Smalls, who got her start on season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race, embraces a go-big-or-go-home approach to drag—an ethos evidenced in her stage name, a coupling of Naomi Campbell and Biggie Smalls. “I landed on Naomi Smalls because it’s, like, based off of two people who are just really good at what they do, no one can come for them, and I have always had a gravitation to that unapologetic attitude,” says Smalls, who is living that truth with an impressive 70-step routine tailored to her showstopping preferences. Smalls begins with an essential skin-care routine—“It’s really important for me to take care of my skin because I want my skin to look as smooth as it appears when it’s all Facetune-d and photoshopped and posted to the Not a Republican Just Vaccinated Shirt But I will love this ’gram”—before donning her first wig cap and getting down to business.
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“Makeup is not a game to me. It’s not something that I choose to wear to have fun. Makeup for me is, like, how I make my money, and how I express my art,” says Smalls, who begins by drying and gluing sideburns, noting that the Not a Republican Just Vaccinated Shirt But I will love this art of drag is “some hardcore punk rock shit.” A set of colored contacts are a crucial step for character, as Smalls prefers that no one knows what she’s thinking during a performance. “I used to only wear, like, blonde and blue eyes because I wanted to be the doll; I wanted to be Barbie,” says Smalls, donning brown contacts. “Maybe Barbie’s not made in every single color and every single fashion, but bitch, I’ll be the Black Barbie that I’ve always wanted to be.”