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The making of a drag queen

By Mariam Abdel-Akher and Natali Trivuncic

Adrianna Exposée, an Ottawa-based drag queen, takes from two to five hours to transform into a drag queen.

Exposée performs three times a week. At the same time she is a full-time student at the University of Ottawa. 

Over the past year, Exposée has made a name for herself in Ottawa and she’s now got her sights set on performing in Toronto in a few years. One of the highlights of her career so far has been participating in a Drag Show during Pride Week in Ottawa.

Adrianna Exposée, 19, begins with a shave before a recent hosting gig in downtown Ottawa.
Adrianna Exposée, 19, begins with a shave before a recent hosting gig in downtown Ottawa. Shaving allows the makeup to go on more smoothly, ensuring the best feminine illusion. [Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
Exposée, who began her drag career in Oakville, Ont., says that she wants to get her name out in a bigger city and under a larger spotlight.
Exposée, who began her drag career in Oakville, Ont., says that she wants to get her name out in a bigger city and under a larger spotlight: “I definitely got lucky for sure. Moving to Ottawa was the right decision because if I had started in Toronto, I wouldn’t have had any close friends to help me out.” [Photo © Mariam Abdel-Akher]
Exposée gets ready for a gig.
Exposée lives a crammed double life. Her obligations of school, relationships and drag leave little free time. “I always have something to do whether it’s restocking on products, dropping off a wig, getting a costume measured … for that reason I’m mostly friends with my roommates.” [Photo © Mariam Abdel-Aker]
Exposée says putting on makeup is the hardest thing to do when becoming a drag queen.
Exposée says putting on makeup is the hardest thing to do when becoming a drag queen. It takes hours to perfect a unique look. [Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
Exposée putting on contouring makeup.
While growing up, Exposée says she was fortunate enough to have an accepting community of people. “I won prom queen in high school because I went in drag. That was the first time my high school had ever seen drag.” [Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
Exposée says she enjoys walking around the city in drag, and finds it amusing if people get offended.
Exposée says she enjoys walking around the city in drag, and finds it amusing if people get offended. She says she has experienced harassment or discrimination. “I had three different cars try to block me from crossing the street,” she says of one evening last year when she was headed to a performance.  “It shook me up in the moment. It was the first time it had happened.” [Photo © Mariam Abdel-Akher]
Exposée says she spends hundreds of dollars a month on new wigs, shoes, and clothing every month to offer a different look in each show.
Exposée says she spends hundreds of dollars each month on new wigs, shoes, and clothing to offer a different look in each show. [Photo © Mariam Abdel-Akher]
Clocking the mug.
When putting on her makeup Exposée uses sharp lines to get the desired effect.
[Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
The transformation is almost complete.
“Try and understand something before you judge it and always try and see someone at their best before judging them at their worst,” she says. “You’re missing out on a lot, if you’re not open to discover.” [Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
Exposée puts on padding and six pairs of tights to the get the desired figure of a woman.
Exposée puts on padding and six pairs of tights to the get the desired figure of a woman.  [Photo © Natali Trivuncic]
Exposée began her drag career as a Britney Spears impersonator, but when she moved to Ottawa she found her unique look.
Exposée began her drag career as a Britney Spears impersonator, but when she moved to Ottawa she found her unique look. Now, she puts on fake breasts, a wig and jewelry to accentuate her persona. [Photo © Natali Trivincic]
The transformation is complete.
Exposée says that the drag community is not about tearing each other down, it’s about building one another up. [Photo © Mariam Abdel-Akher]
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