Hana Quist, Queen and Designer
Being from the suburbs, I can imagine it isn’t as open a community for drag. How did you start developing your interest in it before the move to New York?
I joke that I was always a drag queen, but it wasn’t until I discovered “Drag” that I realized what I was doing had a name. I first started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I loved the show but it didn’t make me want to be a “Drag Queen” because I’m not into performing. Through loving drag and the show I sort of discovered other parts of drag like club kids and other nightlife artists and that’s when I started to realize that this was something I could do and was already sort of doing.
The scene here is definitely heavy on nightlife, do you find it hard to be a student, creator and take basic care of yourself while also navigating that scene?
It’s very hard. It’s easy to feel really creatively burned out and it’s hard to balance school work, making a new look every single week, and having a life and job, but in the end I’m so lucky to be able to do all these things. I have an amazing group of people who support me and help me.
Who do you think you would credit in being the most influential in your looks? Also what— more abstractly— do you go to for artistic inspiration?
The main “who” would probably be John Galliano, I’m a total Galliano girl. I really love all that 90’s-early 2000’s couture, it was so full fantasy… [And] historical clothing and costumes are my number one go to for inspiration… corsets and big sleeves and hoop skirts. I always love a good 18th century moment.
How would you define a “look” for someone who doesn’t know about the scene and this specific sense of style?
A look is the combination of the makeup, hair and outfit you put together to go out. It’s not a costume because you’re not dressing up as anything or anyone. You’re still yourself, just in a look.
What is your favorite texture?
Anything that’s covered in rhinestones and beads and super sparkly.
When you’re heading out for the evening in drag, I am sure you get comments as not everyone on the street is used to seeing something so detailed and bold— what are the most memorable things people have said to you?
Sometimes when I’m going out earlier in the evening little kids will see me and they think I look like a princess so I’ll take pictures with them… My favorite memory would be I was walking home once [at] 4am and this guy who was working in a pizza place ran out… I got a free late night meal and took pictures with everyone in the pizza place.
My least favorite memory was I was walking home in a white gown and all of a sudden I was in a bunch of pain and I realized that some guys in a car had thrown their hot coffee at me and before I could react because I was so shocked they drove off.
How did you find your community within the scene when you first came to NYC? I know you are both integrated into the Ladyfag family and Susanne Bartsch, just to name a few of the widely known “matriarchs”.
The very first night I ever went out I met Sussi who was so wonderful to me right away. He really took me under his wing and introduced me to people. I would just go out every week and get to know everyone and now I have so many wonderful relationships with so many incredible people in nightlife. The community is one of the best parts of drag. It’s so incredibly supportive and I love seeing the love everyone has for one another.
How do you think that nightlife, drag and fashion differ, and how do they relate?
Fashion obsesses on what’s next, and what’s new. Drag doesn't have to worry about being trendy. Drag isn't about labels, money or popularity (or at least it shouldn’t be). If you want to look like a devil one week and a wedding cake the next, you can do it and no one is going to judge you for it. There’s no "that's so last season" with drag. ...Sometimes I get bored or frustrated with drag and fashion is more fun, and sometimes I get annoyed or discouraged by what's happening in fashion and drag can be a fun outlet. Both are about creating a fantasy and a story, which is why I love both.
Do people ever question the term “drag”? As a female, I mean. It seems like it’s very dated to consider the concept and scene dominated by homosexual men, but just wondering if that ever comes up.
Its one of those questions that’s in the air but people don’t ever ask it to my face. I see most of those discussions online and I try not to engage in them. I know I’m a drag queen so I don’t need anyone else’s validation or approval. Drag can be a lot of things and have a lot of definitions.
How long does it take to get into a look, and what is the most frustrating element of it?
It’s usually 45 minutes for the makeup and then another 30 minutes to get into the look and figure out the final touches. Then you have to devote another 15-30 minutes to taking the photo for Instagram. The most frustrating element is what to do with my head. I make everything except wigs. Wigs are my Achilles heel.
Do people ever have trouble recognizing you when they first see you in drag?
I shaved my eyebrows awhile back and now my "girl" makeup is starting to look more and more like my drag makeup. I used to look and dress super differently from how I would in drag. Now I will wear my drag looks to school.
Favorite song to listen to when you’re getting ready to go out?
I’m a super weird persona and I like to get ready in complete silence.