Ahead of he turned a domestic name, Justin Andrew Honard worked every odd work under the sun. “I waited tables. I bought clothes in a boutique. I worked at an grownup e book store. It never truly lasted or worked out.” Now, he’s an internationally touring performer with a fourth studio album, Crimson 4 Filth his e book, My Name’s Yours. What’s Alaska? and a musical, Drag the Musical, all offered now. What adjusted Honard’s daily life? RuPaul’s Drag Race, of system. “I am merely a bumblebee in RuPaul’s beehive,” he tells me, Zooming in from his residence in Los Angeles.
Honard, much better regarded as his drag persona Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, has a Cinderella tale that’s not distinctive amid the now hundreds of drag queens who have cycled by the many iterations of Drag Race, the Emmy-successful, groundbreaking, global fact-competitors series hosted by RuPaul Charles. Due to the fact showing up on the demonstrate, drag performers like Peppermint, Katya, and Trixie Mattel have gone on to extremely successful—and lucrative—careers, launching makeup traces, providing albums, starring in attribute movies, and providing out arenas on the energy of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and expertise, alone. When RuPaul may possibly reign supreme as the drag celebrity of the planet, it is come to be progressively obvious that you don’t have to be the queen bee to make a nice very little honeypot of your very own in the globe of drag.
A good deal of that is many thanks to Producer Enjoyment Group, a talent and management company that represents the world’s leading drag queen artists, LGBTQ+ expertise, and influencers—including all the aforementioned queens. Like lots of queer origin tales, PEG commences with a amusing woman.
“Back in 2010, I was a talent booker and producer for gatherings. I was accomplishing a exhibit for Kathy Griffin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I desired to guide an opening act,” cofounder David Charpentier tells me in excess of Zoom. “And I considered it’d be definitely amazing to have a drag queen. So I went on the internet, did a bunch of investigate and identified a queen named Mimi Imfurst and emailed her.” The rest, as they say, is herstory. “We went from [David] accomplishing this, like, in his kitchen to now acquiring two office environment structures and 30-ish full-time personnel, and almost certainly another 10 or 15 freelance part-timers that occur and enable us,” says cofounder Jacob Slane.
Pre–PEG, Slane was an eager assistant in VH1 and Logo’s publicity department. “There’s this new show with the drag queen RuPaul from the ’90s. And it is genuinely weird, but we need to have another person to function on it,” Slane remembers his previous boss telling him. “So go forward.” He ended up operating on the sequence for 7 seasons prior to leaving to assist Charpentier develop PEG, and give the queens he’d grown to know and really like an off-ramp into the earth of amusement immediately after the exhibit. Large as the show’s system is, he says, “It’s about what you do immediately after that. What is your 5-calendar year prepare? Your 10-12 months system? The tricky operate definitely commences immediately after you are on the demonstrate.”
Foremost up to Drag Race, Christopher Caldwell—a.k.a. Bob the Drag Queen—was undertaking just good on her possess, thank you incredibly substantially. “I was form of the toast of the city,” she tells me around Zoom. In a usual week, she would get the job done around eight shows about the program of five evenings. “I’ve labored at pretty much each and every homosexual bar there is in New York Metropolis. Some of the bars don’t even exist any more.” She thinks for a bit. “Probably really a handful of of them.”
Kevin Bertin, a.k.a. Monét X Change, can relate. “Before Drag Race, I was doing work 6 nights a 7 days. Friday was my only day off.” Monét calls her pre–Drag Race program “completely crazy”: “I had to be at the bars by 11, which signifies I will need to depart my residence by ten o’clock. So I started receiving in drag at eight o’clock, and then I would do the job till 5 o’clock in the morning, and get dwelling, slumber right up until two o’clock in the afternoon,” she remembers. “It was that cycle every single one day. And then you have to go down to the garment district to get fabric—it was outrageous.”
That challenging get the job done was spending off, to some diploma, for both queens. “I was earning pretty respectable revenue just before Drag Race, particularly for a local queen,” Bob suggests. “I wasn’t raking in millions or anything at all, but I made ample revenue to live by myself on the Higher West Aspect.” Both equally Bob and Monét recall generating about $150 per gig—excluding tips. “If I worked seriously challenging for recommendations, I could make any place amongst $100 and $300 in guidelines for the show,” claims Bob. “On a fantastic night, I’d make 500 bucks for turning the party, for carrying out my drag.”
Drag Race changed all of that. Bob remembers not being aware of what would be subsequent following winning time 8: “It was not quite like it is now, the place the girls arrive house with this two-year strategy,” she claims. “I was just attempting to get back to performing my gigs.” After assembly with Charpentier and requesting that he arrive to a Bob the Drag Queen Present to “really see what my issue is,” Bob finished up signing with PEG administration. Now Bob hosts the formal Drag Race recap series, The Pit Quit, cohosts the podcast Sibling Rivalry with Monét X Transform, and is presently taking pictures the 3rd period of her Emmy-nominated HBO collection, We’re Listed here, with fellow Drag Race alums Eureka and Shangela.
After she gained Miss out on Congeniality on period 10 of Drag Race, Monét originally signed with Neverland Amusement just before switching in excess of to PEG. “In looking for other management, Alaska, Bob, Trixie, they ended up all with PEG,” Monét suggests. “And so I go, ‘You know what? These girls have some of the professions that I would want for myself.’” Now, with a preferred on the internet discuss show identified as The X Alter Price a podcast, Sibling Rivalry, with Bob and presently competing on period 7 of Drag Race: All Stars, Monét has the variety of post–Drag Race career she dreamed of.
Charpentier and Slane applied to indicator numerous of the “top” queens soon after every single period of Drag Race. In recent decades, however, they’ve started to “rethink” that technique. “We never definitely sign anybody who’s brand new on the exhibit any more,” he claims.