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Jim Junkie Drag King Danica Lani The King Coach

How we pay it forward in Kings of Joy

drag drag king kings of joy lgbtqia+ queer the king coach Nov 03, 2022

It all started when I got a call from Jim Junkie, our loveable, local Drag King Fitness Influencer.

Jim (Becks Blake) said to me,

“I loved being part of that first group of Kings of Joy with all first-time Drag Kings. I wasn't sure if I would ever get to find a creative community like this. I want to make sure other people get this experience too!

I also understand that you are an artist and are giving your expertise, time, energy, and talents to the Kings of Joy community. I know that this is part of your business and you as a choreographer and coach you should get paid."

Me, "Thank you, that means the world to me. To be honest, I've been experiencing burnout. I love the community that is growing, but I can't keep dedicating so much to Kings of Joy without it being sustainable. I'm looking for a win-win-win solution for everyone involved.

I've worked out it costs a minimum of $300 to put a King through the program - with studio hire, the time it takes me to choreograph, rehearsals, travel time, managing the groups, and scheduling. Plus as a small business owner, I have unseen costs - website, email service provider, social media management, marketing, networking, having a business coach, IT, bookkeeping, paying GST, - all the things that go into being a one-man-band, so to speak."

Jim, "Yeah and a lot of that behind-the-scenes work goes unseen. And you're providing something that is really valuable."

Me, "Yes, people love the experience of Kings of Joy. And I love it too. I just can't continue doing it with one small payment from Queers of Joy. Originally I saw it as my contribution to the LGBTQIA+ community. But it won't work if I can't keep up with how much it's grown."

Jim, "No, and you will get burnt out if you keep going like this! I remember you told me it took you 6 years to find a Drag King name that really resonated for you. In Kings of Joy, you can do all of that in 6 weeks and you have the support of a drag king coach!”

Me, "Exactly."

Jim, "You've given so much, I want you to receive as well. The reason I was calling is because I want to pay it forward for a future King."

And so the Kings of Joy Pay It Forward program was born. After consulting with people in the community, there was a general consensus that making it a paid program would change the experience and potentially be a financial barrier for some people in our community. Paying it forward means that if you are in the position to pay, you can and if not, you can pay later or give back to the community in other ways. Either way, there's no obligation, and no one is indebted, Kings of Joy Gold Stars is still given as a gift, a service to the community. 

Since December 2020, I’ve coached and mentored 64 first-time Drag Kings in Kings of Joy groups, performing at Queers of Joy (to date). I began the Pay It Forward program in March 2022 which has benefited 17 new Kings in the Gold Stars program - 50% of these Kings going through the program have now been paid for by previous Kings of Joy.

Many people want to pay it forward for the next King because they've had such an incredible, often life-altering experience. Some go through the whole process without ever paying a cent. This is completely fine. People often contribute in other ways with their time and their energy, their presence, and their love, and support of other people in an uplifting community. That's what makes Kings of Joy so special.

Here's what people say about Kings of Joy Gold Stars:

“Signing up I had no idea what to expect, what I wanted to express as a drag king. Danica's gentle guidance helped me find out what was in me that demanded to be expressed.

Before Kings of Joy, I always felt some shame in my masculinity. As a transfemme, there is a societal expectation on how you are meant to express your gender. Freeing myself from that expectation, reclaiming my masculine side on my terms has been life-changing, I know cliché, but it really has. 

I have taken the confidence that Kings of Joy and Danica reminded me I had and I'm bringing it back into my non-drag life. To be truly me and surround myself with people who support that, like my fellow kings.”

-Jade aka Klit Angel

I believe that we can have it all and I believe that we can be champions for each other and champion each other success. While I have been implementing the Pay It Forward program, I've taken a 60% pay cut and the Kings of Joy Producers team has received a LINC grant to go towards the facilitator cost for a series of Drag King workshops that our community is asking for. Funding like this will ensure that the cost of these workshops is loaded directly benefiting the Kings of Joy community.

Love,

Danica

P.S If you'd like to pay it forward for a future king, click here to contribute either a quarter, half, or full amount of the cost.

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