Covid-19 has impacted everyone who makes a living off of live entertainment, including drag performers. The drag community, which largely makes their income off nightly shows, drag brunches and touring, has had to adapt to a new reality by taking their talents online.
Klarna is doing its part to support drag queens impacted by the pandemic with a new digital series featuring queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame. The ecommerce payment brand has debuted Breakfast for Dinner, a weekly drag brunch series broadcast on Facebook Live.
Season 8 contestants Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls, who are also roommates, host the series from their apartment in Los Angeles. The hosts chat about their looks, friendship, favorite brunch dishes and cocktails and answer audience questions. Each livestream is also mixed with prerecorded, at-home lip sync performances and makeup tutorials from other Drag Race queens including Aquaria, Plastique Tiara, Violet Chachki, Kameron Michaels and Yvie Oddly.
The series kicked off April 22, with a new broadcast airing tonight and a third on April 29, both at 8 p.m. ET. Klarna pledges to donate $1 for each person who tunes in—up to $5,000 per broadcast—to drag entertainers who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Klarna CMO David Sandstrom said the series is a natural follow-up to the brand’s 2019 Shop Like a Queen campaign, which also starred former Drag Race contestants. The campaign featured queens creating looks with products available to purchase through Klarna’s app.
“Having seen how much the drag community has been impacted by Covid-19, we wanted to team back up with Drag Race stars to give back,” Sandstrom said. “We also wanted to give them a platform to connect with their fans, and give fans an opportunity to engage with them in a fun way.”
Klarna teamed with brand experience agency We’re Magnetic to produce the series, which proved unique to safely organize given social distancing parameters. Eric Wilson, CMO of We’re Magnetic, said his team worked with Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls to create a mini studio in their apartment. The process involved a site visit via FaceTime and one team member delivering all of the necessary props and equipment, which the queens could mostly set up and operate themselves.
Each brunch has a different theme, the first of which was “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink,” brought to life with a spread of doughnuts and cupcakes. Wilson said food for the event is delivered to the hosts from local vendors as the setup slightly changes each week.
Wilson also said the main challenge with producing each brunch involves the potential technical difficulties that come with any livestreamed event. To prepare, he said his team works with the hosts pre-show run through, and monitors the livestream to give them any necessary transition cues.
As for curating the content of each brunch, Sandstrom said there wasn’t much input on Klarna’s part thanks to the talent.
“Their community is one of the most creative in the world. What they create is already entertaining, so we didn’t have to curate a lot of the content,” he said. “Enabling and amplifying their voices and their interests is what we want to do.”
To keep working during the pandemic, many queens have also taken their acts to Instagram Live as part of digital drag festivals (Venmo names for tips included, of course). And RuPaul’s DragCon, which was slated to return to LA in May, is going digital for the first time May 2-3. The event will stream panels and performances and provide links to merchandise on Hollywood production house World of Wonder’s YouTube channel.