This past year has been hard on everyone, especially those who make a living in the nightlife industry like drag performers.
Filmmaker Alec Fischer is highlighting these stories in COVID Confessions, his new digital video series. In each episode, Fischer interviews workers from different industries — including education, health and fitness, and food service — about their experiences trying to scrape by during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
A recent episode of the series focused exclusively on drag artists. The eight-minute video sees Fischer talk with members of Minneapolis' drag scene about how they struggled to support themselves amid lockdowns and social distancing mandates.
"When COVID hit, I knew that shows were either canceled or shifted completely to digital, and a lot of performers I knew who relied on restaurant work as backup income were out of luck due to restaurant closures," Fischer tells NewNowNext. "When developing this episode, I wanted to help elevate their experiences so that more folks understood the sacrifices and hardships local performers were going through."
When it came to casting interview subjects, Fischer chose to highlight drag artists who don't get frequent media coverage. "A lot of local queens across the country get left out of that conversation when it comes to important topics like COVID's impact and losing work or income," he continues. "I wanted this episode to highlight a variety of local performers who all faced unique struggles because of the pandemic, but in a way that cultivated empathy, understanding, and respect for their dedication to the art of drag."
In the video, Minneapolis performers Priscilla Es Yuicy, Brova Supernova, Sissy Tops, and others talk about their income drying up as clubs closed and struggling to pivot to Zoom performances. But it's not all doom and gloom. The future is looking brighter every day, Fischer says, and with safety protocols in place and increasingly widespread access to COVID-19 vaccinations, the consensus among performers is "excitement for the summer."
Wondering how to support your fave queen or king? Some cash tips or Venmos can go a long way for a drag artist these days, but even if you don't have any coin to spare, Fischer says that even just sharing the performers' social media posts, offering to cook them dinner, or sending them excess fabric for new costumes can go a long way. "There are so many avenues of support you can tap into while also following COVID safety protocol," he adds, "and drag artists would appreciate all of them."
Fischer has interviewed more than 100 people across 15 different industries for COVID Confessions, and he isn't stopping anytime soon. He plans to film "a total of over 200 interviews across 30 industries by the end of summer."
Learn more about COVID Confessions here, and watch Fischer's full episode on drag artists in the video above.