#DragCon2018

DragCon NYC Recap: The Good, The Bad and The Henny

RuPaul’s DragCon NYC is truly an exhausting day (or 3-day weekend) for all that inhabit Jacob Javitz Center. Whether you are a drag queen, exhibitor, member of the press or one of the thousands of fans who attend this annual get together, chances are you’ll be falling asleep in your cab on the way home shortly after you exit.

The level of tiredness one faces when attending this major event doesn’t necessarily equal them having a fabulous time. It’s a lot to take in, and isn’t for the weary or for those who go in with a jaded mindset. This was my second year going, and to be perfectly honest, might be my last.

I had several problems with how DragCon itself operates from many different levels. I’ll start with some plusses. For one, it’s a great place for all types of companies to show what they are offering to a diverse group of individuals who come with cash in hand and a credit card in their wallet. If you are a merch type of person, chances are you will find something here that will tickle your fancy one way or another.

There was also some really great panels (from what I saw on the packet that was provided) that went beyond the traditional Drag Race conversation that many of us have year round. I talked to a mother and son, who were dressed up as a queen and princess for the big weekend, that spoke at a panel regarding body positivity. It’s good to see that these things exist as it’s something that needs to be discussed on a much larger level than it already is.

I had a hard time wrapping my brain around a lot of things. For one, it was painful to see so many Drag Race fans line up for hours just to meet someone for 5 seconds. There should really be a capacity set for these sorts of things, like a lottery that participants can win, in order for this to run smoothly. The lines started early in the day and continued into the early evening. How some of these queens were able to function after a certain amount of time is baffling. I can understand how they all want to meet their favorite queen (more on that in a minute) but it makes the event and walking space that much more cluttered and less fun to enjoy.

Something that also became glaringly obvious (and this isn’t DragCon’s fault) was how popular certain queens were while others weren’t. One side of an aisle had a particular winner with a line that seemed to go to another country, yet on the other side two of the queens that had their own booths were just checking their phones. Not one person was waiting to chat with them. To me, this is frustrating because it means that the fan base qualifies a queen’s talent based on a 42-minute television show and not for how amazing they are outside of it. It sort of proves a point I’ve had with Drag Race in that a good portion of the fans don’t understand this industry and rely on a program to validate their opinions on it.

There was easily 50 Drag Race queens, plus notable ones who have a big following minus appearing on the show, who were in attendance this weekend. About 15-20 of them made it to the press room to do a brief chat. Two of them (season 10 queens) were extremely unprofessional and ones that I hope to never chat with again based on my experience with them.

I come to this as both a fan and a member of the media and can see both angles here. As a fan, I would hope that the queen that I wanted to see was at her booth when I got there and throughout the day. As a journalist, I would expect them to at least pop in to talk with us about what they have going on in their career. Both work, yet many of them didn’t show up when it came time for us to chat. I can understand the business this brings (see what I wrote about regarding lines), however this event happens TWICE A YEAR. Both can easily be done. Take for instance… if you have a show coming out that you should be promoting outside of talking about it on the DragCon floor. Just a thought.

The ones that did show up to be interviewed were nothing short of spectacular. Trixie MattelBebe Zahara BenetAjaCarmen Carrera and more were a blast to talk with. I was extremely impressed by each of them as they have an attitude that works well with their fame: they understand who they are in all of this but are still a regular human being at the end of the day.

I left DragCon on a bit of a high but feeling a bit meh about it all. There was nothing cohesive that I got out of it, just a lot of un-orchestrated chaos. But when I see a fan’s beaming smile while meeting their favorite drag queen, my negativity gets washed away as I then understand why this sort of thing exists

To many, these queens are a lot of kid’s superheroes. They’ve saved their lives, provided an outlet for them to feel like their authentic selves when the world is telling them not to be, and this sort of event gives many of them throughout the world the chance to actually meet them.

Perhaps I’ve become the old man on the stoop, but maybe this sort of thing isn’t for me as it seems designed for a younger audience. Then again, the sight of Hunter Harden in a mask like the one above can always entice this guy to come back so… you never know.

This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

EXCLUSIVE! Ginger Minj Chats About What Will Happen During DragCon NY

DragCon NYC, which is taking place September 28th through the 30th at the famed Jacob Javitz Center, will be filled with an endless assortment of your favorite queens from the drag world (both on and off Drag Race), as well as hundreds of niche exhibitors who are looking to tickle your fancy with whatever they are selling.

Ginger Minj, who appeared on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the show’s 2nd All Stars edition, will be back once again at the annual event taking place here in The Big Apple.

Not only that, but she’ll be giving a drag makeover to arguably one of the hottest men to ever appear on any sort of reality television program: Johnny Bananas of MTV’s The Challenge.

Ginger sat down with me exclusively to discuss what’s to come next weekend and why you should be in attendance (if you haven’t bought a ticket yet). Take a look:

 

 

What can fans expect from DragCon this year? 

I think they can expect the unexpected! Isn’t that the fun of drag? This year is going to be bigger and better with so many more surprises around every corner! 

Are you participating in any exciting panels while there? 

It wouldn’t be DragCon without it! My husband CJ and I got married at DragCon NYC last September, so this year we are participating in the Families That Drag Together panel, which should be really fun! I’ve also been doing celebrity makeovers for a few years at DragCon LA, and I’m so excited to finally bring that to the East Coast! 

What's your favorite part about being in New York City? 

The atmosphere! There’s no place like it in the world: food, culture, architecture, live theatre, nightlife ... if you can’t find something about NYC that excites you, you’re not looking very hard!

What has your life truly been like since being part of Drag Race? 

It has been incredible! I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure it’s not all some big dream. The schedule can be exhausting, but it’s such a privilege to do what we love to do for people all around the world! I just premiered by one woman show about the life and times of the legendary DIVINE, filmed a movie with Jennifer Aniston, voiced the lead character in a new cartoon series, and recorded my second album which will be coming out soon. Drag Race is the gift that keeps on giving, for sure, and is a legacy I am beyond proud to be a part of! 

Where were you when you found out that the show won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program this year? 

I was in the middle of the final performance of my touring one woman show “CROSSDRESSER FOR CHRIST” in Tampa, FL. We announced it after intermission and the crowd lost their minds! It’s such an accomplishment for Mama Ru, the Producers, all the girls, and everyone involved with the show of course ... but it’s also huge for those queer kids out there who feel lost or “less than” to see people like them succeeding. Drag Race isn’t opening doors, it’s kicking them off the hinges! 

What are you looking forward to the most at DragCon this year? 

Talking to people! I always get in trouble for taking too long at meet and greets ... I’m southern, we love to talk! I gotta know all about your job, your mama, your grandmama, and your dog before I let you go! I’ve also been getting lots of Divine/John Waters gifts lately which has been really cool. Drag Race fans are the best! They just get it. 

For more information on DragCon NYC, click on their official link here

 

EXCLUSIVE: Two Upcoming Panels You Must Attend at DragCon NYC

RuPaul's DragCon's east coast version, happening in New York City September 28th, 29th and 30th, will no doubt be another iconic three days of all things drag and so much more. 

Last year's edition, which took place for the first time in The Big Apple (prior to this it was only in Los Angeles), attracted thousands upon thousands of drag lovers who came to meet their favorite RPDR stars and makeup icons while shopping at hundreds of unique booths... all in one fantastic location (Jacob Javitz Center).

We are less than two months away from the "eleganza extravaganza" that will be DragCon, and Instinct has the exclusive on two panels that are definitely worth going to.

Take a look, and for more information on DragCon, click here.

BEYOND THE BINARY

How can we make the world more inclusive of non-binary and gender non-conforming people? Actor Nico Tortorella (Younger), performance artist Alok Vaid Menon, and Drag Race star Aja sit down to discuss non-binary identity and its impact on the mainstream media and entertainment.

JUDGEY JUDIES

Our three favorite RPDR judges all on one stage together? Yas! Judgey Judies is a panel moderated by Michelle Visage, and featuring Drag Race judges Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews as they take the DragCon stage together!

Thousands Sashayed into RuPaul's Record-Breaking DragCon

Over 50,000 fans sashayed into the fourth annual RuPaul’s DragCon LA this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Created by mother Ru herself and World of Wonder, this was the largest #DRAGCON to date since it was first held in 2015. And no, it didn’t blow up--there was no sign of Tyra Sanchez anywhere—HALLELOO!

DragCon was packed with over 350 exhibitor booths which included hundreds of meet & greets, performances, and panels which included the following:

RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Bianca Del Rio, Trixie Mattel, Billy Eichner, Brian McCook (Katya) Alaska 5000, Jinkx Monsoon, Alyssa Edwards, Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Blair St. Clair, Dusty Ray Bottoms, Eureka, Kennedy Davenport, Manila Luzon, Alexis Mateo, Vanessa Vaaaaaanjie Mateo, Kameron Michaels, Mayhem Miller, Miz Cracker, Monét X Change, Naomi Smalls, Bebe Zahara Benet, Raja, Shangela, Sharon Needles, Valentina, Violet Chachki, Sasha Velour, Chad Michaels, Ross Mathews. For full list of talent, click here.

Thousands of VIP pass holders were able to walk the convention floor hours early while enjoying a live acoustic performance by current All Star reigning queen Trixie Mattel. VIPs also got a first-chance to see the Werkroom replica before everyone else as well as snapping selfies at the over 30 instagrammable spots on the convention floor. Not to mention, they got dibs on the sick’ning vendors with everything your drag-loving hearts could ever desire.

 

 

On the first official morning of DragCon, RuPaul’s Drag Race and All Stars winners Trixie Mattel, Sasha Velour, Sharon Needles, Alaska 5000, Jinkx Monsoon and Bebe Zahara Benet Sissied That Walk down the pink carpet in front of thousands of fans for an epic Crowned Queens Walk.

 

 

As if seeing so many fierce reality television queens wasn’t sensory overload enough, DragCon attendees turned it out with their looks to give other visitors a run for their money. They served face, body, head to toe extravaganza that put many to shame while leaving others gagging.

 

 

This was my first visit to DragCon and what can I say? It was a beautiful experience. It was incredible to see that this tiny show that I use to watch nine years ago had not only grown, but exploded into world domination, inspiring and touching the lives of the young, the old, the marginalized, the disabled, the persecuted, the judged, the misunderstood, the queens—in every one of us.

RuPaul shared about the importance of this event, now more than ever:

In this time of chaos and lies, for three days tens of thousands of big-hearted, super-creative, and sensitive souls peacefully gathered to celebrate their truth at RuPaul’s DragCon. Seeing all the young people and families and queens has filled my heart with gratitude and hope. The future is going to be fierce.

During his Keynote address on Sunday, May 13th, RuPaul expressed:

Here we are in a time when it seems like the world's gone backwards....politically and everything, the pendulum has swung all the way...it's up to us and how we see ourselves on an emotional and personal level to push the conversation forward.

Before entering the convention center, all DragCon goers were greeted with a larger-than-life “Everybody Say Love” sign that set the tone of tolerance, inclusivity, and peace at the convention.

But let’s get down to it. As I mentioned, this was my first time at DragCon and ultimately, I had a great time. I met some amazing people, witnessed more death drops than I have ever seen in real life, and got to kiki with my favorite queens. Still--with all that, and with every event, there was chaos.

First you should know that if you are going to DragCon, YOU MUST HAVE MONEY. We're talkin' CASHFLOW REALNESS. If you plan on just paying for your pass and then coming to enjoy everything without spending a dime…that may be hard. Aside from paying for whatever you want to buy, you will have to pay for something or even pay for a meet & greet if you want to smile and pose with your favorite queens. This isn’t like meeting them at the bar or the club, they are there to run a business and their teams have it on lock making sure that they are making their coin. Completely understandable, though. RuPaul’s Drag Race has made entrepreneurs of them all over night and they need to sustain their very expensive careers. Just know that if you plan to get a picture, it’s gonna cost you, so don’t be offended if you are turned away.

One thing that was a great escape at DragCon that cost no extra money was The Runway. Throughout the weekend contests and presentations were held on the convention floor that had the crowds LIVING! If you were looking for the hot spot with all the music, The Runway was the place. With hosted and scheduled performances by Eureka, Alexis Michelle, Chad Michaels, Mayhem Miller, Trinity K. Bonet, Detox, Latrice Royale, Morgan McMichaels, Laganja Estranja—the queens were bringing it to the runway.

Special guests Evan Michael Lee and Chase Kolozsi from World of Wonder’s The Gaymer Guys, hosted a special cosplay contest that flipped the wigs of judges Jiggly Caliente and Pandora Boxx. And another highlight was the season finale of Hey Qween with Jonny McGovern, Lady Red and Peppermint.

The perfect opportunity to spend some more time getting to know the queens is by attending sessions and panel discussions, which also make DragCon a meeting of the minds. Sessions do cover a lot of points for RuPaul’s Drag Race fanatics, but at their core, these panels are a dialogue for drag and LGBTQIA culture that truly elevate visibility.

That being said, for DragCon LA, scheduling and timing for all sessions was a bit of a disaster. There was overcrowding in the lines and staff was having a hard time getting everyone in order because we all seemed to be in a haze. One late session potentially pushed back all the sessions in the room which interfered with the ability to run to the next line and wait for the next session. I know DragCon is only 4 years old, so maybe they will learn from these mistakes and have better communication among their team to insure that people don't get out of hand because—let me tell you—Drag Race fans can be VICIOUS and entitled!

If you were lucky enough to get into the sessions of your choice, it was definitely worth the wait. From Brian McCook (Katya) giving an uncensored, uncut and inspirational “DEB Talk” in the style of a TED Talk about the Drag Entertainment Business to Billy Eichner Glamming up the Midterms, the DragCon sessions were meaningful and insightful—but also tons of fun!

During one session, the RPDR Season 3 queens Ru-united to dish about what life has been like for the queens since they were on the show and how they have seen the evolution of drag and Drag Race over the last 10 years. It was an honest conversation about how drag has manifested into a popularity contest with social media and how most fans forget that paramount to everything, drag is art! Panelists included Phoenix, India Ferrah, Mariah Paris Balenciaga, Raja, Stacy Layne Matthews, Manila Luzon, and Alexis Mateo. The panel was moderated by Michael J Freeman.

Billy Eichner and Funny or Die partnered with DragCon to present their efforts in Glam Up the Midterms, an initiative started by Eichner to encourage voting citizens to cast their votes in the midterm elections in order to make the changes we so need in this world possible. Eichner was joined by Alaska and Peppermint for some “Billy on the Street” style games that got the audience pumped and had them rolling on the floor. Eichner also welcomed three community powerhouses who are creating political and social change in the Los Angeles area.

Jasmine Masters’ Class was also in-session during DragCon as she gave her humble opinion and had real talk with sister queens Kennedy Davenport, Tempest DuJour, and Shea Couleé. The four loud-mouthed queens dished about their time on Drag Race, the difficulties that come with being in the public eye, and they even down and dirty discussing their favorite sex positions before taking questions from the audience. Jasmine Masters definitely had something to say and panel attendees were present and ready for class!

Attending DragCon was an unforgettable experience. Yes it was three long days of walking, talking, dancing, standing, waiting, not eating, taking selfies—but by the time you realized your feet were numb, you were ready for the next day. I don’t recommend heels if you’re not use to them! I wore some butch flats instead.

I think there are a lot of sides to the idea of DragCon. Hardcore Drag Race fans will either love it or hate it. Drag purists may feel like it is a crazy whirlwind mega bitch of consumerism that is so far removed from the essence of the art of drag that they would wonder why anyone would spend a dime to visit. In my honest opinion—and I’m no Jasmine Masters—DragCon is part of the LGBTQIA revolution that has come to ignite discourse about the celebration of the obscure and what is different, and glamorous, and beautiful. It may also be the only place where people feel like they can freely express themselves without the fear of being in danger.

Expensive as it may be, DragCon and what RuPaul’s Drag Race has given to the gay community is groundbreaking. We forget that behind a simple reality show there is a message of tolerance and appreciation for individuals who have had to fight their whole lives to stand out, to be accepted, and to survive. We are truly lucky to be alive at a time where DragCon can even exist and where thousands can gather to honor pioneers and future generations of not just drag culture, but the LGBTQIA community that just wants to love and be loved—with heels click clackin’ about.


DragCon returns to New York in September. Badges and VIP Packages for the second annual “RuPaul’s DragCon NYC” will go on sale May 14, 2018 at RuPaulsDragCon.com. If you’re in the area, you bettah getchu some and start saving those monies, Henny!  

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.