I am looking to start my drag career this year and I turn 18 in October. I am emailing you because I would like to get information on what I have to do to start my career here when I do turn 18. I am very interested in starting here because I have read about it and it sounded like a nice place to get a start on a drag career and continue in the future.
Thank you for your time.
First of all, dear letter-writer, consider Detroit. Seattle is an expensive hellhole.
Just kidding. (Kinda.) It's a little strange to write to an alt-weekly for drag career advice, but we've been covering drag for decades, so we're happy to help a gayby in need.
As former underage queen Taste T. Spiralina told The Stranger for "How to Do Drag While You're Underage" in our most recent Back to School issue, "You have to make friends. It's the only way to do drag." But to make friends in Seattle's scene, you have to participate in the scene, and that can be tricky if you're underage. West End Girls at Skylark is all ages, and Vibes (formerly Level Up) at Neighbours is 18+. There are other events—the recurring Fresh (produced by Arson Nicki) and Bacon Strip. New shows frequently pop up in strange places—I recently saw Jackie Hell perform with her teenage drag daughter to a sold-out crowd of witches and Radical Faeries at the Royal Room. Follow Seattle queens on social media to spot the good gigs.
Speaking of local queens...
Some of them saw your letter and had tips.
Arson Nicki said to "show up to drag events over and over again in strong looks. Nobody will pay you and your feet will hurt at the end of the night, but the fastest way up the drag ladder is to prove you can show up and be memorable and present."
Irene DuBois confirmed that "if you're under 21, it may feel like spaces are limited in Seattle, and that's because they are. However, there is one place that you can still thrive: social media. It's better not to focus so much on the actual follower count, but the quality of content."
Cucci Binaca suggested that you don't do it, which, frankly, is good advice.
There was also this golden nugget from Mona Real:
MONA REAL: Keep your drag economics sorted and separate from your personal economics, for now. Set aside a bank account or a cash box with $100. Rule this money only as drag dollars, for saving and spending. Tuck away any sweaty singles. When you've made more than you invested (e.g. your account has $121 at the end of a couple months when you originally invested $100) reset your cap and invest from your personal pocket another $50 - $100 into your drag, and work within those financial restraints, until you've made more than the total amount you've invested from your drag. Drag relies upon attitude, creative ingenuity, talent; things money can't buy, to pull a dollar out of the air. Looking 'good', combined with your public image, is a magnet earned later, and is a veneer not a fundamental to drag at the get go. Especially moving to a big city, personal financial needs and safety is important. The pursuit of vanity or investing into your drag beyond your ability can be financially wrecking. If you're just beginning, I guarantee you are going to look busted whether you spend $20 or $200, so stick to being busted, and not busted and broke, or worse off busted, broke and boring.
Read more great advice from local queens here in the comments.
See ya later this year, kid!