I know we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and are dealing with all the tragedy and uncertainty that comes with it. For myself, as a nightlife creature since I was eighteen, I’m very scared about the future of my job, my finances, and my accessibility to bar culture again. In spite of that, I can’t help thinking that my art will survive.
This entire time in quarantine, I thought it was going to be really hard to find inspiration, relatability, and energy, and of course during the first few months, it was. But very recently, I’ve been really diving into studying my aesthetics; rethinking who I am in the art world and what I really want to represent with my art and my vision. Based on what I have been seeing of late, I don’t think I’m the only one who has taken this path.
I say this wholeheartedly and with great admiration, I’ve never seen the kind of production values and video work during the online digital drag shows and art pieces our community has presented. This pause in our day to day lives has given a lot of sharp-eyed queens the time to figure out what they really want to say, how they want to say it, when they want to say it, and why they want to say it. That’s a hugely powerful advantage in a world where previously we had to make our art palatable for audiences who may or may not get it. Now, we’re able to exist in whatever world we create for ourselves. It’s definitely a new world and it is our chance as a community to take advantage of as much of it as we can.
Now to answer the question I initially posed, “Has the quarantine saved drag?”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how extreme that question can sound! Some queens may be close to losing their home bars, and that is terrifying. Some queens had to move back to their home state just to survive. Some queens had to find a different job. But while these are all troubling scenarios, I have also have seen the light rising from the end of the tunnel.
Now I am seeing pop-star level production values. I am witnessing pieces of art that are original, beautiful, and carved out so well. That’s a lot of power that some queens have never had before , and I don’t think they’re wanting to go back to where they have to give that power up anymore. So all of this really does beg another question, “Where does drag go next?”. Honestly, for the first time in a long time, I think the answer is “wherever it wants to go”.
I just wish I could count how many green screens have been bought in the last three months, how many cameras, how many lenses. Countless projects are happening and the process of of conceptualizing and creating this art can only be attributed to queer people and queer artists. It just goes to show that the determination of a drag queen is something you just cannot f*ck with!
Our current circumstance presented us a new groove to work within. Sometimes that groove is uncomfortable at first or may even seem unfeasible. Some girls have decided not to be a part of that groove at all, or have gone off and found their own groove that works for them. But the fact is that the virus is still going on and it may be going on for a while. That’s something to really be looked at, especially in this culture.
Now more than ever, many drag queens have become the most self-sufficient we’ve ever been probably in our entire careers, myself included. We have no clue how long this will last, and no idea if digital drag is a trend, or a more permanent fixture in our lives. However, I think this has definitely changed what we know about drag more than anything else in the last several years. A lot of girls have rebranded themselves. A lot of girls hadn’t found their voice really meant until they had to buckle down and figure it out. Things have changed dramatically for a lot of artists, forcing them to change not only the meaning of their art, but also the execution and delivery of it.
This just goes to show you, we never know what’s next, and we never know how long it’s going to last. But I have no doubt our community will keep moving forward and challenging the existing paradigm with our art. Our community has faced challenging times before. I have no doubt we will overcome this challenge and emerge stronger because it yet again.
Editor’s Note: WERRRK.com has tried to support digital drag artists during the quarantine and continues to do so. Please DM us your show information on our Instagram page (link here) and we will gladly share your show on our Instagram stories to help extend your voices.
Dévo Monique moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Brooklyn in 2017. Devo brings her extensive dance training to every performance and is a host with an irreverent sense of humor. Devo campaigns for inclusivity and sexual liberation through her expressive and challenging routines. The club kid in a pageant wig – she regularly performs at beloved venues like The Rosemont, Pieces, and Metropolitan. Follow Dévo Monique on Instagram here and on Facebook here!