vicky vox katy perry
vicky vox katy perry

Vicky Vox Drags Katy Perry for Asking Drag Queens to Work for Free — But It’s Not Her Fault

Earlier this week, drag queen Vicky Vox posted on Twitter claiming a pop star had asked her and other queens to appear in a video for free:

The next day, she added a few more tweets, mostly of memes debunking the idea of asking artists to perform for “exposure” — while outing the pop star as Katy Perry:

That reference to Valentina’s manager turned out to be an important key to the entire thing. When Page Six reached out to Katy Perry, the singer’s representatives had denied any wrongdoing.

As it turned out, Perry’s team had indeed planned to pay the queens — even planning to fly queens into perform in the video.

According to Vox, it was Jason King, Valentina’s manager who had made the request to perform “for exposure,” not Katy Perry’s team. Today Vox posted on Instagram clarifying what happened and apologizing to Perry:

Still, Vox does make good points — even if her ire was originally misdirected. It’s difficult to make money in an artistic career, and for a successful artist to ask performers to work for free is offensive. While Katy Perry didn’t do that — a number of other artists did.

For example, in 2012, musician Amanda Palmer asked for professional musicians to play on her tour promoting her Theatre Is Evil album — as unpaid volunteers:

we’re looking for professional-ish horns and strings for EVERY CITY to hop up on stage with us for a couple of tunes.
we need a COUPLE of horns (trumpet! bari! sax! trombone! all need apply!!!) to join in the blasting with Ronald Reagan, our sax duo who’ll be joining the Grand Theft Orchestra every night.
and we need enough strings to make up QUARTET (pre-made quartets WELCOME) to join us for a couple tunes….and to act at the string quartet for jherek bischoff’s beautiful music (basically, you get to BE the opening ACT!). 

Unfortunately, Palmer had just raised over $1.1 million dollars on Kickstarter to fund the album and tour. Palmer initially balked at the idea she should pay — telling the New York Times:

If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid. They’re all incredibly happy to be here … If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?

Palmer also claimed that paying the musicians would cost her $35,000, which she couldn’t afford. She also released an open letter addressing the concerns.

Thankfully, after a huge outcry, Palmer changed her mind and said she would pay the “volunteer” musicians on her tour.

Katy Perry was right to bristle at the suggestion that she was asking performers to work for “exposure.” And shame on anyone who asks performers to work for free. After all, as the old saw goes — people die of exposure.

Featured image by Austin Young via Vicky Vox.