DragCon: BEST & WORST
Photos by: Brad Ulbrich
Childrens, this past week, I, like most queens, high-heeled it into “RuPaul’s DragCon” for the celebration. Although it was in its third year, this was my first time attending. So grab a cocktail and let’s dish. “The time has come” for the BEST and WORST of DragCon.
BEST. There’s a bar! I was thrilled to see a bar in the lobby upon arrival. Of course, yours truly doesn’t need one. I bring it with me! Figuring security might check bags, I bolted to my “Flask Museum” at my home. I chose a black, plastic flask for its ease through metal detectors should there be any. I filled it with Stoli, shoved it in my bra, and laughed all the way inside DragCon. Then, I noticed some of my buddies drinking publicly, so I whipped it out and started chugging too. Come to think of it, though. Security just let me right in anyway; no questions asked. Hmm.
As I was getting lit, my bff and companion for the afternoon, Brad, was producing “My Story” for my Instagram page. I can’t tell you how incredible he was as my photographer, videographer, and director during this afternoon. No, I really can’t tell you because I don’t remember. I blacked out halfway through. Thank goodness, he captured it all … but is that video still up? Oh, well. It all began with jewelry!
WORST. Overpriced everything. Darlings, my only addiction is costume jewelry … and maybe one other thing, but I digress. There I was in the middle of the convention center with all these glittering baubles calling my name. Then terror, sheer terror set in. HOW MUCH for this ring? Those heels? That wig? Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford began screaming in my head, “Don’t fuck with me fellas!”
Alas, I did a shot with my great-granddaughter Debbie Joseph who joined me, and I remembered where I was. I was downtown. I could get all this for pennies just a few blocks over at Santee and Olympic! Ahh, that helped … as did bumping into Gilbert Doeve, “Costume Jewelry Whisperer” to the drag world. He dug into his satchel and unearthed a gigantic gold and rhinestone scene-stealer of a ring. And, it was free! Gilbert, you are the best enabler and jewelry maker! My faith was restored.
BEST. Boys! My heady tingle was restored as well, once I saw a plethora of go-go snacks in their skivvies, reminding me of TigerHeat and the Adonis Lounge. I visited the Andrew Christian and his models, my favorite being Topher DiMaggio in his red briefs. Someone, fan me! Across the lane, Trelino and Chris paraded around in their jocks and continued to set my heart to racing. That’s what I loved. I loved how inclusive DragCon was. It was an enormous convention with a wig booth here, drag queen in her tent there, and nearly-naked models like Murray Swanby and Steven Dehler over here, posing for pictures with sexy Jessica Wild and me. Good times!
WORST. Lots of walking. Okay, so I knew I was in trouble when I met my sis Calpernia Addams at the entrance. Here she was, clad in sensible sneakers. Me? I was wearing strappy, pink and purple sandals with a 5-inch needle of a heel. Three hours in and it was, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Yes, be glamorous but comfy, ladies! Or, just do as Morgan McMichaels did and ride around in a motorized scooter, because nothing – and I mean nothing – is tackier than slingin’ your heels over your shoulder and walking barefoot to the car like a Midwestern bridesmaid. Good thing I made it until the end, but I put on matching flip-flops when no one was looking. Ahhh!
BEST. The Queens! Nothing compared to the drag queens themselves. Running into all my sisters from Tammie Brown to Delta Work to Mariah Paris Balenciaga, it was a drag fan’s dream! Being a well-known drag fixture in LA has its privileges – no lines! I skipped the lines telling folks, “Sorry, I’m an alcoholic. Sorry, alcoholic coming through. Oh, sorry. I have advanced alcoholism.” You know what? Those half-truths were meant as jokes, but only one girl laughed. Hmm. I have to work on my delivery. Or maybe they were just pissed. After all, they waited 2 hours to see my sweetie Adore Delano. Me? I just walked up to her, and she was so excited that I almost cried. She and I have a lovely and long history together, and I truly adore her. Great moment!
Special shout-outs to the other gals I skipped up to, like the lady in blue Jujubee, porcelain Venus D-Lite, gorgeous Manila Luzon, yummy MILK, and the incomparable Shangela. Shangela hooked me by the arm and escorted me under her lights and in front of her cameras. She shared that spotlight with me, and she stole my heart. Later, I yelled some catcalls to Tatianna, Yara Sofia, and Alyssa Edwards who returned my air-kisses and yelled back. It was magic!
In addition to the well-known queens, the surprise appearances were a riot too, like Australia’s “Karen from Finance.” Goodness gracious was she fun! I had to “use” her rotary dial orange telephone because our lines went down “in HR.” Then, the cast of “Mama’s Family” waltzed in from Raytown, led by comedy queens Mary Jean Austin and Gert Crawford, playing “Mama Thelma Harper” and “Eunice Higgins.” They brought along Vint, Naomi, Iola, Bubba, and even Ellen and Aunt Fran! Gert as Eunice had me in tears, telling me her plastic white sandals were “dishwasher safe.” My eyeliner started running, but it was worth every drop, kids!
WORST. RuPaul, where? So here we were at “RuPaul’s DragCon,” and her photo is plastered everywhere. Everyone is dressed in drag or appreciating drag in her honor. So where was the lady of the hour? My great-granddaughter Debbie pointed to a sign reading “RuPaul’s Big Opening.” We staggered over there and discovered that she was only steps away, behind a white partition in all her drag glory!
But then the other heel dropped like Cinderella’s glass slipper, shattering our hopes. Debbie, photographer Brad, and I all looked at one another, wide-eyed. The room began to spin. Our eyes glazed over. Everything went into slow motion. Had we popped some ecstasy? Nope. We were going into shock over the announcement. RuPaul … was … not … in … drag!
“Whaaattttttt?” exclaims every queen on Mother Earth from Gigi’s in Detroit to Urban Mo’s in San Diego. You have got to be kidding me! You are the whole reason we are here, Ru! But for sixty dollars and a three-hour wait, you are out of face, hiding behind a plastic wall like the Wizard of frickin’ Oz? Ummm. If this were my convention, Dorothy, I would have the fiercest pink stage set up in the middle of the room. Above would be all my favorite gowns dangling from chandeliers intermingled with half-naked aerialists swooping down on silks like angels greeting the masses. And in the center, before the most dramatic set of curtains, would be the gaudiest, draggiest, prissiest throne you have ever laid your Swarovski-lusting eyes on. And on that throne would be me, and I … would … be … in … drag!
“RuPaul, your convention was unconventional and a lot of fun, but your drag was a con. I’m sorry, my dear, but without more pageantry…”
Ohhh, who am I kidding? It was fabulous regardless! With my plastic flask, I salute you. Who better to provide an inclusive party for the drags, the gays, and those who love us? “RuPaul’s DragCon” was friends, jewels, wigs, queens, booze, boys, and a big ole free rhinestone ring for me! Sounds like another magical day in my world, in Ingenue’s Drag World.
Ingenue’s Instagram Story: RuPaul’s DragCon 2017 – “Ooops, kids, a few photos are sideways, but it’s fun!”