Getting ready looks the same for many people. They wake up to an alarm, have a personal hygiene routine and go about their day - with or without breakfast.
Adam Keiran does things much differently when preparing to go out as Valerie Hunt, his drag persona. But he says not everyone within Calgary’s drag community is always accepting of how he impersonates women.
Without fail, Keiran starts to get ready for a night of drag with a bong hit. “The Lord’s day, Sunday, is my only guaranteed day off. So, I want to do it my way. It’s fun. It’s legal. And it’s a nice chill way to start considering I have to glue my face,” says Keiran, “I love getting ready.”
But, his love for getting ready doesn’t begin and end with a bong hit. It also involves “slathering on” a lot of off-brand makeup.
“I like to have fun with it,” says Keiran, explaining, “it’s important to nail your base. Your eyes can be whatever, but if your foundation is cracking that’s a problem.”
For Keiran, it’s important to “pay attention to details” and “critique yourself without hurting yourself”
“I wanted to look good so I had to figure out to use cream contour so I don’t look so dusty,” says Keiran, adding “there’s so much to figure out.”
Just like Keiran had to figure out which products to use, he also had to decide what drag means to him.
For Keiran, impersonating gender doesn’t necessarily include impersonating gender stereotypes.
Valerie Hunt performing at Twisted Element during Calgary Pride's weekend party. Photo by Laura Balanko-Dickson
“There are lots of humans and lots of body types,” says Keiran. For example, he says one of the queens who competed in RuPaul’s DragRace UK had an “untucked, meaty package”
“People came for her,” says Keiran
Essentially, Keiran’s perspective on drag is that “people should literally be able to do whatever they want except getting naked on stage.”
For Keiran that might mean a drag queen has a hairy chest or a drag king wears sparkly and feminine makeup. It might include a drag monarch that totally mixes gender norms into some indiscernible gender identity or a drag monster that isn’t even human.
Yet, because of his perspective, he is criticized by the drag community in Calgary.
“I get called out for having body hair by other queens,” says Keiran. “I just don’t understand the issue. Drag is about impersonating gender. If I choose to impersonate women, well, real women have body hair. Humans come in all shapes, sizes, and types.”
“There are women that have a penis and men that have a vagina. There are bearded queens and long-haired kings,” says Keiran, “If you don’t like it, you can just leave.”
- By Laura Balanko-Dickson