This weekend my partner Ryan and I had the pleasure of attending RuPaul’s Dragcon 2022 at the L.A. Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles. It was a huge celebration for everyone after two Pandemic years with no way to get together.
During that time Ryan and I watched the entire Drag Race series from season 1 through 14, all the All-Stars seasons, Drag Race UK… I don’t think we are alone in saying that these plucky queens kept our spirits up—kept us alive, basically—through some really dark and difficult times. It was pretty profound.
These ladies feel like family.
One look at the massive attendance, early in the morning even (definitely not drag club hours), confirmed there were a lot of cooped up people ready to party!
Most especially Ryan and I.
Ryan and I were there all day Friday. It all started with the “Queens Walk”—where all the drag queens sashay down the pink carpet in an elaborate, practically never-ending procession. There have been, like, 499 seasons of the Drag Race franchise now so, yeah, lots of queens.
You can see the Queens Walk photos below. I tried to capture all I could.
In the afternoon, we attended a few panels, caught up with dear friend Margot Padilla, a Monday Night icon who did I.E. and Totally Mag! and more. Margot was sound engineering at one of the Dragcon booths (more below).
I gotta say that this was the nicest, most friendly convention I have ever been to—and I’ve been to a lot of these sorts of confabs. Blows the modern iteration of SXSW (yuck) out of the water. Same with AEE or CES or… fill-in the blank.
Moms, dads, queers, children, grandmas, grandpas, straights, Lesbians, Black, white, Latin, Trans, old, young, rich, poor, International—the attendees ran the gamut. We’re talking FULL SPECTRUM of life on this planet.
The whole time I could not help thinking: this is the way life is supposed to run.
This is how America is supposed to work.
There are so many forces today that try to divide us. But when people of all stripes come together for something they love—10 gazillion drag queens?—to love what they love together, it’s really powerful. This is life for me. It’s what makes humans tolerable. I’d like to see us loving more things together.
Now, I’ve been onboard with Drag Race since the get-go. I’ve had my run-in with RuPaul.
Fuck me—that sucked. But to quote from the recovery program both Ru and I participate in, it’s principles—not personalities—that matter.
Everyone who attends Dragcon is operating under the same principle: love the underdog, the unclassifiable, the upsetter, the fierce. Glam it up. Let your freak flag fly!
For me, the drag scene has grown to replace a lot of what I used to like about music. You know, artist-made / homemade / D.I.Y., not sanctioned by “the man,” challenging power, full of style, fabulous, inclusive, rebellious, new.
I hope that if you wanted to go you made it to Dragcon. If not, watch out for next year….
Here’s my report from the convention floor. Can everybody say love?
IT BEGINS: It was crack ‘o dawn for drag queen lovers. This is entertainment that usually goes on in the depths of night, but here we were. 9:30am. Eek.
Notice the “House Of Love” sign hanging above. No, that’s not for your favorite ’80s, pre-Shoegazer UK band starring Guy Chadwick.
That’s Dragcon’s underwriter—a beverage company owned RuPaul and Drag Race production company, World Of Wonder. Say what you will about Ru, but she is quite industrious.
The pink carpet. People are amped….
And then it begins! Very fitting that the first queen out is all-time favorite, Season 1 competitor Ongina.
Ongina used to live in Koreatown, same era I did. Saw her roll herself in like a bowling ball across the floor (and knock down some unsuspecting patrons) at A Club Called Rhonda when it was strictly an underground, word-of-mouth roving party. She still looks great.
Tammie Brown! One of my very favorite all-time queens—also from Season 1—and another underground hero.
Manila Luzon, another early and continuing icon, is always a delight.
Alexis Mateo looking stunning. Bam!
Detox is an immortal. I dig the Fendi garment bag. It’s the little touches that set the real pros apart and above.
Kennedy Daveport faces the faces.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine absolutely had the humpiest chaperone of the morning.
Eureka—she’s got it!
I must admit, Jan—she of the intense energy and never blinking eyes—wasn’t a big hit in our household on Season 12. But then she just grew on me. Like a fun-gus. Emphasis on fun. I love her now. Go, Jan.
Jackie Cox came out dressed like a genie bottle…
…and then transformed into Jeannie. Yes, there was a momentary wardrobe malfunction but she recovered and it was amusing and we love you!
Tayce—from Drag Race UK, Season 2—is an obsession of mine right now. She is so style, so punk—she embodies that hard-edged, ’90s Matrix-y thing that Balenciaga has been doing lately. Icon.
First “straight” Drag Race queen, Maddy Morphosis. This is gonna sound corny but the fact that she got so many cheers brought a little tear to my eye.
Last season, Season 14, Deja Skye had the most kickass, camp ’80s “shoulder pad” look… she’s my hero for that one look alone. She should have worn it on the pink carpet.
We saw this bitch in San Francisco last month. Jasmine Kennedie is a seriously athletic dancer and one to watch. Hopefully she comes back for a future All-Stars?
Kornbread is an L.A. icon and I’m sure we have not seen the last of her. My prediction this no-nonsense queen reappears on All-Stars…
Daya Betty has grown on me too, I guess. Was she the unlucky recipient of the “villain edit” this past season? I dunno. Time will tell. Great to see her in person though.
I love me some Willow Pill (see below), but I really thought Camden or Angeria should have won. Another icon.
Bosco was one of the best season “narrators” (i.e., a talking head the producers keep cutting to to help events on the screen make sense) and I’m into her goth looks.
Aquaria—another pure style icon. Hot as a boy or a girl. Just wow.
RuPaul read me to filth in front of Kylie Sonique Love waaaaay back when. That was fucking horrible.
But flash forward: Kylie’s the first trans winner and an amazing performer. You go, girl!
All the judges loved Scotsman Lawrence Cheney on Drag Race UK, Season 2, and I guess I did too. His Addams Family-vibe is pretty cool. Glad he made it over the pond.
Krystal Versace, Drag Race UK, Season 3 winner, and the youngest-ever winner in the franchise. Her face, her look—so wonderfully angular. Like a jeweler cut her face from diamonds. Incredible to see the illusion was total in real life not just on TV.
For really elevated, of-the-moment, pop culture-as-art, Black, post-everything style, Season 13 winner Symone is the absolute best. Smokin’.
Bonus points: Symone’s booth, which I guess I did not take a photo of, was called “SYMoMA”—like the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Same font. Same gallery walls.
First Irish queen to win, Blu Hydrangea. Sassy. We love sass.
All-time icon Alaska still brings so much attitude. She is punk. Or what I love about punk. Adore her.
Raja used to live near me in Weho. I’d see her at Out Of The Closet where we’d both be shopping for new looks. Good thing she’s two feet taller than I am or we woulda been fightin’ (just kidding—even if I was tall I’d lose, I’m not that fierce).
Monet Xchange is one of those queens who I can imagine hosting a talk show or the nightly news. She’s got it.
Another style queen—can’t wait to see Shea on the new season of All-Stars.
Did Jinkx Monsoon get her last name from AbFab’s Edina Monsoon? Yep yep.
Jinkx is splendidly wacky.
Trinity the Tuck grew on Ryan and I so much that she ended up being one of our favorites of all time. Can’t wait to see her on the show again this summer.
Drag Race UK, Season 1 winner The Vivienne is so damn smooth. Someone called her a “dragtor”—as in, drag + actor—and I think that’s about right. She’s that good.
RuPaul really got into the DJ gig…
I dunno what the plan was but she kept spinning for two hours—very nice set. Heavy on the ’80s/’90s club hits. That old music is exotic to the youngins’ so everyone was going nuts.
Margot is engineering the M.O.M. Podcasts with all your favorite drag queens.
Kinda like W.O.W. but upside down I guess. It was wonderful to see Margot doing her thing.
Also, I’ll just leave this here. Willam’s leg. Bitch.
Kandy Muse is a favorite of ours—brings that New Yawk attitude. She dropped in for a hot minute.
Oh my gosh it’s our old friend Jewels—who we created so many videos with back in the day—also on the couch.
This is a three-way that turns me on.
Of all the things we saw and did, a random traipse past the stage yielded us the most powerful performance of the day: Priyanka! Holy shit!
Apparently she won the crown up north. We are going to be going back to watch Canada’s Drag Race tout suite…
Very impressive, ladies.
Unfortunately the sound was terrible, so after we rested our feet for a bit we fled…
So cool that the official Divine Museum was there. Polyester is one of my favorite films. Did you know that?
And now, the star of the show: Miss Alaska Thunderfuck 5000.
She gave us everything we wanted from a drag queen: look, sneering hate, attitude, wild moves and that voice—brava!
Chance encounter with Mrs. Kasha Davis on the way out and our day was complete. Just look at those smiles?
Plus more queer links from the Carnage files:
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