BEAT. Contour. Snatched. How Drag Queens Shaped the Biggest Makeup Trends | ELLE


– Contour down my nose and I
always do the tip of my nose. – Bake your under-eye area. You are making that bitch bullet-proof. – She is ready, she is beat. – I think if I was
someone without any kind of knowledge of makeup and
I saw Instagram makeup, I would probably be
like, whoa, that’s a lot. (high intensity chase music) – Drag and the beauty industry have always influenced each other. Beauty industry says
natural makeup is in trend, drag says, no, slather
on the pancake makeup. ♪ Miss me ♪ ♪ Don’t you try to dismiss me ♪ ♪ You thought I was history ♪ ♪ But now you gotta deal with me ♪ – They call it, like, selfie makeup. It’s like you’re basically doing drag whether you know it or not. ♪ I’m back with a vengeance ♪ ♪ Got my crew in attendance ♪ ♪ Have I got your attention ♪ ♪ Oh whoa oh oh, oh whoa ♪ – The lip liners and the
contouring and the white dot on the nose, that is
all influenced by drag. I mean, where else would it
come from, you know, clowns? (sexy upbeat music) – Embrace us because if you
don’t, RuPaul’s gonna be the only person that gets credit for an industry that you don’t have a part in. (sexy upbeat music) (slow music) – A lot of times, our ideas about what gender means are very surface. I’m masculine because I just am that way, I just look that way,
that’s what my body is. And what drag, especially
drag makeup, plays with is the actual constructed-ness
of those things. The ability to make
yourself look masculine or make yourself look
feminine draws a question in people’s minds about how real or natural those things
ever are because each and every one of us goes
through decisions and steps and styling ourself every
morning to push ourself in whatever direction we
want to be perceived in. And drag just pushes that
idea so far to an extreme that it makes natural or
essential completely impossible. And I love that. There’s so many options within drag and all of them are over
the top as we all should be. – In drag, there is so many
different types of drag. They all have this common
denominator is that they’re all these underground
kids that weren’t afraid to express themselves in this
world that allowed them to, where all these influences
are impacting the world now. – You see it in fashion,
you see it everywhere. Everyone pulls inspiration from everyone at the end of the day.
– [Man] For sure. We all do but it’s great to
acknowledge where it came from. (inspirational music) – A lot of them attribute
it to Kim Kardashian and the artist that worked
on Kim Kardashian that did the same technique that
were aware of those trends. That’d be really interesting to be like, hey, this has actually been
around for like decades. (electronic music) – Back then, I called the makeup 1992. What do I mean by that? Back then, the queens would
put on a little bit of makeup. Foundation, lipstick, little bit of blush, little bit of highlighter, lashes. – We had to wear makeup to
get into clubs back then and also it was the cheapest
way to be different. So I used to buy red lipstick
and put it around my eye or buy colored pencil and
draw a line across a face. It was all about being
different and doing it cheap. – There was a lot of naivete
about drag makeup back then, just because, you know, it
was unexplored territory for a lot of people that
were just getting into drag so a lot of us who were just starting would rely on store
bought drugstore makeup. – Watching queens over the
years, performing with them, you tend to sneak a look at
when they’re doing their makeup. You notice they do something
that you never done, so you try it on yourself
and see if it works. It might, it might not. – This other queen that I
worked with named Yasmeen, I wanted to get into the drag section. She goes, she’s gonna do half of my face and I’m gonna do the other half. So I had a piece of paper
and I was writing down notes because there was no
instructions back then so I needed to write down a notes to try to help me remember what I needed to do. It was atrocious. Atrocious. I would get a F for effort. – Each drag artist has their
own way of transforming their face and it’s so
interesting to see ’cause it’s so much more than just adding
color to your face as it is. It’s about re-structuring
your face into something new and I love watching other people do it. – When you get into drag,
you’re wearing a mask. I can hide behind that and
become a sort of character and it turns out the character’s just who I am on the inside
but I was scared to be. I’ve always been very shy
but pour some liquor down my throat, put some makeup on
my face and I hit the stage. (laughs) – Some of the drag queens have such a specific style that they’ve pulled from, like it’s their identity, like Divine. Like, seeing that–
– [Man] Divine. – [Woman] amazing exaggerated
makeup years later in The Little Mermaid, how like, she had influenced the character Ursula. – You have your looks, your pretty face. ♪ You say you wanna go where
the lights are flashin’ ♪ ♪ I make it happen ♪ ♪ You say you want a man
that’s always packin’ ♪ ♪ I do damage ♪ – I was there right
smack dab in the middle as drag morphed from
this underground art form into this pop culture phenomena. It was very interesting to
be there because drag all of a sudden took this like major turn over the course of just several years. Drag became very popular
like on daytime TV talk shows and as plot lines in
sitcoms, and they were used in music videos, etc,
and so there was just all this interest in drag collectively. I mean drag has always been a really fun and exciting genre that just really was very marginalized and so when drag did start becoming popular in the 90s, I was the first person to say,
oh yeah, this isn’t a trend, this is here forever, and
then when it did fade, it was like ha-ha, I was wrong. There were kind of a couple
factors for the New York scene. Mayor Giuliani cracked
down hard on the night life and so that killed a lot of the drag scene but at the same time the
media kind of lost interest and there was a whole different era. It wasn’t like you could go
to the internet and say well, if mainstream media
doesn’t want us anymore, we can start our own websites. We were totally dependent
upon the powers that be to sort of declare if
drag was popular or not and so they treated it as a
trend and they lost interest and so the whole drag kind
of phenomena went on hiatus. Even RuPaul, who had become a star, the big star out of that era,
her career went on hiatus and so it wasn’t until really when Ru, again started RuPaul’s Drag Race that drag started picking up again and has become even much more
popular than it was before. – Back in the early days, I
think we were just very happy that we had somebody like RuPaul
that was doing her makeup. We weren’t trying to
look like her back then. We’re like, let she do her, we do us. And then 10 years ago
out of the clear blue, RuPaul came back with a new
face, a new music video, a new attitude and this
new glammed-up look that you just couldn’t
take your eyes off of it and every time she showed
up again on the camera, her face was looking
fiercer than the last time. And we were like, damn. So everybody just started running out and started playing with the makeup. Trying to copy what she
was doing on her face. One of the queens that
literally made a mold for it was a queen from Drag Race called Raven. She came up with this face that every queen now started to copy. All of a sudden it was like
people are watching other queens online doing makeup would
try to like copy some of their style and add it to them and now it’s 10 years in and
we now have a million looks. There’s a million looks that
launched a million ships. – When I moved to New York
in 2007, in most cases women were wearing very small jewelry
pieces, very lightweight makeup and things like
that but now we’ve seen a progression, especially
with social media and these shows that it’s driving women to actually become more
glamorous, to have eleganza. An eleganza extravaganza
so it’s all about pulling out all the stops and
just really increasing the amount of makeup that they wear and the looks that they put together. – I work a day job, retail and I have some of the young ladies
that I work with having, oh, will you show me where
you get your big lashes? Will you show me how to put them on? And they’re at work,
flapping their eyelashes. – Kim Kardashian’s makeup
artist, or at least the woman who was very influential in getting their first look
established for the public, has said that she borrowed contouring or learned about contouring
from the drag world. If you watch some of
those housewife shows, they’ve got more makeup
on than drag queens. – The clients themselves,
they become more aware with all that’s happening right
now with social media and makeup, they become
more aware so the girls they’re actually asking to be beat down. They want to be highlighted,
they want to be contoured so I tend to keep it on a lower scale. They’re in baby drag I’ll say. (laughs) That’s probably the best
way that I can describe it. They want their eyes to
pop but they don’t want their lips to play backseat to anything. They definitely want to
see both eyes popping and lips sizzling which
again is total drag. Usually in makeup, you’ll want
to make one feature pop out whereas drag is no, make it all pop. Make it all pop, sparkle and shine. – Drags are performers. They sweat, they dance, they
earn their money every night and they have to look fierce
and you have to look flawless. Every picture, every angle has to look great for the staged light. – The reason why we would do highlighting and contouring is because when you’re on stage under bright
lights they have a tendency to actually blow out all of the features. So highlights pull things forward and contours push things back. – Drag queens like to do
things bigger, brighter and bolder and the whole idea is to project all the way to the back. – That type of makeup
translates to social media, what people want to look like
is perfection at all times. – They call it selfie makeup–
– [Man] The selfie makeup. – [Woman] because you’re
basically doing drag whether you know it or not. – [Man] Right. – [Man] I don’t think that
the drag community gets the credits that they
deserve for the trends that are happening right now
all over social media and all over the world with makeup. – Regular girls are now
doing the highlighted cheeks. Regular girls are now doing
the extra plumped up lips. Regular girls are now
going out with their faces fully beat for the guards
as Laverne Cox would say and they’re like, where’d
you get that from? You got that from watching. You got that from seeing it
somewhere along the line. – I don’t think that they even know that they get influenced. Maybe it’s in their subconscious,
right, because the drag is so mainstream today that they see some pictures or videos or shows. In fashion people like Peter
Phillips and Pat McGrath and Val Dal who are all inspired by drag. For them it’s much more of an homage and taking their culture
and then elevating them and doing something different. – There’s that expression,
high tide raises all ships. So even though the great
majority of the money probably and the attention is going
to RuPaul Drag Race Queens, there’s a general interest in drag so it’s every place from
your local drag corner bar to television shows that are
getting all this attention. – This is Jo Ryan, your
hostess with the mostest. Las Vegas, it’s Saturday
night, how are we feeling? (cheers) – Drag in Vegas now, I mean,
we have sold-out brunches and we have our new supper club show and it’s so accepting
here and you kind of have to thank RuPaul’s Drag Race for bringing it to the mainstream like that. I mean, when I was growing up you couldn’t walk outside with makeup on. It was very frowned upon
and it was very scary to go to the bar in drag
but now we can paint at home and come here in drag
and it’s just so free. – We went from having
primarily gay community to then expanding out to
this mainstream audience and bringing them in. – RuPaul was the first
ever drag queen to be in a MAC Viva Glam advertisement campaign in the 90s and that was so impactful. That lead to all the musics and TV shows and today it’s global. It’s incredible. (upbeat music) – We are at Drag Con because
we are lovers of drag and– – Lovers of glamor. – And lovers of beauty. Inner beauty and outer beauty. – [Blonde Girl] Yeah. – And we love doing
makeup, like both of us. We love getting dressed up,
we love doing the makeup. This is what we do on the weekends. – It’s really cool to see
that everyone is like, fully highlit and contour
depth so the way they look on the outside matches sometimes how they feel on the inside. – If you’re able to be you,
that inner person’s trying to come out and that’s a form of drag. Like Ru says, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you
gonna love somebody else? – We want people’s jaws to
drop and without drag queens we wouldn’t have known to do that. (upbeat music) – With the rise of You Tube makeup artists and people clearly being
influenced by drag, it is a sign of changing times that there is acceptance in the world. Before, drag was taboo
and now it is acceptable and we’re seeing it in
mainstream so I think it’s a reflection of progress
that society is making. – It is such an exciting time to be a drag performer, a drag queen. They’re getting television slots, commercial slots, makeup tutorials. They are traveling the
world doing solo shows and group shows and making money. When I started there was none of that. You had one option and that
was to perform in a bar. – When I launched the
Nicopanda MAC collection, I did a flash fashion show at Macy’s. I had Aquaria, Naomi Smalls
and the Drag Kid Desmond is amazing and to see them cat walking inside Macy’s was incredible. (upbeat music) – When people say that
drag is more mainstream, what that really means
is that young people in the middle of nowhere
who don’t have access to queer culture get to
see and know and love drag. If I had had that
experience as a little kid in the middle of Illinois, it
would have changed my life. I thought I had invented cross-dressing ’cause I kept it as something secret and almost as a source of shame. And to celebrate on such a big platform that exploring gender, being
variant with your gender is a beautiful, positive,
successful thing. I think that’s a powerful message that every young person needs to hear. – One of my biggest
experiences and highlights of this weekend is all the children. So any of the children that I’ve seen, I’m like, hey can I
grab a picture with you and they come dressed up, they’re in drag, they’re in costumes and like Joey said, the parents are bringing them. Seeing the families come here in support. Gay, straight, bi, it’s amazing. – How do you feel about being here? Is it fun? She’s really excited about
meeting some of the drag queens. – I see young people
really pushing themselves to have authentic and even
queer expression of gender. It’s amazing that that’s
becoming more part of discussions within high
schools, within families at home and I think that drag has
had a huge role in that. In shaping discussions and just
in introducing young people to the ideas of being
non-binary or being trans. Drag has allowed queer people to be normal in mainstream society and that’s really powerful because we are. It may seem over the top and outlandish but it’s normal and healthy
and it’s a good thing. And so, as that gets to
be recognized as beautiful in its own way, I think we’re
gonna see a big increase in people’s safety and happiness. – One of the best parts
about doing drag makeup is the experience that
you have and the bond that you make with the person
who sits in your chair. Whether that’s even you
putting the makeup on yourself. (upbeat music)

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