Outspoken and unapologetic, Wade Leavitt, aka The Harlot, is making waves in the Salt Lake drag community with her big personality and even bigger brows. I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with The Harlot, a beautiful and bearded, Las Vegas–grown queen for an intimate glimpse into her fabulous life of inclusivity and self-love.
Born and raised in Henderson, Nevada, The Harlot relocated to Cedar City during her most impressionable years. Her parents hoped to reform the “troubled child,” who was somehow always getting into Mom’s lipstick and dresses. She reminisces that her well-intentioned parents “thought it would be a better change for me since I was getting into all this trouble, but they didn’t realize that Cedar City was tiny and there was nothing to do except get into trouble.” Being in high school at the height of the emo scene, some makeup and gender probing was acceptable, and The Harlot began to experiment with questioning the traditional gender binary she learned from being raised LDS. “Growing up, my mother believed heavily in gender roles, and it always kind of pissed me off as a kid,” says Harlot. “So drag developed not as an escape, but as a way for me to express myself and let it be celebrated without anyone trying to tell me what it was or what I couldn’t do.”
This initial experimentation led to some great opportunities in the Salt Lake area. When she was introduced through a friend to the fabulous Bearded Femme, The Harlot really came under the radar of the Bad Kids Collective. In opening herself up to the world of drag and absorbing the name The Harlot, she reveals to me that she doesn’t believe in having a drag persona. She believes The Harlot is more of an extension of her self. “Everything I do onstage is something that I feel,” she says. “I use it to process and express and let it all out.” The Collective has been an enormous help in allowing her to come into her own.
The Harlot centers her performances on not only her look, but also self-love. Her typical performances have her grinding onstage to a Top 40 track. “If it’s what gives you life, then go out there and give that damn life to that song,” says Harlot. Her last performance had her opening for RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Latrice Royale’s show at Metro Bar to a Beyoncé track. “I’m a very confident person,” she says, “but it took me a lot of years to stop hating myself because of the whole society of LDS crap.” Now, free of tradition-based restraints, Harlot’s performances are unapologetically a celebration of her self. “If you can’t be 100-percent yourself, it’s kind of hard to celebrate,” she states matter-of-factly. “I think it’s the most important part of drag: being honest and celebrating every part of yourself and not being a shady bitch toward other people.”
Visually speaking, her drag is inspired by her mother and grandmother (who just doesn’t know it yet): big and beautiful. Her mother may have been a traditional Mormon mom, but her style was classic Vegas. “My makeup definitely came from a place of bold, loud and proud,” Harlot explains. “I believe in 500 pounds of makeup. I love the huge cut contour and huge brows. I like brows that you can sit and have a nice lunch on.” Drag sibling Opal Ascension dubbed Harlot “Salt Lake City’s Premier Brow Queen,” and they couldn’t be more on point.