This screen shot from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 Finale sums up 2015 for bluebay700.com. So much has happened in 2015 that summarizing it took two days! It’s been an amazing ride. So here we go …
Last Year’s Wish List
Before we go any further, let’s have a look at last year’s wish list and see how things fared.
“[Meet] Raven, Raja, Tatiana, [photograph] Minerva Markos, “secret” Kitty idea/project, more RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1, [photography] Marco Marco Collection 4, and (drum roll) … [photograph] RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Finale Red Carpet. Is it possible? We’ll see.”
With the exception of Marco Marco and Kitty, 2014 wish list were all realized. Minerva Markos and the Red Carpet are considered accomplished by technicality. Due to scheduling issues, including that of the backup model, the “secret” Kitty idea/project is incomplete and on-hold. But hopefully this coming summer it will get another chance.
As for Marco Marco, I was lucky enough to talk to both Chanel and Marco Marco in person at DragCon about photographing Collection 4 for an article but it just didn’t happen, and the time between that meet and the show, and being in a different country didn’t help either. When I saw a lot of people during the show taking pictures with their cellphones, I’m like, “(sigh), maybe next time.” However, I was able to cover Evan Clayton’s “LILLITH” runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week 2015 instead.
I managed to photograph Minerva Markos in a number of occasions, but they’re mostly of her performing or of her with a companion.
As for the Drag Race red carpet, I was spectator instead of photographer, because I found out that I got the Press Pass ONLY after I got back to Canada, because I couldn’t access my GMAIL account in Los Angeles since Google thought me logging to my account outside of Canada was spam, so they locked me out! However, I managed to observe the pre-show red carpet and got my photo taken with some of the season seven cast on the red carpet after the finale taping – with my eyes half-closed!
In mid-May 2013 I created this composite roller coaster with some Drag Race personalities on it, and with Godzilla and Sharon Needles in the background, as if they’re trying to attack it. I called it, Drag Coaster. I still laugh when I look at Alyssa Edwards frowning in the rear cab in contrast to the Pit Crew laughing out loud up front, lol – Alyssa, she’s not having it. I was trying to float this idea in social media about a Drag Race themed amusement park to make it easier for fans to meet the queens in a wholesale manner. Because, for one thing, Raja and Raven are really hard to meet in gigs in the West coast, let alone Canada. Drag Coaster never happened, but the following year the first ever drag convention happened! It’s a great idea for fans to meet all the cast, and then some. And it’s more practical since it only last for two days in a year and not some theme park one has to maintain and operate.
I suppose if we wish for things hard enough the universe will eventually hear us. Which brings me to the other idea, a RuPaul gig in Vegas – the gist, if RuPaul has a show in Las Vegas, like Divas, it would be easier for fans to go and experience his magic beyond the TV shows. Touring can be great if done well, and it will give fans, who can’t come to the US, an opportunity to meet RuPaul in person. But I think the experience from a residency can be far more superior, since the stress of traveling is no longer a factor. And it doesn’t have to be in Vegas, it can be done in LA or wherever is convenient and feasible for RuPaul. And it can be done for only a few nights each year, because I think making things so readily available will have a negative effect on its’ value.
2015 Milestones – Short Version
- DragCon 2014 – HERStory
- Micky’s WeHo “Showgirls” Photography debut
- RuPaul’s Drag Race 7 Finale Experience for Press
- Photograph Divas, and shows at Piranha Nightclub and Share Nightclub
- Paco’s Ranch Drag Photography
- Miss U.T.O.P.I.A. 2015-2016 Photography
- The Robbie Turner Revue – Part V Photography
- Vancouver Fashion Week 2015 Photography
- Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2015 Photography
- Bluebay700.com’s Uhmazing! featuring Jane Smoker
- Infocus (A male form photography series)
- Presenting (A drag photography series) – 41 queens in over 40 sessions.
- Press Coverage
- bluebay700.com Asset Management
- Uhmazing Lifestyle Magazine
- @UhmazingPress (Twitter) and 0bit.ch social media tools
- Expanding Network
2015 Milestones – Long Version
- DragCon 2014 – I was able to meet all the Drag Racers I wanted to meet in two days! Drag Con was a godsend. It was an amazing experience, being able to meet so many queens and personalities – including Tyra, Raja, Tatiana, RuPaul, Michelle Visage, and the Pit Crew (especially Bryce Eilenberg)!
DragCon 2014 made it possible to meet many cast members in a short period of time. They didn’t perform at the convention, so the experience is different, but the gigs will take care of that. I used to track the queens that I’ve meet and watched perform so I’ll know whom to try meet next. Every time they’re in town, I have to attend because it was hard to meet them. It took a lot of waiting, maybe a handful a year, and only with queens promoters favor. But after DragCon, I pretty much meet all of them. So the value of going to local gigs featuring Drag Racers wasn’t as crucial as it used to be, unless they’re queens I’m a huge fan of. I now have the luxury to nit-pick which gigs to attend because I can meet them at DragCon. I tend to favor smaller shows these days that feature a few Drag Racers, less than a handful, because it’s more personal and less hectic, as opposed to bigger shows, which tends to be more chaotic and rushed because of the larger number of attendees. Per my experience, shows with more than two popular queens can be quite stressful, but I digress. Anyway, DragCon was fabulous, and the fact that RuPaul recognized me in his photo booth, just made the whole experience even more memorable.
- Micky’s WeHo “Showgirls” Photography Debut – I shot my first “Showgirls” show at Micky’s in West Hollywood. The drag show happens every Monday and it features Raven, Morgan McMichaels and a variety of Drag Race cast members as guest performers.
I was lucky enough to run into Tony Moore, Micky’s famous emcee, at DragCon, totally by chance, and I talked to him about photographing “Showgirls.” Had it not happen, I would’ve gone anyway and looked for him at the club. So I’m very grateful for him for the opportunity. Among the drag racers who performed that night were Jujubee, Rebecca Glasscock, Morgan McMichaels, Raven, India Ferrah, Jiggly Caliente Brooks, Yara Sofia, Phi Phi O’Hara, Tatiana, and Coco Montrese. I was particularly impressed with the intensity of Tatiana’s and India Ferrah’s performances – first time I’ve seen them perform live. It was a great show. Mickey’s staff, including Tony Moore, showed great hospitality. The place has a cool vibe. And because the show was between DragCon and RuPaul’s Drag Race S7 Finale taping, some of the Drag Racers where there, like Raja, Mariah Balenciaga, Joslyn Fox, Milk, Tyra Sanchez, and Adore Delano. Even Pearl’s mother and companion were there – I took their photo as well. It was such an amazing experience! Thanks again Tony Moore and Mickey’s!
- RuPaul’s Drag Race 7 Finale – Having meet RuPaul in 2013 at Sweet Store in Hollywood, my goal the following year was to photograph the finale red carpet and to see RuPaul in full drag in person. DragCon made this possible. Although I didn’t get to photograph the red carpet, I was able to see RuPaul in full drag for the longest time ever!
At the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 Finale taping, I was able to watch the red carpet before the taping, have my photo taken on the red carpet after the taping, experience the finale taping and all the live entertainment that came with it, saw former drag race cast members again in full drag (except Raja who was not in drag), and unexpectedly got some air time on US national TV as a result! It was a great experience to see how they make the show.
Seated on the seventh row, I was there amidst the stars. Miley Cyrus was just an earshot away from where I sat! RuPaul was majestic in full drag! It was awesome. The universe worked its’ magic again, sitting right in front of me was Divas Las Vegas’ star Hot Chocolate (Larry Edwards), in full drag, and her hair was heavenly. It was so tall that it was blocking my view of the stage. She kept apologizing and leaned to give me a better view, lol, but it didn’t matter much because we often stood up and the talents moved around the stage. Finally, she invited me to see Divas, and handed me a ticket to the show. I was grateful and ecstatic. It’s been ten years since I last visited Las Vegas – since the demise of “Star Trek – The Experience” at the Hilton I had no good reason to go and visit. Now, I have a new one, well actually three.
- Photograph Divas, and shows at Piranha Nightclub and Share Nightclub – Four months after meeting Larry Edwards in Los Angeles, I took a connecting flight through LAX to Las Vegas to watch and photograph the Divas show, and photograph Derrick Barry and India Ferrah.
My trip to Las Vegas was anything but uneventful; flight delays drama on my LAX layover, and once in Vegas with the car rental and hotel. The universe was not about to make it easy for me, lol. I made prior arrangements to shoot Divas, and I end up getting a great seat to shoot, free from obstruction. The performances at Divas was very captivating and entertaining. The props where intricate and extravagant. The casts did their stars justice with their spot on nuances, lip sync, and choreography. It was a very fluid show. I did a pre-show solo shoot with Hot Chocolate and a post-show solo shoot and Frank Marino, Divas’ maître d’ herself, in her lavish dressing room! I was hoping to photograph the other cast members but there was just not enough time. Perhaps on my next visit?
Right after Divas, I was able to make it to Piranhas, in time to shoot India Ferrah’s show and later did a solo shoot with her. The timing was all made possible by the good graces of Larry Edwards, who invited me to ride along with him after Divas’ for his gig at Piranhas. I particularly like the opening of India Ferrah’s show where they play the “Goddess” opening song in the movie “Show Girls” (1999). Her choreography and intense hair flipping will give you a whiplash. She and her ensemble put on one great show. It was amazing to watch and photograph.
After resolving an error in my notes with Derrick Barry, I managed to take a quick cab to my hotel after my photo shoot with India Ferrah, took my car rental and drove to Share Nightclub, I made it to her show in the nick of time. Derrick and Nick San Pedro where so accommodating, they even gave me a drink! Derrick Barry’s performances as Britney Spears is the real deal. We managed to do quite a number of impromptu photo shoots in multiple locations at the venue before and after her show. She serves great Britney look and choreography. My time with Derrick Barry was a huge milestone for me, because Derrick Barry is my first ever drag queen whom I followed long before Drag Race. I followed him on MySpace, because Facebook or Twitter weren’t really a thing (or didn’t existed) back then. I meet him in person for the first time in summer of 2014 at R Place in Seattle, but I wasn’t able to do a photo session with him.
My photo shoots at Piranha Nightclub, Share Nightclub, and Divas at LINQ was a whirlwind but were all awesome! I planned to shoot them in four days back-to-back but I end up photographing all of them in one night because it was the only time all of them were available. They all showed great hospitality, and I was super impressed with the treatment I got from the queens, head honchos, and staff. It was great to see some familiar faces too at both Share and Piranha. And Frank Marino, Larry Edwards, India Ferrah, and Derrick Barry where so terrific to work with.
- Paco’s Ranch – On my trip Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco in Mexico in 2014, me and my friends went to this bar called “Paco’s Ranch.” Some people we meet there suggested the place for its’ drag show. I was impressed by the show and their drag that I made it a goal to cover the show and photograph the queens on my next visit. Last August I went back and did just that.
The amazing drag queens at Paco’s Ranch impersonate pop culture divas, mostly Americans (like Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Cher), and they where pretty damn good. I was able to make arrangements to photograph the queens and their show. They were very gracious. They put on a fantastic show – solo performances, group performances, and audience interactions. Their lip sync performances to English songs where intriguing to watch since they’re mimicking the lyrics. And even though my Spanish is close to irrelevant, I was laughing my ass off from their antics and jokes. We did a photo shoot at the club and on location before the show. What made it challenging was that they had to walk a couple of blocks on heels, on cobblestone streets, and in a very humid weather since it rained that night. But they worked it. I’ve yet to release the whole lot, it’s just a matter of time. Hopefully the outcome will do the wait justice. My experience with the queens was great, and they treat me well at the club. Paco’s staff where also great, funny, and accommodating. I had a blast! I wish each of them and the club all the success.
- Miss U.T.O.P.I.A. 2015-2016 – this would be the second time I attend the pageant, but this time with added responsibility as the main photographer. It was an honor to be asked to shoot the event. The event was held in Burien, Washington state, a two hour and forty five minutes drive from Vancouver, BC. Although this year there were fewer contestants vying for the coveted crown, they where all in full force. Their performances and costumes where grand.
- The Robbie Turner Revue – Part V – I had the greatest pleasure of photographing Robbie Turner’s show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle once for each of the five series it’s been on. The fifth series was a two-nights show in mid-December. As always, it was a blast. Robbie Turner is a very funny and talented gal. And her ensemble, the Robbie Turner Classics, are just as talented. It’s witty, funny, and entertaining. Great production and costumes. It’s a must see show.
- Vancouver Fashion Week 2015 – it was great to finally be able to photograph a fashion show. Although it’s not Marco Marco, but being able to show support to a local fashion designer, Evan Clayton, who made a splash in the international fashion scene is just as terrific. What’s more, local drag talent, Jane Smoker, Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2015, was one of his models. So that still established the drag association, like Marco Marco. Fashion show runway photography is a different kind of experience. And when you’re taking photos of models where dozens of other photographers are taking, including attendees taking photos using their mobile phones, it starts to lose its appeal, at least for me. But it was fun, nonetheless.
- Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2015 – coverage of the annual Vancouver drag competition.
- Bluebay700.com’s Uhmazing! featuring Jane Smoker – an interview with Jane Smoker, one of Vancouver’s very prolific drag entertainer, who has made a splash not only in Canada but also in the USA.
- Infocus (A male form photography series) – I’m able to expand this series to include three new models; Justin Tyler Savage (Seattle), Greg Jonhston (Vancouver), and still soon to be released, Sam Gee (Vancouver).
- Presenting (A drag photography series) – well this series exploded. When I look at the ones I’ve released and the one’s I’ve photographed in 2015 that are yet to be released, I’m dumbfounded and humbled. I thank the event organizers, clubs, venues, and drag queens who made all these possible. This year I’ve photographed forty drag queen entertainers in Canada, USA, and Mexico. Many of them I have had photo sessions more than once. The following roster of queens and the city I photographed them, for both published and unpublished photos, are as follows:1. Andrew Scott (Seattle)
2. Anita Wigl’It (Vancouver)
3. Atasha Manila (Seattle)
4. Berlin M. Stiller (Vancouver)
5. Chad Michaels (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race S4, RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race S1 Winner
6. Cinn Winters (Vancouver)
7. Cruella De Vag (Vancouver)
8. Delica Cee (Vancouver)
9. Derrick Barry (Seattle/Las Vegas) – Divas Las Vegas, Piranha Nightclub
10. Diva Daniela (Mexico) – Paco’s Ranch
11. Frank Marino (Las Vegas) – Divas Las Vegas
12. Gina Tonic (Vancouver)
13. Ginger Minj (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
14. Grace (Mexico) – Paco’s Ranch
15. Hot Chocolate (Las Vegas) – Divas Las Vegas, Piranha Nightclub
16. Ilona (Vancouver)
17. India Ferrah (Las Vegas/Los Angeles) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3, Piranha Nightclub
18. Jane Smoker (Vancouver)
19. Jujubee (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2, RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race S1
20. Kaleena Markos (Seattle)
21. Kandy Ho (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
22. Katya (Seattle/Vancouver) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
23. Kennedy Davenport (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
24. Kitty (Vancouver)
25. Latrice Royale (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3, RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race S1
26. Lea Ven Detta (Vancouver)
27. Layla Manila (Seattle)
28. Mak Gong (Mexico) – Paco’s Ranch
29. Milk (Vancouver) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
30. Minerva Markos (Seattle)
31. Naysha Lopez (Seattle)
32. Nicki Ravange (Vancouver)
33. Pearl (Los Angeles) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
34. Pyxie McQueen (Vancouver)
35. Rhea Litré (Los Angeles)
36. Robbie Turner (Seattle) – The Robbie Turner Revue (Hard Rock Cafe), R Place
37. Trixie Mattel (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7
38. Vivi Milan (Vancouver)
39. Wendy Ho (Seattle)
40. Yara Sofia (Seattle) – RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3, RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race S1
41. Yuriko Val (Mexico) – Paco’s Ranch
- Press Coverage – press coverage on bluebay700.com are reviews of shows or works. This year a few of our top press coverage includes DragCon 2014, The Janet Jackson – Unbreakable Tour, Katya’s Vancouver Debut, The Robbie Turner Revue, and Bianca Del Rio’s – Rolodex Of Hate, to name a few.
- bluebay700.com Asset Management- several site enhancements has been implemented on the site to better manage downloads of digital assets, to improve site performance, manage bookings and contracts, and to better classify and access digital assets. More enhancements are planned in the future to make it easier to create content on the go.
- Uhmazing Lifestyle Magazine – the development of this e-magazine has been slow, but nevertheless, content for the debut edition and serialization is complete. This year, there has been many groups who produced or are producing “drag-based” magazines, it was important to see the outcomes of those initiatives and to ensure the bluebay700’s won’t position itself in a field that is fast becoming saturated. It was imperative to insure the goal of the site is reflected in the magazine, to complement it rather than become a photo album.
- @UhmazingPress and 0bit.ch – creation of @UhmazingPress, bluebay700.com’s official publication channel on Twitter for articles and photo releases. And the creation of 0bit.ch, a hyperlink shortening service dedicated to bluebay700.com. Bluebay700.com’s content is often integrated in Paper.li magazines. In 2015 there has been an uptick in the inclusion of both @bluebay700 and @UhmazingPress in Twitter lists and Paper.li.
- Expanding Network – one of the unintentional outcome from going to drag events is creating relationships with people who work in the drag entertainment industry. Getting to know the entertainer and the people who works for/with them enriches the experience. Back stories and getting to know them better makes me appreciate more the things that they do. And it doesn’t hurt when they recognize you, it makes it easier to pitch a project because there is that familiarity and trust.
Officially, bluebay700.com is not a business it’s a stress relief and therapy. It’s practically a one-man operation. Content creation and acquisition, content management, and site administration are all volunteer-based using spare time. This lifestyle magazine is a way for me, in particular, to de-stress and temporarily escape from the stressors of the real-world. Life is not without it’s distractions. And 2015 has been very challenging for me personally in almost all aspects of life – you know, the grownup crap the universe throws at individuals to make life interesting. So having this lifestyle magazine is a must, for sanity sake. It’s a way to keep a happy face in the midst of tragedy and anguish. Heavens! “Anguish,” right?! (chuckles) Who knows, bluebay700.com might start a new section called, “Life, Untucked,” a series of fiction/fantasy short stories loosely based on “someone’s” (cough) dramatic life experience. But I must concede the amount of photograph material to process have grown into a huge stockpile – even when using a triage method it’s still a “struggle.” Okay, I have a point here (reeling it in). For bluebay700.com to remain a place of fun and inspiration, it shouldn’t be done by force or coercion (truth), creative juices (yuk) must be allowed to flow naturally and only when time allows for it – unless if projects are commissioned, therefore they need to be done on time and on budget. Life exists outside of all this, believe it or not.
Wish List / Goals 2016
My goals for next year are; streamline the events and article publishing on bluebay700.com, publish the debut edition of Uhmazing Lifestyle Magazine, photograph Tatiana, film and complete the “secret” music video, get a Press Pass for DragCon 2016 and actually collect it (which also means, attend DragCon 2014), attend RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Finale red carpet and taping, return to Las Vegas for another drag whirlwind, Return to Mickey’s for another Showgirls show photography, European Drag Photo Shoot, and continue to support drag shows like – Search for Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar, March Dragness, The Robbie Turner Revue (cross fingers), and Absolut’ly Drag-U-Lous. And finally expand “Presenting,” “InFocus,” and “Cosplay” series, and introduce new ones.
Big Thank You!
It feels like 2015 was just a blip. So many things have happened to bluebay700.com this year. And I’m so very grateful for all the opportunities that has come before me.
It’s great to be surrounded by people who inspires us.
I’m so thankful for the people whom I’ve had the privilege of working with and get to know, and some became friends. The experiences I’ve had this year are simply priceless. I’m also thankful to have a great following in social media (Twitter) – it’s great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals, and people who are inspirational. I feel so fortunate to have meet so many cool people in my projects, particularly the folks from R Place Seattle, Neighbours Nightclub, The Junction in Vancouver, Mickey’s WeHo, Paco’s Ranch, Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle, XYYVR, MNEvents, and MPEvents. So to everyone, especially to all the queens, thanks bitches!!
Thanks UNIVERSE! Come through!!!