Independent, unfiltered, fabulous: how starting a blog helped bedazzle my lockdown summer

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Since lockdown began, Rupaul’s Drag Race has officially taken over my life. Despite its obvious flaws, I have long been a fan of the show for its dedication to representing an important LGBT+ subculture for all its funniness, fashion-forwardness and, of course, its fabulousness. Since the end of the delightful Season 12 (refreshing in its decision to further sweet, kind-hearted queens’ bid to make the Final Four, following the bitter trainwreck that was Season 11), I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Shea Coulée’s All Stars 5 on Saturdays (no shade to Jujubee), as well as its less polished Canadian cousin on Fridays. But most of all, I have enjoyed reading scathing reviews of the show as penned by my wonderful pal, Gethin, on our new blog site Crustydebs.

Naming the site as a nod to our respective drag names (Slagatha Christie and Deborah de Beauvoir), Crustydebs is a means for us to unleash our creative potential on an online platform, visible to all, purely on our own terms. When creative pursuits are your passion, being a perfectionist comes with a price. For years, I have spoken passionately about potentially collaborating on zines, comics, fashion projects and written pieces with Gethin, only for these plans to either fail to come into fruition, or never be seen by anyone besides ourselves. Whenever I’ve been commissioned to write articles for other sites or tasked with uni essays, I’ve never felt the same kind of fear of being judged or critiqued that comes when I decide to publish something more personal. Maybe it’s a laziness I could afford by opting for other activities before lockdown, perhaps I’ve not dealt as well with having my work rejected in the past, or maybe it’s because I find myself constantly comparing my projects to those of other, more-established creatives who are popular on social media or paid for their work. Whatever the reason behind my reluctance to put myself out there, I knew it was something I needed to stop. 

‘Whenever I’ve been commissioned to write articles for other sites or tasked with uni essays, I’ve never felt the same kind of fear of being judged or critiqued that comes when I decide to publish something more personal.’

Inspired by our love of independent, handmade zines, which allow artists to showcase their raw, unfiltered talent, Gethin and I promised to produce our own material in that exact fashion – unpolished, unfiltered and, most of all, crusty. From comic strips detailing our struggles with unemployment, to definitive of Lady Gaga’s discography, our blog is definitely not limited by any aesthetic, financial or ideological restrictions that keep other writers’ creative liberties in check. We also decided to channel our love of Drag Race fashion challenges on our Instagram account, @crustydebs, where we document weekly looks, inspired by an array of anti-fashion themes (favourites have included ‘moist’ and ‘scunge’) – a slap in the face of boring normative beauty standards, championed by the mainstream press. 

With an increasing incentive to bin terrible tabloids, now is the time for independent media sources, like Crustydebs, to shine. We’re currently operating under a Wix-owned domain, which doesn’t look as sexy on paper, but hopefully it won’t be long before we’re the proud owners of the crustiest “.com” on the internet. 

Image: Shefta Shifa via Unsplash

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