On September 9th & 10th, 2017, RuPaul’s DragCon NYC sashayed into New York’s Jacob Javits Center, and I was there to cover it for QLife Media! In my 6 years of writing for our publications, this was by far the largest event I’ve attended, and the weekend was a whirlwind of activity!
Press check-in on Day 1 was scheduled for 8 AM, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:00. Now, I’m not an 8 AM kind of guy, but I wanted to see RuPaul make herstory, so I arrived bright and early. For anyone not able to be there, you can’t imagine the scope of DragCon! A huge banner reading “Shantay This Way” welcomed everyone, and my Press pass gave me access to the convention floor before the public was admitted, so I began exploring.
The enormous space was divided up into drag-themed “roads” of sorts - there was Glamazon Blvd, Sickening Street, Tuckahoe Lane, and Realness Road. Running down the center of it all, was Death Drop Alley, covered in a luxurious, bright pink carpet! Each road was lined with booths and tables where fans could pose for pictures with their favorite drag queens, or purchase all manner of merchandise, like fabulous makeup, towering drag heels, wigs, specialty t-shirts, and even cat toys for their drag kitty! There was a runway/stage in one corner, a backdrop resembling the Drag Race mainstage, where people could pose for photos, Autograph Alley, where celebrities signed autographs and posed for selfies with eager fans, a RuPaul merchandise booth festooned with mannequins sporting some of Ru’s famous costumes, and a lounge area, where folks could get off their feet and rest awhile - and with all the high heels worn, that was a necessity!
All in all, more than 35,000 people attended, 53 of the former Drag Race contestants appeared, and there were 177 different vendors and exhibitors. As I said, it was huge!
I wasn’t able to do everything, but I did an awful lot. I was right up front for the ribbon cutting, where RuPaul and 10-year old drag prodigy, Desmond Is Amazing, welcomed everyone to the love fest. Mama Ru was surrounded by Drag Race royalty, like Michelle Visage, Chad Michaels, Manila Luzon, Milk, Vivacious, Darienne Lake, and others.
Over the course of two days, I ran into friends like Randy Jones - the original Cowboy from The Village People, Honey LaBronx: the Vegan Drag Queen, and the girls from Lips Drag Queen Show Palace, Restaurant & Bar. I caught a performance from Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical, chatted with Mrs. Kasha Davis, Tempest DuJour, Alexis Michelle, and Cynthia Lee Fontaine, and posed for pictures with Ongina, Ivy Winters, and one of my favorites, Detox, who remembered me from an evening two years ago when I saw her show at the Laurie Beechman Theater. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a complete DragCon experience without grabbing a photo with RuPaul herself!
When I was all over, I was absolutely exhausted...and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!