Before we meet the legendary villainess who notoriously went mad for spots (woof, woof), see how drag queens, Manila Luzon, Gigi Goode, and Gottmik take on the absolutely wretched, downright despicable, and dressed to kill, Cruella de Vil.
With a massive cream-colored fur overcoat hanging from her wiry figure, a gaunt expression further made malevolent by the sharp contours of her already bony face, and a perfect ratio of stark and startling black and white hair twisted and perched on her head, Cruella De Vil is impossibly petrifying at a glance. With her deranged, demonic, and despicable obsession for fashion and fur, she stands to be that archetype of a classic Disney villain without regrets and remorse. Spine-chilling with her every drawl and puff of smoke, Cruella de Vil is a character that despite the inherent and unapologetic evil that courses through her veins is so fascinating to many, especially to drag queens.
Wicked and wretched in her ways, there exists an almost odd sense of respect and reverence to Cruella de Vil, inspiring the many extensions of pop culture, the riotous and riveting world of drag included. Come to think of it, just like Maleficent, Ursula, and Yzma, there is something deliciously campy about Cruella de Vil that compels one to turn the caricature into a living, breathing character, for entertainment, of course.
In fact, these textbook villains have long informed and inspired the looks and performances of drag, even when it was still thriving in the underbelly of the nightlife. You know, before it got the glistening, post-Vaseline filter edit through the persisting pummelling of RuPaul’s Drag Race on mainstream TV. Today, the disruptive art of drag has become such a cornerstone of culture that a beauty tutorial featuring drag queens is no longer of special interest. It has, at this point, assimilated to a status once occupied by run-of-the-mill celebrities and tired rockstars. Yes, queen!
Cruella, Cruella de Vil
There seems to be no getting rid or dare we say, getting enough of the emphasis of evil, because while we may have seen the last of Cruella de Vil in the Disney animated classic or in the live action film starring the incomparable Glenn Close, the next coming of her asinine anarchy looms with the origin story tracing her beginnings from brilliance to big time baddie in 1970s punk rock London. Starring the enigmatic Emma Stone, who by early accounts is exceedingly eccentric and scarily sinister as a pre-infamy Cruella, the yet-to-be-released telling is hotly and highly anticipated.
To celebrate the resurrection of the beloved antagonist, several drag queens have come together to unleash their most eerie and evocative Cruella de Vil-inspired makeup transformations. Taking liberties from the cartoon to the contemporary iteration, Manila Luzon, Gigi Goode, and Gottmik sat down and got their arched, almost evil, kind of mad looks on, ripping, tearing, and deconstructing their own points-of-view to combine with the sensibilities of the character. “It’s a little bit disruptive and I’m cool with that. I mean, that’s what we want our villains to be, right?,” ponders Manila Luzon as she lays the foundation of her face with smears of neutrals. Realizing the close ties of Cruella de Vil to drag, the Filipino queen says, “The transformation from mousy and reserved to the fiercenss, reminds me of the transition you go through putting all your makeup for drag.”
The Drag And Disney Villain Disruption
With her signature streak of blonde, cartoon-like expressions, and towering presence, Manila Luzon can be pretty much described as the Cruella of drag, sans the irrevocable evil, obviously. She does give a good cackle though. In fact, and perhaps not so much surprising her first time in drag happened to be feeling her Cruella fantasy. “My first time ever going out as manila in drag, I was dressed as Cruella de Vil. I was a baby drag queen. I looked a little crunchy, and so now, you know, several years later, I am now getting to revisit this iconic character that has inspired me for years and years,” she recalls.
In this exercise of expression, Manila Luzon piles and pins an updated version of her original Cruella wig, complete with tendrils coming undone to show that she has gone mad. Without a moment to spare, she emerges as her spin on Cruella de Vil, cinched and clothed in a Victorian-esque gown festooned with safety pins, tape measures, and other familiar fixtures of sewing.
Bringing in more Cruella, Gigi Goode circles back to her own beginnings with makeup, using paints and paintbrushes, arguing that this is after all a lot more artistry-driven. Where Manila Luzon went sooty and smudgy, Miss Good colored in her mug with a rising of red from the blush to precise and optic graphic on the eyelids.
“When I think of Cruella, I think of a misunderstood villain who is a mad genius. I can relate,” reveals Gigi Goode. “I relate to Cruella’s need to turn heads.” Continuing the more mod-leaning retro inspiration, the final beat was splashed with a dominantly white and red lava lamp look, complete with a nest-like swirly wig crowned firmly on her head. Retro and ready to go alright.
A Wicked Time
Finally, rounding out the Cruella-inspired get ready with me series on YouTube is Gottmik, the first trans man to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race. “There’s a lot of storyline here people that we’re gonna have to unpack,” says Gottmik, who admits that the trailer of the film got her good in all its grungy, black and white, and punk glory. And if there is anything to go by, that is totally the vibe of this bold queen. With a standard base of clown white, Gottmik operates with scales of gray and black to define the face, before drawing thin, wispy brows, and creating a crease in red and black.
“Seeing Estelle getting this fashion moment and her whole vibe changing, that’s very my vibe. I feel like that’s my life I’m watching,” Gottmik shares, detailing how in the movie, there is an element of being seen that is resonant. “All she needs to do is lose on RuPaul’s drag race and we’d probably be the same.”
And in a fitting flourish, one that is uniquely Gottmik, the wildly popular queen steps out in a look that is reminiscent of the era of the film, Cruella. Decked out in a leather jacket dress moment with a contrasted wig teased to the high heavens, Gottmik totally commits to the spirit of Cruella de Vil, once again crashing the cis-tem like it’s nobody’s business.
While the curl of her lips, the ice in her stare, definitely had all the innocent children beware, for this vampire bat, this inhuman beast that Roger crooned to be locked up and never released, there is a lot more to look out for with the wily woman you love to hate and hate to love, Cruella, Cruella de Vil.