The Cost of Drag

How much does a working queen really spend on drag?
November 21, 2014

To paraphrase Dolly Parton, it takes a lot of money to look like a drag queen. ”Drag is not cheap, even though some of us may look it!” says State of Drag 2011 covergirl Stephanie Stone. “Oddly enough, if you stay in this business a long time it is one of the few things that get cheaper. You get hook-ups from designers, hairstylists and other folks in fashion. To start though, you are gonna need several thousand dollars for sure,” she cautions. State of Drag 2012 covergirl Ivy Winters agrees. “When you really think about it, [the cost of] makeup, wigs, shoes, jewelry, materials for costumes,[and] professional photographs really adds up!” she says.

So how much does it really cost to be a working queen in New York? To find out, we had Marti Gould Cummings, host of G Lounge’s Drag Academy, Stonewall’s Divas, and Post Office at Pieces, keep track of all his drag expenses for a month. Marti estimates he spends anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 annually on everything from new outfits to taxis to gigs. See how it all breaks down for the month of September. —John Russell

September 2

Cab fare to charity event: $12
Hairspray: $4
Dry cleaning: $30 

September 10

Fake eyelashes: $6

September 11

New foundation and pads from Alcone: $30

September 12

Cab fare to Stonewall Inn: $14

September 16

Makeup wipes: $9
New makeup brushes: $40

September 18

Lunch meeting to discuss upcoming show: $35
Cab fare to G Lounge: $12

September 19

Pay pianist for recording session: $50

September 22

Dry cleaning: $30

September 23

New heels: $39
New gown: $120
New wig: $45

September 29

Pay assistant: $50
Pay makeup artist: $100
Staples: $17

September 30

Pay assistant: $50

Grand total: $693