By Adam Fehn
I had the immense pleasure of attending RuPaul’s Werq the World Tour in Seattle last night and let me tell you… if you haven’t yet had the chance to catch this show, you’re missing out. Every year the most popular and talented queens from recent and past seasons get together to throw the world one hell of a performance one city at a time, and on September 23rd it was Seattle’s turn. Unbeknownst to me while I was in attendance, it’s was a rotating cast of performers that show up each night. So while they advertised 16 queens, only 7 performed. Which now that I think about it, makes sense. These queens held nothing back, so of course, they’d need to sit out a show or two to collect themselves (we certainly don’t want any stiletto related injuries). Not to mention, 16 acts of this caliber on the same night would most likely mean a 6 or 7 hour long show and I’m not sure my heart could take that much adrenaline. I did feel bad that I didn’t get to see some of the queens like Alyssa Edwards, Latrice Royal, Shangela, and Peppermint, but word on the street said that some of the queens went to R-Place to make some of those boys scream as well so it was totally for a good cause.
Let’s dive right in and start with the venue. We had the good fortune of being able to not only enjoy some of the most talented queens ever to come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but we did it in the historic and exquisite Paramount Theatre. This was my first time at the Paramount (a statement that would make a lot of Seattlites shake their head in shame), but I say better late than never. It was quite a spectacle to see these new world queens perform in juxtaposition to the old world charm of the Paramount, but the golden accents and brilliant chandeliers complimented most of their outfits perfectly and only added to the queens’ regal characters.
Packed inside this exquisite theatre were audience members that seemingly spanned every aspect of the LGBTQ spectrum in addition to many of our straight allies. I have attended quite a few shows now that attract such an audience that celebrates and brings out the best in our community, and I will never take for granted every opportunity to be out in the general public and feel completely safe. I am not naïve enough to know that horrible things can happen even in safe places, but there was definitely something about this particular audience that just made you feel good. All states of drag were represented from simple eyeshadow and fake lashes to full on beat faces with gowns. It certainly was beautiful to see. So exuberant was this audience that many of them could hardly contain themselves and their excitement. There was dancing in the isles and cheering from the balconies, this was before the show even started! You could just tell we were all in for the time of our lives.
Ok now it’s finally time to get to the show, the very thing that you, dear readers, are here for and I will do my utmost to give you a sense of what it was like to be there, though such an experience really should be seen in person. The stage was flooded with pink and blue lights right before they went dim. When the lights came back on we were introduced to our endearing host for the night, Bob the Drag Queen, wearing the most delicious ladies sparkling blue pantsuit I have ever seen. I have never done drag, but if I did, I would want this outfit so bad. She looked spectacular! She did a little number to a remake of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” just to get our whistles wet, but at this point, I was already shook. Soon each of our queens started descending from the flashing staircases one by one to deafening cheers. What an introduction! Performing tonight was Asia O’Hara, Eureka O’Hara, Kameron Michaels Kim Chi, Valentina, and last but proven not least season 10 winner Aquaria.
Our Queens quickly left the stage, but Bob came back to pick up our dropped jaws. She addressed the audience with all the elegance and grace that only she… I’m sorry this is Bob the freaking Drag Queen we’re talking about! “Seattle, you hummus eating Mutha Fuckers!” she exclaimed. It has been a while since I watched Bob on Season 8, but she obviously still has it and will never lose it. She made us all roar with laughter the way only she could. I think my favorite part was when she described Sascha Velour as Voldemort and Aquaria as Jimmy Neutron. Her humor always proves to be spot on and she never slowed down as the night progressed. Bob was as funny as she was gorgeous, which is saying something because her looks are leagues ahead of what I remember from season 8, but more on that in a bit. After talking us through what we had in store that evening, it was time to travel to our first destination. Our televised plane departed and landed in Seoul North Korea, where Kim Chi was waiting for us in her best Sailor Moon drag.
Kim Chi’s dancing certainly has improved since season 8, but even though it isn’t quite on par with the other queen’s performing that night, Kim Chi’s drag to me was never really about busting a move. Kim Chi’s drag is campy, creative, fun, artistic, and sharp. No one could turn a look quite like Kim Chi that season, and she’s certainly still got it. Halfway through her performance, she tore part of her costume away to reveal a beautiful sparkling gown. Sailor Moon had transformed into Princess Serenity and left us all gagging. It was a strong start to the night and we had so much more in store.
Our next destination was London, where Eureka O’Hara was giving us Queen Victoria realness. I mentioned the queens being regal earlier, but Eureka had this quality in spades. She emerged in a dress fitting of her royalty and had she had not one, but two reveals. Eventually leaving her to perform in one of her customary bodysuits, but no one can wear a bodysuit as well as Eureka O’Hara. The thing that I liked most about Eureka’s performance was that it was not just a show, it was a statement. Part way through her show videos and recordings of some of the derogatory remarks made against Eureka were played after her regal gown was stripped away. Eureka’s inner queen was revealed and she was completely exposed. Suddenly Keala’s Settle’s “This is Me” started playing and Eureka gave all of her haters an unabashed look at what she’s capable of. Her performance was an unforgettable one and served as a reminder to all that we should never let anyone extinguish our light. Eureka sure hasn’t!
The third place we visited was the fictional town of town of Storybrooke, the setting of the popular tv show, Once Upon a Time. Here we met the fiercest and most wicked witch queen of them all, Kameron Michaels. In a stunning entrance, she emerged from an elaborate vessel (of her own creation no doubt). In no time at all, her dancing had put us all under her wretched spell. If dance could kill, we’d all be six feet under, but luckily this spell was more of an enchantment than a curse. Kameron, season 9’s lip sync assassin, never disappoints and this night was no exception. She was sharp, deliciously evil, and she donned one of my favorite costumes of the night! After Kameron’s stunning performance the audience got a much-needed break. I for one was still dazed by Kameron’s haunting routine and needed a second to compose myself.
On the other side of the break, we got even more of the effervescent and hilarious Bob the Drag Queen, except this time around her comedy included audience participation. She had three members of our lively audience get up for none other than a lip sync for your live performance. But true to form, Bob didn’t choose just any old audience member. No, she had criteria. Her first pick was someone that had to be over 40 years old and of course, she chose a lady that midnighted as a customer (leave it to a queen to find the dressmaker in a crowd of 3000 people). Her second pick was the gayest boy in the room, but not just any gay. This boy had to be a drag superfan: drag race, local drag, back alley drag, absolutely all of it. Lastly, she looked for the most annoying white girl in the crowd: The Becky of all Beckys. When she had her picks, she gave them wigs and it was off to the races. It ended up being a tie after the drag superfan and the annoying white girl put on two performances that were too close to call. It was pretty fun and watching Bob play stand-in drag mom to three audience members was absolutely hilarious.
Now that our three contestants had collected their prizes, it was time to get back to it. We were about to watch three drags queens duke it out in an all-out lip sync battle, but first, as with any fight, the national anthem had to be sung. There to do us that honor was none other than the season 10 winner herself, Aquaria. I have to be completely honest with this one. I find Aquaria to be an immensely talented queen whose looks can rival former champion Sasha Velour (a bold statement if I’ve ever had one), but tonight Aquaria left me wanting more, and not in a good way. While her performance was pretty funny, I wanted so much more from her, especially after seeing the first three queens. It’s possible that her performances in other cities had been and will be different, but I wasn’t exactly satiated after her visit to Seattle. I wanted sickening looks and fierce lip-syncing, but what I got was something that I’ve seen other queens do multiple times before. I definitely missed that spark that she brought to season 10.
What I missed in Aquaria’s performance was more than made up for with her season 10 costars and runner-ups to the crown Asia O’Hara, Kameron Michaels, and Eureka O’Hara. They each wore slightly different gray and black sequined body suits, a uniform that foreshadowed what was to come. After all, fighters don’t wear flamboyant gowns and make no mistake, this was a no holds barred beatdown. These ladies held nothing back as they lip-synced, danced, and death dropped their way to victory. So devastating were their punches that I was legitimately worried for their safety. These three fought till there was nothing left, and I loved every crazy second of it. It was about this time in the show that my voice started getting hoarse, but I rallied because it definitely wasn’t over yet!
Not to be outdone, Bob the Drag Queen took the stage again in my absolute favorite outfit of the night, a fiery number full of reds, yellows, and oranges which would later get wings. Bob proved that, like a phoenix, she is eternal. Next up was Asia O’hara in a stunning dress that would later reveal a neon green jumpsuit. She is milking her butterfly scandal for all it’s worth and, honey, it’s not tired yet. Her performance was hilarious, artistic, and just the kind of special that I expected from her. Last was Valentina, who took us to our last destination in Mexico City. She and her backup dancers got all close and personal with this one as they performed all manner of fiery Latin dance moves. Valentina looked stunning and she moved effortlessly across the stage. It was certainly one of my favorite performances of the night and I’m surprised she didn’t burn the whole place down with her smoldering dance moves.
As the Queens took to the stage one last time to dance their faces off, the crowd cheered with absolute gusto, a testament to what we witnessed this night. I find myself lucky to not only see some of the most talented people ever to perform on one stage, but to experience it with a crowd of people that were so ecstatic to be there. The venue, the people, the queens, were nothing short of amazing and it made for an absolutely unforgettable night. I would love to thank everyone responsible for making this night happen as it couldn’t have been easy. The production value of the performance was phenomenal from the choreography to the lighting and the sound. It all just came together amazingly. My last and final shout out goes out to the backup dancers. Four amazing dancers that were as talented as they were good looking. At times I found myself watching them more than the performing queen! This truly was an electrifying night and a show that I plan to keep seeing for as long as they keep touring. I look forward to next year and the next round of wonderful queens!