Hi! In this post we’ll be going over some basics of drag etiquette and show attendance. Most shows will have the host summarize these rules before they begin, but we at Drag.Jpeg figured it might be handy to have a list to refer back to, or even to send to friends before their first drag shows!
PLEASE TIP YOUR LOCAL DRAGS!
Tipping at a drag show is a lot like tipping your server when you go out to eat; it’s good manners and a standard expectation. While some shows pay their performers for their work, other casts — especially in shows for charity — offer their talents out of the goodness of their hearts, working just for tips! However, if you're not in a position to tip every performer, that's okay too! Drag is for everyone and we want you in the audience no matter your situation.
It’s an oft-repeated joke among performers that it “takes a lot of money to look so cheap”, but there’s some truth there. Drag takes effort, time, and money; hair/wigs, makeup, outfit pieces (all of which make up the “look”), conceptualizing, choreographing and rehearsing the number — it all adds up. If you like what you see, let the performer know! Simply hold up your tip for the performer to take or leave it on the stage, respectfully. Some shows even have a designated tip bucket for accessibility!
A standard tip is generally five dollars, but if you’re really enjoying the show, if a number excites, engages, or touches you in a special way, feel free to tip 10, 20, even 50! Try to avoid coins, though. No drag wants loonies and toonies tossed at their heads.
If you miss out on tipping during the performance, you can always (politely) approach the performer afterwards to offer your tip directly.
CONSENT ISN’T JUST SEXY, IT’S MANDATORY!
Please, for the love of god, don’t touch the performers. While some performers will clearly and deliberately invite audience members to get involved or touch them, it’s a rare exception and far from the rule. Leave them be and keep your hands to yourself, even while tipping. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Look, cheer, but don’t touch!
Anyone who has been to a drag show knows that the best ones function on a feedback loop — the more the audience cheers, the better the artist performs, and the better the artist performs, the more the audience cheers! Be attentive, appreciate, and most of all, loud! Clap, hoot, holler! Bring that positive energy, and the performer will bring it right back. The more responsive the crowd, the better show the artist can give.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, POST!
In the same vein as Rule 3, a great way to show appreciation for your performer is to film parts of their performance! Try to stay in the moment and be present, but if you’re enjoying the show, feel free to take a small clip for social media! Just be sure to tag the venue and/or specific performer so they can watch it back later.
Filming or taking pics of the performances is great documentation for the art form — hey, that’s what we do here at Drag.Jpeg! — but also helps promote the specific artists while challenging the taboo surrounding drag! Plus, it lets artists improve their art — watching their clips back allows them to analyze their performance and improve!
KEEP IT FUN AND SAFE!
Whether the venue is a theater, bar, or park, everyone is welcome at drag shows… but everyone has a responsibility to protect the queer spaces and voices that drag represents. Be respectful of performers and fellow audience members so everyone can have fun. Laugh, cheer, have a drink or two, and celebrate the unique queer joy and expression that can only be found at drag shows.