Since 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race has spanned 13 seasons and created multiple spin-off shows and has brought drag culture towards the forefront of entertainment. Since working on the Netflix series AJ and the Queen, Curtis Foreman has been RuPaul’s key hairstylist for the past two seasons of Drag Race, and he knows that creating the perfect wig is a complicated process.
Iconic drag queen and host RuPaul searches for “America’s next drag superstar” in this VH1 reality competition. The contestants compete in various challenges that test their skills in performance for a chance to win $100,000, a year supply of cosmetics, and a crown and scepter that signify them as a drag superstar.
Season 13 has earned Foreman an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program category. Drag Race has also earned eight other Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Competition Program and Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for host RuPaul.
DEADLINE: Walk me through the design process of Ru’s hair?
CURTIS FOREMAN: At the beginning of each season, Ru and I will discuss what kind of styles he’s looking for, whether it be the classy lady, longer hair, wavy hair, you know, and then from there I start constructing what he’s asking for with the colors that he wants. And I try to make as many as I can before we begin Drag Race, because I only have a day before he’s in drag for each episode, so it’s two days. So, the first day I start making the wig for the next day, usually, since he is in boy drag. Then the next day is the drag day and that’s when he is going to wear the wig. So, the process for me with each wig, is that it’s always two wigs. I block the wig on the wig head and then I razor cut each wig, and roll the wigs with rollers, depending on what wave pattern he wants for the look, and then I steam them first before I put them in the wig dryer and let them dry. And then I sew the second wig on top of the first wig, and I brush them out and then I reshape them with the razor, and I give it a good base tease and style. Then I dye the lace and I cut the lace off the front, and the next morning, he decides what he’s going to wear. So once that is decided, then we figured out what silhouette we’re gonna shape the wig into. It’s a process.
DEADLINE: What are the most important factors to consider while making wigs?
FOREMAN: Well, Ru has certain silhouettes that he’s always looking for, like the dress will have a certain silhouette. It may be a sixties silhouette dress, or seventies, or an eighties, punk rock look silhouette. And then we’d go according to what the outfit may be and what she’s wanting to express. And the wig usually will confirm what the look is trying to present, meaning like the different hairstyles from the sixties or seventies or eighties. So, we keep the silhouette in mind and then I have to remember what Ru likes, as far as what kind of wave patterns and where he likes things brought out away from his face. He likes the right side of his face with the wig a little more back than the left side because he likes it to be a little bit fuller, kind of an asymmetrical look.
There’s a bunch of things that go into it that I have to keep in mind when making the wigs. It’s all about proportions and balance because there are two wigs sewn together. So, you have to be careful not to make it look like too much hair. And you want to make it look as natural as possible, but not really. A lot of the wigs are synthetic, and synthetic is a plastic, so the way to get it to look more natural is to cut it with a razor.
DEADLINE: What was the biggest challenge for you on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
FOREMAN: This season was so different than all the others because of COVID, and there were a lot of different steps that went into making each wig. That was a little more challenging than pre COVID because, you know, Ru was in a mask and I was wearing gloves the whole time and sanitizing everything over and over again. There were just more layers to the creative process and I had to be conscious of the sanitation and making sure everything was extra clean, and I’m a clean freak already. So, COVID put extra layers that made it more challenging for each wig. The thought process was way different than the normal creative process.
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