Gina Tonic (@ginatonicnyc) is a NYC-based drag queen, singer and actress who uses her love for music and theater to drive her identity as a drag performer. As the self-proclaimed “Bob Ross of Drag,” Gina Tonic is a colorful drag queen with a flashy fashion sense inspired by the 50s, 60s, and 70s. For Gina, drag is a perfect tool for expanding the limits of gender, while allowing her to “cosplay as her wildest dreams.”
Originally hailing from Los Angeles, California, Gina came to New York City to pursue a career in theater. “I loved working with groups of people and bringing a vision to life,” Gina tells In The Know. “I think my background as a theater artist really informed my drag because I do drag performances that are just a full-on production.” Gina treats each drag performance as a complex stage show, constantly factoring in the audience experience and maintaining a detailed step-by-step approach.
Gina’s look and personality is inspired by iconic actresses like Bette Midler, and singers like Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga, as well as the powerful women that were a part of Gina’s upbringing. “I think that my drag is just truly such an homage to all the powerful women in society and in my life, like my mom and my sister,” says Gina. “A lot of people critique drag as making fun of women. But I think it’s about embracing women and femininity.”
Gina feels that her character has evolved quite a bit over the years, especially when it comes to her outfits and glam. “A lot of my original drag outfits were all from thrift stores,” Gina tells In The Know. “And then I learned how to sew, which really evolved my fashion a lot because then I could create fancier, prettier custom outfits.”
Gina loves creating her own 50s, 60s, and 70s-inspired looks, mixed with current trends, to create a “past-meets-present” kind of vibe. Her looks are all pooled from her own imagination, which gives her a unique style that’s impossible to replicate.
When it comes to Gina’s performances, preparation is key. “I use every chance I get to work on my art, my craft, and my shows,” says Gina, who says that she’ll spend the entire week leading up to a show by doing things like making costumes, preparing props, and envisioning the makeup looks. “I really hope to show people how much work and passion goes into drag,” Gina tells In The Know. “You may only see the 2-hour show I do on stage, but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that no one ever gets to see.”
Based on Gina’s amazing work ethic, it’s easy to see that the performer has a background in theater directing. “I’ve really become a one-person theater company,” says Gina. While Gina is performing, she uses her “director brain” to “figure out what the audience is seeing and how they’re experiencing it all and taking it all in.”
Beyond the performances themselves, Gina loves that drag has created a culture where performance art can be used to make important comments about gender and self-expression. “I’ve tried to go back to working other jobs,” she says. “But I always come back to drag because it’s truly at the heart and soul of what I love to do.”