Arts & Life

Roxxxy Andrews’s drag tutorial teaches more than makeup

Oct. 20, 2020, 12:35 a.m.

Roxxxy Andrews began her segment with a reveal: On Oct. 9, she joined Stanford Cardinal Nights to lead a makeup tutorial over Zoom. Her face shielded by a golden hand-fan adorned with portraits of her most well-known outfits, only the right side of her mug was visible to the audience, and it was glammed — eyebrows drawn in sweeping arches, eyelids powdered in eyeshadow that resembled crushed coral diamonds, and eyelashes glued to black wings so tall and heavy that her blue eyes appeared to soar through the camera. The audience flooded the chat box with messages in anticipation. She lowered the fan to uncover the unfinished half of the look. Without makeup, her left eye was still a pretty blue but unobtrusive compared to the rest of the facial canvas. 

“This is how it starts.” She traced the outline of her left, faintly contoured cheekbone. She gestured towards the opposite cheek: bronzed and beat. “I’m going to teach you guys how to get here.”

Stanford Cardinal Nights hosted the event in collaboration with the Cantor Art Museum as part of their mission to provide fun social programming as an alternative to drinking alcohol. Before Andrews’s tutorial, Professor Richard Meyer, a Stanford art history professor and co-curator of the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center, guided the audience through the history of drag.

Jessica de la Paz ’20, a Cardinal Nights student employee, served as the event mediator for the evening.

“If [classes] were in person, we wouldn’t have done a makeup tutorial,” she explained in a phone interview. “But we decided to put it on because, with the pandemic, everything is virtual, and being on camera lends itself more to tutorial types of things; so we looked to social media to what would translate well on screen.”

Staff members liked the idea of a makeup tutorial. Last year, Cardinal Nights helped publicize and support Stanford Drag Troupe performances, culminating in a successful bingo night event with Alexis Michelle, another RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant. They have since expressed interest in putting on more events with drag performers.

“Honestly, who has better makeup than a drag queen?” de la Paz said.

She said the group’s programming was also influenced by the current political climate — from the 2020 election to the continued momentum of Black Lives Matter — and their desire to uplift queer women of color while transitioning to an online experience.

“There was a tweet once that said Cardinal Nights is all fun and games until you start talking about oppression, and then shit hits the fan and they get real.” She laughed. “We are all fun and games, but we also support civil rights movements and progressivism.” 

Professor Richard Meyer explored the influence of Andy Warhol through a presentation of the visual artist’s most notable works of pop art and abstract expressionism — polaroid photographs of his emphatic use of wigs (which he glued to his head to keep from flying away) and photos of his subjects who, though often glamorized in the Warhol’s work, were mistreated and undervalued by him behind the camera. Meyer ended the lesson with a reflection.

“Drag offers the opportunity to achieve a flamboyantly, even defiantly different version of physical appearance, of gender embodiment, and sometimes exaggeration. The moment we’re living in now, a moment of RuPaul’s Drag Race and non-binary genders and the different registers of drag, builds upon Warhol’s idea that we might all invest our own notions of beauty. So bring on the Warhol, the trick mirrors, and even the Andy Warhol eyeshadow. Surely this is the moment where we deserve all the props — the wigs and dresses and makeup and queer glamour — that we can get.” 

Andrews was the focus of attention for the rest of the night as she demonstrated how to apply makeup in a Q&A format. The majority of participants asked about her performance on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and All-Star. “My proudest moment is winning any of the comedy challenges,” she said. “I liked winning at something I’m not very good at.”

When asked for cocktail recommendations, Andrews responded, “I’ve never drank. I should say I’ve never been drunk because I’ve tasted [alcohol], but, no, I’ve never been drunk.”

She admits it’s interesting to navigate since drag performances occur at bars and club scenes and accordingly run adjacent to alcohol. 

“To me, I’m not missing anything. You don’t miss anything that you’ve never had. So literally, when they’re drinking, I’m like, when y’all get drunk, you’re on my level. Drink up and let loose, because I’m always loose.”

During the hour-long call, she also offered advice to aspiring drag artists: keep your full-time job.

“What I would do is look for a talent show or some way to earn money in drag. And I would take that money and spend it back in the craft,” she said. “You don’t want to be not paying your bills because you’re trying to get a fierce outfit for your next drag show or a fierce wig or whatever it may be.” 

She also advocated for people to share their love for high-profile drag performers with local entertainers. “I got onto Drag Race, and people supported me so much more afterward, but we need you to support us before we get on there. So go to your bars during the weekend whenever we get out of this crazy COVID mess because we need you guys there.” 

Andrews’s reputation for reading people was apparent to the audience. Early in the workshop, she encouraged participants to turn on their cameras; her cutting sense of humor bled in as she greeted the gallery of young faces one-by-one. “He looks like he’s 16. You look like you are 13. Is there anyone that looks like an adult?” She laughed then shook her head as if keeping herself on track. “I’m just kidding. We’re here for makeup. We’re here for makeup.”

Audience members were eager to share their results. Liam, a Stanford student who asked for his last name to be omitted for privacy, brushed his blond and purple wig out of his face to show off his makeup.

“Why not?” Liam said when asked what inspired him to volunteer. “There was this amazing makeup artist with an amazing experience. I didn’t want to miss the chance to get her feedback.”

He thought Andrews’s response was worth the risk of a reading. “You can rosy up [those cheeks] just a little bit more, but other than that, bitch, I live,” she said.

“The artist I am now is completely different than I was a year ago. If she saw me a year ago she would’ve dragged me or told me ‘nice try,’” Liam said.

Scheduled for a bar performance after the event, Andrews wrapped up the night with a few parting words. “Nobody’s perfect, number one. Black Lives Matter, number two. Black Trans Lives Matter, number three.” Beckoned by a call off-screen, she wished everyone a safe night and left for the next stage.

Contact Christine Delianne at delianne ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Christine Delianne is a desk editor for The Grind section. She is a sophomore from New York and is studying communications and African American studies. She’s an avid runner and the most cut-throat Family Feud Zoom host you’ll ever meet. Contact her at cdelianne ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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