This weekend, many of the fiercest and funniest queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race sashayed into Javits Center for the first-ever RuPaul’s DragCon, New York. Which is why at 8am on a Sunday, I beat my mug, then hauled out to 11th Avenue, so I might meet the queens.
For those unfamiliar, the Javits is a big ugly grey block of a convention center that lies on a far-flung fringe of Manhattan. The only reason this long-time New Yorker has ever been to it is for New York Comic Con, where the whole building is stuffed end to end with cosplayers, comic book sales booths, incognito celebs, and panels packed with rabid fans. DragCon was a smaller affair, taking up only one portion of the first hall of the show floor, with a couple of break out rooms for panels (the Tea Room, and the Kiki Room). But don’t get it twisted. The place was bulging with Drag Race revelers.
See that big pink carpet in the middle? It became a perfect place for queens to pose, and fans to snap shots. Truly this was a place to see and be seen, genderbend, and express yourself however you liked. Some attendees were full on eleganza in grand gowns with big hair, towering heels, and intimidating tits, while others went club kid with no breasts, but plenty of gonzo fashion. There were casual goers sporting tanks and tees with LGBTQA iconography, or images of their favorite queens. There were men with glittery beards, women in tuxedos, and children, some in drag, some in skirts, all strutting. I even saw one queen, rocking a gown, blue wig, and Baby Bjorn with a real-live wide-eyed infant inside!
It was Comic-Con meets Pride. As soon as I walked into the doors of the Javitz, the atmosphere of excitement and community overtook me. The showfloor was littered with photo ops, from a massive cutout of RuPaul, to an inflatable Squirrel Friend, and a backdrop that looks like the show’s iconic runway. All over you were encouraged to live your Super Model fantasy. With so many giddy over the same opportunity, there was always someone on hand to take your photo in exchange for you doing the same. We were all queer nerds (or at least queer-culture appreciating nerds), geeking out collectively over the artists who’ve made drag a multi-faceted American art form that’s gone mainstream.
There were a slew of panels that featured queens like Acid Betty, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Derrick Berry, Jiggly Caliente, and Pandora Boxx, judges like Michelle Visage, Carson Kresley and Todrick Hall, and queer icons like Todrick Hall, Isaac Mizrahi, and Amanda Lepore. On Saturday, glamor toad Ginger Minj not only gave a live makeover of rising phenom Lactatia, but also got married by Visage on stage!
Officiated by Michelle Visage. Drag Race alumni - and all star - Ginger Minj married her partner CeeJay this… https://t.co/AYhf9rT7ih— GaySayHello (@GaySayHello) September 10, 2017
Ginger Minj got married and Lactavia was her flower girl! pic.twitter.com/3uSgkMq5p6— couponqueenofLI (@drewalsh) September 10, 2017
But the panel I could not would not miss was “WOW Presents: UNHhhh.” If you’re unfamiliar with Trixie Mattel and Katya’s absolutely unhinged webseries, remedy that immediately with my favorite episode:
These crazy queens are getting their own actual TV gig, The Trixie & Katya Show on VICELAND, kicking off Wednesday, November 15 at 10:00 PM. So this panel was meant to be a promo event, but Katya couldn’t make it. Cue Drag Race season 8 winner Bob The Drag Queen, who gamely came to support and roast Trixie. Two comedy queens with enveloping-pushing definitions of drag, dragged themselves out of bed and crashed couches for a 10AM panel. And it was everything I dreamed of.
"It's weird you're the straight man because you don't even look like a human."— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) September 10, 2017
"Me the straight man? Not since high school honey." -Trixie pic.twitter.com/KmmSErUQ8T
Bob and Trixie were lighting fast with wit and shade, occasionally spilling tea like how Trixie and quirky queen Kim Chi used to make-out, but Kim soured it by chastising mid-makeout, “Your stepfather taught you nothing!” That wasn’t even the most outrageous bit.
While a church revival roared next door (the Can I Get An Amen? Sunday Service), a very young girl in the front row caught Bob’s eye, and so he made a running bit out of hostilely explaining references of Dolly Parton and the like to her. This running gag took a very dark turn, when Bob admitted he’d gladly have fucked the “gorgeous” Jeffrey Dahmer, then promptly turned to explain to little Pearl (a name that caused both queens to instinctively sigh), “See, Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer in the ’90s. Hold up, the ’90s were a time before the 2000s.” Not to be outdone, Trixie cut in to not Dahmer used to use drugs to knock out his dates, then confessed, “Jeffrey Dahmer was beautiful..he could have given me a baby aspirin, ‘And I’d have been like, ‘I feel funny.’” Then feigned passing out, beautifully, naturally.
Katya did make an appearance with a greenscreen-enabled floating head montage that was suitably super weird. Trixie performed it as if it was a Facetime call, where Katya and she were actually interacting. And the best bit of this bit was when their timing got screwed up and on-screen Katya stepped on Trixie’s line, sparking an annoyed eyeroll, and waves of laughter from an enraptured audience.
"That bit was ridiculous." —Bob on the Katya video.— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) September 10, 2017
"No it wasn't it was high art. It was art and she was high!"—TRIXIE #rupaulsdragcon
After laughing myself silly, I took to the floor where I ogled RuPaul’s gowns, which hung around Mother’s prime meet and greet section. And then I saw queens, queens, queens. Long lines formed so fans might have a moment and a photo op with the likes of Peppermint, Vivacious, Farrah Moan, Naomi Smalls, and season nine’s reigning queen, Sasha Velour. I’m not much for waiting in line, but I did meet Trixie in the press lounge.
That was right ahead of the defining moment of my very first DragCon: meeting Lactatia. We’ve talked about this 8-year-old queen before, celebrating her ascension and shade-throwing at a Bianca Del Rio show. But that drag princess who got her wig read by Del Rio has come a long way, baby.
Skipping into the press lounge in glittery black velvet ankle boots, Lactatia immediately drew attention in her bright pink wig, long, long lashes, and fitted silver suit. I pointed her out to some colleagues, and she noticed me. Her bright eyes focused in on me, and she said, “Are you a Lactator?”
I probably should have just said yes, but it felt uncomfortable to say “I am a lactator,” at all, much less to a child. I said, “I don’t know.” And then, without breaking eye contact, Lactatia wound around the table, and gracefully perched right next to me. She said she had a quiz for me. I chuckled nervously. I was intimidated. Yes, by an 8-year-old.
She asked me what I do when I want to feel fierce. I said something about eyeliner and “wearing something weird.” She clocked my outfit and eye-makeup, batted those massive lashes at me, and derisively said, “Mmmkay.” Next she asked why I loved drag. Inside me burned the urge to impress. I rattled on about To Wong Fu Thanks for Everything Love, Julie Newmar, and how RuPaul’s Drag Race makes me feel inspired to be myself, the world be damned. I tried to turn things around, and ask her—informally—some questions, like had she ever met Ginger before their panel (no), and how was the panel for her (“Great.”) But mostly, this pink-haired pixie with platinum resolve deftly dodged my questions, and instead played interviewer.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Gurall of Bleeding Cool
Finally, she asked me again. “Are you a Lactator?” I hesitated, “…Yes?” She rejected this flatly. Told me to have confidence. “I’ll ask you again, are you a Lactator?” This time I shouted yes so loudly it echoed through the Javits’ “Crystal Palace” (an ugly monstrosity of blocky windows and exposed metal beams). For the briefest moment, her eyes went wide and she smiled.
This experience was terrifying and exhilarating. Most drag fans harbor the fantasy of being publicly (but lovingly) read by a grade-A comedy queen. And it was happening to me! As much as I relished the panels, the rad booths, fabulous fans, and the chance to rub elbows with the greats of drag, it was this moment that will forever stand out for me. I got read to filth by an 8-year-old who looks fiercer than I’ve ever managed in my life. She had presence, she had charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. I was honored to be among her earliest reads. I lived my DragCon fantasy.