I think we all know how much I enjoyed RuPaul’s Battle of the Seasons Tour last year. The show was electric. The environment was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The performances were…well, they were incredible. So when the line-up for the 2016 Battle of the Seasons Tour came out, I was EXTRA stoked. It’s like planning for a convention and seeing all of your favorite stars on the guest list.
With a little help from our fairy drag-mother and favorite fanboy, Ginger Minj, Alyssa and I were on our way to the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
Last year BOTS was held at the House of Blues. I love the HOB. It’s a great venue for Drag. I had never been to the Riviera before, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We soon found out that the website…well, what you see isn’t always what you get.
– There was a balcony with seats. I love balconies as a reporter because it’s super easy to get great pictures without blocking anyone else in the audience. I hate to be “that guy” who stands up or pushes someone out of the way for a shot. Actually, I try to actively avoid doing that.
– Space. Space. Space.
The seats were comfortable and the lower main floor area where the meet and greet was held, didn’t feel cramped. You could move around easily.
Aside from the lack of railing on the balcony stairs (that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen btw), there was really only one con. THE HEAT.
I can’t say it was unusually hot for Chicago since, well, it’s Chicago and let’s just say that no one moves here for the weather. It was 95 degrees outside and the 100+ year old theater’s air conditioning system just couldn’t keep up. Add in the body heat of at least 1,000 people and you suddenly find yourself in a strange circle of hell that’s both awesome and miserable at the same time.
As one of the queens stated during the show,
Now you know what it feels like to be a drag queen.”
Once we cleared the door, meeting some very sweet fellow fans along the way, everyone loaded in for the meet and greet.
I love the casual nature of the meet and greet at BOTS. This is were the queens really shine. Every single queen took time to talk to her fans (who formed nice little polite lines on their own. Yay!) And we’re not talking the usual “oh I’m just being polite because you paid to be here” stuff. They talk to the fans like they genuinely CARE. Not only do they care, they want to know more about you.
The first queen we bumped into, quite literally, was Ivy Winters. Ok, gorgeous and she makes her own costumes. So of course I’m looking at the quality of her outfit. It was top notch in case you were wondering. Ivy feels like my crafting spirit animal. She’s always trying new things and her Instagram is one of my favorites. I suspect her fabric stash is worse than mine. Also, she likes taxidermy, which is another win.
In typical Samm fashion, I discovered Ivy was selling two of her anthropomorphic mice AFTER they were already sold. Naturally, I begged her to let me commission her for one, but being ultra busy and into 900 other things, she’s not able to taxidermy that often. I’ll just have to stalk her DePop page. We did have a lovely conversation about taxidermy birds and how to properly preserve them. I was pretty grateful to get her opinion on Jose’s balding problem (he was likely preserved incorrectly) and that really the only solution is to put him in a case.
New life goal: Craft with Ivy.
Ginger wasn’t out yet so we made our way over to Manila Luzon and chatted with her for a bit while we waited for Ginger. I love Manila. She has a great upbeat personality and she’s very warm and inviting. She looked gorgeous in a yellow sequined gown and her signature striped hair. I’m a big fan of Manila. Her performances are always incredibly creative and her original songs are complete ear worms. Needless to say, I was thrilled she was in the Chicago show this year.
And then we saw it, the wig we were all waiting for. Actually, it was a new wig, which we have to say looked ah-mazing on Ginger. Very Carnie Wilson. Of course, her dress was to die for. I’m not sure who squealed more when we spotted each other, but Ginger welcomed us with big hugs. Btw, Ginger gives great hugs.
We lucked out in that there wasn’t much of a crowd around her yet, so we were able to do some catching up. Ginger/Josh, is our favorite fanboy. We could talk Doctor Who, Dance Moms, and all things geek with him for hours. Honestly, we probably would if we ever had time.
There’s a lot going on in Ginger/Josh’s life right now. After finishing the tour of her hilarious one woman show, Cross Dresser for Christ, she’s been hard at work on her first ever full-length album. For instance, if you haven’t seen it or heard about it, Ginger and Carnie Wilson are pretty much BFFs now. Oh, and they recorded a duet for Ginger’s album, God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it actually is. You can read more about the song and their friendship HERE.
The album is, theoretically, slated to drop in the fall. With all fingers crossed it will. There are still a few more songs to record, some of which are pretty amazing duets. So cross your fingers, toes, and anything else that crosses, the stars align and we’ll see an album soon. We’ve gotten a sneak peek at photoshoot for the album and, well, all we can say is A) Ginger looks beyond gorgeous and we have no idea how she’s going to choose because they’re all sooooo good, and B) fans will NOT be disappointed.
Ginger has, it seems, officially recruited Katya to the Gatorland team. She’s talked before about zip-lining over the gator pit (yes, you can actually do that!) in full drag. The new plan is for her AND Katya to do it. Can someone PLEASE make this into a t-shirt?
Goals: Go to Gatorland with Ginger/Josh or just have a Dance Moms marathon. Seriously, it’s no fun watching by yourself.
Now, it wasn’t just the camera flashes going off around us, but Ginger was positively glowing. Instagram told us why. There’s a new man in Josh’s life and he’s ZOMFG adorable inside and out. Total sweetheart and it appears he’s a perfect match for our favorite queen. In fact, they’ve started a blog together! I’m in love already. Make sure you head on over to https://datingadragsuperstar.wordpress.com/ The blog is updated every Thursday and I’ll warn you now their post about the Orlando tragedy will require tissues. LOTS of tissues. This is a blog you’ll want to follow. Can someone please give these two a reality show? Lifetime? Oxygen? Come on Logo!
As I said before, we could talk to Ginger forever, but a line started to form so we excused ourselves to give her other fans a chance to chat with her. Katya was, surprisingly, free. She had an entire corner of the floor all to herself and every time we looked over there she was contorting herself around the railing or coaxing fans into various poses. No one ever said Katya wasn’t fun.
I love Katya for several reasons. Aside from her drag persona, I admire her honesty about her anxiety during Season 7. At the time I was just starting my journey with PTSD anxiety and it was just nice to see someone so open with their own struggles. It was comforting because if you don’t know, sometimes anxiety makes you think you’re crazy.
Katya accepted us with open arms and immediately started to pose us loitering in the doorway. We look silly, but Katya, as always, looks fabulous. She just exudes fun and a great energy. All Stars 2 is going to be amazing between her and Ginger alone! I’d like to see the two of them do more on stage together. They make a great team.
After a quick stop by Ginger to grab a selfie before the queens had to leave to get ready for the show, we spotted a free Jinx Monsoon. If you haven’t seen Jinx Monsoon perform live, YOU NEED TO RIGHT NOW. She has a Broadway voice and I’m not exaggerating. The rendition of the witch’s song from Into the Woods at last year’s BOTS gave Bernadette Peter’s version a run for her money. It was breathtaking. Of course we asked if Jinx was going to sing that night, to which she replied,
Honey, all I do is sing!”
WHOO HOO! *happy dance*
By this point we were certain our time with the queens was almost up. I was a little sad not to get to say hi to Michelle Visage, if only because I love her Instagram pics of her pibbles, and Bendela Creme, who really is delightfully cheerful. We spotted Violet Chachki nearby and made our way over to her. Again, a gorgeous queen and just lovely person. My respect for Violet has grown a lot since Season 7 and I think she’s definitely grown as a performer. This was, however, the first time I’ve ever spoken to her. We chatted about House of Canney, who makes a lot of her costumes, and how amazing the designs are.
We were left with a fairly decent amount of time to figure out where we needed to go for the show, what angle/s worked best for pictures, and do a ton of test shots. While I’m pretty sure there should be railings on the balcony stairs, having a balcony was NICE. So much better than pushing our way through the crowd around the stage. The other bonus? Where we were seated had a waitress who brought us drinks! And given the heat in the place, we needed it.
You can check out our Meet and Greet pictures below. And don’t forget to visit https://datingadragsuperstar.wordpress.com/. Next time you’re in town Ginger, dinner is on us!
There are still dates available for the Battle of the Seasons Tour! Especially if you’re in Australia! You do NOT want to miss this show!
Coming up next…RuPaul BOTS 2016: The Extravaganza