Gigi Goode should have been “travelling constantly” right now, visiting different cities, countries and clubs on tour following her runner-up position, and breakout star status, on the recent series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. But just after the first show aired, life went into lockdown.
“Six months went by and I hadn’t been on a stage,” relays Goode who is the drag persona of Samuel Geggie, 22, today dressed down on Zoom from LA. “I feel lucky that we have social media because drag has become so big, the audience hasn’t got any smaller. If the pandemic wasn’t happening right now, my audience each night would be max 300 whereas every single day my audience is one million. We’re really lucky to have that.”
Certainly, Goode’s own Instagram reputation preceded her at the series’ start. “Oh I know her”; “I’ve heard about you”; “I’ve seen you on Instagram,” uttered her fellow queens, quaking beneath their eyelashes and clearly intimidated just as much by her vital social stats - which at the time were at half a million - as they were her fashion prowess.
Goode’s entrance to the Drag Race “work room” was surely the most striking, dressed as she was as in a swashbuckling 18th Century-style pirate costume complete with spy glass and feathered tricorne hat. It was these kinds of solid historic fashion references that set her looks apart throughout the show. Later on, there came an ode to the Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra dress, a preppy Heathers-style blazer reboot and, for the finale, an homage to Aha’s Take On Me.
“It was like [her aesthetic] the perfect example of high glamour couture looks but it had that little smile behind it without throwing it in your face and being too kitschy,” describes Marko Monroe, Goode’s creative collaborator, who is also the stylist to singer Lizzo. “We always shoot for the wink. That laughter in clothes and how it can communicate an idea without saying words.”
The pair are fading in and out of the background behind them, which is a line drawing of a nude man, and Monroe is unsure as to how it got there. “I hope you don’t mind the ass behind us,” Goode laughs.
Originally from Chicago, Goode describes herself as “like Barbie” and in real life has the petite waist to match. After dropping out of college two and a half years ago, she decided to move to LA and came armed with aspirations of being an influencer as opposed to a professional drag queen. But then things snowballed.
“It was kind of right when I was starting my Instagram influencer page as a beauty boy in make-up. For a while that’s what I was doing, I’d go to make-up events and I’d have all these friends who were influencers and I just hated the environment and it was just a very toxic place to be - and I’m just so thankful that I got swept up in drag.” After one booking, Goode’s career began to take off, they kept on coming.
It was a “cosmic happy coincidence” that she met Monroe through the party troupe House of Avalon, and the pair immediately hit it off. “It was like an instant and personal connection,” she says, and has recently moved from down the street to over the road from the House where the creativity has been flowing during lockdown.
The pair have gone about setting themselves a series of projects to keep themselves busy: a photo shoot that explores their relationship as “artist to artist”. “Because she’s not just a muse; I’m not just a stylist,” says Monroe of their self-directed hyper-real vistas, photographed by Monroe’s boyfriend. And – scoop! coming soon! - Twitch. The premiere global live-streaming site that boasts 10,000,000 active daily users (more often to gamers) will now also be home to Avalon-curated content - public-television-style, circa the 80s. “We’re definitely going to bring fashion into that, [like] fashion segments,” shares Goode, excited to embrace this new URL performance world in lieu of the one she knew before.
“Us as people and as friends, I think it’s in our nature to adapt to whatever is going on around us. Of course, at the beginning it was really quite scary and it still is uncertain but we’ve been adapting,” she says. “Also, queer people are just used to adapting to what’s going on around them in order to be able to live comfortably and be able to live safely and continue making their art. Because for such a long time queer art was taboo and underground and now that we have this big platform that is on social media, it’s almost a responsibility to adapt.”
It’s something the show has been championing for the past 11 years and some 150-plus queens later. “It’s almost like the sports of the queer community,” describes Monroe. “Because of Ru Paul’s Drag Race being gay and being a drag queen, being queer or whatever you want to call it is so welcomed.” And it was during the series that Goode came out as gender fluid. “My number one dream is to be at the forefront of the fashion world as a non-binary drag artist.”
Regarding opinions contesting such a dream, Goode says: “It’s really hard for people to get out of that mind set and I’m not by any means saying that’s right because it’s totally not, it’s a really fucked up way of thinking, but it’s interesting what can be brought to light about how people were brought up.” Earlier this year the author JK Rowling found herself amid controversy over transphobic comments. “Right now there are so many different ways to identify that it can be overwhelming for those who have been raised in these very backwards-thinking environments to accept all the different ways that people can identify and live their lives.”
Self-confessedly walking the runways in her hallways since she was six, fashion has always played a huge role in Goode’s identity; she cites Jeremy Scott as her favourite designer - which makes complete sense considering the designer’s clever pop-culture take on design and ability to have fun with fashion; and has been inspired by her mother, a theatrical costume designer and seamstress, who helped on some of her Drag Race looks. It also goes some way in explaining why Goode’s outfits were just so very good – because she taught her how to sew.
“The reference points I brought to the show when I was getting ready was right when we were starting to get close so I hadn’t learned everything yet and I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of the fashion world yet,” Goode says of Monroe's influence, and that of the House of Avalon, which has been a saving grace through these strange times.
As Monroe describes: “There are days when you feel like you can do literally anything in the world and there are days you don’t want to get out of bed. One, America’s falling apart, there’s so much going on and you try to remain active politically and socially and being involved and then you think, 'well how’s my art contributing?' You go through all of these different questions. And there’s other days when you get up and think, 'I’m gonna make this look, get it done.' It’s just a rollercoaster.” Or, as Goode puts it: “If drag queens didn’t exist during this pandemic it would be Armageddon!”
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