count Evil, says the transition from stage to screen has been exciting.

“The pre-recorded numbers I’ve seen and done myself have been so much fun and felt so creative! 
I think the limitations of video have brought out the versatility and skills in performers we previously weren’t able to see,” Dr Count Evil says.  

But the move to digital doesn’t come without its problems.

“I know it hurt a lot of queens. Video editing, cameramen, green-screen, sets and lighting aren’t available to everyone. Some of my favourite performers haven’t been able to put out content for this reason,” Dr Count Evil says.

“Virtual live shows are also very tricky. They are less engaging for the public. The quality, the depth and the interaction just aren’t there sadly. While there’s been a lot of good that came out of lockdown content, I know the drag community and I just cannot wait to get back on stage safely!”

A rising generation of ‘bedroom queens’ will face new challenges when live performances return, Dr Count Evil says.

“I’ve seen way more new or small queens – more specifically, bedroom queens – flourishing and putting out more wonderful content over lockdown.

“However, we know that some of them are going to lose a little momentum once performances start out again. Bedroom drag and stage drag each demand a lot of different skills.”

What will Pride 2021 in June be like? No one has a clue.

“it will be a good time,” Jordan insists. “I think the community has great ways of putting on a show and events for people whether it’s in person or online.”

Jordan urged Liberty readers to support local drag artists and venues. 

“Once this is all over, I also recommend anyone who’s never seen a drag show in person to go out and see one. You’ll have the time of your life. They are just fun and filled with electric energy.

“Beyoncé is cute but your local drag artists are just as cute and will give you the best evening ever. ” 

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