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.
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.
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”).
Poundland grey-silver glitter is layered over Mac lipstick in Matte Royal (£15.50).
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.”
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.”