Drag Coven is well known as two lovely ladies who record shows, as well as posting stunning photos on their social media platforms. They not only put so much time and effort into documenting drag but are recognizable for their incredibly creative outfits which they make themselves. Both hard working, they are somewhat taken for granted, both juggle life on the road alongside working full-time jobs. So here to dismiss silly rumors, perceptions and to give you an insight of these ladies, we grabbed a fun chat with both Courtney and Jamie. We also hope they end up writing a book about all their adventures as there are some fantastic stories being told… read on to find out!
Dragadventures: How did you both start-up Drag Coven, had you both known each other long and what made you begin this journey? How has drag impacted your lives?
Courtney: I guess I’ll tell the full story cause I’m the chatty one! We’d actually already been friends for a couple years before we started Drag Coven. We met through Lady Gaga concerts and events before we started doing drag. We were both involved in cosplaying Gaga’s looks and we both loved traveling for shows, so we started staying together and traveling to different cities with friends. When Gaga had hip surgery in 2014 and stopped touring for a while, we realized that our favourite hobby had to be put on hold and we were kind of looking for new ways to do the things we loved- seeing live shows, traveling, makeup, making outfits, etc. Around that time, I got bronchitis and had to stay in bed for about three weeks and I got bored, so I started marathoning RuPaul’s Drag Race starting at the beginning of season 6, which was airing at that time. I’d always been told that people couldn’t believe I’d never seen it because it was all the things I loved rolled into one (I was writing a Masters thesis about gender performativity in Lady Gaga music videos at the time), but I’d just finished balancing being a full-time student with two jobs who didn’t have time for TV.
I’d always known what drag queens were (I was a competitive dancer as a kid and no one did that without having done at least one routine to Rupaul’s “Supermodel”) but I grew up on military bases in towns where there wasn’t an open drag scene. I’d attended a few drag shows throughout university, but again, the scene in that city was pretty small at the time too. The moment I’d caught up on season 6, I went back to the very start and marathoned all of the Drag Race episodes that existed to that date and I was immediately obsessed.
Right around that time, Jamie found a flyer that said the Battle of The Seasons Tour, featuring a whole cast of different Ru girls and Michelle Visage, was coming to my city for Pride. She’d watched Drag Race since the very beginning and I’d actually gone to a Courtney Act show with her on a whim a few months before, as well an event that Willam suddenly popped up at a few weeks later and really enjoyed myself, so we decided to go see BOTS together. We were so used to going all out for live shows and recreating costumes worn by the performer that there was no question in our minds that we’d dress up and take photos and videos for our own enjoyment, just like we always had for Gaga. It was just habit and it was what we loved doing, so we figured why not?
Jamie dressed as Bianca and I dressed as Alaska and we looked tragic. The girls were totally into it though; women have always done drag and cosplay since the beginning of time, but there just weren’t very many girls showing up to Ru girl shows in drag or really dressed up in any way at the time, so we were like a novelty. In fact, we had such a good time meeting them that when we realized some of our favourites (Alaska Thunderfuck, Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, and Jinkx Monsoon) were coming to a town right over the border a couple months later, we decided to go to another show together as well. I lived six hours away from Jamie, so I had to take a Greyhound bus to Toronto, hop on a subway to another bus station, get a 45 minute GO bus out to her city, and have her pick me up so we could then drive the three hours over the border to Michigan.
Once again, we showed up dressed in homemade recreations (and once again, Jamie was Bianca and I was Alaska), but this time we decided to do a better job of photos and videos because we had seats. We didn’t really intend to do anything with them, we both just have minor memory issues and we’re very nostalgic. We also brought handmade gifts along with us to give to the girls, just because we liked what they do so much and wanted to show our appreciation and thank them for being awesome. When we showed up to the meet and greet again, all but Adore recognized us from BOTS and they couldn’t believe we’d come all the way from Canada. They seemed to find it really funny that we’d made them things and looked like them and they really liked that we took our photos and videos on real cameras rather than crappy cell phones. They asked us where we were going to put the photos and where they could see our stuff and we didn’t really have an answer for them. They asked if we had some kind of social media page they could follow and we said we didn’t because we had no idea what we were doing, we’d just fallen in love with drag and liked dressing up a lot.
Alaska pulled me aside at one point and said that she loved my drag and I, having no idea at the time that women and AFAB people could even be drag queens, panicked and thought she’d mistaken me for a boy (not that I had any problem being mistaken for a boy, I was just flustered), so I started telling her “Oh, I’m not a drag queen! I’m actually just a girl in a costume”. She looked at me absolutely scandalized, faced me head on, looked me dead in the eyes, and told me very sternly “Don’t you EVER discredit yourself like that again. Women are drag queens. You’re doing drag, and I said I like your drag.” She went on to tell me that she had a feeling she would be seeing us around a lot (understatement of the century) and the next time she saw me, she wanted to hear that I’d started performing. We rejoined the group and Bianca was still asking Jamie about the photos, and she said to us at one point “So what, you’re just my favourite little group of sparkly drag hags then?” Well, a hag is a witch and witches travel in a coven, so I responded that I guess that makes us a drag coven. They thought that was hilarious and said it sounded like a good Instagram handle, so the next morning on the drive home we actually did make an Instagram so the queens could see the photos we took of them. Alaska was our first follower besides ourselves and it kind of just snowballed from there! Basically, it started as a joke that just… hasn’t stopped yet.
Drag has impacted my life in so many ways that I’m not even sure I can put it into words. It has let me build a stronger sense of self and explore my gender and sexuality in a way that’s fun rather than intimidating. It has let me work on my networking and communication skills, meet amazing new people, connect with and even befriend some of my favourite artists, work with people I previously had only admired from afar, and refine my creative skills in things like costuming and makeup. Drag is what opened so many doors for me in things like traveling and once in a lifetime experiences and I’m a much better person for the way that we’ve not only been lucky enough to actively contribute to such an awesome scene, but also for how hard we’ve had to work to get where we are; that makes me appreciate the good things more and we’ve done some really cool sh*t in the process. I can’t even imagine what I’d be doing or what kind of person I’d be if I hadn’t started drag and Drag Coven when we did.
J: Well Courtney gave you a pretty detailed account of the first couple sections, (laughs) I’ll continue on with how drag has personally impacted my life! Drag has really creatively changed the course of where I think my life is going. I did quite well academically in school and my parents kind of expected me to go into a medical profession or something similar – and instead I ended up attending school for makeup artistry in Toronto. I really wanted to continue on with something creative that I loved. Since then, I’ve applied what I learned there to drag as a performer as well as just a creative outlet. I hope to one day be able to transfer skills we’ve learned through doing Drag Coven (makeup/photography/ sewing/ networking) to a real-life sustainable career!
DA: How would you describe each other’s personalities?
C: Jamie is the one who can make literally anything and gets! shit! done! She does a lot of the crafting and organizational stuff while I do a lot of the communicating and people handling, so it’s a balancing act. She doesn’t give a single f*ck about what the average person thinks, she’s more productive than any other person I’ve ever met, and she’s bossy as hell but always in the interest of everyone; you absolutely WILL be getting your ass out of bed when she says so, but it’s because she’s planned an entire dream day at Disneyland. She’s also a good person to have on your side in conflict because she’s nice and easy to get along with right up until you’ve crossed the line of no return- then she’ll basically murder someone for you so long as you stick around to help her hide the body. She also makes and gives the most creative and well thought out gifts in the world (that she usually made herself) but half of them will definitely secretly be inside jokes that read you just a little bit, which makes them even better.
J: I’m laughing so much at that lovely description Courtney gave me – it ain’t wrong. Courtney is.. at the most basic terms I can think of – someone who speaks her mind. We work very well together and can definitely butt heads every once in a while, but we always talk it out and realize that we have the same goals in mind for what we want to accomplish. I know if anyone ever messes with us, Courtney will not stand for it in the moment but also will have already or will be preparing to write a 7000-word essay on social media detailing the event and reading the guilty party to their grave. We’re fiercely defensive of the people we love so if anyone crosses the line, I will be more vocal about it in the moment and hold it in my heart and never forget, but Courtney will have the status written by the time we leave the bar!
DA: You document drag shows via photo and video. This is especially helpful for fans who can’t go to a show themselves. Have photography and videography always been an interest of yours?
C: They have! We actually both had decent cameras before we got into drag. I was interested in those things all my life because moving around so much with the military, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in and visit a lot of different places and meet a lot of awesome people. That’s made me really nostalgic, so I’ve always just taken a lot of photos and videos in a really amateur capacity. It was mostly just with family and friends, but I’ve always been a huge concert addict too and I have hundreds of folders on my computer of pictures and videos from live shows of all different kinds. Now, I keep doing it because I love the idea of being able to promote artists who don’t often get to visit other scenes and get exposure outside their local area, as well as the idea of giving fans who can’t travel because of real-world boundaries (age, finances, family obligations, ability, safety concerns, etc) access to an art form they love and introduction to new artists they might not have seen or discovered otherwise. I also feel very grateful when people think our media is good enough to use for promotions and so on. I like that we can provide people with an insight into this weird phenomenon where a super queer thing is trending so hard. I also get an ironic sense of personal satisfaction out of because I was once kicked out of a university level journalism program for having a writing style that is “too flowery” (they were correct), but now I spend a lot of time in press pits with a media pass around my neck anyways!
J: I’ve always loved doing videography, I used to make ridiculous videos in my living room when I was a teenager and it eventually grew into having a green screen where I would make even more ridiculous content. Once my parents got me a DSLR for Christmas I really tried to dive in and learn about studio photography with what limited resources I was able to obtain to photograph my makeup I was producing. It evolved into taking photos at the drag shows and slowly I got a little bit better at setting and low light photography which is the cornerstone of dark drag club photos without setting that pesky flash off every 5 minutes. One time Adam Lambert kinda told me to not use the flash so much so I have been terrified to use it a lot since (laughs)
Another thing I discovered while documenting drag shows and taking photos and videos is that I, unfortunately, don’t have much of a memory capacity – I’ve always used lists and schedules as a way to be able to remember anything but with the show photography and videos I was actively able to remember not only the shows themselves, but meet and greet photos was a way for me to remember interactions with some of my favourite people and performers! It’s really fun to be able to look back on cool events we’ve gone to and remember fun times maybe even when our regular lives aren’t the best.
DA: What has been the craziest thing that has happened to you both whilst at a show or when working?
C: We’ve had a LOT of crazy things happen to us at shows over the years, both good and bad. In the beginning, it was crazy exciting for us when performers we admired but didn’t know very well yet would shout us out or pull us up and compliment what we do; they’d say they liked our outfits or that they thought it was great that we take photos and videos of the local performers at each show we went to and not just the TV queens. Sometimes performers we hadn’t met yet and who we’d only ever seen on TV would recognize us from the Internet or from what they’d heard from other queens and that would feel really crazy to us as well because we couldn’t believe that the people we admired so much would see what we do as valuable or appreciate how far we traveled to support as many people as we could.
That was still at a time when Drag Race and drag shows weren’t quite as big as they are now, so a lot of the audiences and other fans thought we were extremely weird or creepy for “following the queens around” and dressing like them. People would say mean things and no one wanted to sit with us at shows. We got called stalkers a lot or people would just flat out ask us whether we even had jobs or if our rich daddies just paid for us to go on all these nice trips. So the simplest displays of appreciation from the people we were there to see really did feel like the craziest thing in the world. In more recent years, one of the craziest positive things was probably seeing ourselves on the screens at the finale and crowning events when crowd shots of us being very excited indeed were actually featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race finale episodes! Suddenly our phones were blowing up with texts from the queens that we usually watched on television saying “I just saw on you on my TV screen!” Lots of crazy bad things have happened too; we get touched and pushed around a lot.
People love touching drag queens but many queens are quite intimidating in their height, so they tend of come after us extra hard because we’re a little smaller and look slightly less likely to fight people (even though we’re actually way more likely to kick you in the shins if you touch our faces while we’re working, or ever). We’ve been caught up in physical crowd fights because cis-men decided they deserved the front row spot more than us, no matter how early we came, just because we are girls. We’ve been in more than one mid-show power outage. One time we were at a show where the bar tried to close two hours early after the air conditioning failed, which blew all the speakers, and the patrons were so mad about their party time being cut short that they all sat on the floor in protest even though the bar lights were up and there was no music. We had to sneak Sasha Velour and Shea Coulee out the back door while sweaty, angry, protesting drunk people screamed that they wanted photos but didn’t want to stand up in case staff kicked them out.
Last year at Drag Con NYC, someone sitting near us stole my bag from under my foot during the show when one of the queens bent down to kiss us and then ditched the bag in the lobby but stole my entire wallet with all our money and all my bank cards and ID inside. That was a really crazy situation because the US is another country for us. When we realized what happened, I had my first panic attack and even though I tried to keep it under control, people misunderstood what was happening and spread rumours that we had some kind of fangirl meltdown because no one gave us special treatment. It turned out okay though- some of the Ru girls, like Alaska, Detox, Willam, and Jiggly, turned the online backlash we faced in the misunderstanding into a joke by each making a post claiming that they had been the one who stole my wallet. After that, we encountered so many kind friends and strangers who helped us make sure we could eat throughout the weekend and afford gas for the ride home despite the robbery. Most of our craziest show experiences have been positive and fun, but it’s definitely been a wild ride either way!
J: I’d have to say the wallet situation was one of the craziest for me. It was just such a badly timed situation where we had gotten paid for tickets literally hours before that we had sold, so all of the cash from that was gone for our weekend as well as I had to give my credit card to the person with the tickets so they could enter the concert as it was credit card entry. This meant that I had no form of payment because Courtney’s cards would work and we would be fine… however when her entire livelihood was stolen we were literally stranded at the beginning of New York dragcon with no way to really live or eat for the rest of our time there.
Another one was at my family’s home bar in Columbus, OH- the way the bar is set up, there are 2 sets of stairs facing the stage which I have stood on and done media and watched shows for YEARS. During one of Virginia West’s shows, in our usual spot, some man sitting at a table behind us who was not blocked in any way, decided on his way down to tip one of the performers that he would absolutely lose his mind on us and scream about how we had to get off the stairs. Well. It did not end well for him because I almost blacked out screaming about how wrong he was. Again, my memory isn’t great so I’m sure there’s way more fun things and way more upsetting things that have happened but I can never remember very far back, (laughs)
OH. Not sure if Courtney mentioned this, but one time Sharon Needles literally almost crushed us to death when she crowd surfed at Axis- I had to physically lift her back onto the stage so that Courtney didn’t die a slow death, (laughs)
DA: You both always look incredible and people now instantly recognise Drag Coven. How does it feel that people know who you are?
C: It still feels weird, but in a really fun and appreciated way. We’d experienced something similar before Drag Coven to some small degree because Jamie used to make funny viral videos in the Lady Gaga fanbase and I used to co-run a Gaga related Youtube channel full of silly skits and costumes, so we were very occasionally recognized from those things at concerts. It’s still not something I’m used to though. In fact, I’m actually not even always used to it when performers we’ve met before recognize us either; for so long, in the beginning, the queens would laugh about having trouble recognizing us from show to show because we were most often in drag cosplay, so we looked different every time we saw them and it would take them a moment to realize who they were talking to. That kind of got me into the habit of reintroducing myself to everyone or giving a one second summary of who we are what we do, but now I get a lot of “Duh, I know” so I’m trying to kick the habit. It always makes me feel really nice that people care enough about what we do to even know who we are in the first place!
J: Since we started doing this, a lot of costumed duos have also popped up in the scene because.. well, it’s fun! And sometimes they message us saying that people thought they were us and I think that’s a really fun concept. I think it’s really cool when people recognize us because we’re literally here as fans, so to have people see and know us for just being fans of other people is something pretty cool about fandom.
Someone actually recognized me at my muggle job the other week where I don’t look any kind of special so that was a fun experience! There is a kind of negative side that comes with it though, especially at shows when we do have issues which usually are not caused by things we’ve done – because people are aware of who we are, we are constantly watched or scrutinized in terms of behavior, which is fine, as I don’t believe we ever do anything that would be warranted as bad behavior. If we want to be in the front, we show up early and stand in the front. The problem comes when people exaggerate what they perceive to be happening and write it on the internet where people can comment and we can’t respond.
DA: What’s the most annoying perception people have of you both, that you wish they’d just drop?
C: Oh wow, there are actually quite a number of these. Some of them are based on assumptions made by people who barely know a thing about us. Some of them are based on situations that happened in public that no one observing knew the details of so they got online and told their own flawed versions of the stories instead. There’s definitely one or two stories out there that are negative but legitimate though, and I’ll fully admit that those are probably my fault! Firstly, people still think that we can travel because we come from rich families or because we have sugar daddies. These people don’t seem to understand that we hold multiple real-life jobs each, nor do they seem familiar with the concept of prioritizing and saving. I once literally held nine jobs to finance my ability to do Drag Coven, and I did that for two years. It was miserable, but it was worth it in the end. I can’t pretend that I don’t get annoyed, though, when I work my ass off at nine jobs between trips and then some drunk person says to me “Don’t you have a sugar daddy or something? Must be nice”.
There’s also a perception that we’re very standoffish or antisocial because we don’t necessarily go around greeting strangers around us at shows. People who have never approached us, said hello, or tried to speak to us will tell their friends that we are rude and they don’t like us because we don’t speak to them. That’s another one I’ve never understood. I’ve always kind of kept to myself at shows because again, when we first started out, people thought we were totally weird and did not want to talk to us, so we were largely left to do our thing. It always makes me think… wouldn’t it be worse if I waltzed into a show, announced my presence, and then tried to force myself on a bunch of audience members who don’t necessarily know or care who I am on the assumption that I’m very important? Part of this perception also comes from the fact that we don’t drink, so you won’t really find us partying and running around in bars.
We pick a spot that’s good for media, we stand out of the way, and we wait for the show because that’s why we came. For some reason, people have always taken this as us being judgmental or snobbish, but we really just don’t drink or party, especially because we travel so much that we’d probably be dead if we tried to keep a schedule like ours with hangovers. We’re often also totally exhausted from trying to make it to so many shows in a row, so we’re quite calm. I promise we’re actually quite friendly if you come and say hello!
A couple times, there have definitely been scenarios where someone has gotten a bad impression because one of us did get snappy with them. There have been countless times where someone has rushed up to us in a drunken haze and said something really stupid or rude. Sometimes people feel that because they’ve read something about us on the Internet, they know us inside and out and can treat us, however, they please. We’ve been grabbed or pushed, either in enthusiasm or because the person heard we’re terrible and doesn’t think we deserve the view we’ve got, so they want to get us out of the way. This is something I struggle with in particular; I do not deal with stranger touch well and I also don’t like it when people get aggressive with my friends. The moment someone gets physical with me or aggressive with Jamie, I absolutely do become that scary, mean girl you read about on the Internet, but it’s only ever happened for good reason. If you’re going to pull my hair, push me out of the way, pour your drinks on me, or touch me in any way that I didn’t consent to, I have an acid tongue and I’ve made people cry before.
We’re in bars; we’re all adults and people should know how to conduct themselves better in public. I know that people come to bars and drag shows to drink and have fun, but unnecessary touching and aggressive physical contact are my steadfast limit and I will never budge on that. Small conflicts like that have lead to a lot of online threads about us because that angry drunk person will wake up in the morning, not remember how obnoxiously aggressive or rude they were, an recall to their friends only that “Drag Coven were really mean to me”. Yes, I probably was very mean to you indeed, but that’s what you get when you lay your hands on people. Don’t do that.
The final assumption is probably that we are entitled, that we get too much/think we deserve special treatment, or that we think we’re better than everyone else. This always comes from people who a) don’t know us at all and have never spoken to us, or b) don’t have a clue what we really do or how much work goes into it. People often think that we walk up to bars and expect to be let into shows and meet and greets for free just because we exist. They don’t see the years of networking, all the times we’ve given that bar or promoter free media that they’ve used in promotions (where they would have had to pay someone otherwise), all the drag costumes we’ve fixed or errands we’ve run for that performer, or how many years in a row we’ve filmed and photographed that 9 hour drag festival in full. We do ALL of it unpaid. Now, we are often compensated in other ways, which is why you might see us wearing passes or standing somewhere particular, but we are only paid very occasionally and we are still entirely self-financed.
If I’m being fully honest, though, I don’t really mind what people think of us in the end. Strangers are welcome to have these perceptions or talk about us because the people we care about most know otherwise. Many strangers who thought these things about us originally and then met us in real life actually changed their minds and became friends of ours or defended us later, so I’m not picky about how people see us or what they have to say… so long as they don’t touch me!!!!!
J: What Courtney said!!! The most annoying one for me is when people think that we have rich families. I definitely don’t, I wish that I did – but actually, when we aren’t traveling I work as many shifts as possible at my job. I’m actually typing this right now at work on my break during my first shift before I come back later for my second. I work as much as possible to save up for these trips so to see it reduced to just being paid for, it kinda makes me feel like the work I do isn’t valid.
C: Aw, thanks! It actually depends on the outfit. I used to make everything I wore. I’m not amazing at sewing, so a lot of it was done by embellishing pre-made pieces, putting things together from thrift shops and whatever was in my closet, and crafting stuff from random materials. I can sew a little bit now, so I’ve made a few dresses and bodysuits, but I’ve actually had some really unfortunate housing issues over the last two years that sort of sucked up my ability to be as DIY about my drag as I’d like. If I wanted to keep traveling, every moment between trips had to be spent working, and I also didn’t always have access to my belongings. That was around the time that Jamie decided she wanted to learn how to sew, though, so I was very lucky because she was willing to make things for me so that we could match at events or so that I wouldn’t have to go to shows out of drag when I couldn’t access any of my outfits or supplies. It gave her a little bit of practice on measurements for someone else’s body and it saved my ass so many times I can’t even count.
All our Drag Con outfits for the last few years were all made by Jamie! I’m very lucky to have had her while I was going through all that (and now while I’m digging my way out of the aftermath), or I’d have been at those shows in a full drag face and my old yoga pants. I did once make an entire dress out of hot glue though. That was really fun!
J: It definitely has been a progression for me – I used to make costumes to go Lady Gaga’s shows & that was very early on, I used to hot glue things to other things and that was about it. I always had a sewing machine but was super afraid to use it and possibly mess up any fabric I bought.
I slowly started to delve into sewing a bit more and with the help of friends in the industry, I slowly learned how to accomplish basic sewing techniques. From there I literally just watched videos on YouTube and experimented, mostly with myself and my own body, but once I learned how to do basic patterns, I started being able to make things for people even when they weren’t there through measurements, which was super helpful for when Courtney wasn’t at my house because we don’t live in the same city!
Some of the more complicated outfits, like my favourite thing I’ve ever made, a recreation of Sasha Velour’s finale lipsync outfit (the white one) – it was the first time I’d used MANY of the things used to make the dress so I was absolutely terrified that I would mess it up or it wouldn’t fit and with the money I spent on supplies it would’ve been a very sad moment in my life. But by some miracle and a lot of time, I was able to pull it off and I think it looked pretty decent and I was super proud of it! I wore it to the Nightgowns show in NYC during Dragcon & the actual designer of Sasha’s original outfit (Diego Montoya) actually came up to me at the show and complimented it so that was a neat moment!
DA: Out of all the drag queens you’ve worked with who has been the most kindest and helpful to you both?
C: Ouuuu, this is a really hard question! We’re incredibly lucky to have met and worked with so many people and I’m very grateful for the friends we’ve made through that. It’s not so much that they’re well-known or fancy that makes me appreciate it, but rather that full-time drag queens are damn hard workers with a lot of obligations and a lot of people demanding their time and attention, so it’s always really lovely when someone takes time to help us with something or spend the day with us. I always list Alaska Thunderfuck first because she is literally the first person who ever introduced me to women in drag or pushed me towards doing drag myself. She’s been a very helpful and fantastic friend to us for many years now, and through a lot of bullshit! She has defended us against fans, promoters, and queens who came for us too hard and encouraged us in situations where we felt really devalued. She has given me hand-me-downs.
At Drag Con this year, we were carrying so much stuff by the end of the weekend that we didn’t know how we’d get into the after shows that night, so Alaska and her crew took it home for us to make sure we wouldn’t lose anything. Sasha Velour is also an absolute angel who has been wildly kind, caring, and supportive. Her and her crew treat us like family and I am very grateful to know them and lucky to have them.
One time, when I didn’t have any outfits because of the housing issues I mentioned earlier, Sasha picked up on how sad that made me, so she asked if I was okay. I explained the issue and said that I felt like my drag was really suffering, so she took me into her closet and let me try things on until we’d picked out three beautiful pieces that she’d worn on the Drag Race runway, while Johnny accessorized me perfectly.
I feel like I could gush about almost everyone we know for hours; Jiggly Caliente checks in on us to make sure we’re alive, scolds us if we’re being bratty, and generally acts like our reluctant but loving big sister. Ask her the story of the time she saved our lives sometime! Ivy Winters and her husband take us in on their farm for cooking and crafting days when we need a break from the craziness. Willam has our back at all times and lets us stumble exhausted and covered in glitter into his studio whenever we need a place to go in LA (we have also done a good job of helping each other be more self-reflexive and keeping each other in check over the years; he was the first queen ever to call us out on something we did and argue with us a little, and I honestly think that’s why we’re friends now).
Courtney Act is like a cool cousin who gives us genuinely productive feedback on our work and pops us to make sure we’re not feeling down ourselves when we face backlash. Detox has literally given us beds to stay in before so we wouldn’t freeze sleeping god knows where because we’re poor. Ginger Minj always makes sure we have a place to go and have been fed. Peppermint once physically shielded us from a guy who was trying to harass us in the street and got him away from us. Bob the Drag Queen played a huge roll in making sure I got a new computer so that I wouldn’t lose my jobs when our car got broken into and my laptop was stolen. I could literally write you a novel (and I fully intend to someday).
It’s not just the queens, either; it’s also their friends, family, and assistants. Some of my favourite people in the world are those we’ve met because they work and travel with drag queens who are kind and helpful to us. It’s like getting bonus friends! There are countless notable drag queens who haven’t been on TV as well who have helped us immensely and are responsible for some of our coolest trips. Drag performers know a struggle when they see one and we are in a state of struggle perpetually, so we are very lucky to have been helped, supported, encouraged, and occasionally saved by the people whose work inspired us to start all this.
J: There are so many amazing and kind people who we are fortunate enough to work for and with- but if I had to list one it would be Sasha Velour. From the very moment we met her, before even the madness of the show, she knelt down in the back of a bar and tied Courtney’s shoe up because her nails were too long and she couldn’t. The level of kindness and support she has shown us over the couple of years we’ve known her is unmatched – not to mention we love her and her whole team as people. So getting to just hang out or be with our friends is a beautiful bonus to this crazy thing we do!
– Exedrin (because I get migraines).
– At least one really good external battery because your phone will die right when you really need it.
– Backup ID and cash in case you get robbed (we learned that one the hard way).
– Snacks (because we love food almost as much as we love drag. Maybe more).
– A good road trip playlist (even though our playlist right now mostly just consists of Blair St Clair’s Call My Life album because it’s great and we’re obsessed).
– Blankets (because life is weird and you never know where you’ll end up sleeping, even if you had a good plan in place).
– Nail glue (I can’t even tell you how often people need it, or for how many weird, unexpected purposes).
– Gum (I buy it in bulk packs because drag queens always steal it).
– A pen and paper (we have some of our best ideas in the car on long drives).
– A working GPS (because construction is a jerk and you will get lost, even with it).
Here are just some (not all; there are so many, I feel like I could write you an encyclopedia) non-TV queens you absolutely need to look up in order to live a drastically improved life (in no particular order):
– Vigor Mortis from NYC
Okay, you know what, I have to stop because I could LITERALLY go on forever and I know I’ll just sit here and write you an entire roster of names for fear of leaving anyone out; just go click on “following” on Drag Coven and peruse our entire list. I could never even come close to listing all the amazing people we’ve met along the way.
There’s so many performers to recommend, and also so many more we haven’t been able to see yet. But I would like to touch on the West’s in Columbus. If you follow my personal account or you have me on… really any other social media, you will be very aware of how my favourite place in the world is Columbus. We started going there initially because they had some of our favourite people from the show – and when we finally went back for a third time, we saw the West’s do one of their production numbers and I instantly fell in love with the scene, but really connected with Nina West, one of the main players in the drag scene there. Over the course of the past few years, she has become my drag mother and an amazing beautiful friend. She along with many performers in Columbus are some of the most talented people I’ve ever seen perform the art of drag.
The production shows they put on there rival many mainstage shows I’ve seen around the country. I would never think I would be able to have a second family in the middle of Ohio of all places, but here we are 3 years later and if it was easier for me to move there- I would be there in a heartbeat. The passion they have for their work is amazing and I respect and admire it so much. If you have the means to travel and see any one of their shows, do it- they have month-long runs of each show roughly every 2 months and Ninas Halloween show- “Heels of Horror” is a different production every year filled with amazing performances that I maintain is still the best drag show I’ve ever attended.
DA: The UK finally get to have you over this summer at Dragworld UK, how excited are you both to attend and have either of you been to the UK before?
C: I am so excited I can barely contain myself!!!!!! I actually used to live in the UK as a kid; we moved to a military base in Coningsby on my ninth birthday and almost immediately upon arriving, my dad was told the base was shutting down, so we were only there ten months before they sent us to a different base in Leuchars in Scotland. We lived there until shortly after I turned 12. I can’t wait to eat my weight in Jaffa Cakes because they’re my favourite and none of the other versions from other countries (yes, I’ve have tried them all) taste as good.
We’ve actually been fortunate enough to meet quite a number of drag performers, fans, promoters, DJs and so on from the UK drag scene in places like NYC and LA before, thanks to Drag Con and events like Bushwig and Nightgowns, so we are really excited to get to see some of those friends again while we’re meeting new people. We’re also excited to see new cities and try new food. Have I mentioned that we really love food…?
J: I am so excited and absolutely terrified. I’ve been around the United States quite a bit and travelled just minimally in my own country in Canada, but I’ve never had to opportunity to go anywhere else including overseas so I am super excited for the unknown! England etc seems manageable enough but it’s going to be an experience to be in places where not everyone speaks English as their first language! Also, we are going to Disneyland Paris and I am so excited I could scream.
DA: The both of you are well known in the drag scene, what would your future goals be within Drag Coven?
C: Honestly, we are kind of still winging it. There are plenty of things we’d absolutely love to do with it and plenty of directions we’d like to take it in, but we’re also still completely self-financed and not really making a profit, so we have to kind of take things as they come and work with what we’ve got. We’ve also been pretty hindered by my apartment issues over the last year because it made me suffer massive loss of income, so some of the extra things we wanted to achieve this year had to be put on hold if we wanted to afford the things we love doing most, like going to LA for Drag Con or affording Drag World UK.
Ideally, we’d love to do better at vlogging, establish an actual web series we’ve had in mind for a while now, start the podcast people have asked for, and become more involved with helping to organize events, or maybe even putting on some of our own. I’d like to get back into performing more now that the bad apartment isn’t killing my health, but documenting drag is definitely still the priority for me over that. I love performing and I see value in us doing it, but I also think that documenting this crazy surge in drag’s popularity is the best way for us to play a role in the scene.
Down the road, though, I could see us picking a particular city and sort of setting up shop there. Perhaps we could produce events, start or manage a venue, maybe even manage some performers or run a competition of our own. I love to think about stuff like that and all the possibilities, I just know that right now the priority is balancing what we do with work so that we can keep the documenting and traveling up without driving ourselves into the ground and ending up penniless and destitute!
J: I would love to make this into something much like a career where I earn a living doing something I love! I have no idea how or when that will happen but I’m happy to work towards it as a goal!
DA: In your ‘non-drag’ lives so to speak, what do you do day to day?
C: When I’m not on Drag Coven trips, I’m working to finance Drag Coven trips! I still have two of my previous nine jobs and they’re both based in freelance writing from home, so I spend a lot of time writing (mostly about crafts and DIY projects). I also recently moved in with my grandparents outside Toronto to recover in a few ways from the bad housing scenario, so I help them out with a lot of things and spend a lot of time with them. It’s a really nice, calm contrast to the chaos of our lives in drag. When I’m not writing, I love to read and knit.
Honestly, though, a lot of time off from drag trips really is spent prepping for the next drag trip. We’re always crafting or plotting looks and trips or trying (and often failing) to style hair. We always have media to catch up on and emails to send or respond to. At this point, all our friends are drag fans or performers, so basically anything that’s not my day job or family is drag related in some capacity and I am totally okay with that!
J: Literally all of my time when we aren’t on trips is spent either preparing for future trips ( sewing/ makeup charts/ planning) or working to pay for those trips. I’m always trying to learn new skills in my off time but it’s difficult to balance when I have events the next week that we need costumes for!