This Is How Much It Costs A Drag Queen To Get Into Character

Photo: Courtesy of Jan Sport.
Today's Beauty Diary: A drag queen in New York City breaks down the yearly cost of wigs, stage makeup, glitter, and false lashes.
Name: Jan Sport
Age: 24
Occupation: Full-Time Drag Queen
Location: New York City
Salary: My weekly salary of booking fees totals $600. As a drag queen, I often make tips at each of my shows as well. Tips can range anywhere from $25- $200 per show, depending on the crowd, the night, and the venue. On average, I would say I make about $100 at each show, which brings my total revenue to about $1,000 a week. Recently, I’ve also been lucky enough to have an out-of-town gig once a month that pays roughly $1,000. With that in mind, I am anticipating my income to be in the $60,000 range this year.
Rent: My rent is $3,500 split between four roommates. I pay $850 a month plus utilities.
Growing up, I was a soccer player that went to an all-boys Catholic high school. My sophomore year, I gave up the soccer team to pursue theatre, which was a bit of a shock to the community. I was the real-life Troy Bolton. With the support of my parents and friends, I auditioned for, attended, and graduated from Boston Conservatory with a BFA in musical theatre. About two years ago, I found myself working as a singer on a cruise ship that toured Dubai and Abu Dhabi. That's when I really started getting into makeup. I would go to the Dubai mall and get makeup to experiment with, but because the culture was very conservative, I felt like I could never truly express myself unless I was on the ship.
When I got back to New York, a friend of mine told me that I should try a Kris Jenner illusion because she thought I could pull it off. As I was doing my makeup one night, I put on a random episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians in which Kris Jenner was trying to get on Broadway. Since I was a theatre queen myself, I knew I had to do something around it, so I made a mix, entered a variety show competition, won, and never looked back. A year and a half later, I'm a full-time drag queen and a member of NYC’s premier pop-vocal drag trio, Stephanie’s Child.
On average, I will make six appearances in drag each week. At each of my shows, I take on the role of host and entertainer. I engage with the crowd, asking them about their days, making jokes about current events, and performing numbers on numbers on numbers. I am a singer by trade, and I do like to bring that to my drag shows, but on top of that, I love putting a drag twist on pop culture references. For instance, taking the National Anthem performed by Fergie and mashing it up with videos from YouTube and Whitney Houston's National Anthem.
My drag look is a very feminine face with a sporty fashion sense, and I almost always wear wigs. Over the last summer, I only wore ponytails. Each of those cost about $25 and I have over 20 of them ($500). I own about 20 standard wigs as well, and those each cost roughly $50 on average ($1,000). However, of those 20, I do have four wigs that were professionally styled and those cost an average of $300 each ($1,200). The only hair products I use every night in drag are Freeze-It hairspray, which I replace every three weeks ($136) and Pump It Up hair adhesive, which I replace every two months ($24).
Total: $2,860
For the most part, my makeup stays the same, with minor alterations to my eyebrows, liner, and crease. A signature look used to be framing my eyes with six rhinestones, but now I’m doing ombré glitter in my crease. I’ll normally start off with a silver Ben Nye glitter (lasts a year; $7) and then ombré it out with a red Stila glitter (I actively use five shades of Stila Glitter & Glow on my face and finish them all in a month; ($1,440/year) to give it the faded effect.
I use four Kryolan TV paint sticks for contour, base, lighter tones, and highlight (replenish every three months; $392/year). I also use the Anastasia Beverly Hills Sugar Glow highlighter palette on my cheeks (lasts three months; $160/year). Next, I set the highlights with super white Ben Nye powder ($7) and translucent Ben Nye glitter ($7), and the rest of my face with a fair shade ($7). After that, I use Benefit brow pencil to sculpt my eyebrows ($24). Then I use the Morphe 35B eyeshadow palette on my eyes applied with a Morphe brush set ($48 for both). I use Eve Pearl eyeliner in black to wing my eyes (replenish every two months; $174/year).
For my lashes, I stack an Eylure x Nicole Guerrero pair and a Huda Beauty Scarlett lash, which I buy every month ($324/year) After that, I contour more with two shades of Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Contour Powder ($88) and Too Faced bronzer in Chocolate Soleil ($30). I line my lips with a Nyx pencil I buy once a month ($48/year), fill them in with one of the Stila glitters, and top it off with the Ben Nye translucent glitter. And then she’s a woman!
Total: $2,756
I very rarely get my nails done. Since I glue on nails as a drag queen, it's pointless for me to paint them, as the glue will take the finish right off. My glue-on nails cost about $8 a box and I go through a box once a week.
Total: $416
I’m currently wearing YSL’s Black Opium. I use a rollerball ($28) and buy a new one about once every 6 weeks. The roller is more cost-efficient and I think you get more product out of it.
Total: $224
I never get facials, treatments, or waxes, and I’ve never employed a glam team!
Total: $0
Yearly total: $6,256
Welcome to MyIdentity. The road to owning your identity is rarely easy. In this yearlong program, we will celebrate that journey and explore how the choices we make on the outside reflect what we’re feeling on the inside — and the important role fashion and beauty play in helping people find and express who they are.

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