Marilyn Sane reveals what it's like being a drag queen in quarantine (Image Credit: Marilyn Sane)

After experimenting with drag for ten years, Marilyn Sane, 28, has seen drag culture go from the pre-Ru Paul underground scene to a global obsession. “Watching something transform from what was once ‘a cock in a frock’ to something completely different, is weird but wonderful.”

But with the restriction of lockdown, how does Nottingham’s drag community cope under quarantine? “Fortunately, I have a day job and don’t rely on drag financially as it’s quite difficult to break into full-time. But I know a lot of queens and artists who have had to apply for grants and small business loans to survive” says Marilyn.

“Drag is like an all-inclusive hobby”

With the closure of drag scenes across the country, Nottingham queens have turned to virtual gigs to engage with their audiences. “Usually, we would show up, give a number and do what we do best” says Marilyn. “Now, we’ve moved to online shows and have to do a pre-recorded number, edit it together and then send it off which is actually quite difficult when you’re not very techy!” Filming on her phone in her spare room, Marilyn says, “I only have to focus on my look from the belly button up. I could be full blown Donald Ducking it and nobody would ever know!”

“I’m experimenting with different looks as I’m focusing on up-top. I have to deepen my eye make-up and make it more intense, so it reads well on camera” Marilyn says. “I may look a little crazier in reality but that isn’t a bad thing.”

Marilyn keeps creative whilst working from home (Image Credit: Marilyn Sane)

But Marilyn reveals the importance of keeping creative in lockdown. “It definitely stops you from going mad” she says. “Drag enables you to form a product of creativity out of anything and that has really helped me during lockdown. It stops you focusing on the negative.

“Drag is like an all-inclusive hobby. If I ever get bored, I’ll sew a dress out of a bedsheet, or I’ll cut and style a wig. So, I think it’s pretty good to be a drag queen in lockdown, you can take what you’ve got and make something from it.”

“I’m concerned about what’s in store for Nottingham’s drag scene”

Collaborating with drag sister Nana Arthole on YouTube, the pair host a weekly podcast for their viewers. “It’s still ticking along; we’re trying to make it work! We have a conversation on Skype, I record my half of the conversation and send it over to Nana for her to edit together so it’s like a podcast” says Marilyn. “I was thinking of putting up some makeup tutorials to make it a bit more interesting.”

Watch Marilyn Sane and Nana Arthole on YouTube, Unnamed Drag Channel

With the recent closure of Nottingham’s Propaganda and the cancellation of this year’s Pride, there is concern over the future of Nottingham’s LGBTQ+ scene. “Pride is a big part of my exposure, and there always comes an emotional attachment with your hometown Pride so that has been gutting” says Marilyn. “Propaganda is another gay bar down and we weren’t exactly flushed with them anyway.”

“I think it’s especially going to effect younger queens, as a lot of people get bar residencies when they’re first starting and use it to hone their craft. There will be less places to start out.”

It’s clear that lockdown is not phasing Marilyn Sane, but what advice has she got to offer for other queens struggling with the current situation? “I know it seems like you’ve been cut off from the world but the more people taking to the internet and helping others fill time, the better” says Marilyn. “Restoring normality for audiences is the most important thing. Being responsive on social media, making sure your presence is known and generally being active in the drag community helps a lot of people.

“Just because we can’t go out, doesn’t mean we don’t exist.”