January 24, 2013


I was asked to contribute a Huffingtonpost.com article on drag queen tips and wrote this. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. Too bad I'd confused what the article was supposed to be about and am completely off-topic so it was instantly rejected. Pop another pill, gurl! So I'll post it here and hope you enjoy this trip down Live or Memorex lane! PS: No version of spell-check can help me determine what the correct spelling of lipsynch, lipsync, lip-synch, lip-sync is or if it changes when it's lypsynching so FUCK IT!

One of my favorite drag tips was when I asked a drag queen known simply as "Bubbles" from Lee's Mardi Gras drag boutique if there were any tougher hose than the expensive shimmer tights I use. I complained that my stockings ran after only one or two wears. She asked me where the runs originated and I told her near my toes. She barked "Cut your toenails!" I was goofed, but she was totally right. Lady Bunion has never and never will be known for her dainty feet or pedicures but at least her hose don't run as quickly now. I wish Bubbles was still around, because I'd love to ask her why my stockings also run at the knees a lot, where they get quite dirty for some reason, too. And this usually seems to happen whenever I drink vodka...
The legendary Lypsinka taught me another valuable lesson, not about cutting toenails, but about cutting one's show tracks. Billed as The Goddess Of Show Biz and The Personification Of Pizzazz, the Lyp has always been something of a mister/sister to me. And one tends to heed the advice of an OLDER sister. Meow! Yes, there is one queen left who is older than I am. (Besides RuPaul.) I'd seen other drags lipsync to homemade medleys before, often going from a lesser known song by an artist leading into their bigger hit. These medleys were presumably made with the help of a deejay friend since this was decades before Garageband and ProTools existed, kids.The longer mix enabled the queen to work the stage for longer and make more tips. But Lypsinka took this to a whole new level in the 1980s, when she took the NYC theater scene by storm with intricately edited soundscapes the length of entire plays. She'd incorporate a snippet of one song, jump to another with a perfectly timed costume change, add sound effects a la Psycho while having a breakdown onstage and then possibly end with the first tune to bring it all home. I'd never seen anything like it. While I was already a fan of the art form (yes, I said it!) of lipsynching, Lypsinka elevated it to the level of theater, complete with detailed lighting cues and sets. Then her manic character would be interrupted by a ringing tone and she'd start answering imaginary phones all over the stage in a chaotic climax. And she'd answer them by lipsynching to insanely campy dialogue from movies which wound up audiences until they were shrieking. Lyp was the first person I knew of to incorporate Faye Dunaway's outrageous dialogue from Mommie Dearest. Since then, it's become a drag staple and many performers include "No more wire hangers, ever!" in their mixes. 
Now that computers have made editing more accessible, mixes are now very popular with queens who lipsynch. Many, like the sizzling Shangela from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 2, add whipping sound effects to their tracks which add punch to dance songs as they forcefully fling their "hair" with each crack of the unseen whip. It's very dramatic, and Lypsinka was the first person who I saw using sound effects in this way. When you're lipsyncing, you can be limited to whatever is on the recording--unless you add sound effects, other songs or dialogue to personalize it. But Lyp taught me and many others the freedom of changing up the track to make your mix unique and more entertaining. And with the short attention span and drunken state of nightclub audiences, this has been a very valuable tool for me.

Oh, and while technically not a drag queen, Beyonce just taught me a valuable tip to make your synch more convincing: adjust your ear piece as if you are struggling to stay on pitch. It makes people think you are really singing. Sadly, this trick only works for about 24 hours.