If – after watching nine seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race – you’ve got a hankerin’ to give drag a whirl, but weren’t quite sure where to begin or how much it was going to cost you, Miss Gay Texas 2017 Violet S’Arbleu breaks it down for you in the latest issue of MGAzine (The World of Miss Gay america).
Drag is EXPENSIVE. Trying to do it on a dime, while admirable, is virtually impossible….
And if you’re in an amateur contest, the only money you can expect to get is given to you one dollar at a time by a critical crowd who just saw the latest runway looks on RuPaul’s Drag Race. That’s a high bar to match, and it’s almost impossible to turn a profit on your first outings.
The easiest way to present this information is to break down what everything costs, and of course the only person whose budget I know to the dime is my own. So, perhaps it’s the wrong choice or too much information, but I’m going to be completely honest with you guys about exactly what it costs to create one Violet S’Arbleu….
One appearance costs $650 in supplies. My usual Friday show takes over $1000 to put on. And these are CHEAP estimates. Ready for the breakdown? Get out your grocery lists, because if you want to make your own Violet S’Arbleu at home, you’re going to need to pick up a few things.
She then goes on to extensively list (and list and list) EVERYTHING you need to do before stepping out of the house your first time SNATCHED TO THE GODS.
First things first: She’s got a face.
$2 – Elmer’s Disappearing Purple glue stick for the brows.
$20 – Ben Nye Super White setting powder to cover the glue (you can buy a smaller container for $8 but the largest tub is much more bang for the buck so it saves money in the long run).
$9 – Ben Nye clown white PASTE (not the cream) over the mustache area, then…
$8 – Ben Nye tattoo cover in Apricot over the clown white, then set it with…
$12 – Ben Nye Fair setting powder to lock in the neutralizing orange beard cover before foundation.
So far, all you’ve done is get rid of your eyebrows and your 5 o’clock shadow and you’re about $50 in.
$12 (x4) – foundation pan sticks… I use four Mehron colors: Ivory Bisque, Light Olive, Medium-Dark Olive, and True Tan (a hot pink used just to cover my mustache) and then…
$9 – Ben Nye cream foundations in clown white (NOT the earlier paste) and dark Egyptian to exaggerate the highlight and contour AND to draw my brows (white for the brow bone highlight, brown for the brow), all set with…
$20 – Ben Nye Translucent Neutral Set setting powder to lock the face down.
$50 + ($12 x 4) + $29… so now you’ve got on your new skin and brows, pre-“makeup” for $125.
Now here things get tricky: I’ve got a LOT of colors and products I’ve accumulated over the years… like for Christmas, I do the Grinch, which is a green foundation with yellow and black cream to highlight and contour, plus the same white I already use, or my blue face which needs two blue foundations. For brevity, let’s condense this to a bare bones “no frills” face of just neutral brown shades and blush, like when I’m really rushing for a show.
$12 (x6)- Ben Nye Eyeshadows. I’ve got about 24 of them, but a standard “neutral” face needs five: White (to highlight cheeks, nose, and eyes), Nude (“Shell” for eyes and blending anything into my skin), Light Brown (“Cork” to contour nose, forehead, cheeks, and jaw), Dark Brown (“Black Brown” to deepen eyes, fill in eyebrows, and add the darkest contour spots to nose, forehead, and cheeks), and Black (for eyes). Add in “Nectarine” for blush and that’s six eyeshadows.
$1 – Liquid Liner. No lie, my favorite liner that I use RELIGIOUSLY is from the dollar store by my house. There’s my winged eye and my beauty mark. I get my gloss there too, but lips come later.
$73 of product added to the $125 from above is roughly $200. It’s actually more by now because of tax, but we’re going to ignore that on this list. And you don’t even have lips and lashes on yet.
$10 – Ben Nye lip liner. There are cheaper options at CVS, but I treat myself to good liner, and you should too, because if you sweat at all [I do] you don’t want that to move. Besides, we’re doing Violet’s expenses for this worksheet.
I have AT LEAST 7 lip liners in different shades and some 40 lipsticks and almost as many glosses… but again, we’re doing bare-bones expenses for this Violet face: one of each. A good standard shade is Rum Raisin. Dark enough to read, neutral enough to cover a lot of nice shades.
$5 – lipstick. You can get a $3 CVS brand, a $5 Ulta shade, or a good $8-9 brand like Revlon or L’Oreal. Your call. A favorite pink of mine is an old Ulta called “Pink Crush”. And it works with Rum Raisin.
$1 – lip-gloss. I’m not a dancer so I don’t usually worry about hair in lips. If you’re a mover and shaker, set your lips with neutral set (which will mute it) or eye shadow (which ups the color. You can use the Nectarine for a strong coral or drop another $12 on a fiery red to really wow). I don’t like dry lips so I don’t do any of that, and I just use my favorite LA Colors glitter glosses from the Dollar Tree by my house. Bargains are always good.
$3 – eyelashes. Grab a good pair of 301s which can be $2-6 depending where you find them.
$5 – eyelash Glue. Duo in Dark is my preference.
Now we’re up to $225, but the face is finally on. Oh, but we didn’t use any brushes or sponges!
A pack of wedge sponges is $4, and my acrylic brushes for foundation were $20 for the set, and my cosmetic brush collection is a handful from Mary Kay, Urban Decay, an organic line from CVS, Mustaev, Ben Nye, and e.l.f. …..let’s just round DOWN and say my brushes cost around $75 total. So $100 for applicators.
You could maybe find cheaper brushes, but I doubt it, and again, this is what a Violet costs.
Now, for you die-hard Violet fans, you’ll know I NEVER leave the house without glitter. Add in $6 for Ben Nye brush-on glitter glue in clear and $2 for glitter from Sally Beauty, or $6-8 for glitter from Ben Nye/Mehron/Graftobian, or $15 for glitter from Bella Terra or Mac… I have about 60 glitters now because I LOVE playing with the colors. But let’s just price one for this example.
Average that to another $15 and we’re at $340 before paying any sales tax. But doesn’t she look pretty!
Haha now that we’re good on the face, let’s do the body!
$20 – foam from JoAnn’s (the good green stuff) to make hips.
**we’re not even going to put a price on the 8 hours I take to carve the hips for myself**
$30 – boob forms, clear but a realistic silicone gel, also currently from JoAnn’s because my former style went out of business.
$5 – nude bra that I got on sale that is falling apart but I WILL NOT give up.
$15 – nude body shaper, also on sale. It needs replacing but that style disappeared.
$18 (x6) – dance tights! Cover that green foam with a layer of black tights, then five layers of flesh tone on top to even it out.
$15 – nude fishnets. Not a requirement but they keep you from having the dreaded “wood leg”.
$10 – waist-cincher girdle. It keeps the pantyhose from rolling, to put it succinctly.
$8 – Nails. I make mine, but a pack of Kiss press-ons is about $8 so we’ll just use those for the sake of speed in this list. After all, if you’re not wearing nails, you’re not doing drag.
$325 from before + ($18 x 6) + $103 = $535, just to be a bald Barbie Doll.
Now, she needs to go out in public and make money. I am still going off of what a Violet S’Arbleu will cost you, but we’re going to do a VERY inexpensive outfit just so your head doesn’t explode.
$25 – hair! I have a fabulous store with $25 GOOD lacefronts, so pick a bouncy full one to toss around.
$30 – American Apparel leotard. Maybe you’re a dancer, or maybe I’m just feeling sassy for the night, but there are some fun prints at the American Apparel and you could make one work for an 80’s number with some fun accessories. Which reminds me…
$5 – for a decent belt from Harwin, a cheap shopping district here in Houston.
$20 – a fair pair of clip-on earrings ($5), a ring ($4), and maybe a bracelet ($10) if you’re feeling fancy. I’m not big on necklaces, and they usually cost more.
$20 – Maybe you found a cute pump at Payless, maybe you grabbed something wild from a resale shop.
Either way, she needs a shoe.
A VERY SIMPLE belted Leotard outfit for something like….. Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”… just cost you $100. Now that I have picked that song too, I would personally toss on some leg warmers to really make it sing; depending on where you find them, add $10 more for $110.
$110 + $535 = about $650. I’m rounding up because once again, we haven’t thought about sales tax.
Now I know what you’re thinking: $650 to do one number?
Yep. It’s true. And we haven’t even gotten to the outfit yet. That’s going to push the cost over a thousand dollars. YIKES.
And God help you if you’re performing two or three numbers that require different outfits, different wigs, and different jewels.
The cost of all THAT is SHOCKING.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars…
Then… figuring out a YEARS worth of drag, and you are EASILY in the five digits.
Check out the rest of Violet’s expenditure costs here. It’s pretty eye-opening.
And keep this list in mind next time you shade a young queen for not living up to your high drag standards.
(Top Pic: Miss Gay Texas America 2017 Violet S’Arbleu by Michael Andrew Voight)