Hell on Heels

Drag Queen Survival Tips For the Next Earth Quake

'Wigs (Portfolio),' Lorna Simpson, 1994. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.
‘Wigs (Portfolio),’ Lorna Simpson, 1994. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

RECENTLY, IT HAS BEEN brought to our attention the absolute necessity of survival kits for spur-of-the-moment disasters, as was the case with our S.F. (Shaken Fairy) friends.1

So listen up drag queens!!

Here’s the list of essentials that should be kept in the trunk of your Monte Carlo at all times. If you don’t have a Monte Carlo, you could always use the lockers at your nearest bus station. Remember: without these essentials you could lose that emotional stability that drag queens are famous for.

To be prepared, you MUST have the following:

  1. One complete set of matching floral vinyl luggage (monogrammed, of course, to avoid nasty drag queen mix-ups) complete with make-up kit and mirror.
  2. Twelve economy size cans of Aqua Net or White Rain hairspray and a book of matches from Chasen’s.2 Not only will the hairspray keep your big drag queen hair safe from falling debris, but it will also double as a lethal weapon when teamed with a lit match, and you may very well need to fend off kinky, horny husbands who can’t find their wives in the rubble. And best of all, the ashes from a burnt match work wonders as a glamorous and alluring eye shadow. Of course, the Chasen’s matchbook cover lets them know you’re a drag queen with class!
  3. One Estée Lauder reddest red lipstick and one Yardley frosted snowflake lipstick. The combination possibilities are endless! The red can be also used for blush and the white to highlight the eyes and shade the bridge of your nose. These two items together take up very little room in your make-up kit, leaving plenty of room for your excess rhinestone jewelry.
  4. A good base.
  5. Liquid eyeliner and a syringe. (To make you feel beautiful from within.)
  6. Rhinestone eyelashes that say ‘I do,’ just in case this happens on a Saturday night.
  7. One can of FDS3 that says ‘I’ve done.’ (Better make that two cans).
  8. Reserve one entire suitcase for toity tissue which you’ll use to give you those giant tits that drag queens are famous for. This will also come in handy if you should have to make stinky in a bush.
  9. Four jumbo packs of Dentyne – don’t forget to chew at least three times a day!
  10. Binaca4 in spray form, in case you pick up a truck driver (which you will).
  11. No-nonsense queen-size panty hose (runproof).
  12. Opera-length gloves (fuck doing your nails – that could be a disaster in itself when on shakey ground).
  13. One glittery evening bag for night.
  14. One black patent evening bag for day.
  15. One feather headdress with office-to-evening appeal.
  16. Twenty to twenty-five pair of sensible spike heels… no open-toe sandals!! Don’t worry too much about being able to walk through the debris, remember those big, butch cops and firemen are there to assist you.
  17. One large bottle of appetite suppressants (you already knew that).
  18. Anything else you’ll need, I guess you’ll have to steal.

As far as exactly what outfits you’ll be needing (skintight mini-skirts, peddle pushers, gowns, etc.) you’ll just have to decide for yourself – I’m sure you’ve already assembled dozens of stunning ensembles. Keep in mind that TV cameras will be constantly rolling and you’ll want to look dazzling at any cost.

This will be a time of need for others, so don’t just think of yourself. Suppose some shaken and disillusioned hunky college boy on acid should mistake you for a nurse. Be prepared… carry a thermometer in case he should suddenly drop his pants for you to take his temperature. Be prepared!


Sin Bros. was a Los Angeles-based gay culture zine published in the early 1990s. The following piece was originally published in Sin Bros. #3, in 1990. A digitized copy of the zine is accessible via the Queer Zine Archive Project.


  1. In October 1989, the San Francisco Bay Area suffered a 6.9-magnitude earthquake. 

  2. Chasen’s was a restaurant in West Los Angeles open from 1936 to 1995, famous for a celebrity clientele including Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, and Elizabeth Taylor. See: http://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/vintage-los-angeles-the-hidden-remains-of-chasens-restaurant/ 

  3. Feminine Deodorant Spray 

  4. An aerosol breath freshener