Putting Together A Practical Drag Queen

Putting Together A Practical Drag Queen

Sheila Rhiannon

Over my eleven years of practicing gender illusion in Las Vegas I’ve learned some interesting things about femininity and womanhood.  Sheila is a singer and entertainer but she also sheila6maintains a consistent style and personality.  Eventually I learned that Sheila is a tribute to women and all I appreciate about femininity.  She is about drag as art, expression, style, curiosity and love.  Practically speaking I’ve had to learn a whole list of things most men never ponder.

Who knew presenting myself, as a female could be uncomfortable?  Perhaps if I were a more typical drag queen putting on a show for a few minutes at a time I’d be willing to suffer for my art.  Since Sheila is often required for an 18-hour day, comfort and practicality are essential themes when putting myself together.




You can’t walk the walk if your feet hurt and nothing says I’m a part-time woman like sore feet in heels.  Most of my shoes are from Mr. Tango.  If you watch ‘Dancing With the Stars’ you’ll see these Salsa and Tango shoes in use.  Best of all they’re handmade and custom sized to fiteach foot individually for my slightly larger than dainty feet.  I choose the heel style and height, materials, colours and then add a padded deck and arch support to prevent my feet from slipping forward.  I keep the heel height to 3 or 3.5 inches without a platform and that puts my feet at a comfortable angle for dancing and walking with style all day and night.  Besides at 5’9” I don’t need any added height.




Hooters restaurant girls seem to know about comfort.  Their uniform choice Peavey pantyhose fit amazingly well and are nearly indestructible with just the right amount of showgirl shine.  These hose are a useful drag girl foundation that keeps hip pads in place and makes slipping into a girdle much easier.  The ‘Theatrical Pink’ shade is useful when wearing a more traditional stage costume, perhaps a Las Vegas Show Girl.  Worn underneath they can make it easier to roll up traditional silk stockings without catches, smooth the transition at your thigh and look like bare skin where they show behind garters.  I have worn some pairs of these 20 times without damage.


I do usually wear a girdle over hose.  It’s one way to keep things looking ladylike in all the right places and so far nothing has been as comfortable as the high-waist panty and long leg creations from Rago.  For these I visit the inspirational Secrets in Lace page.   They seem to suit Sheila’s style perfectly.   I choose most undergarments in black, partly as a style thing but also because Sheila is created with a good deal of makeup and white doesn’t stay white sometimes.pantyhose fit amazingly well and are nearly indestructible with just the right amount of showgirl shine.  These hose are a useful drag girl foundation that keeps hip pads in place and makes slipping into a girdle much easier.  The ‘Theatrical Pink’ shade is useful when wearing a more traditional stage costume, perhaps a Las Vegas Show Girl.  Worn underneath they can make it easier to roll up traditional silk stockings without catches, smooth the transition at your thigh and look like bare skin where they show behind garters.  I have worn some pairs ofthese 20 times without damage.



Now I know a man invented clip-on earrings and neglected to try them out for an evening.  With pierced ears I loose fewer earrings and the clamps of torture are avoided.  Besides when I loose a clip-on it invariably can be found in my cleavage and for a drag girl that means sharp sheila9object meets silicone breast form.  But more importantly, the earrings you really need are not available in clip-on, ask any woman.

For a larger girl larger jewellery helps normalize size and proportion, especially in pictures.  Bigger rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, make you look smaller in the absence of things that define size.  The opposite is true if I wear dainty items.  So I choose jewellery that is more to scale for my size.

When in Las Vegas a visit to Du Barry Fashions is essential for costume jewellery to match any outfit.


Manicure and Nails

Early on I discovered that pulling up a girdle and pretty much every other female activity risks ending in a fingernail loss where press-on or glue-on fingernails are concerned.  Sometimes these nails became painful after a number of hours as their curvature applied pressure to the sides of my nail beds.  I don’t know about other women but for Sheila loosing a nail is an sheila7unthinkable traumatic disaster resulting in tears and running mascara.  Ok, I’m kidding, but I do feel horribly incomplete and in need of instant repair.

Nowadays a visit to a nail salon for a full set of acrylic nails with a layer of clear underneath is preferred.  These nails can serve for weeks and soak off easily later.

Slightly longer, shaped and polished nails create the illusion of longer thinner fingers.  Yes, I also have my toes polished.  It is Las Vegas after all and the devil is in the details.  I was once in a pageant and warned by a judge for not having my toes polished prior to the event.  Never again!

As an aside, I have discovered that an index finger with nail loaded is one of the most powerful means of feminine expression.  It can back up those who get too close, make a point or draw instant attention to something everyone needs to see.  You can tap it on the table, check out a microphone or place it beside your lipstick for consideration, but that’s a story for another day.


Body Shape


Shape is essential to a credible gender illusion but shape fails without proportion.  When we see a person on

the street at a distance we usually decide their gender long before we can discern facial

detail.  The deciding factors are almost always movement, shape and proportions.

To get Sheila’s proportions more correct I have a pair of silicone hip pads that add just a ½” to my hip measurement and raise my apparent waistline just a little.  The goal is to have hips that match my shoulder width.  Since I was apparently issued Sheila’s backside as regular equipment I don’t add anything here (why do people keep asking my wife if Sheila’s rear view is for real?).  Breast forms are the other shape enhancer and overdoing it is not required for practical drag.  My forms are of a realistic shape and proportion for my body size and are usually in a pocket bra, which allows them to move a little in a natural fashion.


Hair and Makeup

Sheila’s hair and makeup are really deserving of a separate article to cover what’s involved in putting her together.  What I will say is that it takes about 45 minutes for Sheila’s creator Amy in Las Vegas to do her hair and makeup.  This is done after I’m dressed and might take longer if I had a beard to cover.   Amy is a professional artist with extensive experience in male to female transformations and I trust Sheila to her entirely.  Amy chooses Sheila’s hair and sheila3makeup style for each occasion.  My best advice is to give an artist a free hand to see their best work and where Amy is concerned I follow my own advice.

Amy holds monthly and annual events that she hosts in Las Vegas and for anyone wanting to try their hand at cross dressing or drag she is a great starting point in the perfect city.  Sheila keeps her Just You webpage if you wonder what fun can be had during a vacation to Sin City.


A Starkers Corset

I always suspected that a corset would be a great drag accessory because it does a number of things that are perfect for gender illusion.  Of course I want a thinner waist at just the right height but the bonus is that they push what was in the middle both up and down and that does sheila1help create a more feminine figure.  The difficulty was that any corset I found off the rack was not really tall enough for my male torso and not shaped properly for me either.  The obvious symptoms were the sore lower ribs and backstays that were much further apart at the top than bottom when laced in.

Thank goodness Dianna DiNoble and Starkers Corsetry were close enough to our home and my wife and I paid her a visit.  Her custom measured corsets were clearly the right solution.  I remember our first fitting when Dianna laced my unfinished corset up to check the fit.  I think we may have both been surprised at the shape it created.  It was absolutely perfect, instead of feeling restricted there was an immediate feeling of support and comfort that was hard to describe.  What I do recall most is that when it was time to remove it I didn’t actually want to be undone at all.  It gave me a near euphoric feeling of comfort.

There was another interesting and unexpected benefit to wearing my corsets.  Sheila occasionally sings the blues at a small club and I was surprised to find that diaphragm support from my corsets gave me better breath control and sustain.  I had never heard of this benefit but it made some sense to me and I now love to wear them when I sing.


Changing My Centre

Now I should explain that Sheila is sometimes complimented on her feminine persona, which includes a woman’s walk, movement and mannerisms.  The problem is that most people think I taught myself how to do this and should be able to share my ‘secret’.  The truth is that my transition to Sheila is more like a possession, she moves in and I move out.  I didn’t know how to explain my unnatural change to unrehearsed femininity.

A while back I was asked to talk to a group of aspiring women about how females move and act differently from males.  As usual much of the curiosity was about details such as how to sit sheila2or stand or the more complicated issue of a feminine walk.  Movement, pose and posture are certainly very important to any gender illusion but the problem with focusing on each detail separately is that this approach seems to lead to snapshots of femininity joined together by masculine moments.  It’s great if you’re posing for a photo but not very convincing over dinner and dancing.  For example, I’ve seen a girl trying her best to pose herself in a chair as a lady would.  It looked perfect unit she moved to leave and levered herself up with her arms in a manly display of upper body strength, destroying any illusion.

I wanted a simple method of thinking about feminine posture and movement that I could share and it was my corsets that helped me with this.  I realized that what Sheila does when she takes over is to move my virtual centre of focus from high up between my shoulders to down low just above my hips.  It begins with raising the chin to be more open and then relaxing the shoulders until they drop to a natural position.  Her corset holds her core in good posture as she settles down past her waist into her hips and cocks one hip a little outward.  The finishing touches involve moving my arm focus down to my forearms and hands and moving my voice up from the chest and into my mouth.

Dressed as Sheila I decided to demonstrate this internal transition for a class of girls.  I pulled up into my male mode making my upper body my centre.  Then slowly I let Sheila in and I watched to see if I was making my point.  One girl in the front let her jaw drop.  “That was amazing.  I just saw you change like night and day and I knew you were a woman again!”  I was pleased to have them practice the technique with some positive results.

It’s true my corsets make it easier to separate male from female and focus Sheila in her true centre.  I think this is because the corset means I can totally relax my upper body while keeping Sheila’s figure.   Needless to say I now have a wonderful collection of Starkers corsets to help Sheila find herself.

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