RuPaul’s DragCon 2016, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, was on its’ final leg on Sunday May 8th. On the second day of DragCon – a neophyte convention that revolves around the reality show competition, RuPaul’s Drag Race – the fan frenzy to meet RuPaul’s Drag Race cast members (Queens), from seasons past and present, has somewhat settled. But for very popular Queens who took part in the convention, like Alyssa Edwards, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, Raja Gemini, Bob The Drag Queen, Robbie Turner, Derrick Barry, Milk, Acid Betty, Latrice Royale, Gia Gunn, Naomi Smalls, Willam Belli, Detox Icunt; Queens managed by Producer Entertainment – Violet Chachki, Manila Luzon, and Miss Fame; Drag Race judge Michelle Visage; and the Queen Mother herself, RuPaul it was still a hectic schedule.
It was a whirlwind and taxing but exciting experience. So taxing that by the second day many Queens have already chucked in their heels and gone barefoot – well, with leggings on. Even Kennedy Davenport was wearing flats, and her table was just stone’s throw away from Robbie Turner’s booth.
The Thirst Has Been Quenched But Still Hungry
Attendees flocked to the convention center as early as seven-thirty in the morning for a chance to take top spots on the long lines for meet and greet of some of the most sought out Queens.
Some Queens who “opened for business” a little bit later in morning, like Trinity K. Bonet and Kennedy Davenport, only had a few minutes to prep before fans started queueing. I hope they had enough merch. The fan frenzy may have subsided but definitely not the appetite.
The Queens had all sorts of strategy in doing business at DragCon. Some Queens took to great lengths to manage meet and greet, like setting up private photo booths, as if they’re like the Queen Mother – which I think is a little bit off-putting to fans. Some setup their own photo booths but were more welcoming, like Tyra Sanchez. Some were so creative and created a themed set, like Acid Betty’s neon out-of-this-world experience – a sort of organic structure made of wire, foam material, and plenty of neon paint, Gia Gunn’s Cherry blossom tree, Shangela and her big pink box, Detox Icunt’s very cozy lounge complete with blowup furniture – a great silicone reference, and Yara Sofia, Jessica Wild, and Micky’s WeHo recreated the nightclub’s stage. And other Queens were more casual and very open, with only a table between them and the fans – and I think that sends a better message to the fans than putting up walls, “Hey, we’re approachable. Hang out with us.”
Drag Racers who weren’t exhibitors also came to the event in full drag, like Morgan McMichaels. Drag Race judges Alec Mapa, Lucian Piane, and Merle Ginsberg – who was also a panelist – also graced the convention.
There were plenty of media coverage from the press and all sorts of content producers from all over for news, drag documentaries, etc. Interviews and filming was rampant. But unlike the ribbon cutting hoopla, where the Press was really cutthroat, there was only one occasion I witnessed in the convention hall where the Press could use a little bit of tact when cutting off a long line for an interview, like the a crew was very rude for cutting off an on-going interaction with a Drag Racer and fan. The guy just couldn’t wait. He took a long time to finish, and didn’t even acknowledged nor even tried to apologize to the fan he just cut off, “I have to cut this off. Show interview,” he said. As if his show’s microphone was an excuse to abandon good manners. I do get that, it’s Hollywood media. Though, I’m not sure about the fan he just cut off and the fans waiting in line.
Fans: Props To You Mawma
Again, like in day 1, I have to give huge kudos to all the Drag Race fans at the con for being so considerate and patient. I’ve learned that fans tend to keep their thoughts to themselves about an inconvenience until you ask them. I for one make it a point to ask the first few people in line to take ten to fifteen seconds their time to photograph the Queen, which may include a three-second selfie if the line isn’t too long, and say “thank you” after. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing or it’s just me. So again, thanks to all the attendees whom I’ve asked!
Bluebay700 DragCon Awards
This year, Detox Icunt wins Best Drag Race Exhibitor Booth. With runner-ups Acid Betty, and Gia Gunn. Bob The Drag Queen’s Purse wins Best Non-Human Drag Race Celebrity, simply by showing up! Producer Entertainment wins The Most Organized Drag Race Exhibitor, I mean, they had a full staff complement over there, complete with video coverage and maybe catering too. And did I mention they had a separate store? It was a little bit intimidating. Having one queue for multiple popular Queens makes for very long lines, but that’s how they want to do business. The Most Approachable Queen is hard to pick because majority of the Queens were so accessible and so friendly to the fans, even with the walls. But I’m going to have to say, it’s a tie between Robbie Turner and Derrick Barry, because I can. Best Drag Race Panel winner goes to “The Library Is Open: The Art of Reading Drag” with Robbie Turner, Trixie Mattel, Mariah Balenciaga, and Darienne Lake, with moderator, Wendy Ho. The room was of the same size the one where RuPaul did his keynote address, and it was almost to capacity – I estimate about 95%! It was lively, hilarious, witty, and way too short – only fifty minutes. The Most Eye Opener Drag Racer goes to Mimi Imfurst, for her almost confessional kind of talk about her life after Drag Race and her persistence to move forward. She was part of a panel for the “The Business of Drag : Life Beyond the Nightclubs“, along with panelist Latrice Royale, and moderator Merle Ginsberg. I don’t know if World of Wonder will release the whole discussion, but what they talked about was very informative and moving. I’ve found new respect for Mimi. And last but not the least, Best Drag Racer DragCon Drag goes to Chad McMichaels for his The Mad Hatter look. Runner-up is Morgan McMichaels. She’s not an exhibitor but her full glam drag was amazing.
I don’t know yet what to give these awardees for winning, for now it’ll be positive thoughts, … yes, including Willam.
RuPaul’s Keynote Address
The highlight of day 2 was RuPaul’s keynote address. It’s always great to listen to him. He was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the packed room. His sister (real family kind of sister) and Drag Race royalties and personalities were among the audience. His talk about persistence, self-worth, mentorship, living in the moment, and the future of Drag Race resonated with the audience. It was a very insightful and lively hour-long talk. He took plenty of questions, including one from a New Yorker, asking him why he was charging sixty dollars for a photo. To which he replied, jokingly, “Will somebody key her car.” LOL. More on RuPaul’s speech in a separate article. RuPaul asked the audience whose their favorite to win RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Eight, he said to respond by cheering. According to the audience, it’s Kim Chi, Bob The Drag Queen, and Naomi Smalls. To which RuPaul responded, “Interesting.” And said he still don’t know who will win. I think Bob The Drag Queen will win.
RuPaul’s DragCon 2017
RuPaul announced at the conclusion of his keynote address that DragCon is coming back next year, on April 29th and 30th. Tickets to the two-day weekend event is already on sale at ShowClix.com (there are no VIP or Add-Ons yet).
Over all, RuPaul’s DragCon 2016 was excellent and fun. A great improvement from last year. Aside from some exhibitors tables that were hard to find (DAD & DAC) – or missing exhibitors, there were really no major issues. DragCon got their act together. It’s very well organized. I asked a few staff, especially the ones assigned to redemption boots, and they seem to be well informed and knows how to escalate issues. Even the Program Guide is a great improvement.
Social media will be flooding with DragCon content anytime soon for sure. #BreakTheInterweb
Good job, everyone!
Check out the initial release of raw photos from DragCon Day 2 here. More to come soon.