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The 2022 Out100: Drag Artists of the Year
Out100: Drag Artists of the Year
Where would the LGBTQ+ community be without drag? The art form and its practitioners challenge the conceptions and binaries imposed by mainstream society -- and often make our days brighter in the process.
In 2022, there was a plethora of fabulous drag artists making waves on television, on gay bar stages, and even in the world of fashion. Below are the outstanding honorees featured in this year's Out100.
The Boulet Brothers
The Boulet Brothers -- renowned horror-oriented drag performers and nightlife hosts-- recently completed their first world tour and struck a deal with Shudder, an on-demand video service owned by AMC, to expand the Dragula cinematic universe in 2022 and beyond. Clearly, they are well on their way to achieving "total world domination."
Moreover, they are currently working on new music, developing a scripted film, expanding their legendary Boulet Brothers Halloween Ball, and producing two new seasons of The Boulet Brothers' Dragula, their hit reality competition of drag artists. In fact, the Boulet Brothers recently announced the show's first Titans spin-off, which will feature some of the best contestants in Dragula history competing once again.
At their core, the Boulet Brothers always aim to provide a safe haven to those who feel like outsiders. "The world can be a lonely place when you feel like you don't belong," they explain, "and everyone needs to know that they have friends out there and that there are others like them in the world."
Though it's always been a challenge for the Boulet Brothers to "fit in" with other mainstream LGBTQ+ figures, they also consider this outsider perspective their greatest strength. The two horror icons remark, "We've always done things our own way, and while that was a huge obstacle when we were just starting out, we've learned that standing out among the masses is a boon when you do it authentically." @bouletbrothers
In 2022, Willow Pill became the first out trans contestant to win a regular season of RuPaul's Drag Race. From her bizarrely entertaining talent show number of Enya's "Only Time" on the premiere episode to her relatable and hilarious performance of "I Hate People" at the finale, fans elected Pill as the ultimate frontrunner to win season 14 -- which is exactly what she did.
"Winning RuPaul's Drag Race is one of the proudest moments of my life and especially doing so as a chronically ill person," Pill remarked. "My drag is a lot of jokes and levity, but it's not lost on me how big of a deal that is." Alas, life hasn't always been easy since snatching the Drag Race crown and starting her reign. The season 14 winner explains, "The biggest obstacle of this year was dealing with being in the spotlight under public scrutiny. Fame is a very unnatural thing, and when everyone wants a piece of you, it's hard to feel like you have anything left for yourself. I've had to learn a lot of self-preservation so I don't get lost."
And yet, Pill's unique perspective on life is still what drives her forward. She doesn't believe in having a life's purpose, noting that she's "perfectly happy having the opportunity to just be here, strange and beautiful." In a world where so many celebrities are seeking more fame and more power, Pill is looking forward to taking up dance lessons, going skydiving, and eating Slim Jim snacks alone in her room. @willowpillqueen
Puerto Rican fashion designer Joshuan Aponte has been making a huge name for himself in recent years after creating beautiful costumes worn by queens on RuPaul's Drag Race and designing clothes for huge pop stars. Namely, Aponte created the main look for Cardi B's "Hot Shit" music video, dressed Lizzo for live performances, and made costumes for Megan Thee Stallion's virtual reality concert tour.
Within the Drag Race universe, Aponte has collaborated with legendary drag performers like Shea Coulee, Jaida Essence Hall, Monet X Change, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Alyssa Edwards, Heidi N. Closet, Kahmora Hall, and A'keria Chanel Davenport, among others. Outside of his work as a designer, Aponte has a drag persona, Sheeza Woman (@sheeza_woman), which shows a passion for live performance. In addition, as an HIV activist who is proudly "undetectable since 2012," Aponte also advocates to end the stigma surrounding the virus.
Overall, Aponte believes that his biggest purpose in life is to create. "Many times during the pandemic I stopped to think that my existence was useless and that my creativeness had no real purpose," he reflected. "But I quickly learned that I was wrong. Art is as important as medicine -- we take the ugly in this society and turn it into beauty, we give the imagination time to fly and wonder. We make fantasy worlds where we are free to explore and take some time off from the reality that surrounds us." @joshuanapontedesigns
As a drag performer, Kim Chi wants to "tell a visual story for the audience through the art of makeup and costuming." As the owner of the KimChi Chic Beauty company, Chi's goal is to "create and market makeup products people can use to create their own fantasy."
Since founding KimChi Chic Beauty in the digital space, Chi has expanded her makeup brand; her products are now available at select CVS stores in the U.S. and Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Canada, thus making history as the first drag queen-owned company to be sold at major physical retailers.
Since appearing on season 8 of RuPaul's Drag Race, Chi has been pursuing her dream of owning a successful makeup brand and is now making all of her other dreams come true. Though she sometimes struggles with people's opinions about her, Chi keeps pushing forward in order to "show representation and hopefully, make the world a better place." @kimchi_chic
Though Jinkx Monsoon describes herself as an "internationally tolerated drag superstar," RuPaul crowned her the "Queen of All Queens" in 2022 following her performance on season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars. What's more, fans consider Monsoon one of the most lovable, intelligent, and talented drag performers in the world.
Between becoming the first two-time Drag Race winner in herstory, releasing a new EP titled The Virgo Odyssey: Prologue, hosting the Hi Jinkx! podcast, launching a new comedy series called Sketchy Queens, and touring the world alongside her drag sister BenDeLaCreme, Monsoon has been the most booked and busy she's ever been in her career. Alas, Monsoon is honest about all the work she's put in to turn her personal life around over the years. Her biggest obstacle was "admitting to myself that I was in need of intervention for my mental health. Therapy, witchcraft, and mindful medication has brought me back from a personal brink. With those tools, I was able to make the decision for myself to remove alcohol from my life, which had certainly become an obstacle."
Looking forward, Monsoon believes that her purpose in life is to change hearts and minds for the better. "Ultimately, I want to dismantle the patriarchy through entertainment," she declares. "All I know is, when I'm on stage and the audience and I are intermingling in performance -- I know I'm doing what I was meant to do." @thejinkx