Often, college freshmen struggle to discover who they are and where they fit in.
But sometimes all it takes is a little courage, a supportive friend and season six of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
For stage management senior Ryan Barrett, known by his fans as Regina Thorne-DuBois, entering the world of drag queens was something that always interested him. His freshman year at UH, that dream became reality.
“The very first time I did (drag) was with my freshman roommate,” Barrett said. “Being able to not start it alone was what gave me the courage to do it.”
According to Barrett, he and his roommate were looking for fun things to do in their spare time. Then, season six of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” strutted into the picture.
“About halfway through, we were like, ‘We want to try this, we want to see what it would look like,’” Barrett said. “Our friend did our makeup for the very first time, and it just kind of took off from there.”
That summer, Barrett experimented with different makeup, wigs and clothing to get a feel for what he needed.
“I looked horrible,” Barrett said, laughing. “But we all had to go through that phase.”
Makeup came easiest for Barrett because of his background in theater and stage production. His favorite makeup is the “Electric Palate” from Urban Decay, but he shops at specialty stores for foundation and base due to the higher quality of stage makeup.
But purchasing and utilizing the right clothing proved more difficult for him. As time went on, Barrett started collecting clothes and accessories from various sources, but the drag community at UH helped him the most.
“Getting involved in the drag scene (at UH), I got to know people who gave me tips about places to go to get new, fun outfits, and because of that I was able to expand my wardrobe more,” Barrett said.
While makeup is one of his strongest skills, Barrett said the actual performance aspect is his favorite.
“The performance as a whole is just what kicks off for me,” he said. “My outfits are the last thing I worry about, because I am a firm believer that, until I get my makeup looking nice, I don’t want to go out (on stage). That is the first thing people are going to look at and pay attention to when they’re interacting with you.”
Another key element to the drag scene is his queen’s name: Regina Thorne-DuBois. He chose it based on his favorite TV shows and other drag queens who have impacted his life.
His first name, Regina, was chosen from the evil queen in the hit television series, “Once Upon a Time.”
“Everything about her was what I wanted to embody—the outfits, her makeup, her hair was always perfect,” Barrett said.
While his last name was originally Addams—in homage to “The Addams Family”—it was soon changed to Thorne, named after a character in yet another TV show, “Revenge.”
But after a year of being Regina Thorne, he was adopted into a drag family—a close-knit group of performers—so he added the last part of his current name to honor his drag mot
her, Irene DuBois.
“Traditionally, a drag mother is someone who puts you in drag for the first time,” Barrett said. “I became really good friends with Irene DuBois, and our performance styles are really similar. Because of that, she brought me in as her daughter.”
Barrett also has adopted a drag daughter, whose name is Lily Von-Tease DuBois. He said their family group is a supportive system that introduces them to best friends and stylists.
“That group, and the friends that I’ve made through it, are closer to me than anyone else I’ve met in my 21 years,” Barrett said. “For me, that group is so important.”
While his current focus is completing his degree at UH, Barrett said his first love is being a drag queen.
“My passion is to do Regina full-time,” Barrett said. “I want to get to where I am just performing drag all the time.”
While the road to following those dreams is not always easy, Barrett is secure in his decision to pursue a career on the stage, no matter what others may think about it. Barrett has dealt with the negative reactions of society, as do many drag queens, and he said he wants to make sure that everyone finds their place, whether it’s on stage in full drag or not.
“Drag is not what you think it is,” Barrett said. “You’re looking at people who have been poked at, prodded, made fun of for years, and they have still found a way to be the most confident version of themselves by being someone different.”
“There’s a place for everybody.”
Follow Barrett on Instagram @reginathornedubois