Behind the Curtain: Karrissa Wade’s Rush to Radiance

June 19, 2024
2 mins read

Words & photos by Kara Carter

Watch Karrissa Wade Get Ready For A Drag Show Here. 

As Pride Month unfurls, it is not just a time for celebration, but a reminder of the journeys many have taken for authenticity, acceptance and self-love. Karrissa T. Wade, Jacksonville’s favorite drag queen, is a shining example of a person who embodies those values. 

To show us what that looks like, Wade took us to Tulua Bistro in Springfield where her face and name are plastered on the front window promoting her performances and other events (not to mention her own celebrity prayer candles in the bistro’s gift shop). A drag veteran of more than 30 years, Wade knows all the tricks of the trade and is going to share some of her wisdom in getting ready for a show.

There’s always time for a cocktail!

One of first and most important steps of getting ready for a show at Tulua Bistro is making sure you have one of their famous mimosas in hand. 

No one wants to book a chronically late queen 

Professionals have know how to get ready quickly because, well, they have to. Realistically, performers don’t have hours to spend putting on makeup, doing their hair and getting dressed. Wade often drives across town for gigs, frequently dealing with traffic and other factors, making timeliness of the essence. Getting ready quickly is imperative

Affordable foundation

Karrissa emphasizes how drag can be expensive. And if you’re just starting out, it can be intimidating. She says that when you are a queen that has multiple bookings, especially in the summertime, makeup can just melt off. That means having to reapply foundation and powder constantly. Karrissa emphasizes drugstore foundation and powder can do the trick. She says the products sold at Walmart and CVS can give the same results as high-end products. 

All about the eyes

When in a pinch, a queen does not have time to fully block out the eyebrows. This takes precious time to fully comb through, glue down, dry and conceal the eyebrows so they are not as visible. Wade gave us a tip when in a time crunch, she applies a lighter concealer on the eyebrows to give the illusion of it being part of the eyelids. She also adds a dark color eyeshadow to create a smoky effect on the eyes and eyebrows to give the illusion of a bigger eyelid. She blends it out the eyeshadow with a bright pink shadow to give the eyes more dimension and makes sure not to forget to follow those same colors under the eye to make them pop. 


Since the eyebrows are fully covered in concealer and eyeshadow, she has to make new ones. She tells us an “old school” trick of using a lipliner pencil to stencil out the shape that you want for the eyebrows. Once she has found the desired shape, she goes over the eyebrows with a liquid eyeliner to make sure it does not come off during her performances. She also says that she gets some of her items from Make Believe, which is a local costume store that has just about everything for performers. 

Contour for the gods 

Wade then picks up a darker powder to contour her features to look as chiseled as possible so the bright stage lights will pick up her features from the farthest part of the room.  She also uses a shimmery highlighter on the bridge of her nose to make it look slim and pointed. 


While she has closest full of glamorous gowns, she is wearing something extra special: a custom kimono that encompasses all of the pride flags into one. The grand ensemble can be seen from anywhere in the room and is a real showstopper. 

In the end, Wade explained, everyone has their own look and only YOU know what that look is supposed to be. She emphasizes the nature of trial and error when it comes to makeup and perfecting your look. She also urges up and coming drag queens to ask for guidance as other professionals will gladly lend a helping hand wherever they can. She has fought for where she is now and wants everyone to be able to enjoy the same fruits of her labor of acceptance and joy. Happy Pride! 

Kara is a communication major at UNF with a concentration in multimedia journalism and set to graduate this fall. They run their own fashion blog called Curated.By.Kara talking about the latest trends and fashion shows. Aspiring to be a fashion journalist, they enjoy shopping secondhand and finding vintage designer pieces.

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