The First Metaverse for Drag Artists Braces for a Kinky Start

Creative strategist Leo Martinez Daviz was reborn as a drag queen and Web3 enthusiast in COVID-19.

“I am a pandemic drag baby,” he said. 

During the coronavirus lockdown Leo was living in New York. The isolation pushed his creative boundaries beyond the limits of what he believed possible. 

That’s how Leo met his “drag mother” — an artist who helped him to transform into a drag performer and record his first song.  

The pandemic, however, has devastated the drag community. “They were losing gigs and couldn’t make a living anymore,” he said. “I started thinking of how I could help drags share their art and generate income.” 

With his team Leo is now creating dragverse, a metaverse for drag artists and aficionados. The project’s priority is to “build a safe space for our kikis”, where drag queens, kings, and monsters can take ownership of their content. 

The first stage is a decentralized network. According to Leo, around 2,000 fams — members of the “drag family” — already joined the community. The team is also planning to add such features as metaverse competitions and an NFT marketplace.  

“With the tools that we are building, drags can livestream their shows,” Leo said, adding that a “tipping feature” will be added so fans can support their favorite artists. In the future, the platform might involve integration with wearables. 

The project came to life at ETH Global’s hackathon, NFTHack. “I was very nervous to pitch the idea: I thought nobody’s gonna be interested, but they loved it,” Leo said.

At the hackathon he met his co-founder William Lopez-Cordero, a former blockchain developer at MIT, as well as the rest of the team. They ended up winning first prize for the best community tools hack. The project also received a grant from Livepeer network, a platform for decentralized video streaming. 

The dragverse team is now experimenting with Lens protocol, a social graph allowing users to launch Web3-ready social media platforms. The new network aims to give users ownership over their information and content. 

“My life has changed completely: now I am influencing what social media in Web3 will look like, and it really excites me,” Leo said. 

But the project is bracing for a rough start. After receiving a grant from Livepeer network, the team’s Metamask wallet got hacked. “Within minutes they stole around $6,000 we needed to pay our developers,” Leo said. 

Explaining the value of the project to the drag community is another challenge the dragverse team is facing. Many established queens aren’t too excited with the potential of Web3. 

“Historically, our community had to be very protective, but technology is also the problem.” Leo said. “A lot of drags don’t even understand the metaverse. I have to walk them through it, and demonstrate how this technology can empower them.” 

The founders aren’t discouraged by these challenges. The dragverse team recently hosted the first drag show in the metaverse. “It was a historic moment: we already left our mark in that space,” Leo said.

The event, inspired by the 70s style, was held in Decentraland, with queens performing as avatars.

“Drag queens are so creative: some of them teach coding and science in their outfits,” Leo said. “Having a space where they could own their content and share it is my dream.”

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