Drag Brunch, Explained by Drag Queens

For many drag artists, drag brunch symbolizes the movement of their craft from taboo nightclubs to the light of day.
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The popularity of daytime drag marks important shifts in the art. Collage: VICE / Images: Courtesy of Brigiding, Naia, and Eva Le Queen

What’s better than brunch? A gay brunch.

“Drag brunch” is exactly what it sounds like—exciting drag performances over a comforting and sometimes boozy brunch. 

“You pay for a seat, eat, and a group of beautiful men dressed in sequins and big hair do cartwheels, splits, and perform, while the waiters are running around serving you,” Brigiding, a drag queen based in Manila, Philippines, told VICE.


But drag brunch is more than just croissants and cartwheels. For many drag artists, the celebration of their craft in the light of day marks important shifts, both in drag as an art form and in queer culture’s place in society.

Drag brunch is a staple in drag and queer culture in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. It’s now gaining popularity in Manila, where drag has mostly lived in late-night shows in gay clubs and bars. 

“I firmly believe that we shouldn’t limit drag acts to just the nightlife. Granted, I love the nightlife and the party scene, but drag queens can be appreciated during any time of the day,” said Naia, also a drag queen based in Manila. 

She added that the drag brunches she participates in are often sold out, an indication that people are more than ready to support drag artists outside of “the usual gay bar scene.”

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Eva Le Queen said drag brunch helps expand the understanding of her art. Photo: Butterboy Bakehouse

For drag queen Eva Le Queen, daytime drag is essential in normalizing drag and queer culture and an opportunity to expand the common understanding of the art. 

“For as long as I remember, drag has been associated only with stand-up comedy and [LGBTQ] nightclubs, often giving it a crass and sleazy misconception of female impersonation, sex jokes, and insult-comedy,” said Eva Le Queen. 


Drag, of course, is more than that.

Drag artists are multi-skilled creative powerhouses who not only entertain but also educate (and sometimes make sex jokes). But because of prevailing misconceptions, Eva Le Queen said some establishments have shunned queer talents, forcing drag artists to be “monopolized” or even “exploited” by the few local clubs and bars that let them perform. Drag brunch gigs give drag artists more options and opportunities. 

“It is also a means for drag artists to be able to gain full control of the direction of their careers and expand their options into the world. Making your rates and terms known and honored by clients is a great leap into professionalizing the art of drag,” Eva Le Queen said.

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For Naia, drag should not be limited to the nightlife. Photo: Courtesy of Naia

“Having these kinds of safe spaces where I can show my art means a lot to me and the community, because through the art form of drag, I tell the story of love and acceptance. I want everyone to be able to see the stories I tell through drag,” said drag queen Abigaile Montgomery, also from Manila.

Performing in more and new places for drag brunch means bringing drag to both straight and queer fans who just don’t go out at night. Some fans who go to drag brunch, said Naia, had only ever watched drag shows online. Drag brunch also brings drag to audiences who otherwise might not ever witness a drag show at all.


In queer nightclubs, drag artists have a general idea of who’s in the audience and what they like to see. Brunches, on the other hand, are “uncharted territory,” said Eva Le Queen. She said that drag brunch audiences can comprise children, the elderly, conservatives, and even members of the clergy. 

“Every show is a make or break, and a challenge to become a more versatile, more rounded entertainer, and win hearts at the end of the day,” Eva Le Queen said. 

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Brigiding said there’s something more intimate and special about drag brunch performances. Photo: Courtesy of Brigiding 

Performing in the day does have its downsides. If the brunch starts at 9 a.m., drag artists might need to start painting their faces and zipping their extravagant costumes by 6 a.m. They also have to make adjustments to their makeup, which they normally do for stage lights, and put up with the heat while dancing around the venue.

“Whenever I come out on stage, my main goal is to gag people with my beauty and the way I move. During daytime shows, it’s harder to polish your looks because of the harsh daylight. That’s why us queens need to work twice as hard,” said Abigaile Montgomery. 

But the drag artists VICE spoke to said the show must go on, and it’s all worth it.

“There is something more intimate and special about brunch. You’re mixing with the audience, dancing between tables, performing directly in front of them. The interaction is far more personal and instantly fun,” said Brigiding.

Beyond turning looks and stunting pretty at drag brunch, however, drag artists, like many queer people, are simply after the freedom to be who they are, whatever time of day.

“This goes beyond just performing at drag brunches. Drag queens and queer folk should have the freedom to be themselves and not just come out when the sun sets,” said Naia.

Follow Romano Santos on Instagram.