We hung out with 'RuPaul's Drag Race' queens at this year's DragCon.
Over the weekend, RuPaul’s DragCon took over the Los Angeles Convention Center for the second year running. Bringing together all things drag, the event hosted panels on everything from dancing to lip syncing, contouring to fashion, culminating with a keynote address from Mama Ru herself on Mother’s Day about how to navigate the world in full color. Entertainers like Big Freedia, nightlife legend James St James, Black Flag’s Henry Rollins and Mary Wilson of the Supremes were all on hand, discussing everything from transformations, catchphrases, the punk ethos of drag, keeping on the grind and more.
The convention was also like a Drag Race reunion of sorts. Fans could find a majority of the show’s stand-out queens from all eight seasons under one roof serving up humor and sick looks as panelists and during meet-and-greets. We chatted with six Drag Race stars about their relationship with drag:
Chi Chi DeVayne
Hometown: Shreveport, LA
Drag Race Season: 8
What was you first exposure to drag? My first exposure to drag was just me sneaking into the club at the age of 17 and watching the drag shows. That was the first time I ever really saw a Drag Queen.
What was your first drag experience?When I actually did it, I used to sneak out. When I turned 19, I used to dress up in drag and sit in the bathroom for hours and then sneak out and go to the club. That’s how I started. And I used to play in my grandma’s makeup at home.
How long does it take you to put your look together? Since I'm just one of the go with the flow girls, it only takes me like an hour and a half to get ready because I really don’t care haha.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? RuPaul’s Drag Race! I mean that show… It shows people that drag is not one specific type of style, it’s everything. I think that’s revolutionary. And RuPaul’s Drag Race has show people that drag is all over the place.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less:
This is AMAZING!
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Drag Race Season: 7
What was you first exposure to drag? Flip Wilson. The Flip Wilson Show in the late '70s on TV when I was a little kid, you see that character Geraldine. I thought it was so funny.
What was your first Drag experience? I, at a very young age, probably like eight or nine years old, used to do little performances in my neighbors’ basements. We’d do stuff like songs from the movie Grease, but I was always Sandy and my friend who was a girl was always the boy parts, so I guess that’s kind of it. Although, in nursery school when i was four I played Henny Penny in a school play. I played a female chicken, so that’s officially my first time. In a little grocery bag costume. That’s technically the first time.
How long does it take you to put your look together? If I’m really smoking, an hour and a half, but two hours is good.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? I think the most revolutionary that’s happened in this generation has been the mainstreaming of drag through Drag Race. I owe it to Ru and Drag Race. I mean it’s so accessible and there are so many genres. And Lady Bunny. When I first Lady Bunny, she said “Honey, there’s room for everybody.” And I said that’s the key. You don’t have to like everybody, you don’t have to appreciate it all. You just have to like what you like. There’s room for everybody. I think that’s amazing. Twenty years ago when i was first going, there was one kind of drag. If you didn’t fit in that mold, you were out of luck. Now there’s a hundred different kinds of drag and they’re all accepted. It’s beautiful.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less: Like a haiku? Five words or less: Fabulous. I need more Redbull.
Hometown: Queens, NY
Drag Race Season: 4
What was you first exposure to drag? Obviously RuPaul on MTV. I was just flicking through channels. Her video went on right after Janet Jackson and I was like “Oooh, okay. Work.” It was fun. It was my first time to actually see drag.
What was your first drag experience? My first drag experience was horrible because it was a contest. Thank god I won, but it didn’t look like the way I look now, so shit.
How long does it take you to put your look together? Depends, but my makeup usually takes me about an hour. 35 minutes to an hour depending on how elaborate I get. I can rush it 30/45 minutes.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? I think it’s because everybody can now customize their drag and I think that’s the revolution part of it. You can customize it to the individual.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less: Fucking crazy as shit!
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Drag Race Season: 8
What was you first exposure to drag? My exposure to drag was dressing in drag. I hadn’t really met a drag queen before and I did it for Halloween 2003, so I was my own trailblazer.
What was your first experience performing drag? My first experience performing drag was impersonating Britney Spears at Mickey’s Night Club. It was the night that she was on the Tonight Show and I had gone dressed up to try to get a job at this nightclub. It was the Me Against the Music era. I was there in the audience and she talked to me on the show! I did “Oops… I Did It Again” in [a] “Slave 4 U” outfit and I got the job.
Did you know then that Britney was going to be your icon for this? I knew before I did drag that Britney was going to be my icon. Like without a doubt. I loved her as gymnast, singer, dancer. Just unbelievable conceptualist - I don’t know if that’s a word - but she was so conceptual with her music videos and her ideas and I loved her whole package from “Baby One More Time” on.
How long does it take you to put your look together? This morning I got up at 6:30am and I was done at 9am, so two and a half hours today.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? RuPaul. He is the first drag queen I heard of and I can’t believe I got a chance to work with him. He’s always making drag known bigger and I love him for that.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less: Exhilarating, rewarding, fun, eventful and exciting.
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Drag Race Season: 6
What was you first exposure to drag? Going to Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was like 17 and I was so mind-fucked by it.
What was your first drag experience? I used to stalk them at the restaurant they’d go to late at night and I started wearing their heels and running around the restaurant. They put me in a pageant called Closet Queen. That was my first experience.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? It’s that it breaks all boundaries and there’s no right or wrong style of drag. It’s whatever [way] you evoke emotion or reaction out of people.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less: Overwhelming, overstimulating, under-priced because it’s a bargain! There’s so many words, but who cares!
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Drag Race Season: 7
What was you first exposure to Drag? I was 16 years old and went into a club that I didn’t have no business in.
What was your first Drag experience? It was fun.
How long does it take you to put your look together? Hour and a half.
What do you think is one of the most revolutionary aspects of drag? Makeup.
If you could describe DragCon in 5 words or less: Historic.