I’ve known the World of Wonder gang for decades and been writing for The Wow Report going on 4 years next month. This was the third year of RuPaul’s Drag Con, and I FINALLY got my ass on a plane and in the doors of the L.A. Convention Center! OMG, kids, it was SO not what I thought it was going to be. It was SO much more…
Like you, I’ve seen the pictures and the videos and watched the panels and ribbon cutting and RuPaul’s Key Note Address, the Drag Race queens, and the vendors and merch and on and on. But the best part REALLY IS the people who show up. Talk about a rainbow! The most outrageous get photographed the most, but just about every kind of person you can imagine is walking around (or standing in a long line) having a BLAST just being together in this “anything goes” environment.
One of the best things I saw all weekend (sorry, I don’t have a pic) was a “blue collar” man, probably my age –older maybe– dressed in a blue t-shirt, jeans, runners, wearing GIGANTIC, chandelier earrings 4″ wide, 6″ long just walking through the crowd taking it all in. LOVED THAT.
It was all pretty overwhelming, so much so that I’m not sure where to start…
I flew in on Virgin America from JFK to LAX last Friday, but to my regret, my flight was delayed. By the time I got the rental car and drove from through L.A. in Friday night traffic (ugh) to the Hollywood Hills where I was house-sitting my friend Rocky’s cat, Walter, I was a bit too late to make it over to the convention center. So, I missed Mama Ru walking around saying hi to the vendors and everyone setting up. Also, I managed to miss an AMAZING party after by Brandon Voss Events and World of Wonder at The Belasco. I heard the next day from Wow’s Thairin Smothers that it was not to be missed –but I missed it. So boo. But I went to another AMAZING show the next night.
The next day, I got into even MORE L.A. traffic so, by the time I got to the convention center, I had missed the queen’s procession and all of the parking lots were full. I parked nearby and figured out how to get my pass. Rudy, who’s coordinating major aspects of the GIGANTIC operation came down to get me. My pals at WOW had kindly arranged for me to do a signing of my book, Transform Your Life with Color By Number. It came out election day and it’s a coloring book featuring my work which is based on vintage paint by number. World of Wonder sends out a cool holiday gift every year and this year it was my book along with markers and postcards to color and a World of Wonder color by number.
Next to me signing was the cute, charming and funny star of G.B.F. and Faking It, Michael Willett, who was taking pictures, signing autographs and giving hugs. I was wearing my signature PAOM jumpsuit and he had one on too so we were jumpsuit bros. His manager Danielle was fun and we chatted a lot and his sister Melinda showed up later to hang out. Without going into great detail, let’s just say the DragCon crowd was not so interested in my coloring book. But I had a nice vantage point to people-watch and my old pal and World of Wonder founder, Fenton Bailey, came and sat with me for a bit and we had time for a nice, long chat.
Fenton’s husband Billy Luther was on hand as was his young son, Nolan who was in HEAVEN selling Official DragCon merch at the WOW booth. It really was a family affair. WOW’s other founder, Randy Barbato, his husband Gil and their two young sons, Henry and Luca also came the next day, all in coordinating nautical attire. Too much cuteness. My World of Wonder coloring project in the Kid’s Zone was apparently a big hit, so I felt like I contributed something positive.
After my shift was over I was in the backstage area and ran into, Lori Petty (who SCORED signing autographs with PILES of cash backstage) artist Sham Ibraham & Wow’s MX Qwerrrk (Paisley Dalton) plus a few queens like Tammie Brown and Farrah Moan in the Green Room. I later saw that the backdrop for Tammie’s booth was a Keith Haring “inspired” color by number. Who knew?
Just like every other convention, there are various sized booths you can rent for the weekend. WOW has a signing area that you can do whatever you like and fans line up and the cost is just getting yourself there and having to something offer fans. But most of the queens have their own booths and let’s just say, its become a competition as to who can have the most elaborate booth and the longest lines.
RuPaul‘s booth and lines are another story altogether, has she has her own domain at the back. You buy a ticket first, and then you line up for a wait. Bring a sandwich. And a drink. And a pillow, maybe. That line was forever so, needless to say, I didn’t get an audience with the Pope of Drag. When you do get to see Ru, you have your own moment to have your picture taken or get an autograph and then later, you get a print of the picture.
And there’s merchandise of every description. T-shirts and posters and make-up. Jeffrey Starr‘s line’s were among the longest.
My pals, the photographers, Idris+Tony had a booth featuring the photo fanzine magazine Bastard along with some march they created with Print All Over Me. I did a collaboration with PAOM two years ago (see my jumpsuit) and Wacky Wacko‘s collaboration with PAOM and Seth Bogart was one of the best at DragCon. The walls floor and every available surface was covered with Bogart’s illustrations. Fenton and I both got march from them.
I spent a while walking around in the afternoon, missing some of the panels I wanted to see but I did run into Bob the Drag Queen, Trixie Matell and the very cute Mateo Lane in the Green Room. Bob was still wearing the outfit he wore for the winning queens entrance that morning. (Did you see it? If not, go here.) Trixie was bragging/complaining that she had sold out of her tees already. What could she sell? I suggested just going around her apartment and collecting things she didn’t want anymore, like a Drag Tag Sale but I think she went with her new perfume Plastic.
My old pal David Scharff and his boyfriend, Pablo Soto met me for a spin around (how do you spend HOURS with two people and forget to take a picture?) We went upstairs to WOW command central for a bird’s eye view of the convention and who came in shirtless in full makeup? Jerry O’Connell. You might have heard he was made over by Ginger Minj and he dressed in full drag and worked the runway. He told us that he,
“lost his shirt…“
A likely story. So, he grabbed a pink DragCon tee but not before posing for my camera and posing the idea to Randy Barbato that if and when they do Celebrity Drag Race, he’ll be the first to sign up. I’d watch that!
Afterward David, Pablo and I went for dinner across the street at the downtown location of El Compadré where lots of DragCon folks, including Farrah Moan who were cooling their heals and downing some flaming margaritas.
We then walked, yes WALKED IN L.A. to The Globe theater (which was about 20 blocks away) for a Drag Race showdown with Alyssa Edwards, Alaska, Derrick Barry and more, MC’d by Shangela…
But more on that in the next post. And check back tomorrow for Part 2…