Drag kings do not get the same mainstream love and attention as their sisters. Maybe it’s because they don’t have their own RuPaul standing as not only a bright point of representation, but as a behind the scenes powerbroker on their behalf. Maybe it’s because of latent misogyny. Maybe it’s both. But maybe, Landon Cider’s historic win on the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula series, is the sign of a change.
The Boulet Brothers have been building their own inclusive, spooky drag dynasty for quite some time now. Since 2016, that’s expanded to a horror-themed televised drag competition which, this year in its third season, streamed on Amazon Prime. When Cider’s casting was announced, it was historic. He would be one of the first drag king to perform on the show — out of drag, Kristine BellaLuna is a cisgender lesbian. And throughout the competition, Cider seemed to glide through it all with ease, eventually landing on top of the heap and winning $25,000.
But Cider is no new face to drag. In their release about the win, the Boulet Brothers said the performer "has worked for years to carve his way through a male-dominated field with determination, grit, creativity, dignity, and an infectious positivity that is inspiring in this day and age." He also judged Alaska Thunderfuck's Drag Queen of the Year Pageant in May, where he helped to crown Dragula season 2 contestant Abhora as the winner. Here, we talked to Cider about his experience as a drag king, the people he looked up to, and what you can expect out of his reign of terror.
What has been your experience as far as acceptance for drag kings in your communities?
Local queens saw and encouraged my potential out the gate and I now enjoy the respect I've earned from most of the community with the hard work I’ve put in throughout the years. But there have been many moments where misogyny reared its pink-tipped head and I did what any good dyke would do: strap in on and fuck the patriarchy.
Did you have drag kings that you looked up to, or people that you feel get left out of the drag canon but are important to recognize historically?
There wasn’t a local king scene for me to experience so I turned to the internet. I found historical kings and male Impersonators like Hetty King and Storme Delarverie and their careers were extremely inspiring! Kings like Sexy Galexy from Australia painting colorful boy drag faces helped me realize there was so much more than doing "passable" or male illusion drag and from then on I wanted to explore it all.
What does your drag typically deal with?
Everything! I get bored with one style so I incorporate a lot of diversity. But I always have a story and a fully visualized characterization to go with it, which makes mid-show makeup changes a bitch. But I must secretly love the backstage anxiety attacks I give myself when going from one face to a completely new one in 30 minutes. I also deal with duct taped tits and a rubber dick all the time too!
Outside of Dragula, what was a drag-related experience that felt affirming to you?
My most affirming moments always happen on stage. There's a sort of magic when you fill a venue with people who are strangers to you and to each other and somehow connect with them all and bring them into the story going on stage. I'm alive when that energy exchange takes place
Why did you want to be the World's Next Drag Super Monster?
The Boulets have been celebrating alternative drag for decades and Dragula is product of a lot of their hard work that I wanted so much to be a part of; To celebrate drag art as art, and that art be targeted to our queer community [is important to me.]
Let me just say art again.
What was the hardest challenge while on the show?
Each week's theme had it own challenges but the behind the scenes work in general was the hardest because sleep deprivation is an asshole! I barely slept leading up to each challege finishing looks and other prep, but for the finale I slept maybe 3-4 hours in 6 days. I was out of my mind, found it hard to form full sentences, and I'd fall asleep instantly for a split second while applying eye makeup because my body felt one eye close and my brain was like: Bye Bitch!
You seemed to really glide through the competition, what would you attribute that to?
Lube and a hard determination to fill all these holes with Landon. It's a hard days work but very fulfilling!
What do you hope to get out of your reign of terror for this upcoming year?
In short: World domination one roll of duct tape at a time.
In long: My platform has always been that Kings can reign just as fierce as Queens so that's a given. But also that the tenants of Dragula — glamour, filth, and horror — can be celebrated regardless of gender or expectation. Horror and special FX or prosthetics was my root into transformative makeup long before Landon’s birth, Glamdrogyny has been jam for years and my version of filth is usually found through commentary, societal critique, and camp.