Had a gay old time at RuPaul's Drag Race Battle of the Seasons tour—a variety show featuring some of the fave queens from the series doing solo schtick, singing and participating in comedy orgies—last night at Irving Plaza, meaning I was one of the gayest and oldest people there. Who knew the fans of the show are so female and so young?
I have to say that World of Wonder continues to only be associated with well conceived, well written, funny and value-packed events. This shit went on for almost three hours!
I got to attend the VIP meet-and-greet, which was a hoot. On display were BenDeLaCreme, Pandora Boxx, Jiggly Calient, Darienne Lake, Jinkx Monsoon, Alaska Thunderfuck, Michelle Visage and Ivy Winters. (Through no fault of her own, Needles barely made it to the event at all, so couldn't do the VIP part.)
In the VIP area, I snapped every drag queen in my sight, including Visage, that great female drag queen. I'm a longtime fan of Seduction and she is a longtime fan of Madonna, so that made for a potent encounter for me. She kindly gave me a quote-let for my Madonna book and posed, though she initially threw her hand in front of my camera when I asked for a solo shot. She wanted to know what it was for, then said she'd only pose with me, not for me. That's a sneaky way to make sure photographers can't sell your headshot to agencies. The bitch is experienced. She looked great, as did her boobs, which, like her reputation, precede her.
All the girls were great. Chatted briefly with Monsoon about the death of Albert Maysles, in light of her upcoming Return to Gray Gardens show (ENTER HERE FOR TICKETS).
Boxx seemed kinda over it all (but was unfailingly nice to fans), an impression that was borne out once she hit the stage.
Keep reading, because this event had enough shade to cool off the Gobi...
Visage was the show's emcee, but also its MVP. She was invaluable as a likable gums-flapper, but also sang her asshole off on an Amy Winehouse tribute and as part of a “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” (1959) number with BenDeLa and Monsoon.
As with several other parts of the show (including Monsoon's hilarious Bette Davis impersonation), I wondered if the majority of the crowd had any concept of the origins of this number, but either way, it worked beautifully.
Monsoon was, as always, a delicious ham, but also a professional one; she knows how and when to be funny and can sing in a way that's not funny at all. Watching the dead expressions of the other girls when Monsoon was landing punch lines was priceless.
To my surprise, I was least impressed by Needles. With all due respect, for me, her she's-gone girl corpse act is beginning to decompose. Her vibe on the show had led me to think she'd be really spooky and punk, but her songs are in the vein of goofy “Monster Mash” (1962) novelty numbers. She does sing them live, for which she gets credit, and they are original, but not very. Her lengthy speech at the end of the show about how grateful she is to have been chosen to win the crown came off as kind of ridiculous and off-brand, especially following her attempts at low-blow Joan Rivers humor (she teased Carmen Carrera for being neither man nor woman, savaged the newcomer NYC queens on the show in absentia, made a crack about Robin Williams hanging around in heaven, etc.). Savage and earnest don't mix well. Maybe she (or I) was having an off night—she did let us know she'd been in makeup for 11 hours for us thanks to some flight issues. But don't go only by me, because the hometown girl did receive a lot of love from the fans.
Also to my surprise, I was most impressed by Alaska, to whom I hadn't paid enough attention during her season. She was one of two queens on the stage who sincerely feels like something totally different and new, something that could one day be mentioned in the same breath as Divine and RuPaul.
She was hysterically funny in an effortless way (often simply gesturally so), and her brain-dead (on purpose) songs “This Is My Hair (I Don't Wear Wigs)” and “Your Makeup Is Terrible” feel future-iconic. Lucky her, it was her birthday, so she got a cake and some verbal lovin' from Visage.
Boxx kinda-sorta stole the evening. During a wild mini-challenge, three audience members were transformed using trash. Boxx, BenDeLa and Winters did their best to make their subjects royal, but Boxx was the one who stripped her cute boy to his red undies and stuffed him until he had a package so big UPS wouldn't deliver it.
She also got him to bare his butt, which should have guaranteed him the win, but BenDeLa's boy was just as cute and had an ungodly-good sissified walk, so he won, limp wrists down. (Such a cutie, was annoying he wasn't forced to strip, too.)
After this, during her solo, Boxx openly griped that she'd been scolded backstage for introducing nudity when sponsors were in the audience. That does seem crazy, since the show is filled with X-rated commentary and drug humor. She then said, to paraphrase, “It's not like I called people the N-word, like Sharon Needles.” She also bitched about only being in seven dates of the tour and having been yanked from the Snatch Game number. It was fucking real and the audience ate it up, even if it definitely had Visage gnashing her teeth; Visage brilliantly parried when she re-emerged, noting, “Now you see why she's only on seven dates.” Visage also noted that Season 3 was really more like Season 1, another cut for Boxx. But I have to say, I think the unplanned air of Boxx's remarks really added to the fun, so...point to Boxx, who later returned for a solo, coke-fueled send-up of “Let It Go”.
Snatch Game was a riot, with Alaska skewering Laganja Estranja, Darienne Lake poking fun at Adore Delano (my goddess, she had the voice down), Monsoon destroying as Bette Davis, Caliente presenting Carmen Carrera as a selfie-absorbed airhead and Needles doing Joan Rivers (she said the only N-word she'd called anyone was “not funny,” to Boxx.)
All in all, the show was a blast, all the queens worked hard and the audience left in ecstasy. What a genius franchise this is, and as Visage's wise opening remarks touched on, who in the hell back in 1985 could have ever guessed this would be the level at which drag was performing commercially in 2015?