Above, a full gallery of exclusive shots from the evening
Last night at XL in NYC was a brief press event for RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race (you watching? Mimi and Pandora were sent packin' first) followed by an anything-but-brief string of performances by eight of those crazy he-bitches. It was, as hostess with the mostess attitude Bianca Del Rio termed it, "magical."
The press part disappointed; we had less than an hour, so I couldn't even get to all the girls there, which included Manila Luzon, Latrice Royale, Tammie Brown, Alexis Mateo, Pandora Boxx, Yara Sofia, Shannel and Mimi Imfurst. Still, this red-carpet photo op was pretty wild.
Waiting for Manila, another reporter and I were horrified to watch her feathery red gown catch fire while she was being interviewed on camera. The other guy was mute, so I blurted out, "Fire! Fire!" Manila put it out quickly (not kidding, if it had gone another five seconds I really think she might have been in trouble) but then she came over and said, "And you guys just watched?"
I couldn't tell if she was kidding or didn't realize I was the one yelling at her to put herself out, but she did recover and did her interview.
When it was my turn, she was lovely, telling me how much she appreciates everyone's support in the wake of her partner Sahara Davenport's death. In fact, the dress she was wearing had been Sahara's. (Luckily, it should be easy to patch up.)
As for what to expect from RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race, Manila sez:
"The one thing that’s kind of sad about the show is that these girls drop off by twos so it gets over quick. All Stars is…you better enjoy it while it’s lasting!"
Latrice was her usual boisterous self, looking stunning. She laughed her ass off when noting that she thinks she herself is the most talented of all of RuPaul's children. She might be right! Certainly, she must be among the most popular.
I think Latrice is the odds-on fave to win this mini-series.
Pandora was looking extra-cute but was feeling extra-pissy about going home first this time. She did say Sahara had offered her condolences on the loss, something that really puts the whole thing in perspective now that she's gone.
Pandora also talked about her hilarious new song "Nice Car (Shame About Your Penis)" and the fun video she just shot for it, saying that doing drag in daylight is never a good idea but that it came out well all the same. But I think she's selling herself short—she looks terrific, better than ever, as if losing out on this show has fired her up to be the best she can be.
Check out what all the ladies had to say about who had the most CHARISMA, the most UNIQUENESS, the most NERVE and the most TALENT:
The rest of my interviews were a bit too speedy for my taste, but you work with what you've got—just like drag queens!
"I would not get naked. I would refuse to do a naked photo shoot. I think it’s inappropriate and I don’t think drag has anything to do with it."
The final queen I snagged was Mimi Imfurst ("There's always time for you!"), whom I've met before out of drag and who is really one of my favorites. She never seems to get a fair shake on the show, coming across so differently than she does in real life. For her part, there's no feud "at all" with Pandora. She was the picture of dragphistication with a sheer, Barbra-at-the-Oscars-style dress and the longest eyelashes—it was like someone had pulled them through her skull and left the rest of her head bald.
Mimi's group XELLE is one of my favorite new acts. She told me their "Queen" video was dedicated to Sahara and spoke highly of not only that fallen drag star but also Willam, whom she dubbed the most talented of all RuPaul's queens.
The interview portion of our show ended, my pal and I stood near the stage and waited, and waited and waited until the show began. Lady Bunny was DJing and Bianca Del Rio was hosting, but it was still a bit disconcerting to have to wait almost two hours for any action.
The brief taste of Hot Mess, a regular show at XL, was a real ghoul's night out, including gunplay and zombie killing, all in heels. Bury entertaining.
Each girl performed her heart out to mostly positive results, though it was hard to top the gutter talk from Del Rio, who touched on everything from shitty dicks to RuPaul's—gasp!—age.
First up was XELLE doing "Queen" live. Loved it! They gave the night a great, solid, professional kick-off. A bewigged Mimi's melting "I'm a hot mess" is an instant classic for me, as was her return to the stage to carry Bianca Del Rio around in retaliation for saying, "That's the only group with the one who can't sing in the middle!"
Next was Alexis Mateo shimmying to Rihanna in a Lion Queenesque look. She had some nice males in her pride as well.
Tammie Brown followed, and while I can appreciate her uniqueness, I'm not sure I get her. She's got the kind of loopy act (two songs???) that even Andy Kaufman would have found perplexing. But she seemed to have an extremely vocal following in the crowd. I see Rue McLanahan on spoiled LSD.
The end of part one belonged to Manila Luzon, looking like a pageant queen and sweetly lipping Cyndi Lauper's "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)". The message couldn't have been missed—after all the shock and sadness, she is showing the strength to go on and do so with a smile and with optimism. Her Supremes moves were smooth as silk.
After a huge wait, Pandora Boxx emerged to sing along with "Nice Car (Shame About Your Penis)". She was working a much harder, sexier vibe than I've seen her do before, bending over at the end of the catwalk so that an audience member could literally kiss her ass before turning around to do some facefuck-miming. Girl was on her game.
Shannel, in a back to the futuristic, exotic mess of a dress (in a good way), was a real delight to watch. She was ecstatic to be in NYC, and NYC was feeling the same in return. I didn't love the song, but I think I require very over-the-top disco type songs from my drags; no disrespect intended.
Yara Sofia did a Lypsinka-type number, a series of songs and soundbytes all clipped together and ending with RuPaul's voice anointing her as a true talent. It was a lot of fun—electrifying even, and she tore off her clothes to reveal a tight bod. She's way taller than you'd guess.
But the night belonged to Latrice Royale. As she was being introduced, we could see her fanning herself backstage, just her arm and the fan. It was an exquisite moment. Then, when she popped out into view, I thought The Great Pumpkin had arrived until I realized she was going for "fireball" more than "Halloween goddess." Either way, she stalked around that stage, degenerating into big-girl-you-are-beautiful gymnastics that had everyone in the house having squirting standing Os. She brought that place down, and might have done so literally with a couple more of her dead-weight splits.
Great night, great show, great girls—they really should rename "drag" something a little less oxymoronic. (My new drag name is now Foxy Moron.)
I'll post all their live performances in the coming days, too.
I asked the ladies to give us their "October Surprises" about themselves and/or each other: