I pondered whether to have “drag” in inverted commas in the title of this post, or whether to include it at all given that many of the gents included below are often very far removed form the old drag queen aesthetic, and are pushing totally new ground with their makeup style. They use a variety of terms to describe themselves, from transgressive to gender-bending and straight up fabulous. Really to me they are just the male of the species, embodying a glamour and fabulosity that frankly surpasses what it is to look like a woman. We f*cking wish we looked this good.
Whatever you take from these gorgeous creatures, a technique if you like your face full on, a use of colour or just the inspiration to be bold, I’m not exactly recommending this as a look for the girl on the street (although if that’s your thing more power to you), and I can’t pretend this is my own style of makeup, but can I appreciate it? Hell yes. Drag makeup is of course a characature, but I can definately admire a great eye and flawless technique when I see one.
I’m quite the creeper when it comes to Instagram, and it’s the truly talented, often off the wall, unique artists that get me the most excited when I stumble across them. For all the over-saturation of dubious “makeup artist” accounts, there are also a tonne of folk who create really mindblowing work, and I include these guys as one slightly more extreme sub-section of those who do that for me. This isn’t a list of the most most well known or the most succesful drag artists, but the ones who, in no particular order, stand out to me as being super talented makeup artists in their field.
In the words of RuPaul, “We’re all born naked, rest is just drag.” So without further ado;
There was recently a curated exhibition in Los Angeles entitled the Instagram Art of Mathu Andersen, made up of this genius gent’s selfies. Need I say more? Ru Paul’s personal hair and make-up artist as well as creative producer of RuPaul’s Drag Race Andersen explains, “I like being that special thing that people can stumble upon and perhaps even get excited enough to share with others and I like to be left to my own devices and whimsy.” Original “It Kid” of The 80s New York club scene, Andersen manages to look at once glamourous and ghastly, vulnerable and intense, challenging our idea of beauty and mashing up genres and genders without a care in the World. “I am just utterly fascinating,” Andersen writes on his Instagram profile page, and I and the rest of his followers would be hard-pressed to disagree!
Ryan gives me Leigh Bowery meets Serge Lutens meets Kabuki vibes. A heady cocktail I’m sure you’ll agree. In an interview earlier this year he told The Huffington Post, “My self-portraits are a documentation of my life. I am also a makeup artist and I started photographing my looks before going out as as way of preserving my work. When you spend three to eight hours putting together your face and outfit, an iPhone picture just doesn’t seem like enough.” He mentions finding inspiration in the abstract nature of things, geometry, androgyny and sophistication. “I don’t really care for glasses even though my eyesight isn’t great,” he says, “so I see the world in a kind of soft blur of colour. Anything can become a reference for a look and I just build off of small and abstract shapes.” I cannot wait to see what this guy comes up with next. Kudos to you Ryan!
Out of all the Queens on this list I know the least about Holly White, it’s hard to find info anywhere. Little enigma that she is. What I do know is that she’s a creation of Mika, who is French (which may explain the innate chic fabulousness and ability to pull a damn good look together), and that alongside Miss Kiltorika (below), I probably had a harder time picking a selection of pics of Holly than I did of anyone else on this list! I stumbled upon her Instagram account a while back and was blown away by the use of colour, the flawless technique (don’t get me started on that brow-blocking) and just the variety of full top to toe cartoon-esque drag makeup looks that are unique, inventive and utterly flawless. If I did drag I’d want to be Holly White, fo sho.
Philadelphia based tattoo artist, burlesque performer, fire breather, Rockstar Wigs spokesmodel and Goth goddess Porcelain is known to wow a crowd with her performances including full meat-hook wince-inducing suspension as a Goth mermaid, but never mind all that, doesn’t she look amazing?! Deffo one for those of us who like our drag with a bit of a dark side. “One of my biggest style inspirations is my obsession with circus sideshows and the darker side of Victorian fashion,” she says, “I try to blend the two together to create a travelling mess.” First picking up drag makeup skills from a permanent cosmetic specialist in the tattoo shop she worked in, Porcelain mixed those techniques with the skills she’d learned portrait painting and got to work painting her own face. And inspired by a motley crew from Angelica Houston to Disney Villains the exquisite Miss Porcelain was born. You wouldn’t mess would you? Ouch.
I thought it was maybe a bit too obvious when I first put Jeffree Star here, but then I realised not everyone in the world is up on their pink-haired, androgynous, DJ alt-model types, so who am I to deny you the pleasure? Beverly Hills native Jeffree, with his army of online followers since the MySpace days might just be the most famous person you’ve never heard of. I couldn’t leave him out, his makeup skills are undeniable, and this self-taught makeup artist with past clients such as Kelly Osbourne has his own makeup line for God’s sake. His transgressive, gender-bending appearance and dirty mouthed, shamelessly self-promoting, aggro persona divides opinion, but there’s no denying this self-proclaimed “Queen of the Internet” is straight up flawless.
“Baltimore’s Handsomest Drag Queen”, reads Klitorika’s Instagram intro, and I won’t argue with that. There is something of the Cirque du Soleil about Klitorika’s makeup looks, and I mean that with the utmost respect! The amazing colour combos, the clever contours, the Kabuki theatre vibes, the airbrushed fantasy look. And the amount of colours that go through that gender-non confirming beard frankly make me wish I had a beard of my own to paint and play with. She is prolific as hell with her looks, and the sheer variety within them, I could’ve thrown 50 pictures into this gallery but I held myself back. And also, if Klitorika isn’t in the top ten baby names of 2015 then frankly I don’t want to live on this Earth anymore.
Last but clearly not least is the most classically beautiful Queen on this list, but with a makeup application so heavenly and skin to die for it’d be an outrage not to include her. Her Instagram introduces her as “Beyond This Planet Beautiful” and she ain’t lying. Miss Fame gives me the same feels RuPaul did when I first laid my eyes on her, of being in awe of just how BEAUTIFUL this creature is. Oof. If you’re a burgeoning queen yourself or just looking to learn the ropes, I know in my early freelance/MAC days I was often called upon for the odd drag makeup, Miss Fame has her own YouTube channel and you frankly could not find a better teacher. A professional makeup artist in his own right, very much from the Scott Barnes school of high high glamour makeup, he is damn good at what he does! And on top of that his NYC supermodel drag queen is about to be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race! As Ru herself would say, good luck, Miss Fame, and don’t f*ck it up!!
Featured Image; Mathu Andersen
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