The pandemic has been brutal for everyone, but performers who make their living doing live shows have suffered immensely. Draftsy talked to Miss Velvet LeNore, a newly crowned Miss Florida Female Impersonation At Large, about the community coming together to support the artists during the lockdowns.
A gorgeous drag queen with 27 years of experience, Miss LeNore is well known and respected in South Florida for building recognition for the LGBTQ community and supporting other artists.
Draftsy: Miss LeNore, how did the pandemic affect your art? Was it a negative influence, did it affect your ability to be in shows and support yourself with your act?
LeNore: Fortunately, I am one of the ladies who are not afraid to save the money, so I personally was ok, but the pandemic had hurt many people in the drag community. Many performers were scared and did not think they could survive it. Thank God for our community and the fact that we were able to do shows online from our homes. We had so much support during the lockdown.
D: Online shows? That must have been a significant change.
L: Yes, we found a friend who was computer savvy and helped us get online and link all the performers from their houses. We got all the ladies together and started doing shows. People were very supportive and paid us through instant money transfer apps.
D: Being in the lockdown, how did it challenge or change your art and creativity?
L: Because of the pandemic, I took a step back and thought about the fact that every artist, no matter what art they are creating, must grow and help others. I decided to take people under my wing who wanted to become performers but didn’t know where to start. Many guys want to try a career in entertainment, but there is no platform for them. So, I made my own platform and called it “The Boylesque Show.” It allows new performers to do drag, and it is going really well; the show is blowing up in South Florida!
D: What was the most important feeling in those months during the beginning of the pandemic? What kept you going?
L: What kept me going was knowing that I would be able to see my family and my kids again one day. Not being able to see everyone for a while has made me realize that we need to love each other more, tell them how we feel every day, and spend more time with family. We must make memories with people.
I lost someone to Covid-19 recently, a friend of mine who used to do drag to raise money for kids. We did a benefit in his name, and thousands of people came out. That broke my heart – he was so healthy and strong. For him to be taken from us like that has opened my eyes to the fact that we have to be there for each other in life. You just don’t know what’s going to happen and what tomorrow holds.
D: Do you think the art was more important than usual in the past year and a half?
L: Oh yes, absolutely. When the bars opened back up, I felt like the community embraced us a lot more. Things are actually even better now than before the pandemic. I am working more than I have ever worked. I think the public appreciates us more because they see what we had to go through. They are giving us the love back.
People were in their houses for so long, only able to watch television. They could not wait to go out and see live entertainment once the restrictions were lifted. Every show has been sold out. People want to get out and experience life again. Drag shows are a way for locals to have dinner with family and friends, laugh, celebrate and have a good time. The club where I work has been packed every night.
D: In your opinion, is there an imbalance of people leaning on art in hard times, and at the same time, artists going through difficulties because society is not giving them the means to support themselves?
L: I personally think that the community has done everything to support us through this time. A lot of people were giving the performers gift cards for Publix (local grocery store – ed.). They found ways to help us raise money, kept reaching out every week to see if we needed anything at all. Local restaurants were cooking dinners and giving them out for free to artists that could not afford to buy food.
I feel that the community really did give back to us. They supported us more than ever before. It just shows that people care, and they understand that we had no way to make money. A lot of girls live from show to show, so it was difficult for them. Not everyone was able to save for a rainy day. We were sharing everything and helping each other out. At times like these, we must stick together.