I work in the nightlife. I can say this with confidence because I had the opportunity to vote for the 2018 Philly Drag Awards and ONLY people who work in the nightlife are allowed to vote. (Kinda like if Google says chocolate is healthy because it’s made from a bean than it definitely is.)
I am a costumer to Drag Queens and Burlesque dancers. You may have a few questions. Or maybe not, I’m just guessing. Like how does a 38 year old soccer mom make the jump from full time stay at home Mom to having a side gig costuming queens?
Let me take you back to 2017. One of my friends had suggested that I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. I halfheartedly watched an episode, and it was good, but it ended there.
I am over ten years older than my friend. As adults that age gap is there but less noticeable then if we were say, 10 and 20. When I’m hanging out with her, and any of her friends, I do my best to blend in but I end up accidentally asking “Mom questions”.
Where are you from?
What do you do?
Where do you go to school?
Are you hungry? (I’m a Jewish Mom so I have to make sure you’re fed.)
So one of her friends, we will call him Onyx, mentioned that he was a Drag Queen. I was a theatre major so anyone who pursues performance art piques my interest!
When referring to Drag Queens the pronoun “she” is typically used. Since I met Onyx as a boy I may use “he” because I’m a creature of habit. In general it’s best not to assume preferred pronouns. GLAAD’s tipsheet suggests that you offer your own pronouns first. “I use ‘he’/’him’ pronouns. What about you?”
The story about how I started costuming depends on who you ask. According to my son, in a book he created last year, I “asked Drag Queens if I could make costumes for them and they said yes.” My version is not quite the same.
Onyx was in a weekly Drag competition and had to make costumes, perform, and do lots of stuff I’m sure I’m missing. As a crafty lady I decided I’d see if he wanted any artsy costume help. He said yes! [My son was correct there…] He brought me some pasties he was making that needed to be rhinestoned. He showed me what he wanted and kept checking in to make sure they were coming out okay. Turns out my OCD came in handy for once! (Yes, actual OCD, I’m a former compulsive hand washer along with other issues but we can discuss that another time.)
It’s safe to say I was OBSESSED. According to my friends people can get paid to do that. I said sign me up. We worked on Onyx’s finale costume for the competition which was our first major collaboration. It was my first born costume. I sent that thing back to Philly buckled in a seatbelt with instructions to let me know it was home safely. I had nightmares it fell off during the show. You know, the usual stress of a first born costume…
Onyx and me, along with the moral support of the friend who introduced us, are an unstoppable crafting team. Motivated by our success, and the desire to make more, I learned to sew. Now I have a costuming side job and it has opened doors to experiences I never imagined.
I love drag performances because, not only can I support my friends, I can also let go of the stress of regular life and immerse myself into the world of suspended belief. It has been a year of tremendous personal growth and risk taking. I’m incredibly thankful for the people I have met for helping me, a 38 year old soccer mom, feel accepted and a part of something bigger.
Also it’s really fun to watch people’s faces when I tell them my new career path.
You can follow my costuming adventures here!
You can see more of Onyx here!