“Behind the Drag” aims to showcase the off-stage lives of some of America’s most talented drag queens. The intimate series gives us the opportunity to meet the people behind our favorite over-the-top drag queens.
Alaska is frantic and frenzied. The drag queen superstar is prepping for an impending drive-in drag show that ticks closer with each passing second. She is, in a word, stressed. Alaska doesn’t know the words. She doesn’t know the dance moves. Her smoky eye is imperfect and smudged.
“The 20 minutes on stage is heaven — and everything getting to that point is literal hell,” the queen, who is the alter ego of Justin Honard, tells In The Know while painting her face.
And yet, she is ready. That’s because there’s truly no difference between Honard and Alaska Thunderf**k 5000.
“I don’t really think I am different out of drag and in drag,” Honard says. “It’s just more interesting to look at on camera when I’m in drag.”
Alaska is a noted and notorious drag star, making her name as the runner-up of the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the winner of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. But before becoming Alaska, Honard was just a kid from Eerie, Pennsylvania with a disdain for school and sports.
“As a child I was too gay or too effeminate,” Honard says. “I felt like I was just wrong.”
But Honard found an outlet in art, gravitating toward drawing. When he drew and doodled, he always sketched women. His art was the origins of Alaska, though Honard only first began experimenting with drag in college.
“Alaska is a Glamazonian princess from the planet Glamtr0n,” Honard says. “She crash-landed on earth and ever since, she’s been trying to get enough Twitter followers to get her spaceship back up and running again.”
Alaska is countless things at once — fake but real, serious but joking, traditionally feminine but otherworldly. She’s a paradoxical princess with some grit, sass and undeniable sexiness.
“It’s all fake — the hair, the fingers, the eyeballs, the body,” she says. “Everything the light touches is fake. It’s like having a suit of armor on.”
Yet, that suit of armor isn’t a shield. Rather, it’s a tribute to the power of femininity. In fact, Alaska defines drag as “the worshiping of divine feminine energy.” And, for Alaska, that outlooks holds undeniable power.
“Yes, it’s clothes and it’s hair and it’s makeup. But once it all comes together, it’s something magical,” Alaska says. “It’s something more than just the sum of it’s parts.”
She adds: “I’m doing my spirit’s calling.”
If you enjoyed this story, read about a Black, proud and resilient Miami-based queen.
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