Who are the most successful queens?

Discussion in 'RuPaul's Drag Race' started by Ag, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    This is interesting

    http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7898226/rupaul-drag-race-music-merch-six-figures

    Life After 'RuPaul's Drag Race': How Music, Merch & More Can Add Up To Six Figures

    RuPaul’s Drag Race is a cultural juggernaut. Up for eight Emmy nominations this year, the show has provided a platform for over a hundred drag queens across its nine seasons. But just how lucrative is life after Drag Race? According to Jacob Slane, Partner and Associate Manager at Producer Entertainment Group (PEG), “When touring, recording, merchandise and endorsements are factored in, top queens are earning in the low to mid-six figures annually. Some even higher. Having an experienced team behind them to cultivate the best deals makes a big difference, obviously."

    Slane partners alongside PEG founder David Charpentier, and their roster is impressive: Alaska Thunderfuck, Bob the Drag Queen, Jinkx Monsoon, Katya, Sharon Needles, Peppermint and Willam are just a sampling of the queens they represent. They’ve watched their clients go from the sidelines of pop culture to household names. Both have seen this breakthrough coming.

    “The larger industry is just starting to catch up and see the entertainment value and commercial value of these artists,” Slane noted. Charpentier added, “When [PEG] was starting, nobody in the industry was taking them seriously. I remember music meetings where we would take artists in to meet with a label or a radio promotion company and they would say, ‘This music is great. But can you release it as boy or not in drag?’ This wasn’t very long ago. It was probably only two or three years ago.”

    Several Drag Race alumni have made impressions across various Billboard charts. Most recently, season 7 standout Trixie Mattel’s Two Birds made its way to No. 6 on the Independent Albums chart -- and No. 68 on the Billboard 200. Alaska, Sharon Needles and Adore Delano have seen their albums clock in on the upper tier of the Dance/Electronic Albums chart -- with the later topping it with his sophomore offering, 2016’s After Party.


    The show has also allowed for queens to trade dive bar stages for sold out theaters across the globe. When asked about how Drag Race has impacted touring, Slane explained, “A top drag performer in today’s market is working in mid-sized venues around the world, between 2,000-5,000 capacity, up to six nights a week. For group tours it can be bigger. Anyone familiar with the touring industry can do the math: drag has become a viable, lucrative entertainment career path. However, it is still crucial for an artist to have professional, qualified representation that understands this very specialized market.”

    Charpentier continued, “It’s great for the queens because they have a much bigger stage that they can present their art on. And much higher quality in terms of sound and lighting and video and everything. It’s a much better platform for them.”

    While Drag Race alumni are topping charts and touring the world, nothing has proved the mainstream viability of these queens like their merchandise sales. In 2014, American Apparel released limited edition t-shirts featuring Alaska, Courtney Act and Willam. Unsurprisingly, the shirts sold out, leaving fans hungry for more merch. Now, thanks to New York City queen BibleGirl666, fans across the globe can access the merchandise queens dream up on DragQueenMerch.com. The company also begun collaborating with teen mallrat favorite Hot Topic. After the test run in select stores sold at an unprecedented rate, Hot Topic agreed to expand drag merchandise to almost every store in America.

    While large crowds and desired merchandise may not come as a shock, the people wearing the shirts and filling the seats might: teenage girls. From the Beatles to Bieber, teen girls have always proved to be a devoted market.

    Klinton Porter, part of the staff at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC, has seen audiences for drag performers change from mostly gay men to a surprising amount of young women. “It depends on the queen, but I would have to say that 80 percent of fans that come are girls, younger girls.” These girls aren’t casual fans either. Porter discussed the new drag fandom: “It’s like they’re popstars. It’s a different level of fandom.” Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen, doesn’t find the teenage fandom too surprising. “It makes perfect sense of teenage girls to be obsessed with drag. It’s big hair, it’s bright colors, it’s silly jokes. It’s dress up. It makes perfect sense".

    With newfound fans come new fan stories. In the case of season 8 fav Kim Chi, references from the show means lots of tasty treats. “On the show, I quoted 'donut come for me' -- so this past year, I’ve gotten dozens and dozens of donuts.” According to Porter, many fans bring gifts for the queens. “People knit things. They make dolls, make clothes. When Jinxx Monsoon and Major Scales were doing Bringing Up Baby, a fan made baby clothes modeled after their costumes and gave it to them at the meet and greet.” When Courtney Act was playing the Laurie Beechman, Porter saw gifts beyond the homemade. “This group of girls knew that Courtney is kind of a health nut and takes a lot of vitamins, and they brought her an expensive pill box, from Saks or something like that, engraved with his initials on it.”

    While most interactions are pleasant, sometimes Drag Race fans can get a bit carried away. Porter has seen it all at the Beechman: “When Courtney was here, there were these fans who came at 3pm. The show wasn’t until 7pm, but they wanted to see the theater and stand on the stage where she was going to be.

    Season 4’s Jiggly Caliente also shared a bizarre fan interaction: “I was in Atlanta, in a bathroom at the airport. I was in a stall, sitting down, and all of the sudden I hear ‘May I call you Jiggly?’ It’s like, damn, can I take a piss in peace?”

    However, Jiggly has seen the benefits of the Drag Race fandom: “A year or two ago Phi Phi O’Hara and I were at a gig in Boston, and our flights got delayed. Phi Phi had to leave no later than 6 AM, and we couldn’t change our flights. We didn’t know what to do. A fan overheard us freaking out, and offered to drive Phi Phi to New York. In my head I was like, you are insane if you take this. That’s how you get cut up into little pieces. And I wasn’t going to let her go alone. I was like, if we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die together. This fan is a friend of ours now. A drive from Boston to New York City is four, five hours. She didn’t ask for gas money, not a dime out of us. She got us back to New York safely. She is so, so sweet. There are fans that get a little crazy, get a little extra, but it’s great to know that there are fans that are super sweet like that.”


    With the help of RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag has certainly broken through into the mainstream, but many people in the community feel this is only the beginning. “As big as drag feels right now, we still have a long way to go,” said Charpentier. "The plan for us and a lot of these queens is global domination.” Slane chimed in, “Our whole philosophy is that drag, as an entertainment form, has as much commercial value as other established areas of entertainment. It’s an art form that we have been celebrating for awhile. It’s really nice to see the entertainment industry, which overall is still pretty conservative, slowly, over time realize the commercial value of these artists.”

    Jiggly feels similarly, “In the last five years, drag has made leaps and bounds in the mainstream. Now they know we’re not a joke. We’re not just freaks in nightlife. We’re real, raw human beings just like everybody else.”



     
  2. Christian

    Christian GOOD BYE!

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    And the reason for "You Got She-Mail" being replaced.

    It was one of the transitioning queens who complained after her season and I guess Ru didn't fancy the backlash and made the change.
     
  3. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    I read about the she-mail business. But where does Courtney fit in to it?
     
  4. wurst

    wurst User

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    Some of the queens MUST be earning mega-bucks, Alaska and Bianca spring to mind. I read Sharon made a million within a year of winning, but quickly blew it all on booze and drugs (:D) and that was way before Drag Race really became popular.

    The really clever queens are starting to tour one-woman shows at 25-30£ a ticket (Alaska, Bianca, Trixie, Courtney, Latrice, Katya and probably others). There's gotta be money in that, and no need to go on MONTH LONG tours with other queens, which to be honest must be UTTER HELL.

    I do wonder why the queens seem to tour the UK so much. Surely for many the EXOTIC ALLURE of Manchester and Cardiff must have dulled by now. Maybe they can command much bigger fees over here - Alaska for example seems to be in the U.K.more often than she is in the States
     
  5. Ag

    Ag User

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    I don't know much about US clubbing or gay clubbing, but I would assume that a drag queen PA would be a staple there as much as it is here. Perhaps they can cover far more ground in the UK and earn a lot more quicker. They could in theory do a couple of cities in a night. I have NO IDEA!
     
  6. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    The venue Alaska played here only holds about 250, I think. And tickets were £25 a head, so I don't think there can be that much money in the gig itself. But then there were the meet and greets on top (and a lot of people did). And I don't think I've ever seen such a busy merchandise stall at a gig. And I doubt that the show cost much to put on.
     
  7. Dark Carnival

    Dark Carnival Missss Vaaaaaanjie

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    I'm not sure I'd pay 30£ to see a solo act. Bianca perhaps? I'd rather see at least 2-3 of them.
     
  8. wurst

    wurst User

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    Ah that is a very good point. I always forget the USA is absolutely ENORMOUS.
    New York City and Rochester are 4 hours away for example despite being in the same state.
    Makes sense to work somewhere with less travel (once here) and most likely bigger booking fees
     
  9. Phoenix

    Phoenix L to the OG

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    Also there's less competition in the U.K.
     
  10. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    And New York is an average sized state. And Rochester a fairly small city. Would it even host that sort of show? I have no idea of the US circuit.

    It's certainly true that there is far less travel (and presumably therefore time and cost) in touring here. I get the impression that it's a very nascent circuit here in the UK though, outside of London and perhaps a couple of other cities. I mean I know there are drag acts in gay bars up and down the country most nights, but in terms of them filling larger venues, I don't think even 2 or 3 years ago you would have seen it outside of London and those cities. But now you get the impression in really is crossing over into mainstream. I think It's quite telling that for Sasha Velour's gig here in January, they have already chosen a venue about three times the capacity that Alaska had last month.
     
  11. Christian

    Christian GOOD BYE!

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    I'm a bit (very) vague on the details, but it involved some kind of social media spat where Courtney called Ru out on it, which presumably wasn't taken kindly.
     
  12. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    Katya is playing the Clyde Auditorium next year which I just find insane. I mean, I love her but it boggles my mind.

    Bianca did the same venue (which was her biggest audience to date) but she's surely the only queen who could command that?
     
  13. Penelope

    Penelope DON'T TALK TO ME

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    Katya can't be too far off Bianca in popularity by now, surely?
     
  14. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    I'd love to see Katya. I didn't realise she was touring, and she's playing Cardiff. £40 seems pretty expensive though.

    Still, I'm changing my opinion on them not making that much money out of touring.
     
  15. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    And two choices of VIP packages at £111 or £85. Both of which have sold out.
     
  16. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    I fucking HATE these VIP packages that everyone seems to be doing now. My friend did one for Céline, and got a shitty bag with a poster and some tat, and there wasn't even a meet and greet. They are just so de rigueur these days. I suppose it's one way the queens make money though, but I just find this whole queueing up for a selfie so fake. I'd rather meet them at random in a bar or something and say hello.
     
  17. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    I can't imagine ever buying one either (well this side of an Abba reunion), but as long as people know what they are getting, I don't really see the issue. Except when they have the best seats reserved for them and you can't get them any other way, I suppose.
     
  18. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    I wouldn't even pay them for Kylie. I've never met her but having to pay for the privilege would take the shine off it.

    Actually saying that, I did pay to go to a signing of Geri's If Only autobiography, but that was just the fee for the book and she even signed it. Sadly this was the days before cameras on mobile phones so I have no evidence. :(

    Anyway going back to the queens - I suppose they all have a limited shelf-life, so they're doing as much as they can in a short space of time so good luck to them. I kinda prefer to see them in the bars though rather than in a theatre venue. I love Katya but is she THAT good that she can hold her own in a theatre show?
     
  19. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    I had exactly the same experience with Cheryl Baker and her low fat cookbook.
     
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  20. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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  21. ameraal

    ameraal i just wanna stay in the moonlight

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    i always find it weird watching them being tipped in singles during performances.
     
  22. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    But then how would you remember your encounter?
     
  23. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    IS THIS SATIRE?!

    What about the CLEAR THOUSANDS you spend to meet some old ropey Eurovision boilers in a contained space? How is it ANY different to Vasilios spending Greece's GDP for a selfie with Ariana?!

    If people are willing to stump up the cash for a M&G/VIP packages then let them. It's like the only way artists make easy money these days.
     
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  24. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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  25. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    All this is of course because Monsta paid God knows how much to take a selfie with Courtney.
     
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  26. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    Literally ZEROES OF POUNDS!
     
  27. Christian

    Christian GOOD BYE!

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    That's standard US practice though, isn't it? I suppose it's never translated to the UK because flinging a pound coin at someone would be more likely to result in INJURY than APPRECIATION :D
     
  28. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    They often don't charge entry free (or it's really a low price) in the US either.

    NPBFAG needs to be kept in acrylic toenails y'know.
     
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  29. Christian

    Christian GOOD BYE!

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    I thought BAIL MONEY was more her priority these days.
     
  30. Penelope

    Penelope DON'T TALK TO ME

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    :D :D :D

    That said I do agree with Kala - the only artistés I think I'd willingly pay to meet would be BANANARAMA as there'd be no concerns THERE over whether they'd be UP FOR IT
     
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  31. Mugatu

    Mugatu a policy wonk with sex appeal

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    Taking a selfie with Vasilios has to be the worst thing that's happened to Ariana this year.
     
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  32. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    I've never paid a PENNY to actually MEET an artist though. I don''t go to Eurovision with the sole purpose of meeting acts though, I go to see my friends. If I meet someone it's a bonus but apart from maybe one or two acts each year, I couldn't give a FOOF if I meet the artists or not.

    Oh and DO NOT fucking compare me to Vasilios. That might be the MOST OFFENSIVE thing you have ever said to me! :angry:

    I agree though that the option should be there for those who want to, I don't like how it's almost become the ONLY way to actually meet them.
     
  33. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    I paid to see Kala but he acted all Valentina* on me!




    *the budget San Marino one, obv.
     
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  34. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    TBH you just need to buy Keren a bottle of wine.
     
  35. monsta

    monsta CAUGHT YOUR FEVER

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    How would you suggest this happens?

    A not-for-profit TOMBOLA?

    As far as I was aware, before M&Gs became de rigeur, you couldn't just waltz into an artists dressing room to demand a photo.
     
  36. Tetris-Rock

    Tetris-Rock TRAY UP, BITCH

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    Tbf, I think Trinity mentioned on Hey Qween that a lot of her stuff either got destroyed in a fire or stolen?
     
  37. Tetris-Rock

    Tetris-Rock TRAY UP, BITCH

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    Well, Courtney recently appeared on a WOWPresents show. As did Willam.

    So it seems like Ru and the production company might be putting aside some of their differences when they recognise that queens are popular.

    As well as doing well through touring and music, Courtney also has the financial bedrock of Wigs By Vanity.

    I feel as though Courtney comes off a LOT more pleasant in her other work than she did on Drag Race. I didn't like her when I watched it and now she is one of my faves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  38. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    I miss the good old days of a polite letter and an INTERNATIONAL REPLY COUPON.
     
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  39. Tetris-Rock

    Tetris-Rock TRAY UP, BITCH

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    To be fair, love... I went as well and there was a stipulation that you had to buy merch.
     
  40. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    Yes, but who DOESN'T need three Courtney Act t-shirts and an iPhone case?
     

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