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Six drag queens you should be following on YouTube

These expert entertainers offer it all: Transformation. Barbiecore. Activism.

Drag queens Trixie Mattel, left, and Katya Zamolodchikova, who were rivals on Season 7 of the popular show “Ru Paul's Drag Race.” (Albert Sanchez)

The sequins. Shall we talk about the sequins? Or the Peg Bundy hair. Or the fiery self-confidence that can be as magnetic as it is hard-won. Drag queens are, first and foremost, entertainers. But if the theatrical guise they take on for performance is their most immediately striking aspect, it’s not the most important. What’s most important is their freedom.

Watching skilled performers do, say and be whatever they want — that’s exhilarating. The captivating transformation. The bold self-possession, biting humor, clear-eyed scrutiny. And the risk-taking. After all, not caring much about norms and outdated whispers is what got the queens into their wigs and sparkles in the first place.

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Queens everywhere have surely been unsettled by the recent backlash against Drag Queen Story Hours by right-wing extremists and politicians. Happily, shrinking into the background is not the drag queen style. If you can’t catch a live show, spectacular queens and performances can be found at your fingertips, and watching and supporting them is one of the best responses to the attacks.

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Life is short. Drag is fun. It can also be profound. Here are six queens, among many, to inspire, fascinate — and to follow on YouTube.

1. and 2. Trixie and Katya, ‘UNHhhh’

The Emmy-winning reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” gave drag an enormous mainstream platform, and some of the contestants have become social media stars in their own right. With their talk show “UNHhhh,” Season 7 rivals Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova notch more than 8 million views for some episodes (take, for example, “Ep. 119, Gurl, You Gay”) — and for good reason. They’re one of life’s quintessential pairings, a gin-and-tonic synthesis of near-opposites who take the glamorous “Drag Race” style in different directions.

Trixie has the showier look, solid Barbiecore, heavy on the mod prints, contouring and bouffants. But she’s the calmer, more grounded of the two. Katya can lean a little Brigitte Bardot with her sultry appearance, yet she’s more excitable. Together they dish about everything from bad dates to babies (“give me something I can monetize!”) with breathtaking abandon. Their chat gets a visual lift from artful graphics that redesign the setting from moment to moment. It’s a daydream of the best slumber party ever.

From “Ep. 127, Getting Fired”:

Katya, a former boutique clerk: “I did have to fire people for stealing, which was ironic.”

Trixie: (blows a raspberry)

Katya: “I had to say someone, ‘We all do it, but you’re a little extra.’ You know what I mean? You’re messing up the thing for everybody.”

3. Monét X Change

What can’t she do? Monét X Change has hosted podcasts with Lady Bunny and Bob the Drag Queen (more on this below). A commanding theatrical presence, she has lip-synced music videos, helmed a live talk show, “The X Change Rate,” and created salty videos with Welsh drag queen the Vivienne. Their “Bridgerton”-style etiquette class with social-graces expert Liz Brewer is classic. Two audacious, buck-the-rules queens plunked into the stuffy confines of the regency-era TV romance — what could possibly go wrong? “Monét, can I ask you: Please. Keep. Your knees. Together.

4. Bob The Drag Queen

First name Bob, last name The Drag Queen. Perfect. This comedian and winner of Season 8 of “Drag Race” is wonderfully irreverent. Some of Bob’s best work is in the videos created for the podcast “Sibling Rivalry” with Monét X Change, where their testy faceoffs are oddly compelling. A no-mirror makeup challenge? Why not?

Monét, scrutinizing Bob’s wiggily winged eyeliner: “Why are you doing that now?”

Bob: “I’m literally doing my normal face that I always go for.”

Monét: “But they don’t match!”


While Trixie, Katya, Monét and Bob mostly deal in comedy and clever, sardonic observations of everyday life, here are two queens who take their work in another direction, inhabiting the art side of drag:

5. Sasha Velour

Sasha Velour won “Drag Race’s” ninth season with her epic lip-sync of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional,” ending with a dramatic unwigging and stunning baldhead reveal. She has since gone deeper into a distinctly creative approach, delving into writing, directing and TV producing as well as performing. Her brand of drag can include stylish dance and choreography; it often showcases scores of other artists; and it might also contain activist messages. An emotional performer with an alluring, fluid physicality, Sasha shaves her head in honor of her mother, who underwent cancer treatments before her death.

Still, entertainment is key. Drag is “at once illuminating and not particularly serious,” wrote Sasha, a former Fulbright scholar, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece. “In drag, we playfully reject our assumptions about how a man or a woman ‘should’ act so we can find our own ways of being. And drag, certainly, is nothing dangerous.” Yet let there be no doubt: Sasha is uniquely fierce. Take a look at clips of her long-running, live drag revue, “NightGowns,” which she has turned into an eight-part show on Roku. “NightGowns: The musical,” taped last year in New York, can be seen on her website,

6. Jomama (Daniel Alexander Jones)

Musician, playwright and performer Daniel Alexander Jones isn’t out to dazzle. What he wants most, it seems, is to awaken mystery and wonder, and his medium is Jomama, a thoroughly approachable anti-diva. (He considers her a “visitation,” part angel and part ancestor, rather than a created persona.) Put your feet up, sit back with your laptop and a glass of wine or pot of tea and relax as the elegantly understated Jomama unspools her quietly provocative stagecraft. In intimate cabaret shows such as “Black Light” (a full-length taping is on YouTube), Jomama interacts with the audience while weaving witty monologues and original songs into explorations of racism, politics and history. Threaded throughout is the transcendent power of art and community.

“What if I told you there are trials ahead beyond your deepest fears?” Jomama asks in “Black Light.” “What if I told you nobody’s coming to save us?” Experimental, searching and poetic, Jones’s work contains more questions than answers; it blurs boundaries, opens doors.