This past weekend all of Los Angeles was dripping in drag queen eleganza as the 5th Annual RuPaul’s DragCon LA took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center. But for many, being at DragCon wasn’t enough as thousands flocked to some of the best West Hollywood and Downtown L.A. bars to rub wigs with some of their favorite queens. One of the biggest events that took place after DragCon was Alaska Thunderf*ck’s Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition at The Montalbán Theater in Hollywood. The name is a departure from the Drag Queen of the Year pageant that took place in the film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
The event was hosted by legendary drag icon Jackie Beat and was judged by Nicole Byer (Netflix’s Nailed It!), Jiggly Caliente, Landon Cider, Gia Gunn, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, and Willam. The pageant featured eight drag performers with diverse identities and pronouns. These included Abhora (Miami, FL); Astrud Aurelia (Phoenix, AZ); Calypso Jeté (Los Angeles); Gigi Monroe (Juneau, AK); Kat Sass (Chicago, IL); Sabbyiana (Montebello, CA); Aurora Sexton (Los Angeles).
Millions of the best Drag performers from around the world will apply, but only a select few will compete– carefully chosen by a mysterious group of anonymous Drag Elders.
Each queen was judged upon the criteria of Presence, Energy, Nuance, Integrity, and Stunningness (P.E.N.I.S.), this is a pageant for everyone– Drag queens, Drag Kings, Trans Artists, Hyper Queens, Bio Queens, AFAB Queens– from first time queens to established pageant powerhouses. They all vied for a beautiful crown, a sash, a bouquet of very nice flowers, a cash prize of $10,000 payable by
PayPal, and the title of the Drag Queen of the Year!
Before moving on to describe more of the events, I should mention that this is the first time the event has been held so it’s understandable that there would be some hiccups in the production and I hope everyone involved will use these issues as a teachable moment and that they will refine the errors for next year—if there is a next year. The entire event was incredibly entertaining, but transitions between performances in the talent portion were grueling and had I been wearing a wig it would have disintegrated. That being said, the looks and tricks that these ladies turned out were sickening.
Category One: Everything Must Be Leopard Print
This was the opening category that introduced the audience to each of the queens. Per Alaska’s rule, everything was leopard print, which coincidentally aligns with the name of her new single Everything Must Be Leopard Print, now available on iTunes.
Category Two: Can I Asssssssssk You A Question?
This question and answer portion of the show included questions that each contestant pulled out of the fishbowl and then answered within one minute. For comic relief, Jackie Beat gave her rendition of an answer to the same questions.
Category Three: Talent
This is the category that made everyone restless in their hooker boots! It’s also the category that separated the queens from the superstars. From musical performances to dance routines to complete variety spectaculars, the eight contestants brought the house down with their P.E.N.I.S.
Category Four: Evening Wear
The fourth and final category had the drag queens waltzing around the stage in their best interpretation of evening wear. From traditional pageant looks to avant-garde and conceptual pieces, the eight queens served up face and glamour in the best way they could. And no, everything didn’t have to be leopard print.
While judges tabulated their scores for each category, Jackie Beat and Alaska used the time to have banter with the judges. Throughout the night the event was also raising money for the Los Angeles LGBT Center by selling raffle tickets and straight up asking for donations that would match judge donations. At the end of the night, Alaska announced that during the event they had raised over $7,000.
Rounding out the night, after yet another grueling wait for the scores to be counted, Alaska finally asked the eight pageant contestants to appear on stage with their evening wear looks. The eight hopefuls stood before the audience as Alaska announced the three finalists (in alphabetical order):
- Aurora Sexton
- Kat Sass
The crowd went wild as the remaining queens exited the stage and the three were left standing on stage.
And after almost four hours of sitting and waiting, Alaska finally announced that the winner of the 2019 Drag Queen of the Year competition was…Abhora.
Abhora competed on Season 2 of the cult drag show Dragula, hosted by The Boulet Brothers. The show, as you will notice from Abhora’s aesthetic, is geared toward featuring and celebrating monster queens who have a less conventional look. Ultimately, it was Abhora’s hyper visual and emo performance during the talent portion that must have locked her in with the highest score. Abhora came out on stilts and a skirt resembling a circus tent when one by one a group of ‘freaks’ came out from underneath her the skirt and began dancing around her with red ribbons.
Will there be another Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition next year? Hopefully! And let’s hope that they smooth out the time issues…some of us uglies need our beauty sleep.