Many years ago whilst I was starting out on my drag queen outfits with Madame Mu Mu in Maidstone, Kent, I was working with a burlesque performer who told me about this amazing drag artist who was just starting out and already showing strong potential. Fast forward many years!
Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce the absolutely lovely and talented Miss Luna Lestrange!
She is the spooky Queen of the southeast and she delivers camp horror every time she ascends to the stage. She is also a tribute to the amazing singer Pink. Over the years I have watched Harley develop a character that transitions into a goddess of the night. It gives me great pleasure to interview this amazing Drag Artist for the Crystal Parade blog. What a treat to interview a “trick star” just before my favourite season, and I know Miss Luna Lestrangers too, Halloween!
Miss Luna Lestrange - Miss Luna Lestrange is that creature that haunts your nightmares, but you still might fancy her a little bit! The name reflects two of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Bellatrix Lestrange & Luna Lovegood. I see so much of myself in both of these characters that it felt natural to merge the two together and create the persona that we have today.
JGH - For myself, it was many years ago when I dressed up as Dr Frank N. Furter for Halloween and my boss said, “Please do drag every weekend!” That character, Dr Frank N. Furter, I believe, is responsible for many drag queens coming to life. Fast forward many years later and Madame Mu Mu was born. How long have you been doing drag and what started it all off for you?
MLL - I started playing with Drag makeup back in 2015, I was already working the scare attraction industry as an FX makeup artist and scare actor, and a friend and I stumbled across a little old show called ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and thought it would be fun to recreate some looks. I soon fell down a rabbit hole and began to adapt this into my own style, before beginning to really start going out and hitting the stage almost 2 years later at the end of 2016!
JGH - Your drag aesthetic is gorgeously haunting and you love to focus on the spookiness. I am such a wet blanket when it comes to horror films but I love watching them because you cannot go wrong with camping up a sinister character. What inspires your drag and why?
MLL - I can take inspiration from many forms, it can be as literal as a horror movie character, or artist, or something as subtle as a line of a song or idea, it really does change week per week! I love to perform emotion and feeling, so it’s often fun for me to create a whole life around a character or recreate scenes mixing in my own feelings and emotions, and usually a running ‘storyline’. I use drag like therapy, and so being able to connect deeply with members of the audience is deeply rewarding and everyone forms their own interpretation of my performance, which inspires me further to help tell others stories, and knowing I can help others via this, is incredibly rewarding.
JGH - My first gig as a drag queen was meeting and greeting customers and stage managing whilst also picking up lacey knickers and crystalized corsets. The planets aligned and my moment came when I had to force myself to step forward and seize a moment that opened up an incredible opportunity. Where was your first ever gig and if you could redo it, what would you do differently knowing what you know now?
MLL - My first ever gig was Glitterbomb in Canterbury. I performed Halestorm’s cover of ‘Bad Romance’ back before the venue had a stage and we’d perform on the iconic staircase! It was a pretty unique space to be thrown into! (and it does WONDERS for the leg muscles!) I think the main thing I think I would tell myself from that night would be RELAX.
I remember feeling very much like I had something to prove, as by now everyone knew me as a ‘look queen’ because that’s what I’d been doing the past year. I think if I could go into it slightly more relaxed, I’d have enjoyed myself so much more and found the experience so much more rewarding because the audience perception was extremely positive, I just needed to back myself!
JGH - At Mu Mu we perform across two rooms. It’s a workout in itself. When I first started one of my jobs was to make sure that I had to be in one room whilst the performer was in the other and then swap. I was told by my boss that I had to basically push the other performer into the other room, upstage really, in order for the audience members to get a chance of seeing their act.
My advice to that young Madame Mu Mu would be to communicate that to the diva you would be sharing the space with. I learned the hard way, but, grateful for the lesson. What advice would you give to the young character, Miss Luna Lestrange, knowing what you know now?
MLL - Looking back now, I think once again as I mentioned previously, it would be to relax, and generally believe in myself and open myself up to new experiences. Years back I remember being offered a large array of various opportunities and turning them down thinking, I don’t know what I’m doing, I can’t do that, but until you try, you never know!
I was worrying that other people had put me in the box of ‘look, queen!’, but was also putting myself in a box by limiting opportunities. Since then, some of my most enjoyable experiences of performing have been doing those things that I thought I’d never do - i.e. comedy and live vocals!
JGH - I have met and seen a lot of new performers within drag and I always sense this urgency in them to be the best, have all the gigs, perform 24/7. Reality check...it doesn’t happen that quickly. My advice to new queens starting out is always, slow down, and develop the character. Develop your tool, YOU, before you go out and spend a fortune on new costumes and expensive wigs.
I see a lot of beautiful costumes and styled wigs, this is not shade, just the nature of the business, and very little talent filling the clothes. Drag on a dime exists for this very reason. Develop who you are as an artist and then when you’re making money and being paid, upgrade the wardrobe.
Some reading this may think I am being shady but whenever you listen or watch actors developing characters, the importance of taking your time and using the word, Silence, to your advantage, the performance gains control and suddenly its upped a notched. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in drag and why would it be that advice?
Drag on a Dime is my favourite drag. If someone looks stunning and they’ve created it themselves, I value them far higher than someone who looks stunning in bought luxury designer couture. I say this, purely because that way you’re going to head into the craft focused on what you enjoy, and that’s what it’s all about. As you said, stardom doesn’t just come, and if you come into the craft expecting instant stardom, get ready for a slice of humble pie!
JGH - Drag for me, right now, is an outlet of complete creative expression. It really allows me to tap into someone other than Chris, the person, or Julian Garner, the headwear designer. It comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. Highs and Lows. A fight between personalities as I am getting ready, before Madame Mu Mu takes over completely.
This process is super interesting to me. My partners Mum said to me once that Madame Mu Mu helps Chris out and one day when I stop, I will miss her. There is a truth to that. There are more things I love about Drag but these experiences with myself are by far my favourite. What do you LOVE about drag?
MLL - I touched earlier about how I used drag as therapy, and that has got to be the number one thing that I get from Luna. I don’t know why it works, but it does. As soon as everything is on, it’s this shining, suit of armour, that you can do anything in. I can almost look back at my drag performances like a diary, I could pretty much pick any of them and tell you how I was feeling, or what I was going through at that time.
So in a sense drag is where I put my problems, but by doing so, work through them and continue to grow as Harley. I love PRODUCTION too, if we’re going to do a show, let's do a show - lights, effects, smoke, fire, all of it! I love being able to play with every single little detail of a production, that’s what I love, and is certainly something I would look more to doing in the future if I ever had the opportunity.
JGH - Before I write this. This is no shade towards Ru Paul’s Drag Race and the contestants that have appeared on the show. What they have done for the industry, whether it is good or bad, has opened up discussion, important discussion, within the LGBTQIA plus community. It is simply an observation of the industry.
Before that amazing show came along all drag was valid. Whether you looked a certain way, or did your makeup in a certain way or whether you grew a giant beard it was considered drag. Now I feel because it’s in the mainstream and the people who don’t live outside their tent, where all the adventure is, they think that what is on TV is what it must be and that the only way. It’s a huge bugbear of mine and I wish people would be able to submerse themselves in the murky waters of drag as a performance and swim amongst the many spectrums of drag that are out there and understand that it is all valid.
People often ask me if I want to do Ru Pauls Drag Race and in all honesty, there is an element of offense taken because they’re dismissing what I do as Chris. What I really want to do. When I get asked that question I feel it is my job to tell people that there is more to me than just a cock in a frock, excuse the pun. What do you HATE about drag?
MLL - I must say I do hate the ‘Drag Race’ perception of you have to dress this way, and paint this way, and do death drops and if you don’t your trash. It’s extremely limiting to individual expression and silences and pushes out those that do things differently, if we wanted to go deeper into that, we could throw out again the long asked plea for more trans, king and AFAB identities on the show.
That is silencing a huge part of the community - a part of the community that creates some of the most beautiful and deep art, that people are missing out on seeing. I really hate that some see having breasts or being female-presenting is ‘cheating’ - breasts have got nothing to do with drag, some of the most beautiful women in the world don’t have breasts!
We’ve moved on from the ‘cock in a frock’/pub drag that people were used to seeing, let’s stop policing drag, embrace the change, and let these artists take the spotlight!
JGH - Social Media is an incredible tool. Incredible, however, it has its draw backs. Not just in the industry of drag but in all industries. I believe it makes people believe that they are not valid. I hear far too often, “I only have “x” many followers, I’m so embarrassed.” The palm of my hand does itch when I hear this because I just want to slap some sense into people.
I would change people’s attitudes towards numbers because at the end of the day, they’re just a number! If you could change one thing about the industry as a whole what would it be?
MLL - I’m an old soul, and one of the biggest things that I hate is the dark sided pettiness and drama that comes with the drag community, especially in the current climate. The world has never been more divided, drag is there to bring communities together, how are we supposed to do that when everyone’s at each-others’ throats all the time?
Of course, not everyone can get along, that’s a given, however, you don’t need to be a part of their life. What’s the point? There’s situations where a call-out may be appropriate, but that doesn’t need to create ‘drama’. It’s a shame, and it’s most certainly not the vast majority, but there is a small minority that does often spoil it! I’m getting very good at rolling my eyes and logging off social media these days, and I’m so much happier for it!
JGH - Let’s talk crystals. I have always loved your use of crystals within your costumes, especially the act you did called “The Suicide of Cordelia Goode.” The way you illustrated the burnt patches on your costume. AMAZING! When was the first time you used crystals on your costumes?
MLL - Thank you so much! That costume became a labour of love! I’d been playing with the cheap eBay resin rhinestones for a little while but I don’t think it was really until I started doing my costumes for my P!nk impersonation that I really started going ham with proper crystals.
I remember watching her tours, collecting all the images I needed and being engrossed at how beautifully everything looked from stage, and since then I’ve just been hooked and I’ve become pretty well known for always being super sparkly and leaving a trail of crystals wherever I go!
JGH - You also use crystals in your makeup looks. When was the first time you did this and what inspired you to do so?
MLL - I can’t be 100% sure, but I think the first time I ever went ham with crystals on my face was a Zombie Barbie look I did inspired by Victoria Elizabeth Black. I think I’d been putting the odd AB crystal on my brow bone and cheekbone up to now, but this look I went a little crazier and added some Jet AB and red crystals too.
I think from there I just loved the way it adds an extra layer to my makeup, those little tiny details! Plus, I think when playing around with different colours from stage it gives my skin that really magical, mystical sparkle that really adds into my persona.
JGH - I know you don’t only use crystals when you do these amazing looks. What else do you use that really makes them pop that little bit extra? Any tips you can give the readers as they start to think about their Halloween costumes?
MLL - Oh baby, this is something I can talk about! Honestly, there’s a rabbit hole. But in this day and age, usually if you want to learn something there’s a tutorial for it online, just search for it and you’re bound to find something on YouTube! ‘Glam and Gore’ is fabulous, ‘Ellimacs SFX’ also has a large variety of FX making videos.
They’re both beginner-friendly! Get friendly with liquid latex, prosthetic pieces, blood, contacts, there’s a whole array of things that can be done. Look at close up pictures of your inspirations faces, what’s their skin colour detailing like? Do they have any fine lines or wrinkles? Or a certain crease shape, lip shape, take in all the little details and break them down, as all of these little things will allow you to make your costume that much more real and believable
JGH - What advice would you give to someone reading this in regards to the adhesive of crystals on skin? Do you reuse the crystals and if so how do you clean them?
MLL - Personally I find good old DUO Clear Eyelash glue works just perfectly for me. It’s cheap and reliable, and doesn’t upset my skin. If I need something a little more hardcore I’ve found that Glitter Tattoo Glue is an unspoken saint! I’d say be careful if you have sensitive skin, but the bond it creates is really brilliant for crystals and glitter as-well!
I have a separate supply of crystals for my face, the duo glue peels off super easily, and when they start too dull from the layers of various hairsprays or setting sprays I tend to just use some 99% alcohol to give them a clean and restore them back to their original glory!
JGH - What is your most favourite costume you own and why?
MLL - Surprisingly, it’s one with no crystals on as of yet! It’s got to be the Funhouse Tour jacket I’ve got that I use for my P!nk tributes. It’s inspired by the original piece made by one of my favourite designers Bob Mackie. I think because I don’t own anything else quite like it, it’s a pretty unique item for my wardrobe, I don’t own much with as much structure and colourful detailing as this piece.
I love it because the moment I put it on, you CANNOT TELL ME I’m not P!nk on that tour, living her best life. It’s the piece that brings out the biggest change in me, I’ve worn it to death, but I believe I’ve done some of my best tribute acts in that costume.
JGH - When it comes to choosing crystals I honestly get carried away, look at my basket and gulp. Do you have a favourite colour that you always go to and if you do, why? I always find you cannot go wrong with a basic crystal in size SS16 to give any costume a little sparkle.
MLL - I wear a hell of a lot of black, and used to mainly use Jet crystals, but more recently I’ve discovered the Black Diamond crystal colour. It’s got the sparkle of a normal Crystal, but with a smokiness to it, so it blends in perfectly with my costumes but still brings out a massive amount of shine. I’ve recently jumped up to an SS20 being my basic ‘go-to’ size, I’m just greedy and love to shine!
JGH - A couple of years back I had an idea where I wanted a muscle morph suit to be crystallized and I would then use it in a striptease during our burlesque show at Madame Mu Mu to the song Rock DJ by Robbie Williams. I felt a little frustrated when a very well-known Drag Queen who I admire came out with the same morph suit with crystals on. I panicked and thought why bother?
Ideas just don’t feel original these days. This suit has about 10,000 crystals on it and in gorgeous colour tones to match the colours. It’s one of my favourites. Admittedly I didn’t crystals it myself due to a busy schedule. How many crystals have you used on a costume? I am sure it’s over 10,000 because you LOVE a crystal and they always look gorgeous and stick to your aesthetic as a drag artist.
MLL - I’m forever buying them, so it’s hard for me to keep track now I’ve got a collection, on how many I use on a costume. One does come to mind, it’s a black and white bodysuit and jacket with big spiky shoulders. I went nuts with that, that easily had 10,000 on, because when I made that I was still using pretty small sizes.
I try to be a little cleverer now, and rather than using so terribly many and it being not only super expensive, and a time constraint, use a wider variety mix of sizes, so that way you take up space a little quicker!
JGH - Last question my love. What is the one quote you love and live by?
MLL - Everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe we’re all here to learn and grow from experiences in life. Not matter how bad a situation may seem at the time, we can eventually grow and learn from it. Everything happens for a reason.
Harley, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and giving the readers a little peek into the world of Miss Luna Le Strange.
If any of you want to check out Miss Luna Lestranger’s Instagram, check out - @misslunalestrange – and follow the Mother of the Haus of Lestrange for sickening looks and upcoming performances.
Until next time I leave you with this quote from Oscar Wilde, “A mask tells us more than a face.”