Covid-Nine Queen – A podcast exploring the struggles of being a drag queen during the pandemic

When Covid-19 restrictions forced venues to close, drag queens had to create their own online shows to keep doing what they love

Drag queens are multi-talented performers: they sing, they dance, they entertain crowds on busy nights out, and so much of their job relies on face-to-face events. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, they had to turn to social media to keep doing shows and entertain their fans.

To get a better understanding of this phenomenon, our podcast hosts spoke to Gina Grigio about her experience as a drag queen during lockdown.

Gina has been doing drag for five years, working at the iconic Wow bar in Cardiff and performing cabaret. During the first lockdown, she started running live events on Facebook. Her weekly Drunk Make-Up show quickly gained popularity, attracting up to 5,000 viewers.

Join me later tonight, while I get pissed and try and do my makeup. Should be a giggle. Live at 8pm 🙂

Posted by Gina Grigio on Wednesday, 15 April 2020

In this episode of Covid-Nine Queen, she talks about the difficulty of adapting to an online audience, and how much she misses live performances and the drag scene.

As she confessed to Wales Online: “Drag is such a social thing, so to go from busy venues to being home alone was a huge adjustment to me and live events are a great way of connecting with people.”

Also on the menu of Covid-Nine Queen: Gina talks about her drag inspirations, her favourite songs to perform to, and how she wants her funerals to go. A diverse programme to dive into all things drag!

It all started with a bad date

Every passion begins somewhere, sometimes in unexpected places. Gina’s love of drag started with a bad date. Five years ago, she says she went on a “horrible date” with a “rude and childish” drag queen.

She quickly grew annoyed with his attitude, and told him he was just “not as good as he thought he was.” He in turn challenged her to do a better drag queen job. As we know now, she certainly rose to the challenge, because she ended up taking over his residency at Wow Bar. Talk about taking revenge!

Gina then went on to perform at Wow Bar in Windsor Place for five years, until the venue had to close in June 2020 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Today is a sad day. Wow was my home for 4 years, it's where I started in drag, the other queens supported and championed…

Posted by Gina Grigio on Monday, 22 June 2020
Gina talking about Wow Bar closing in June (Credit: Gina Grigio Facebook page)

Gina’s advice for wannabe drag queens
  • Be prepared: It is a HARD job
  • It’s more than knowing how to do a cut crease and walk with stilettos
  • You’ve got to be anything and everything to your crowd: counsellor, singer, dance, make them laugh or help them grieve
  • If you’re serious about drag you can’t go about it as a hobby
  • Hone your craft
  • Work out what kind of drag queen you want to be
  • Go and see other drag queens for inspiration
  • Really see if there’s a place for you and your drag persona