Pull out your most colorful outfit, and if you dare, your brightest lipstick, and get ready to party.
On Sunday, the annual Philly Pride Parade and Festival once again spreads its vibrant spirit across the city.
Kicking off at 13th and Locust Streets, the parade will work its way through the Gayborhood before ending at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing. Throughout the route, floats, flag-wavers, and performers of all sorts will fill the streets with entertainment, as will a host of drag queens, often working the crowd in their highest of heels.
Decked out with bold lipstick, fake lashes, and other fun cosmetics, it's the dolled up queens who perhaps know best how to create a striking look able to last well into the night. We sat down with Brittany Lynn (Ian Morrison) in advance of the event to reap some tips for those who want to join in the costumed fun.
"The day brings a moment of freedom where you can express yourself in any way that you see fit, as long as it's tasteful," notes Lynn, who will perform the national anthem at 10:15 at 12th and Locust. Lynn has performed for 22 years and founded the performance group Philly Drag Mafia. (Brittany Lynn also runs the Miss Fancy Brigade, the only all-drag-queen brigade in the New Year's Mummers Parade.)
The parade ends in a six-hour festival at the Great Plaza, providing plenty of time to test out Brittany Lynn's advice. Don't be afraid to go all out — after all, the parade is celebrating a pretty special birthday this weekend, now in its 30th year.
Note: While the parade is free, tickets to the Penn's Landing festival are $15 and can be purchased once you arrive.
What will you be wearing to Pride this year?
I have a costume designer who makes me something every year. This time, I've got an outfit that's kind of like a bodysuit with long, see-through sleeves and these giant off-the-hook cuffs. It has a pride belt that goes around it that's designed with the colors of the new Philadelphia pride flag revealed last year. So, there are the added black and brown colors on it.
What goes into your makeup?
Brittany Lynn is my character, so no matter the occasion, my face pretty much always stays the same to match my persona. When I started drag back in the '90s, there really wasn't YouTube, so I took a little bit of inspiration from all of the different performers' faces that I knew, and made it into a montage of one face. I'm like an exaggerated South Philly housewife on a good night out.
Can you walk us through how your face transformation begins?
First, I paint over my eyebrows with a glue stick. Then I wait for that to harden, and then I cover that with powder, do one more layer of glue, then powder it again. Once that's dry, I apply a layer of foundation. Then I create contour with Kryolan sticks, and use a blending sponge to soften all of the lines. With my eyes, I put my eyebrows on first. I use a lip pencil for my eyebrows, starting at the bridge of my nose and working up to create dramatic arches — it's almost like a triangle shape. For my eyeshadow, I use browns and golds — and not shadows from Sephora, but whatever I can find at places like Rite Aid.
For a girl who’s not going to cover up her original eyebrows, what do you recommend?
Purchase some Hollywood facelift tape. It usually includes a tiny band, like a headband, that goes around the back of your head and hides under your hair. The tape attaches to the ends of the band and is used to give a lift to your eyebrows, making them more dramatic. From there, you can simply draw over your regular brows.
What are your go-tos for fake eyelashes?
There are two pairs: 199s and 301s. Those are the big, theatrical brands. It's easy to find them on Amazon. Your classic fake eyelashes at the store just aren't going to cut it if you want that bold drag look. Any kind of Duo lash glue will work to apply them.
Do you have any favorite tutorials for perfecting a fierce contour?
On Facebook, there's a Cosmo Queens page where you can watch queens transform their face. They feature a different RuPaul's Drag Race girl every week who will give you a full guide from start to finish.
How do you achieve your bold lips?
I have a stack of MAC lip liners that I use. If you want to be overly dramatic, a good tip is to first take a white eyeliner pencil around the perimeter of your lips. Then, use a colored liner directly on top. The white helps the color pop a little extra and gives it sort of a 3D effect. For the lipstick, simply choose a color you like and apply it. Then dab a little bit of glitter or white eye shadow on the bottom lip to give it a little shimmer. As a queen, you're always kissing someone, so I just carry a stick around to re-apply throughout the day. At places like Ross, you can get lipstick packs for cheap.
What about eyeshadow?
As a regular girl, when you do your makeup, there's that crease that goes around your eyelid. Under the crease is where you go dark — black or brown. Then blend a lighter color on top of that, and then blend an even lighter color on top of that. First, I use a layer of Mehron Clown White across my entire eyelid before adding the eyeshadow. The Clown White helps the eyeshadow stick and stay on all day.
What other tips do you have for maintaining an all-day look?
I use a deodorant stick across my face — it really helps with the sweating. Do it before you apply the makeup, especially on places you'd sweat, like above your lips and on your forehead. Then, once you're all done with your makeup, use a setting spray. That acts as a barrier to keep everything together, especially when you're working in high heat. I just use a cheap setting spray from Wet 'n Wild. You could also carry a stylish Victorian umbrella to keep the sun off your face, or invest in one of those fans that you plug into the bottom of your iPhone.
Favorite part about the Philly Pride Parade and Festival?
It's always good to remember that there are millions of other people like you out there. There are so many people that are there to love and support you, no matter who you are. It's always just a fun and positive event overall for everyone involved.
Pride Parade and Festival
11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, parade starts at 13th and Locust Streets and ends around 1:30 p.m. at Penn's Landing, parade is free, festival is $15, phillygaypride.org