RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Kylie Sonique Love has alleged that there are still some celebrities who are unwilling to pay drag performers for their time.
The fan favourite, who originally appeared on Drag Race season two in 2010 before winning the crown on All Stars 6 in 2021, said she was told by a “very famous celebrity” that there wasn’t a budget to pay her for a Pride performance. She didn’t name the star in question.
Speaking to YouTube documentarian Matt Cullen in a video posted 30 July, Kylie broached the topic by first praising Miley Cyrus for putting her money where her mouth is when it comes to supporting the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2021, Miley brought out Kylie to perform alongside her at a special 4 July concert in Las Vegas. Kylie said that the pair remain close friends, and Miley had recently dropped off some clothes at her house.
Delving deeper into why it’s important for big stars to support the wider LGBTQ+ community, Kylie shared that one celebrity asked her to perform for free during the Pride season just gone.
“I just worked with a very famous celebrity who during the Pride season did a whole Pride event and a concert but somehow didn’t have a budget for us,” she divulged.
“This summer especially, we’ve been fight for our rights as drag performers and trans people to be able to continue living our lives and being able to work and I just thought it was a little odd to do all that,” she added. “You’re worth half a billion dollars, and you didn’t have ten dollars at least for us?”
Numerous Republican states across the US are currently trying to impose anti-drag laws which would restrict drag performers from performing in public. Tennessee became the first US state to introduce such legislation earlier this year, though a Federal judge shot the law down in June.
While some celebrities or event promoters might request a performance in return for “exposure”, Kylie expertly explained why that reasoning doesn’t stand anymore.
“If you have the internet and Instagram, you’re already exposed,” she said. “So people that say ‘oh this is for exposure’ – b***h, I am exposed. That’s why you asked me to be a part of your gig.”
There have been several instances of celebrities, TV programmes and events reportedly refusing to pay drag performers in recent years. In 2019, Drag Race UK star The Vivienne alleged that she was asked to perform on ITV’s The X Factor for free, though a spokesperson at the time denied the claim.
Drag Race fans have reacted with fury at Kylie’s claims, with one writing on social media: “These girls deserve better. Fake b******t about caring when you really don’t, and rehabilitating images need to stop… or at least pay f*****g people for their time.”
“Pay the dolls!,” exclaimed another fan. “People treat these hard working professionals like s**t.”