Peppermint & Honey Davenport on rhe Influence Of Drag Makeup (Ep. 5) | Black Girl Beauty

Peppermint & Honey Davenport on rhe Influence Of Drag Makeup (Ep. 5) | Black Girl Beauty


– [Gia] Hi, ladies! Thank you so much
for coming today. You all look so beautiful. There’s so much we have
to talk about today. The standards of beauty are
often not for us, or by us. And so now, we’re having
these conversations so we can define
beauty for ourselves. Y’all ready? All right ladies, it’s
time for Black Girl Beauty. (upbeat music) – I love black women so much, I pretend to be one. (upbeat music) – Everyone’s wig
can be snatched. (upbeat music) – Y’all know I can’t live
without a good contour, honey. (upbeat music) How did you all find
your ways into drag? Tell me a little bit
about your journey, your personal journeys. – Well, mine is really
connected to Peppermint. I was just dancing
getting my life in a club, as a 21 year old little gay. – Yes. – And Peppermint came
up to me, and was like “Hey, you wanna
dance backup for me?” And I was just like yeah. She’s like I got a
show at Lincoln Center. I was like what? Absolutely! And that went on a 4 year
span of me traveling the world as Peppermint’s backup dancer. I was like a backup boy for her. And we were going
on a trip to London, and I wanted some extra
coins to spend in London. So I was like maybe I’ll do
a little drag show of my own. And Sahara Davenport and
Deja Davenport helped me put together a big drag show. – And what year was this? When you like decided
to do your own drag? – ’12? – ’12. – 2012. – Yeah, because it’s
been about 11 years. But, I like started doing drag, I started like inching
into mama’s makeup, like on the road,
like we’d be in Berlin and I’d be like she’s
done with this lip gloss. I can put a little bit on. – You what? – Oh, that started
while on the road. I was like, how do you
wash your wigs again? – How do you that? – I was taking notes,
girl, the whole way. – I love it, and so you were kind of able to
follow Peppermint. – Yeah, it was truly life
changing because I already had such a beautiful icon, who’s already had a really
big presence on the scene. And I had the help of
the Davenports as well, so having both of those
combinations just, you know. – Yes, and here you are today. – Here she is today. – And tell me a little bit
about your journey into drag, because you’ve been on
the scene like forever. For what it seems like. – Since at least the year 1908. – Okay, that was a good year. I remember that! I remember that year. – Mine is not really that, all that dissimilar
to Honey’s story. I moved to New York to
become, to be a performer. I went to college and I started
doing drag in high school. Drag really allows, can allow people to tap into
a kind of pent-up energy, that they’ve always
wanted to express with gender, with sexuality,
with race, with anything, with culture, society,
politics, all of them. And then, just like Honey says, “You know, once you
get the drag bug, “you know you are going.” And so I moved to New York, and started working
in the clubs. And 1998 was when
I had my own show, for the first time and then, So that’s 21 years. – Wow, a legend! Just uh huh, uh huh. – The definition of a legend. – Literally! But that is so awesome. And so obviously, your drag
careers have taken you places, Honey and Peppermint, that you probably never
thought would ever happen. Especially in the drag space,
I think the culture has moved. I think, the fact
that there’s a logo, that RuPaul’s Drag Race,
there’s so many places now that we can look to see drag
queens being represented and I think
represented correctly. – The same thing has
happened, I think, to drag culture
that has happened to every other
industry this time. With the music
industry, with the art, with the modeling industry. Once it gets run through
the reality show mill, – Mainstream.
– It’s very mainstream, things you know all of a sudden there’s a certain
economy that happens, that wasn’t always associated. And that can be a
very good thing. When anything becomes
mainstream, it really, people say it gets boiled
down to what some would say the lowest common denominator. So that everyone
can understand it, so that it’s
accessible to everyone. – For me, I wanted to
know what have you guys, have been the biggest
moments for you seeing how reality shows and
mainstream almost took drag to a different level
of, just notoriety. How has it helped and hurt
the community like internally, things that we might
not know about. – úYou know, especially
before I was on “Drag Race”, I used to harbor this
feeling that possibly, us being so
mainstream could hurt, I obviously don’t
feel that way now because my bank
account looks nice. (laughs) Cheers to that! – Okay! (laughs) – But I honestly
think that every time something big and
mainstream comes out, it just filters through to everybody getting
more opportunities. Like when “Drag Race” is on,
that producer who’s thinking of a new commercial is like, “Oh, maybe I should put
drag queens in this.” And all of us get
more opportunities – Most of us. It’s good to, it gives us some, each individual, especially
as queer individuals, the ability to kind of, have some empowerment and
some economical empowerment and use our platform
the way that we want. Because, on the
flip side of that, when I was working for,
I worked in makeup, as a makeup artist, and before that I
worked at a bank because that’s what
they have in Delaware where I’m from is banks. And I worked at a
bank, and they were, I got fired from three banks because I had the same hairstyle
that I’m wearing today. Curly red, ’cause Janet
Jackson “Velvet Rope”. – Yes, that’s what
you’re giving me! – Yes! – Between Janet and Shaka,
I’m getting all of it Honey! – And they were not feeling that with the long
nails and the hair. They were just not feeling it. And I got fired from
place after place. And then, eventually I went to
go work at a makeup company, MAC Cosmetics, and they
were very welcoming. But doing drag and being
able to be this, you know, self-empowered trans
woman who works in drag and is you know, has the
opportunities and platform to speak out on
all types of things that are important to her, it feels really good to do and so I have drag
to thank for that. – And it was truly
inspirational. – Ru is a literal empire. From the makeup to the songs to the shows to the
production companies. Everything that RuPaul
touches is gold, and that’s happened since 1994. When she was the
first VIVA Glam, RuPaul was the first
VIVA Glam drag queen. In 1994, and I
remember seeing her and being inspired
but also feeling like I don’t even look that good,
like this is really annoying. Every time, I watch
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”, I’m like how can, what is that? How can I look like that good? – Nobody looks that good. On episode one of my season,
I came around the runway. And I’m so happy that this
is not on the episode, but I came around the runway and I had this big
old flower in my hair. And I turned around and saw
her and was like (gasps) Like that’s what, that’s how
pretty you are in person? Like it was a gag,
nobody looks that good! – Exactly, exactly. – The same since 1994. – Right, I was gonna say, as someone who’s been in
the space for 20 years now. What was it like to see Ru get the first VIVA
Glam contract in ’94. What did that do for you and the dreams that
you had for yourself? – It was fantastic. You know, I was
actually not sure. In 1994, I was in high school. I saw the campaign,
and I wasn’t even sure. ‘Cause MAC was also kind
of new at that time too. When Supermodel came
out, I didn’t know how Ru, I guess
today’s language, you
would say identified. I just thought this
was some woman. I didn’t know that
it was a queen. I didn’t know who they were. And so then when I saw
Ru on the MAC campaign, I wasn’t even sure if Ru was
like finally having a chance to step up and do
a major campaign or if the campaign
was hitching its start as someone who was so powerful and the way we needed it to go. It was probably a
little bit of both. You know? And then I knew that
Ru was like an empire and a brand and a household name because then there
were more campaigns. There was an eyeglass campaign. There was, I remember
there was a liquor campaign that Ru was in. And I was like good grief! – Ru was so, so
powerful and so great, and that leads us to the
beauty industry, makeup, and the things that drag
queens literally affected for the beauty
industry all together. And so as drag became more
mainstream and more popular we saw bolder eye looks, like the eye look that
Honey is rocking today. – All of that. – Okay, the better brows, the
bigger lashes, the bolder lips and so as someone who
is in it everyday, what are the biggest
things that you’ve seen the beauty industry
change to kinda keep up with everything that drag
queens have been able to bring to the forefront? – It’s been really
cyclical, and again, just like MAC and Ru, it’s hard to know
where things come from, especially the queen of power. Because I, you know,
there’s so many things that were introduced into
drag beauty and makeup that were coming
from my mama’s house. Even seeing like
products put out that are now mass marketed that beauty influencers
are able to use has been really interesting. I used to take a makeup sponge and there was a very specific
texture of makeup sponge that I would use and I would
wet it and I would use it. It would expand so it would
help me with my makeup. Now it’s a beauty blender. But I think the biggest
thing that has kind of stayed its course and
been like after seeing it is the concept of
contouring and highlighting. And it’s just like
you know how much, how that stood the test of time, and it’s obviously
in drag makeup. And it’s gone in and out of
conventional beauty makeup. But it is, it’s here to stay. – I don’t know what I
would do without a contour. – Hello! (laughs) – Do you agree with everything
that Peppermint said? – I definitely see that drag
influences beauty makeup as well as, like I don’t really watch drag makeup
tutorials anymore. I watch like
beautiful black women like stamping their mugs back, and I’m like I wanna
do that to my face. You know and they
wear just as much. (chuckles) – It’s drag makeup. – Yes! It’s drag makeup. We’ve definitely gone
to a place where, instead of you know,
mascara, liner. Even in the ’90s,
I remember watching like Tyra Banks and
all these girls, and they would just
wear a little makeup. It wasn’t too much. Especially even in
like the videos, all the girls had
very natural hair, maybe had one track in the back
to get you a little effect. But it was very chill! And now, the videos of
today, you got a lace front. – Bundles, frontals,
sew-ins, tape. – You’ve seen girls tape? – I’ve seen girls tape. – Through the, on the videos. – On, in beauty, using tape to lift, which is
what queens do. Not everyone, but you know, I’m like well that
is industrial. – Right, that’s real! – And there are
certain sayings that, I think really come
from drag like, “Beat to the gods” and all those different
things like that. But what sayings and things
do you really believe came from drag that
have kind of permeated that you feel like you
all don’t get the credit, drag queens don’t
get the credit. – Being a black
woman and a queen, I, just to kind of go back
to what I said before, there’s so many moments
that were coming through. You know, from like, vernacular with my friends
that I grew up with and my family members
and my aunts were saying, like this finger wag
was something that my, you know, mom and
grandmother be like mm-mm. Like that was like, and the first time I saw
that was like in clubs. First time I saw like that
it wasn’t my mom doing it, was in some club, in
the Tunnel Night Club. And I was like oh the
queens are doing it too! And so that was
really interesting, and then like oh, the
black queens are doing it so if the black
queens are doing it, the white queens
are gonna do it. Now the white queens do it. Now the white
girls are doing it. And it just kind of,
that’s kind of the pathway. So it goes from the black
women to the black queens to the white queens
to the white girls. That’s usually like,
whatever we’re talking about, that’s the pathway. – And somehow, we think that
these things are created by drag queens or even
black drag queens. No, these are just things from black women,
from our families. – I’d say most of them, I mean,
we could go down the line. But I think for the most
part, like a lot of the lingo, a lot of the sayings, a lot
of the, just like attitudes, are coming from black women. – Absolutely, and we
were talking about that. – Not to cut you off,
but I think one thing that’s really important and
there’s always been a separation in this type of conversation, is that black women
or drag queens. We’re not necessarily
within those conversations and that context,
acknowledging that there’s black queer woman who are
connected to the community, and they may have
brought that in, and so there doesn’t always
have to be a disconnect between the queer
community or gay and black. Like those are often
times one and the same. And I think that’s something
that conversationally, people, not necessarily
here but just in general, that’s a trap that
people fall into. Is it the black community or is it the gay
or queer community? Like they’re mutually exclusive. – Absolutely, right. – Well, I do feel like the
queer community occasionally like excludes the
African-American
community a lot. So like, I’m not surprised
that that happens. – Well tell me a
little bit about that. – Well, I mean if you
look at it down to how we’re represented
in our nightclubs and in our advertisements,
like to be gay, the poster child of being gay
is a white boy with muscles. (groans) Like, that’s where all
of this starts from. So like, the queer community
often disassociates itself with the black community, and it’s even harder
to be black and queer because then you don’t even
have the black community to go back to. So, and we’re running around, wondering where these
things came from, and like there’s a whole group
of people who are like us. – One of the things that
end up happening is, that I think that the queer
community dissociates sometimes, but I think historically
the queer community, often reflects the
rest of America. And so the queer community also tokenizes the
black community. And so that’s where
we have this gorgeous, very talented white queen
going like, “No, she didn’t!” And it’s like, girl,
who taught you that? (laughs) – And so like, some people
call that appreciation or other things. And so that’s kinda
where I think these are, where we start to peel that
off, that’s where we start to see some of these
things being taken, but there is a disassociation because you know, you
wanna get like this and get like that. Which is now all of us, but
that’s what you’re doing so you’re tokenizing us. And you also don’t want
to put that fine brother or that fierce black queen on the cover of your
advertisement or
magazine or thing. – I would say it
was appreciation if you were also
appreciating us, if you were using
us to represent that that’s where it came from. If you just take it then
it’s not appreciation. – Exactly, exactly. And that’s the literal theme
that we’ve been talking through all these different episodes and all these different girls. We talk about beauty and
every type of problem within the industry,
the beauty industry, is that the credit is missing. And I think that’s one
of the great equalizers of our experience,
like as black women, as drag queens, as
black queer women, we all understand what it’s like to have something taken from us, and then being like,
girl I made her bonnets. (laughs) I’ve seen a few drag queens
get great beauty deals, but I wanna know do you feel like there’s enough
representation, and I’m sure there’s not. But, where can we
move the needle in getting more drag queens to be represented
correctly in the media? What would you want to
see from beauty brands in order to get
the representation of black drag queens correct? (sighs) – Well, I think it’s
something that’s just not, it’s not only just in
the beauty community, but it’s within all communities. Like we’re not really
marketing things towards people of color. So now that there
are new beauty brands that are being marketed
towards people of color, they need to reach back
and realize that like, hey these people created
beat and snatched and maybe wanna put their
faces on these products, kinda like how we did
with RuPaul in 1994. – Having a queen, even RuPaul,
on the cover of whatever for a makeup, for
a MAC campaign, maybe addressed the kind
of, the boldness and choice and the risk that people
can take with makeup and color choices in
terms of eye shadow and the fierceness to
be kind of, who you are, which is great, but
those moments, even then, even with queens it didn’t
really speak to queerness. It really did tokenize queens in a way that it’s
not so much now. It was just like oh,
that’s a drag queen, great! That’s it. It really didn’t
speak to who they were or what they brought. These days, you know like
there are some queens who have major beauty campaigns, and their personality
is really ingrained into what they are trying
to push and sell. It is interesting that, specifically beauty
campaigns or beauty ads, are reaching towards
only some queens, most of which are
not queens of color. I think it’s unfortunate.
– I would say none. – I did one, but it
wasn’t mainstream. It was a video. And I think that’s definitely
a missed opportunity. – There are so many sides
to this conversation, which is why I love
that we’re trying to at least get to
the tip of the iceberg of what all these
different issues within just one conversation, but I love it so thank you guys for being so honest
and truthful here. I love the relationship
that makeup has, the effect that makeup
has on all of us and just almost
becoming this like, I would say Sasha Fierce
version of ourselves. How has your
relationship helped you grow in loving yourself, even
taking off some of the layers, even after that process,
loving yourself as well. So how has makeup
affected your self-love? – Well, I know, for me
I know when I’m done when I start like
really feeling myself. – You’re like with the music. – I’m in the mirror
like, oh my gosh. I’ll talk to somebody like, “Have you ever noticed, “how much I look like
a woman right now?” (laughing) I think there is estrogen
in this makeup brush. I don’t even know. Like literally, so I mean,
there’s definitely a confidence that like comes with makeup, you know like we’re able as
like professionals in this game, to create whatever kinda
illusion we want to, with some powders and
some creams, you know. Like people who say,
“I don’t wear makeup.” I’m like why? – What’s wrong with you? – Go all natural, no
paint on a natural face. (laughs) – That’s the ticket! – Put on a lot and make it
look like you have on nothing. That’s beautiful, to me. – How ’bout that? That’s awesome. – For me, I mean, it’s
probably pretty similar. I think, my kind of relationship
to makeup has always been, really kind of love-hate,
’cause I, you know, use so much of it and then
now feel like I depend on it. When I was growing up, the queens, I
guess the style of, for everyone was just more
paired down like you said. There wasn’t like this
(slurping) going on. People, no one was
trying to do that, and even the queens
were just trying to look like supermodels. And so I just wanted to
look like a believable woman because that’s who I am. And people will be like,
“Oh are you trans?” And, “When are you
having surgery?” And I was like, well I don’t
have any money for surgery. So see this brush? I’m gonna do what I
can with this brush. And, I had to learn
both nightlife beat, but then also a day-time beat that would make me feel
confident enough as a woman, where I wouldn’t get accused
of being a drag queen, and pushed out of
women’s spaces. But then also, allowed to
hold my own with the queens so that I could
get paid at night. And not told, “Oh,
you’re just a woman. “You don’t belong
with the queens.” And so there was like
a lot going on there. A lot of balancing
and still happens. – And you were always
like super phenomenal with the makeup brush. Like before you had titties, you had to the best
titties in the game. (laughs) Her titties were incredible! Before she had anything she was like I have this
brush, look at these titties. Like what the hell, before
anybody was contouring titties. Peppermint was on it! – Yeah that was the
way I was gonna do it. And so makeup has really helped
me be confident as a queen. And I think makeup can
do, when used with drag, does that for everyone. – Yes it does. – It really allows
you to kind of express what you want, but it also is a kind
of a type of protection. It’s the necessary shield
and protection that you need to go out and do and say
the things that other people don’t have the courage to say
and do as a drag performer. And so then, I brought
that also into my, my womanhood everyday, and so makeup is you know, I don’t go without a highlighter
or a nice little anything. – For me, even if
I’m not in drag I have on like 90,000 creams
and serums and pigmented this. I’m always pretty much in drag. – Really wish we
had like two hours, ’cause I really
wanna unpack so much. But I wanted to thank
Honey and Peppermint for joining us on
Black Girl Beauty. You guys just seen a
beautiful new episode so stay tuned for more of
the VH1 YouTube Channel. And we’ll see y’all later. (upbeat music) Hey guys, it’s Gia Peppers, and thank you for watching
VH1’s Black Girl Beauty. To see more, make
sure you subscribe to VH1’s YouTube Channel so
you never miss another episode.

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