Like convention season, it seems that drag season is upon us. RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 is now airing, and calendars are filling up with some truly fantastic shows. Of course when given the opportunity to check out The Divas of Drag, we jumped on board. Not only did it feature queens we hadn’t seen live, the performance was held at Chicago’s House of Blues which is one of our favorite venues.
Aside from having to wait outside in the cold with General Admission, everything was pretty much awesome. It was clear, though unusual, that HOB staff didn’t really know what to do with us. We were kindly given a photo pass which would allow us to cross some mystical barrier at the front of the stage in order to take pictures. And while we appreciated the gesture, being admitted with the rest of general admission meant we were too far away from the stage to make use of the passes. Imagine trying to make your way to the stage at a rock concert. Impossible is a gross understatement.
The show opened with performances by Chicago queens. These talented performers haven’t been on RuPaul’s Drag Race…yet! Given their immense talent and ability to completely captivate the audience, if they’re not cast for Season 9 it’s a travesty. I particularly enjoyed The Vixen’s performance. She was completely mesmerizing. I’m definitely going to have to check out our local queens.
And now it’s time for a break down…
(Anyone else just read that like the En Vogue song?)
Mimi Imfurst– Our Hostess with the Mostest
I’ve seen Mimi perform before but not solo, so this was a treat. Self-described as “Bianca Del Rio without the money,” Mimi’s quick wit, impeccable timing, and playful spirit make her a fantastic host. I would pay to see her do standup or just to go to lunch with her. She’s genuine, hilarious, and slightly vulnerable, which makes her endearing.
Plus this red sequin dress? YES MAMA! She rocked it and vaguely reminded me of Rosemary Clooney, which only made me love it more.
Mimi and Latrice Royale opened the show with a duet that had them doing a costume change similar to Violet Chachki’s plaid Houdini move on Season 7.
And while Violet’s move was cool, Mimi and Latrice’s had SPARKLE SPANDEX. I still don’t know how they went from trench coats to a bodysuit and dress in one move.
With the release of her first full-length album, The Fire, we arrived expecting Mimi Imfurst to sing. What we didn’t expect was for her to belt out Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Sweet Transvestite” like she was on Broadway. Holy Hannah! Thanks for making me wish that song was on your album. In a world full of auto-tune, it was gratifying to hear that Mimi’s voice is 100% Mimi.
Do not underestimate this queen. She’s fierce and she’s here to stay.
How can you not love Latrice Royale? Seriously, if you don’t love her there’s something wrong with you. This Season 4 queen rocked the house. Her banter with Mimi Imfurst was simply fantastic. They were like Lucy and Ethel if, you know, Lucy and Ethel actually got along in real life.
Latrice is a powerhouse performer that is all heart and soul. Watching her, she reminds me of Della Reese or the great soul songstresses. She commands the stage and she makes the audience eat it.
Sadly, she didn’t sing. I was really hoping to hear her perform “Summertime” live. Perhaps next time? She did, however, move the crowd with her rousing lip syncs and proved she is in fact, a queen. It was amazing to watch her perform and I would absolutely pay to see her again.
I was so excited to finally see Yara Sofia perform. I’ve been a fan since she was on RPDR. She’s electric on screen and even more so in person. Known for her extravagant costumes, hair and makeup, Yara is pure Puerto Rican spice.
Her costumes were slightly subdued, mostly in the black/silver variety. She didn’t wear the over-the-top hair I was expecting. But I quickly learned it isn’t her costumes or wigs that makes her a great queen. It’s her performance. She commanded the stage and our attention.
Vicky Vox is another queen I’m familiar with, but have never seen perform live. Unlike the other queens, she (along with Wendy Ho) have not been on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Several of her collaborations with Detox and Willam under the group name DWV, make their home on my ipod.
Introduced by Mimi Imfurst as “the only member of DWV who can actually sing,” I was expecting a lot from her. Her first number, comprised entirely of various laugh tracks set to music, was strange bordering on irritating. It wasn’t Vicky, mind you. It was the song. I found it to be grating and far too long…like getting stuck on a long flight next to Gilbert Gottfried if all he could do for 9 hours was laugh.
She more than made up for her first number when she sang live for her second number. Mimi’s introduction was correct. Vicky has a great voice! I would imagine singing live twice a night for an entire tour would be incredibly taxing, but her voice is clearly where the gold is.
I know I ragged on Kennedy during my RPDR recaps last season, but I will admit this queen is a talented performer. We were treated to her awesome dance skills during her first number. This is what Kennedy is known for. This queen can kick, spin, and death drop like a pro. The gasps and loud cheers from the audience were evidence of this.
Her second number, however, wasn’t riveting. While a slow ballad may seem like a good idea, remember that it’s also rather boring to watch. That’s why there’s usually another element to the performance when you see ballads performed on awards shows.
Don’t get me wrong. Kennedy was great. She lip synced perfectly. A ballad was just a rather sleepy way to close out a performance.
I’ve heard the name Wendy Ho, but didn’t know anything about her beyond that. Apparently her songs are legendary in the Drag community and she’s a bona fide YouTube sensation. At least, that’s what Mimi said.
Oh, and she’s a biological woman.
Like the other queens who sang live, Wendy does have a powerful voice. She’s a great singer. However, her songs are a little…shall we say, dirty? And by a little I mean a LOT. Innuendo is awesome, but there is a fine line between dirty-funny and vulgar. There’s even a line between funny vulgar and gross vulgar. Unfortunately, at least for me, the two songs Wendy performed leaped over every line into the “just plain uncomfortable” category. Sadly, the rather quiet audience seemed to agree. It was a shame because Wendy is clearly a very talented performer. Her talent was simply overshadowed by her choice of songs.
You know when queens are eliminated on RPDR and say they’re sad they didn’t get a chance to really show what they can do? Most of the time it’s just B.S. But in the case of Milk it was 100% true. I didn’t fully appreciate Milk’s quirky talent on RPDR. She seemed quiet, reserved, and somewhat out of her element. Her unique style of drag wasn’t showcased well on the show.
I don’t eat dairy, but damn do I LOVE Milk! She was the highlight of the show for me. Her first performance to Katy Perry’s “Firework,” cleverly remixed to be about plastic bags, while dressed in layers of trash bag couture, was PRICELESS. Her second performance, “Changes,” featured a paper doll-esque quick changes.
Milk wins for best use of posterboard and velcro.
She was also incredibly sweet during the after-show photo op. While the other queens were distracted by a HOB staff member (who was presumably telling them something important), Milk went out of her way to say hello and thank us for coming to the show. Her sentiments were completely genuine and only solidified her move to one of my all-time favorite queens.
Last, but certainly not least, is Trixie Mattel. Like Milk, I feel as though Trixie was underappreciated on RPDR. Her drag style is truly translated through her performance on stage. That is where she shines and it all makes sense. And thanks to her “paint so the guy at the ATM down the street can see it” makeup (her words, not mine) is so visible on stage she’s very easy to get a picture of! I honestly had a hard time choosing.
Trixie’s duet with puppet Michelle Visage left me gasping for air. The choreography, the timing, the mixing of the track…it was all perfection. I thought surely she couldn’t top that.
Oh, but she did. She came on stage dressed in a beautiful Barbie pink suit, blonde hair teased to heaven, and launched into Dolly Parton’s hit “9 to 5” with such fierceness Dolly herself would be cheering. Not only do I love Dolly Parton, but I’m also a legal secretary by day. So seeing Trixie channel the frustrations of a secretarial career (while also encapsulating the film 9 to 5) into a four minute number was nothing short of epic.
The Divas of Drag prove without a doubt, they’re just as talented as the queens touring with RuPaul BOTs. Sure, they may not have the (slightly) higher production value of BOTS, but they’ve got every bit the same amount of moxie. If you’re a fan of drag, you’ll want to see this show. If they come back to Chicago, I will absolutely see it again.
The queens are still driving around in their tour bus, so head on over to www.thedivasofdrag.com and grab your tickets!