You know your basics, you are asking around for shows, but now, it is time to talk money. You will notice that there are some shows that pay you to perform, and others where you are performing for free. This topic will cover the biggest aspect of drag, making money.
“Not all shows are free, and not all shows are paid.” – Anonymous
Popular to contrary belief, the above phrase is huge in the drag community. While you see some performers who make a living doing shows, there are other performers that you will come across that you will hear that do absolutely free shows, and sadly, for the first few years of your performing career, that person will be you.
Now, there is a saying within the community that is called Paying Your Dues. Every performer in this community has taken their time, performed at free shows for months, even years, and have built up their reputation (Aka, paid their dues). There is ABSOLUTELY no way of even trying to get into the community without paying your dues. Take your time, don’t get upset when you hear the word “free”, and know that within time, you will be doing shows that have upwards to $50 a night (if you are lucky enough).
When you start doing paid shows, it is going to be very vital that you get your show pay either directly before the show, or directly after. There is times that you will hear about performers who have left the venue and were not paid. That is why you will hear about getting the money before, or after the show.
However, there will also come a time when you get asked to do a few benefit shows. A benefit show is a show that is used to fundraise for a certain cause. These shows are completely free (meaning no show pay) and you will notice that once you get tips, you will be giving those up as well. But do not worry, those tips are going towards an amazing cause!