Last night at XL, the Season 5 premiere party for RuPaul's Drag Race unfurled. Like many of the show's storied contestants, it was a hot mess in a hot dress.
First up was a mob-scene photo op. Why the sudden interest? Is drag going to be the next "Gangnam Style"? Nope. It was because fellow Viacommies Snooki and JWoww had been paid lured to semi-host the evening, so the event photographers were champing at the bit. I was late so missed some of the pint-sized supernovae, but I did find it funny when Snooki and JWoww wouldn't do solo shots and wouldn't even do a simple two-shot against the backdrop for the salivating photogs. (One of whom kept shouting, "J.Lo! J.Lo!" while others kept shouting, "Nicole, turn to the right!" to try to get on Snooki's good side by showing they knew her Christian name.)
Inside, the ladies were positioned at tiny tables and all of us press types just had to run up and grab whomever might be available.
I will be able to upload many more videos later on Monday.
Snooki and JWoww had a line that stretched all the way back to December, so I went for Detox Icunt first, having heard she was a big Madonna fanboy fangirl fan.
I loved her. She feels like this season's Chad, but with fewer miles on her. (No offense at all, Chad—I'm old, too.) She also vaguely reminded me of Chicago's Memory Lane. Anyway, she confirmed her adoration for Madonna (she saw MDNA three times).
I then went for Jade Jolie. I wanted to be sure I had time for her because she's the subject of a new mini-scandal on the show—in the past (how distant is not clear to me), she was known as "Tristan Everhard" and did bareback porn videos.
She was a frickin' doll (and resembled a mix between a Dawn doll and something you'd see at ComiCon) and answered my question about the porn brouhaha smoothly and graciously. This was before I got to speak to all of her rivals, not one of whom cast even a hint of shade toward her for her movie work. From what I can tell, it was never used on the show and didn't come out among the ladies until a month or so ago. This Jade's a gem.
As much as I loved those two, I think my favorite (in person, anyway) might've been Alyssa Edwards. I know, not much of a drag name! But she doesn't need a flamgirlant name—she has a sparkling personality, is smart enough to butter up reporters in-between lengthy but never too-lengthy answers (she complimented me on my smile and nuzzled close for our photo op) and is gorgeous.
She reminded me a bit of a young, soft Raven, but she also has a prettier Lady Gaga vibe. (She would later perform in full Gaga majesty.) As we parted, she implored me to say she was my favorite, but had already done what was necessary to make that true. This bitch could be a contender.
Monica Beverly Hillz was so nice, immediately telling me she was a fan of my YouTube. She wasn't just trying to be nice—I have tons of drag videos up there so she was probably scouting out how her peers-of-the-past have responded during interviews.
She couldn't have been friendlier. I would be surprised if Monica turned out to be bitchy or unlikable on the show.
Coco Montrese had on this insane sort of street art meets Impressionism gown and the most intense makeup—she looked like she might spray paint it on or use an Ed Paschke coffee table book the way some ladies use YouTube makeup tutorials when glamming up for a night out on the town.
She had a very attentive handler who made certain my photo brought out the, er, natural green in her peepers.
Honey Mahogany was easily one of the most beautiful contestants. She had a Madonna's "Deeper and Deeper" look that made her, for me, reminiscent of Raja. But her Old Hollywood glamour quotient was several notches higher.
Honey was beyond pleasant. Are you sensing a theme here? I honestly couldn't figure out who would be tagged the bitch this time.
Alaska Thunderfvck is one of the season's funny girls, alongside Detox, sporting a rat's nest yellow wig, a space gun and a gigantic sense of humor. They all have porn eyebrows, but none more so than this gold-sequined babe.
I'm wondering if she might not last a while on the show if only because she has a sense of showwomanship.
For a girl with a triple X in her name, I found Roxxxy Andrews to be a bit on the shy side, which went with her tasteful black ensemble and power-dyke upswept 'do. It was endearing.
As a bonus, Roxxxy's from Orlando, apparently, so my buddy Jason was all over her for a photo op. (People from Florida apparently are...proud?...of it???)
At this point, I started forgetting which queens I'd spoken to, and was also becoming confused by the presence of dozens of other, non-contestant queens, including familiar names like Manila Luzon, Jiggly Caliente, Raja, Morgan Michaels, Milan and Tyra Sanchez.
But I eventually realized I needed Vivienne Pinay. Good thing, too, because our photo op together was my favorite of the night (along with Alyssa's)—we look like we're a couple on a cruise together. She's really gorgeous.
Serena ChaCha had a severe look, like Barbara Stanwyck on Big Valley, but more urban and heavy on the red. She looked, dare I say, classy. She was engrossed in texting and in talking with a guy who seems to know all the queens year after year (but looks about six months out of high school), but once I had her attention, she was enthusiastic.
"Anything you want!" she offered. I didn't put that to the test, but she was warm and sweet. Like caramel in a microwave.
The only other queen I interacted with was the statuesque Penny Tration. I think she's supposed to be this season's fat queen, but she looks HWP to me, solid but shapely. She told a friend that the producers had expressed to her that she wasn't fat enough. God, I would kill to receive that compliment.
Beyond the drag queens, I did get 58 seconds with Snooki and JWoww. Jason had been holding my spot right behind two girls who just wanted Facebook photos with them. (Journalism is a rich miasma of varying goals.) As we got to the front, two guys had snuck in on the side, apparently believing that because they had been there 20 minutes—in the wrong place—they should be allowed to go in front of us. Didn't happen, but they, of course, were the ones loudly grumbling about professionalism. Yes, while cutting a line to chat with Snooki and JWoww.
The girls were really nice and game to talk. I asked them drag-related stuff and they gave great answers. My voice sounds crazy-high in this, but I guess that's what happens when you're shouting over the din in a drag den of iniquity:
After a quick photo of and with the ladies, all we had left to do was stake out a spot for the show. We spent time chatting with my pal Tony (we do all the junkets together, or at least he is at all the ones I manage to get invited to and then some) and with sexy JC Alvarez of Edge (chatting, flirting, cock-blocking, spreading discomfort—I'm not sure which term most accurately applies).
I wasn't overly impressed with the performances I managed to stay awake for. (Disclaimer: I was tired, and the shitshow had THREE acts—like Tennessee Williams!—so was still only half over at midnight when I left.) All of the girls I saw worked hard, but I need more than lip-synching to a deafening array of the latest Top 40 hits.
The interviews ended at 9, the show started past 10:30, with Lady Bunny deejaying and Bianca Del Rio providing NC-17-rated color commentary, including hysterically putting an overzealous, dragged-up audience member in her place. (She read her like a Harry Potter novel and reminded her rather bluntly that she was a paying guest and so her presence was not required, nor was it welcome, on the stage.)
Case in point: Detox was brilliant. Or she seemed to be brilliant in comparison to those around her, merely because her act had a concept She came out looking very matronly in a power suit and stood stock-still while—of all things—Starship's execrable "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" played forseeminglyever. Then, when Grace Slick's vocal came on, she sprang to life, lipping it to giddy perfection. Then, back to a frozen pose. The song was famously on the soundtrack to the movie Mannequin (1987), all about a store mannequin who comes to life (a youngish Kim Cattrall)—that shit was funny. Bianca came out and seemed duly impressed, noting how long it's been since she had found a drag queen to be genuinely funny. Wisely, Detox gave her the finger as she exited the stage. Once you have Bianca's respect, that's the best way to keep it.
I will say that points must be awarded to Alyssa Edwards for dazzlingly capturing Lady Gaga and especially to Honey Mahogany, who sashay-Beyoncéed her way down to near-total nudity. It was an act that took huge balls, and yet, ironically, required that they be tucked into her asshole.
It was a fun night, the girls are pretty and friendly...so I got nothin' if you want me to tell you something you're not supposed to know until season five of RuPaul's Drag Race debuts Monday night on LOGO at 9PM EST.