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Five Drag Queen Tricks Every Cis-Woman Should Know

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

(originally published August 12, 2015 on

At this point, what haven’t straight folks appropriated from drag culture? #LadyGaga… am I right? Since we’re already en route to becoming a homogenous mass of surgically enhanced robots, here are a few more steps to help everyone bedazzle and be beautiful, glitter and be gay. And may I mention before any of you do, no, I am not a drag queen, but I have put in enough time in queer nightlife in NYC to feel inclined to share the wealth. If you take issue with that, please see #4.

5.) Contour!

Life is all about the interplay between lightness and dark, and make up is no goddamn different! If eyeliner is your star, then contouring the spotlight that tells your audience where to look. Contouring uses shading techniques of shadow and light to achieve a structural illusion. When done correctly, it can make your nose look thinner, your eyes look brighter or your cheek bones look Jennifer Garner-er faster than you can say “Sephora fifty percent off sale.” The general idea is to darken anything you want to drop and to lighten anything you want to pop, but you’ll have to spend a lot more time watching YouTube tutorials before you understand the true subtleties of the craft.

4.) Thin skin is for chicken wings. It’s ok to have opinions.

Bitch, please. Drag queens are known for their sassy biting wit. And let it be known that gay kids are bullied at astronomically higher rates than non gay kids.* If people hate you for reasons that are out of your control, why bother trying to be the bitch that everyone likes.

*The National School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN in 2011 reported these statistics on bullying: 82% of LGBT youth had problems during the previous year with bullying about sexual orientation. GLSEN also found that cyber bullying of LGBT youth is three times higher than other student’s experience.

3.) Fake it until you… oh, hell, just keep faking it.

Abs? Cleavage? Sure, you could go to the gym or invest in expensive implants. You could also just contour them on (see #1) and spend the money you saved on alcohol. Want longer hair? Wear a fabulous wig. Wish your dress literally lit up a room? Cover it in Christmas lights and strap a battery pack to your girdle. If you want to be a clown, or a bird, or a butterfly or a cake, just do it. Butt pads. Lip plumper. Eyebrow tattoos. You don’t need a Shia LeBouf video to remind you what you’re missing. (Also, anyone who is a millionaire before the age of twenty should be composted and recycled as organic chicken feed, just to even things out.) Still… he has a point. Just. Do. It.

2.) Gender is always a performance

Whether you are a biological female trying to look big breasted and slender calved or a biological male trying to look like you could fend off a lion with your fists, gender is always a performance. Drag takes it to a new level by intentionally transgressing that which we are conditioned to expect, but all of us are faking it on some level. Is this a bad thing? Hell no. It’s fun. It makes us feel sexy. It makes others want to have sex with us. I only point out that it is a performance to remind us that we are doing it for fun so that maybe we can, I don’t know, have a little more fun with it? Women didn’t come out of the womb loving Loubitons. We were conditioned to believe that wearing heels makes us look pretty. Never be afraid to play with what makes you feel like you. Gender as a binary is soooo last season.

1.) Use a primer before you apply foundation. No, seriously, even on your lips

Even a bargain queen who makes her living running bingo nights at The Stonewall Inn knows the value of investing in a quality primer. It might feel like an extra, unnecessary step, but what it actually does is create a smooth, even palate onto which you can make all your dreams come true. It can also combat sallow undertones or unwanted redness. Especially if you want your look to last all night, think of your face like a second grade spelling class: it’s all about the primer. There are plenty of cheaper options out there, but I swear by Smashbox for those nights when I want to go out all night and in the hopes of getting my box smashed by a beautiful, beautiful stranger. And, yes, I ended this list on a make up tip. #You’reWelcome

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