The fabulous and fierce looks on RuPaul’s Drag Race don’t come cheap (or easy) as queens have to pay a pretty penny to look that amazing. From the costumes and wigs to the makeup and shoes. Aesthetics alone are costly.
But beyond the exterior, queens also need to procure a brand, learn complex dance moves and develop a presence for the camera. That may (or may not) require hiring a coach or taking classes. “Drag is expensive,” Miss Fame, an internationally known drag queen told Mic. “It is more than an expensive hobby. It is a lifestyle. You choose what you want to spend thousands on, and then you spend thousands on it.”
When it all adds up, preparing to be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race can be pretty expensive. Indeed costs can be as high as $10,000 a year, Vice reports. Here’s what you need to know.
You can pay thousands for wigs
Queens craft a number of looks, all which may require a different wig. RuPaul contestant, Alyssa Edwards says she owns, ” well over 100 wigs, but I’m addicted to hair,” Mic reports. “It’s nothing for me to have a bad day and then to order a wig. That’s like therapy for me. When all else fails, I’m like, ‘Girl get a wig. Just get a new wig.'”
When it gets down to it, you can spend $450 for a custom wig that is fitted to your head. According to Mic’s calculations, Edwards likely spends in excess of $45,000 — in wigs alone.
Don’t forget about makeup
A huge part of the craft is using makeup to transform the face. RuPaul’s Drag Race often gives fans a sneak peek into how these artists create their look from a pallet of high-end cosmetics. Comedy queen Gina Tonic broke down her makeup expenses for Vice. This includes makeup from professional brands like Dermablend, Sugarpill, Tarte, and Urban Decay. Which can run $30 worth for foundation and $50 for a contour palette.
“Between the eyeshadow palettes, the lips, foundation, lashes, blush, translucent powder and highlight, I’d say I’m putting on a $1,000 face,” Miss Fame told Mic. “A $1,000 face seems right for an event of appearance. The cheapest thing that’s going on my face is Elmer’s glue that’s blocking my brows.”
And then there are the costumes
Queens can easily drop $200 or more for a custom outfit, Tonic told Vice. Plus $75 for jewelry to boot. However Tonic may be low balling that price (so to speak) because Miss Fame told Mic gowns can be far more expensive. “A personal gown would be $1,000 to $3,000,” she said. “Drag queens have to be like brides every time they want to be creative.”
Creativity also means knowing how to sew. Bob Taylor, social media team member for LRI Talent and Management told The Cheat Sheet sewing is a mandatory skill for anyone who wants to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Sewing is one of the most important aspects to getting on the show,” he said. The contestants are constantly having to create new costumes and looks so tacking and gluing fabric won’t cut it. Finally, don’t forget the all-important tuck and body contouring necessities, which can cost from $30 to $120, Tonice told Vice.
Is the expense worth it?
If you score a deal on RuPaul’s Drag Race the return on investment may certainly pay off. While contestants earn a respectable $400 a day for being on the show, the big pay off comes later. Drag Race winners receive $100,000 but the fame follows contestants. Which really pays off.
“When touring, recording, merchandise and endorsements are factored in, top queens are earning in the low to mid-six figures annually,” Jacob Slane, Partner and Associate Manager at Producer Entertainment Group (PEG) told Billboard. “Some even higher. Having an experienced team behind them to cultivate the best deals makes a big difference, obviously.”
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