Just above the tourist-centric Chelsea Market in New York, colorful pieces of clothing, primped wigs, and MAC makeup lines the halls of YouTube’s production studios. That’s where some of today’s hardest working drag queens are preparingto put their glamorous touches on some of Instagram’s most typically masculine gay men.
With the cultural impact that has blossomed from RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag has taken on a whole new significance in heteronormative society. Drag queens, club kids, and beauty boys have taken over Instagram alongside Kardashians and gym bunnies. In Drag Babies, the new web series hosted by Drag Race winnerBob the Drag Queen, social media personalitiesMax Emerson, Johnny Sibilly, and Pablo Hernandez get the full drag experience with help from mentors, Shuga Cain, Chi Chi Devayne, and Peppermint.
“My mom took me to a drag show in P-town when I was eleven,” says Emerson, who also serves as one of the show’s producers. “She rented Pink Flamingos and Rocky Horror from Blockbuster for me at age 12. I think it was her way of telling me that she knew I was different and that it was okay. Drag queens were my mom’s dog whistle of unconditional love and acceptance.”
“As I started creating my own content as an adult,”he continued, “the drag queens I had the pleasure of working with taught me to be whoever I wanted to be, regardless of what the know-it-all producers and agents and managers mandated was best for my career. It wasn’t until I learned that valuable lesson in authenticity that I began to grow a significant and loyal following.”
The show calls attention to the impact drag has had on the queer community, while allowing the queens and their subjects to express their aesthetics through their collaborations. As each episode unfolds, they’ll break down the walls between masculinity and femininity. For the Insta hunks, it’s an eye-opening experience of what it takes to create drag magic.
“My respect for the art of drag has gone up ten-fold,” says Sibilly. “It’s really easy to critique drag queens sitting on your couch but let me tell you… Stand in six-inch heels for 20 minutes, and all of a sudden, you realize you know nothing. It’s humbling and rewarding.”
The first episode of Drag Babies is now on YouTube. Watch below as the queens and “babies” discuss their drag aesthetics.