Why we’re covering this: Uh, we’re pretty sure this one’s a gimme.
That’s why we love this video starring Michael Alexander (of The Sound’s new gender-related YouTube channel Blender) and Saya Naomi, where Saya agrees to be Michael’s drag mother:
But this short documentary is more than that — it’s an exploration of drag culture and gender. Saya talks about the struggles he faces as a Black drag queen and how he’s forced into competition with other Black queens:
You can go to a show and you will see all white drag queens, one Black drag queen. They don’t book multiple Black drag queens, because they feel like they’re all going to do the same songs, and that’s just terrible. I think it’s really fucked up, but they do that.
But the real meat of the video is in watching Michael become Brandi Naomi. He shaves from head-to-toe and goes through five layers of makeup. It’s fascinating to watch the layers of makeup go on — at first, it’s just patches of makeup to get the broad shapes, but as Saya works, Brandi takes shape.
Once Brandi’s ready, the two go out on the town and start meeting people — and Saya comments on the strange dichotomy of being perceived as a woman and all the objectification that goes with it.
They all are looking, and one thing you’ll notice is if they’re looking, they’re curious. They spot you out, they see you, they talk to you, and they look at you like a piece of meat. Which feels disgusting, but when you know that this isn’t how you are all the time — it feels good to be wanted by others. It’s such a life to live.
Even though the focus of the video is Brandi — Saya doesn’t do drag in the video himself — we thought you’d want to see some of what Saya can do.