Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few years you’ve noticed that drag shows have exploded in popularity…if you have been living under a rock, what’s rent like? Anyhoo, drag shows are a big part of popular culture, and audiences are flocking. The makeup of the audiences has changed over the years, with more and more straighties getting in on the fun, especially bachelorette and birthday parties. Since the audience has grown so much and so quickly, and since I have personally witnessed some bad behavior at shows, I thought I’d put together a little drag show etiquette for your nerves. So, save this to brush up before your next bachelorette party, birthday party, divorce party, whatevers.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is a drag show, there are tucked (look it up if you need to because I’m not explaining it) men in reinforced pumps lip syncing to Donna Summer; this is not the time to take yourself seriously. We all have a chance of getting a little good-natured ribbing when we go to a drag show, if you can’t handle that roll of the dice stay home.
Do tip and tip well. You simply cannot go to a drag show and not tip. “I don’t have any cash on me” is not a valid excuse, get cash before you go. One to five dollars is perfectly acceptable, although no one is going to refuse a fifty. Just remember a big tip (or at least what seems to you like a big tip) is not a guarantee of extra special attention from the queens.
Don’t ask for change. Only have a $20? That queen is getting a $20. If you ask a drag queen for change mid- performance, God help you because I won’t.
Don’t shove cash into performers clothes…unless they direct you to do so. The correct tipping form is cash in hand, arm extended towards the queen; not in your mouth or stuck to your sweaty body.
Do order drinks, and food if it’s a brunch situation. If the house doesn’t make money, they’re not going to host drag performances; so eat, drink and be merry. This is the time to whoop it up! Order a drink you love, get an extra order of pancakes for the table (my signature move), live a little.
Don’t touch. I can’t believe I even have to say this but here we are. Performing for tips does not equal consent to be touched. Just because you gave a queen a few bucks or you’re a woman and “gay guys love me” (yes, something heard at drag shows and gay bars so please stop saying it straight ladies) doesn’t mean you get to slap their ass or jiggle their breast plate, jeesh.
Do be an active audience member. Performers feed off an audience’s energy; so give them something to eat. Hoot and holler, belly laugh, give snaps and standing ovations. Be the audience you wish you had while you’re singing into your hairbrush.
Don’t forget who the crowd is here to see…and spoiler alert it ain’t you. I think we’ve all been to a show where an especially tipsy bachelorette or birthday girl forgets the night isn’t all about her and it is uncomfy. Stay off the stage unless a performer brings you up, save your standup routine for another day (your friends won’t tell you this, but I will – you’re not funny boo), and if you’re going to sing a long try to keep it at least a hair under screeching.
Do remember, you are in a queer space. First and foremost, a drag show is a queer space. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-time pop-up brunch in the bro-est brewery that ever bro-ed and brewed, a drag show is a queer space. It’s not a place for us straight women (and men) to gawk, leer, mock, assume, or judge. If you can’t be supportive and accepting of queer people, don’t go to a drag show, like ever. Also, if you think you can sit front row yelling “yaaaaassss gawd henny” at a drag show when your everyday living and voting is the exact opposite of supporting queer people; the queens will know, the queens will know. You can play God and you can play checkers, but you can’t play a drag queen!
Do support your local queens. Don’t wait for a Drag Race queen to come to town to go to a drag show. Boston has amazing drag queens working and werking every weekend. Drag is a local business, henny!
📷: @nicole_wolf_photography via Cherry Lemonade’s Instagram –
Heather has been writing for Caught In Southie since pretty much the beginning and for that we apologize. She can often be found on her couch with a log of raw cookie dough. Her biggest fear is being on an episode of Dateline and her wildest dream is being a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Feel free to let her know if there’s something you think she should write about, unless it’s stupid.
As a vintage lesbian, thank you for this. Folx not identifying as LGBTQ2SIA will be welcomed if they respect queer culture and space. This is a good guide as to how to have fun AND be respectful.
What’s a vintage lesbian? I’m a thespian cis gender Caucasian male and I like the guide too!