Los Angeles, CA (Variety) — As COVID-19 forced cities into lockdown, nightlife shut down almost overnight, taking countless gigs and jobs with it. With no ability to stage shows, draw crowds, or even just dance it out with their friends and chosen family, drag performers have had to turn to digital platforms to keep themselves afloat, both financially and creatively. BenDeLaCreme, formerly of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars,” postponed her summer tour and banded together with other queens to create a “Queer Quarantine” radio show. New York City artist Untitled Queen embraced the new possibilities of pre-recorded video performances, particularly in terms of being able to caption everything for deaf and hard of hearing audiences who rarely get to fully enjoy drag shows. And Biqtch Puddin, the season 2 winner of “Dragula,” has hosted a digital drag show on Twitch every Friday, attracting some 40,000 live viewers with dozens of acts from around the world.
Variety recently spoke with these artists and more about navigating this new normal, the challenges and advantages of virtual performances, and how they’re looking to the future, whatever that may look like.
At the beginning of quarantine, drag performers had to quickly adjust to the whiplash of nightlife … — Caroline Framke/@Variety