“Sassy, classy, and sweet” is how RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 finalist Peppermint describes her drag. After performing for almost twenty years, Peppermint was able to compete on the Emmy Award-winning television show, which not only gave her a platform where she is able to inspire many but gave her thirteen new sisters as well. She expressed that some drag performances have become known to be “catty or mean-spirited” and while she feels that there are some great performers who present those feelings during their shows,
she wants her audience to “feel good about themselves” and to be “entertained, moved, and touched emotionally.” She is heavily inspired by RuPaul, her drag sister Sherry Vine, performer Narcissister, and by any drag performance that can make her feel something or get her dancing.
Being a part of the drag community has been Peppermint's “ticket around the world and connection to activism and the greater global LGBTQIA+ community,” and it started her experimentation with gender, exploration of womanhood, and opened her eyes to transgenderism at an early age. In addition to the drag community, Peppermint feels a sense of community in the trans and gender non-conforming community, specifically the community formed by trans women of color.
Illustration by Megan Schaller.
Laganja Estranja, a contestant on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is a proud member of the drag community. Laganja started her career as a contemporary dance instructor who worked with Justin Johnson (better known as RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 and All-Star Season 2 contestant Alyssa Edwards) and from there joined the Haus of Edwards alongside her sisters Shangela and Gia Gunn. She began her drag career by making $50 per night working in LA nightclubs while struggling to pay rent. After competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she was able to “travel the world and build a brand,” rather than just being a local drag queen, as well as create workshops for the LGBTQIA+ community that focus on body acceptance, gender, and self-expression.
Laganja describes her drag as “sassy, classy, and a little bit nasty,” and while watching her performances, she wants her audience “to feel happy and alive” as well as to spread the message that “you can be anything you want to be; as long as you’re a good person and work hard, anything is possible.” She is inspired by her drag mother, Alyssa Edwards; Season 4’s Miss Congeniality winner, Latrice Royale; Season 2 finalist and All Stars 1 finalist Jujubee; and rapper Missy Elliott. She says that being a member of the drag community brings her a sense of belonging and a sense of community, as well as bringing her to a group of others who are like-minded and make her feel like she’s not alone.
Photos by Jheyda McGarrell.
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