05/15/2013 11:56 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Drag Husband Survival Guide

Tom Bartolomei

I have told you what I learned from being married to a drag queen and debunked 10 myths about drag queens. All that got me thinking that I should write a survival guide for any current or future drag husbands. Think of me as a drag husband Jedi. Every good Jedi has a master, though, so for a little help I turned to my fellow drag husband Jedi, men who were drag husbands long before Mr. Von B was even around. A huge "thank you!" to my friends Mr. Bedd and Big n Tasty for their help with this drag husband survival guide.

Now, to me, there is a difference between a drag husband and someone who is simply married to a drag queen. The latter does not have as much of an active role in his queen's drag life. Yes, he'll attend most of her shows, and I'm sure he'll give her advice when needed, but he is more in the background. A drag husband is at every show, or at least 99 percent of them, and plays an active role in his queen's drag career. Drag husbands help with a lot of the planning, promoting and running of shows, along with everyday decisions about drag. I'm not saying that one is better than the other; whatever works for the couple is what is the most important.

No matter what type of husband you are, being married to a drag queen can be difficult, hence this drag husband survival guide:

  • Know when to talk and when to just listen.
  • Wear clothes with extra pockets to hold lipgloss, cigarettes, powder puffs, stage accessories and tips. Just because she has a purse, don't assume that she wants to use it. Think of investing in a drag utility belt.
  • Things said to each other in the heat of the moment are just that. It's your job to employ the 24-hour rule prior to reacting.
  • Print the lineup, orchestrate the lineup and remember the lineup.
  • Always remember what the dates of her upcoming shows are.
  • Distract her with something shiny if she starts to stress about anything. Drag is supposed to be fun, and it's your job to do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
  • Speak only for yourself, and make this clear to others. Some people assume that what you're saying is what she's thinking.
  • Know where her drink is, and have it ready for her as she exits the stage.
  • Watch her performances and gauge audience response. Sometimes it's hard to see past a spotlight. You'd be amazed what you can hear when nobody knows who you are. Audiences often may enjoy a number but not feel comfortable walking up an entertainer to tip her.
  • Constructive criticism needs to be cautiously offered (very cautiously).
  • Be able to carry rolling suitcases, bags of props, a makeup case, a purse, wig heads with very large wigs and all personal belongings for both you and your drag queen so that she is able to make a proper entrance and meet and greet with the customers, bar staff and other entertainers.
  • Never throw any of her drag belongings away. As soon as you want to throw away a prop that's been unused for several seasons, a sparkly piece of fabric, an outfit that she no longer wears, a hamper full of hair or a piece of broken jewelry, inevitably that is precisely what she was planning to wear for her next performance.
  • Do not ever suggest that she does not need anything new. A drag queen always needs something new no matter how much she has.
  • Under no circumstances do you ever rush a drag queen. Drag time and real time are not the same thing.
  • Do not react to comments said about her. Part of performing is putting oneself out there, and people will be negative sometimes. It's not personal, and you have to remember that.
  • Always be sure to have dollar bills on you when she is performing, especially if it is a new venue or crowd. Sometimes it only takes one person to tip first before the rest of the audience will tip. Be that first person when needed.
  • Be her number-one fan.
  • Always remember that what you say and do to others is a reflection on her and, for some queens, her entire drag family. Do nothing that can harm that image.
  • Shows start late in the evening. Be prepared for late and sometimes long evenings.
  • Popularity and success come from being seen. This means being out for shows multiple nights a week, and that includes not only her shows but those of other queens as well.
  • Support not just your drag queen but others as well. It's important not only to her but to the drag community as a whole.
  • If she is "not feeling drag" on any given night, you may be required to pick out outfits and music. Have those set and ready to go for the next number when she comes off the stage. You don't want her to use any more energy than required on those nights, or it could turn out badly for you.
  • Know your venues so that you can pick the costumes and music that the particular crowd is most likely to respond to.
  • If it seems that she is doing multiple shots, supply a chaser or beer bottle. That way, if she feels that the shot is not something she likes, or if she can't do another shot, she can recycle it into the chaser or beer bottle, and everyone will think that she has finished the shot.
  • It is always your responsibility to make sure that she has everything she needs before she leaves the house. This includes (but is not limited to) music, costumes, sashes, crowns, extra outfits, corsets and jewelry. Even if she says that she has everything she needs, it is still your responsibility to double check. If you don't, you could be in store for some extra drives home to pick up these items.
  • At the end of the day, it's just men in dresses.

So there you have it: a drag husband survival guide! Some of these tips are easier to master than others, but in any case, save this survival guide, find your queen and be the best drag husband you can be. May the drag be with you.

For more advice on being a drag husband, visit Diary of a Drag Queen's Husband.