Dark arts: the exotic beauty of London’s alternative nightlife scene

A new book by Damien Frost celebrates avant-drag to extreme haute couture. We ask its stars the secrets to their look

Bourgeoisie, 24

Occupation Drag queen (his “muggle” name is Joey A Frenette).
This look took Two hours.
Face “Glitter is my favourite substance. I cover my face in glue — a medical-grade adhesive called Pros-Aide (£10.50, Screenface) — and throw on loads of chunky kiddy glitter.” The glitter is applied with a sponge and “scoured off” with baby oil: “It’s a fabulous exfoliator.”
Eyes Bourgeoisie stacks five pairs of falsies on his top lids, using weave-bonding glue. “They’re Elegant Lashes 301s, the dream drag lash — long, spiky and curled so they open up your eye. I order them in bulk from an American drag Ebay shop ($26 for 12).” He then creates a “heavy black wing” with Vital waterproof liquid liner (£2; pakcosmetics.com) — cheap is good when you use so much of it, he says — and slathers Kryolan white waterproof liquid liner (£11) on the bottom lid to open the eye.

Lips The overdrawn green lip — “a cheap Makeup Revolution lipstick” (in Atomic Serpent, £1) — is sealed with OCC Lip Tar in Chlorophyll (£11.50; selfridges.com), “which lasts through a blowie and a hurricane”.

Headpiece Up to 40 balloons, pinned to a cheap turban from the market so they “bounce and twirl”.

Destination Ulraviolet, a Soho club night.
How I learnt He spent the final year of his fine-arts degree “absorbing drag queen make-up tutorials”.
Hazards “Glitter gets in your cocktails, your food, your gums — and once, I got a corneal ulcer and had to wear an eye patch for two weeks. When I wore this outfit, kids started popping my balloons with their cigarettes.”

Charity Kase, 19

Occupation Creative director of Féroce magazine (real name: Harry Whitfield).
This look took
Four hours: “It was my first time as a drag queen. Getting ready is so stressful. I’m screaming and everything is everywhere.”
Face It starts with Stargazer Pro Paint Stick (£5). “It’s the drag queen’s go-to foundation. It’s a thick greasepaint. You cover your face in it, let it bake, add another layer, let it bake, then contour cheeks, nose and jawline with a darker colour.” The skin is finished with Stargazer white pressed powder (£5): “I like to look really pale, a bit scary.”
Eyes False eyelashes are applied top and bottom — “the cheapest I can get away with. TK Maxx sells nice ones.” Sometimes Whitfield even makes eyelashes from make-up brush bristles. He mixes Ben Nye Liquid Latex (£7) with black acrylic paint to drip from the eyes for that cried-out mascara look.
Lips The lip is filled in with a NYX black kohl eyeliner (£8; asos.com) and then highlighted in the middle with NYX jumbo pencil in white (£5).
Wig Whitfield styled the hairpiece over two months, with glue spray, wire and a milk carton.
Destination Wut? a drag club in east London.
How I learnt “I have a drag dad, Frank Fontaine — not my real dad — who introduced me to the scene, and I’ve watched a lot of YouTube tutorials.”
Hazards “As long as I get a good photograph, I don’t mind what I look like at the end of the night. I’ll be pulling off my lashes before I’m out of the club.”

Samanfah Wilson, 24

Occupation Costume designer: “Galliano is a big inspiration.”
This look took A total of 20 minutes — 10 on hair and 10 make-up. “You can find beauty in the natural essence of throwing something on quickly.”
Face She uses Snazaroo children’s face paints (£13) blended with white paint to make a pastel hue, then contours with another colour — painting the face in just one colour “looks flat”. She secures pearls, gems and sequins with eyelash glue, and dusts her face with Mac Pigment in Vanilla (£16).
Eyes Pink glitter around her eyes is held in place with Vaseline. Glitter is her beauty basic, which she buys in bulk from Indonesia: “I throw it on as soon as I wake up.” Eyes are defined with a Barry M black kohl pencil (£3) and Dior Diorshow mascara (£25) and Brow Styler (£19.50).
Lips Lime Crime lipstick in Serpentina (£5.50).
Hair “The fastest way to do hair is not to do it at all. I get my braids and cut-outs — zigzag shaping at the sides — done once a month by my friend Silvja Vil [who has a YouTube hair tutorial channel].”
Destination The Box, an alternative cabaret in Soho.
How I learnt “I look through Pinterest and couture, and make it my own.”
Hazards Glitter slide. “Everyone’s got sacrifices to make.”

Anne-Sophie Cochevelou, 26

Occupation Costume designer.
This look took
Half a day for the hairpiece, plus an hour getting ready.
Face
Inspired by Lady Gaga and the French performance artist Orlan, Cochevelou uses her face as a canvas for “accessories where you don’t expect them”. A small budget pushes you to look elsewhere to make something unique, she says, but she won’t scrimp on products that she wears daily: Avène Hydrance Optimale Skin Tone Perfector (£16.50) is pale enough for her complexion.
Eyes
Eyebrows “can be an alternative to earrings”, so pompoms are glued onto cardboard with PVA glue, then stuck onto brows. From her dress, she snipped a few hair extensions into eyelashes, decorating them with Poundland rhinestones (“I’m their best customer”).
Lips
Poundland grey-silver glitter is layered over Mac lipstick in Matte Royal (£15.50).
Hair
The secret to her volume is not only 10 wigs (from Poundland’s Halloween collection), but also a wire tomato trainer from a garden centre. “It’s like having 10kg of books on your head. If you don’t move, it’s OK.”
Destination
Her art performance in the east London hair salon Butchers.
How I learnt She studied costume design at Central St Martins, and learns on the go.
Hazards “You have to suffer — it’s part of it. You can’t eat, drink or go to the loo. You just stop living for a while.”

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