It’s 10 am Sunday and Cornel Hardiman throws on a playlist full of Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and old-school Tina Turner. He’s reaching for his inner diva because he’s about to make the fabulous transition into Karress Ann Slaughter.
Some may think it’s a bit early in the day to be going full drag, but Cornel has helped to pioneer an iconic local event, Drag Brunch, which takes place at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove on the fourth Sunday of every month.
“Not to be too To Wong Foo [The cult classic 1995 film featuring Patrick Swayze], but I look in the mirror and stare at myself while trying to decide what look and colors to go with” he says.
Preparing for Drag Brunch is different than evening shows, such as Glamazons (Fridays at Cowfish). When performing at the club, Hardiman goes big, shiny and as “extra” as possible. That helps him stands out in the club.
For brunch, Hardiman sticks to a natural look.
“A lot of people won’t do day drag. They think it is hard, but I just put on makeup and it always works,” Hardiman says.
He begins with a base foundation. Mehron Theatrical is his favorite brand, and he loves it so much that he says he has it set up for auto-ship from Amazon so he never runs out.
Once the flawless base layer is down, he moves on to the contour and highlighting process. In the contouring process, Hardiman uses darker colors to make features recede, which can de-emphasize the shape of his jaw line, for example.
Next, he uses a lighter color to bring other facial elements forward, like his slay-worthy cheekbones — a good reminder to never underestimate the power of a good highlight and contour.
From there, it’s onto the eyes. Hardiman says he is equal opportunity when it comes to makeup.
“I use everything from Wet&Wild to Mac, and I love Fenty. Even cheaper makeup brands have products they excel in,” he says.
For his smoky eyes, he loves using a basic black pencil from Wet & Wild, especially when smudged out with a fluffy brush. After applying eye shadow, he carefully pencils in eyebrows that have a picture-perfect arch, and he applies glamorous false lashes to pull everything together.
With a full face on, Hardiman gets dressed.
He says he’s lucky because he’s petite enough to shop the racks — but he prefers online shopping. Some of his best clothing finds have come from Fashion Nova or Amazon, such as the amazing sheer, sparkling bodysuit he debuted at the July 28 Drag Brunch.
Like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon, Karress Ann Slaughter is reborn and ready to host the monthly brunch.
Drag Brunch began about a year ago. It was the brainchild of Slaughter and another local iconic drag queen Monique La Faye.
“We shopped the idea around Eugene, and for whatever reason, we got no bites. Monique had a connection with a former co-worker here [at Axe & Fiddle], and they liked the idea. When we said brunch, they said yes,” Slaughter says.
When La Faye moved out of state, Slaughter brought on a new co-host, Nicky Serene.
Every month, the brunch invites a special guest. At the July 28 show, 2015 Miss Gay Washington Alessandra Hunt threw down hard enough during one of her numbers to send her wig flying across the room.
The whole brunch show is full of booty shaking, sequins, head spinning, laughter and amazing stories shared by the hosts.
And, like any theatrical production, it all begins with a careful make-up process.
For more information on upcoming Drag Brunches, follow Cornel Hardiman/Karress Ann Slaughter and Axe & Fiddle on social media.