A day in the life of a drag king: 'People do drugs, I do drag'

Katharine Hay talks to drag star Eli Buck to hear more about his routine in the city’s most popular drag venue, which he calls his home...

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 7:40 pm
Eli Buck dressed top impress on a night performing as a drag king in CC Blooms

“If your first few performances don’t make you feel like King Kong on crack cocaine then drag isn’t for you.

“When I first started doing it, I was the only king at the club. People used to say to me, ‘you’re not really drag if you’re a king. But now, there are more, in fact, the king scene has exploded. We have been around just as long as the queens.

“What people didn’t say enough was ‘drag takes over your life’ and that is very true - it takes over your house, your wardrobe, your face in the mirror and...your overdraft.

Eli Buck dressed top impress on a night performing as a drag king in CC Blooms

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“I am one of the drag kings at the Rabbit Hole in CC Blooms in Greenside Place.

“When I first started, I was the only king. But the queens raised me, they taught me everything I needed to know about drag and how to do it well.

“I spent a year watching and learning about how to put on a real act and how to lip sync well from queens who have been doing it for years.

“It’s challenging. You have to hold you audience. You have to be better than what they can see on their phones. It’s one thing getting their attention, but another thing holding their attention.

Eli Buck dressed top impress on a night performing as a drag king in CC Blooms

“I was doing a nine to five job when I started working here. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I needed a few Jagerbombs. But you just get these 45 minutes on stage and it’s incredible. Some people do drugs, but I do drag. It felt incredible and now I can’t live without it. I find other people crave pizza but I crave lip syncing.

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“I have a routine before work. I always have music playing when I am getting ready, and it tends to be the tracks that I am lip syncing to that night. I don’t really do chart music, I prefer blues, and I am a huge Stevie Nicks fan.

“As a drag king you do everything a drag queen does, but back to front. Queens want short, thin eyebrows, but kings want thick, dark ones. They make their faces look thinner, but I want to make my jaw stand out more.

CC Blooms in Edinburgh

“I wear male clothes all the time, and when I am on stage it’s black trousers, crisp white shirt, braces and the infamous Rabbit Hole jacket which is fitted and has a white rabbit spray painted onto the back.

'I become a different person when I am in drag'

“I identify as trans male. I have for a while, but only came out last year.

Eli Buck dressed top impress on a night performing as a drag king in CC Blooms

“I am on the waiting list for further medical treatment, but it’s a long wait. Doing drag has really helped with my confidence. When I strap my chest down and feel it’s flat, or if I brush my finger on a makeshift tache on my face it’s just liberating.

“I become a different person when I am in drag. I am confident with a lot of charm, the kind of guy that makes you nervous when you see your girlfriend or boyfriend talking to them. I just feel untouchable.

“I talk to strangers, but out of drag, I don’t feel like I can talk to anyone. The kings I know, myself included, are totally different on stage to on the street. Walk past me in the street I will keep my head down, but brush past me in drag? I will give you a wink.

How much do I earn?

“I earn anything between £15 to £100 for the night. We have a donations pot and then it’s split between the performers at the end of the night.

“It’s great when you get a good amount from fans because it means you can put more back into your show and put on an even better performance. People are spending their hard-earned cash, it’s important to put on a good show.

“Since doing it I have met so many amazing people. Every person you meet in drag is the same as you, and every bone in their body is creative. It’s also a real privilege working somewhere where you are so easily inspired by others around you.

“I definitely plan to do it for longer, I am not ready to put up my dancing shoes yet.

“I am performing on Tuesday night. The acts usually start at 10pm.

“If you fancy a great night out with some killer drag, holla me.