This is an outdated version published on 2022-05-11. Read the most recent version.

‘Different Strokes for Different Folks’: Segmenting Drag Cabaret Audiences in South Africa


  • Chris Hattingh Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Ashley Niekerk University of Cape Town



audience, cabaret, drag, entertainment, leisure behaviour, market segmentation


In a competitive post-modern society, traditional theatre genres (e.g. satire, dance, drama, ballet, opera, classical music concerts and West End/Broadway hits) battle to attract audiences. This is especially the case considering the myriad of more popular entertainment- and leisure activities these offerings compete with. One such activity appears to be that of drag cabarets; which only became an accepted part of mainstream arts and culture during the last decade. Considering the nascent nature of drag cabarets, it is probable that its appeal among audiences has been empirically overlooked by researchers. To investigate the appeal of this increasingly popular leisure activity, a web-based electronic survey was completed by 670 drag cabaret audience members in three South African cities, namely Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. This study aimed to plug the gap in existing literature through sharing insights on the dynamics of human and social behaviour in a post-modern society through determining the motives of attending drag cabarets. Moreover, drag cabaret audience members were segmented through ‘benefit segmentation’ by applying a hierarchical cluster-analysis using Ward’s procedure with Euclidean distances. The findings revealed four distinct audience clusters, namely the avid drag fan, the comedy enthusiast, the brotherhood tribe and the sisterhood tribe. The identified audience clusters differed partially on some demographical- and consumption behavioural variables, but mostly on motivational factors. Moreover, this study found that drag cabaret audience members should not be regarded as homogeneous. To sustain interest in this developing leisure activity, recommendations were made on how to attract the right audience members, with the right message to ensure that products and services are specifically designed for and/or promoted to these audience members while meeting their particular needs.