From wigs to weave

Tales of a drag queen's hair

HOLESTAR

The misogyny I’ve received being a female drag queen - it’s upset me a bit. I have to work twice as hard as a lot of men. I’ve had to constantly bang on doors, and prove myself.

I want to be judged on my talent, not my gender.

The whole reason why I do what I do is to make people question what they know about gender, and just throw that in the air a bit.”

It’s all transformative. Whether it’s the makeup, the shoes, the clothes, the attitude, the act - it’s everything.

The wig is just the final exclamation at the end of the sentence. It’s like boom! You’re in the room.”

LEONA LEWISHAM

I used to work in a synagogue for a rabbi. It was like living a double life - even though they knew. It’s like I was two different people, and I really enjoyed that.

I’ve got three sisters, so I grew up in a house with eight women.
My aunties used to fight over me.
It was quite fun on a Friday or Saturday, to watch the women getting their hair done. It would be a bob, then an hour later it would be a big old weave. It’s instilled in me.”

I always want something dramatic. My hair can never be too big. You want people to remember the hair.

The wig is really important. It brings out that final character. The heels go on, the dress goes on, and the wig goes on last.

Once the wig goes on, the character is born.”

BOURGEOISIE

I didn’t really have the money to buy a wig, and I didn’t really know how to do hair. I found these red tutus. I bought two of them and cut them apart, pinned them together and wore them out! It was fabulous.”

Drag for me is about dressing for power, and dressing for attention. When we are in a nightclub it is a safe space.

I don’t take the night bus [to the club]. I really do fear for my safety, from people that just have no experience with this. There's all of these challenges - a lack of safety, to being fabulous, to not being safe again and then being home. It’s really stressful.”

JONNY WOO

Wigs can be a starting, or a finishing point, in getting an idea for a character. Sometimes it doesn’t come together right until the last minute. You suddenly brush it and then you’re like,
‘Wow!’

I still call it fancy dress if I’m booking a taxi. In my last place, I lived on an estate and there used to be a big gang by the door. So I used to say: ‘Can you make sure you pick me up really close because I’m in fancy dress? I’m going to a fancy dress party.’

I went to a lot of ‘fancy dress’
parties that year.”

FINN LOVE

A lot of people from home, and my family, were like, ‘What happened?’ I went from a kind of normal boy to suddenly this genderqueer-beret-wearing-kilt-clad person.

I made the decision that I didn’t exactly want to be, or I didn’t feel comfortable being, a drag queen.
I love every single drag queen that I know, but I’ve worn a wig a few times and I don’t really feel like it’s me.

I think wearing a hat is a really interesting rejection of gender. ”

The hat changes my silhouette a little. My hair isn’t really revealed. It doesn’t necessarily mean boy, doesn’t necessarily mean girl. It’s just an interesting non-gendered item.

A hat is kind of me rejecting a wig, but it’s also a replacement for it.”