Earlier than he turned a family title, Justin Andrew Honard labored each odd job underneath the solar. “I waited tables. I offered clothes in a boutique. I labored at an grownup e book retailer. It by no means actually lasted or labored out.” Now, he’s an internationally touring performer with a fourth studio album, Crimson 4 Filth; his e book, My Title’s Yours. What’s Alaska?; and a musical, Drag the Musical, all out there now. What modified Honard’s life? RuPaul’s Drag Race, after all. “I'm merely a bumblebee in RuPaul’s beehive,” he tells me, Zooming in from his residence in Los Angeles.
Honard, higher generally known as his drag persona Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, has a Cinderella story that’s not distinctive among the many now a whole lot of drag queens who've cycled by way of the various iterations of Drag Race, the Emmy-winning, groundbreaking, worldwide reality-competition sequence hosted by RuPaul Charles. Since showing on the present, drag performers like Peppermint, Katya, and Trixie Mattel have gone on to extremely profitable—and profitable—careers, launching make-up traces, promoting albums, starring in function movies, and promoting out arenas on the power of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and expertise, alone. Whereas RuPaul might reign supreme because the drag famous person of the world, it’s turn out to be more and more clear that you simply don’t should be the queen bee to make a pleasant little honeypot of your personal on this planet of drag.
Quite a lot of that's because of Producer Leisure Group, a expertise and administration agency that represents the world’s high drag queen artists, LGBTQ+ expertise, and influencers—together with all of the aforementioned queens. Like many queer origin tales, PEG begins with a humorous woman.
“Again in 2010, I used to be a expertise booker and producer for occasions. I used to be doing a present for Kathy Griffin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I wanted to e book a gap act,” cofounder David Charpentier tells me over Zoom. “And I assumed it’d be actually cool to have a drag queen. So I went on-line, did a bunch of analysis and located a queen named Mimi Imfurst and emailed her.” The remainder, as they are saying, is herstory. “We went from [David] doing this, like, in his kitchen to now having two workplace buildings and 30-ish full-time workers, and possibly one other 10 or 15 freelance part-timers that come and assist us,” says cofounder Jacob Slane.
Pre–PEG, Slane was an keen assistant in VH1 and Emblem’s publicity division. “There’s this new present with the drag queen RuPaul from the ’90s. And it’s actually bizarre, however we want somebody to work on it,” Slane remembers his former boss telling him. “So go forward.” He ended up engaged on the sequence for seven seasons earlier than leaving to assist Charpentier construct PEG, and provides the queens he’d grown to know and love an off-ramp into the world of leisure after the present. Huge because the present’s platform is, he says, “It’s about what you do after that. What’s your five-year plan? Your 10-year plan? The exhausting work actually begins after you're on the present.”
Main as much as Drag Race, Christopher Caldwell—a.ok.a. Bob the Drag Queen—was doing simply advantageous on her personal, thanks very a lot. “I used to be form of the toast of the city,” she tells me over Zoom. In a typical week, she would work round eight exhibits over the course of 5 nights. “I’ve labored at nearly each homosexual bar there's in New York Metropolis. A number of the bars don’t even exist anymore.” She thinks for a bit. “Most likely really a number of of them.”
Kevin Bertin, a.ok.a. Monét X Change, can relate. “Earlier than Drag Race, I used to be working six nights every week. Friday was my solely break day.” Monét calls her pre–Drag Race schedule “utterly loopy”: “I needed to be on the bars by 11, which implies I would like to go away my home by ten o’clock. So I began getting in drag at eight o’clock, after which I'd work till 5 o’clock within the morning, and get house, sleep till two o’clock within the afternoon,” she recollects. “It was that cycle each single day. After which you must go all the way down to the garment district to get material—it was loopy.”
That onerous work was paying off, to some extent, for each queens. “I used to be making fairly first rate cash earlier than Drag Race, particularly for an area queen,” Bob says. “I wasn’t raking in tens of millions or something, however I made sufficient cash to dwell on my own on the Higher West Aspect.” Each Bob and Monét recall making about $150 per gig—excluding ideas. “If I labored actually exhausting for ideas, I may make anyplace between $100 and $300 in ideas for the present,” says Bob. “On an excellent evening, I’d make 500 bucks for turning the occasion, for doing my drag.”
Drag Race modified all of that. Bob remembers not understanding what can be subsequent after successful season 8: “It wasn’t fairly like it's now, the place the ladies come house with this two-year plan,” she says. “I used to be simply making an attempt to get again to working my gigs.” After assembly with Charpentier and requesting that he come to a Bob the Drag Queen Present to “actually see what my factor is,” Bob ended up signing with PEG administration. Now Bob hosts the official Drag Race recap sequence, The Pit Cease, cohosts the podcast Sibling Rivalry with Monét X Change, and is presently taking pictures the third season of her Emmy-nominated HBO sequence, We’re Right here, with fellow Drag Race alums Eureka and Shangela.
After she received Miss Congeniality on season 10 of Drag Race, Monét initially signed with Neverland Leisure earlier than switching over to PEG. “In in search of different administration, Alaska, Bob, Trixie, they have been all with PEG,” Monét says. “And so I am going, ‘You recognize what? These women have among the careers that I'd need for myself.’” Now, with a well-liked on-line speak present referred to as The X Change Charge; a podcast, Sibling Rivalry, with Bob; and presently competing on season 7 of Drag Race: All Stars, Monét has the form of put up–Drag Race profession she dreamed of.
Charpentier and Slane used to signal a number of of the “high” queens after every season of Drag Race. Lately, nonetheless, they’ve begun to “rethink” that technique. “We don’t actually signal anybody who’s model new on the present anymore,” he says.