XL Nightclub in New York City was jam-packed Friday night for the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5 launch party. I was deejaying the affair, so here's a blow-by-blow recap.
Sugga Pie Koko and the cast of Friday's regular dragstravaganza Hot Mess opened the mary-thon with a demented Lion King number that brought the house down. Hot Mess has made Sugga a bona fide NYC drag star -- she's totally unique, crazy and so talented that even the sublimely artsy Antony (of Antony and The Johnsons' fame) was wowed when he caught her miming to a medley of circuit hits at Wigstock years ago. Their opening number was expertly choreographed by previous Drag Racer Milan. Former contestants Manila Luzon, Carmen Carrera and Morgan McMichaels were on hand to cheer them on, along with Mobwives star Big Ang and transsexual icon Amanda Lepore.
Bianca Del Rio was on fire (as usual) in the role of the deliciously hateful and filthy emcee. She's so quick-witted that I laugh even when I don't get all of her jokes! (I'm serious.) My forgetfulness is bordering on senility, and I know few contemporary pop references, so I do miss a lot -- but the crowd ate them up. After watching one queen work a wind machine during her number, Bianca quipped, "That fan is the only thing in here that'll blow you!" Contestant Vivienne Panay's bra slipped during her number, and Bianca noted that it looked like "her boobs had gone south for the winter." On another girl who wasn't the most scene-stealing, she smirked, "You know she ain't gonna win." The place howled! I was essentially Miss Del Rio's "straight man" and got in one or two lines in between her constant reminders that I'm old, fat and a whore. As if senility would force me to forget my core qualities! Bianca did ask me where Mimi Imfurst had gone, because Mimi had been deejaying earlier that night in the same spot where I was, wearing a dark wig. I replied, "I am Mimi -- I just changed my wig and lost weight."
Snooki and JWoww were on hand to co-host this event. I'd met them in their room at the Out hotel, which adjoins XL, and they seemed genuinely sweet. Snooki took to Bianca immediately and admired her foundation garments, yet she was reluctant to acknowledge me, for some reason. Maybe because I need better foundation garments. Or maybe just a diet? Or both. F**k you all! But when the drinks kicked in later and Bianca had intimidated Snooki enough to warrant a talk-to-the-hand, "whatever, bitch!" moment, the latter became fixated on me and tried to drag me onto the stage to dance -- even though I wasn't playing any music. I tried to explain to her that my toe was broken, so I wasn't up for dancing -- to no music. Earlier, Snooksters had been similarly grabbing at a publicist from LOGO. We all know that type of party girl: the "clutcher," whose heels are as high as her blood alcohol level. But who wants to see a sober female reality star, anyway? Both Jersey Shore cast mates seemed to have been coached to say things like, "You all are amazing!" and, "We can't wait for Drag Race!" but the crowd wasn't exactly expecting scholarly essays from them. Both were very good sports. And with a gay crowd, the girls didn't have to look too hard for steroid users; the "juice heads" just wouldn't be looking back at them this time!
The lengthy revue show featured Drag Race winners from the first four seasons, although Bebe had backed out. Miss "Cameroon" will always be the first winner, so she's entitled to skip a cattle call like this. First up was Tyra Sanchez. She's huge and beautiful and wore a gorgeous 1940s-meets-disco-perm wig that was also massive, along with her trademark realistic breast plate. Tyra is pleasant and very laid back. But until this glamazon hits the stage, her shyness could come off as standoffish.
Season 3's winner, Raja, performed "Crave You" by Flight Facility, a song so cute that I'll now start playing it. Looking like an asian Vanessa Williams in a late-1960s-Cher wig with a Pocahantas flair, she was cloaked in a dark, slinky gown with a puffy, white wrap that Bianca described as "a tampon." The crowd beat the walls for her as she stalked around the stage, drink in hand, getting ready to work the runway as only she can. When she put down the drink, the crowd knew she was about to march. I have to fuss with a variety of ridiculous props and custom-made tracks for my own act, but all that flawless bitch has to do is strut. The song really doesn't even matter. If we weren't such good friends, I'd be forced to hate her! Also on hand from L.A. was Detox, who is known as Detox Icunt when she isn't appearing on RuPaul's Drag Race. She slayed the crowd with an inventive rendition of Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" from the Kim Catrall vehicle Mannequin. You might say she put the "man" back in "Mannequin" as she collected tips in her clutch purse between striking jaunty poses, looking like another '80s classic: Anjelica Huston. This '80s classic didn't recognize the movie or the song -- but Detox is from Hollywood, natch!
Sharon Needles interrupted the Jersey Shore girls to storm the stage, and the joint exploded! She has a rare ability to connect with people, and this cheering crowd was no exception. Hawking her new album, which comes out tomorrow and features Amanda Lepore, Jayne County and Scissor Sisters, she performed a dance number from it. It sounded good, although I couldn't quite make out the hook's lyrics. She also plugged her boyfriend Alaska (aka Alaska Thunderfuck), who competes on RuPaul's Drag Race this season, claiming that her own win last year proved that "smart and interesting" drag can prevail. Bianca wasn't too impressed with Sharon and began to needle her with a tongue so sharp that the crowd literally gagged. I had to suggest that Miss Del Rio lighten up just a little, because Sharon had been kind enough to name a song after Bianca. It's titled "Hail, Satan." I'm RuPaul's former roommate, so I know for a fact he'd be very proud that his devil's handiwork of promoting a demonic transvestite show for mainstream audiences has literally spawned Satan, who spawned Ru to begin with. So it was a family affair of sorts!
Alaska's very fun number, a comical cover of the Temptations' "My Girl," was indeed smart and interesting. I'm unable to go into details about each contestant's performance, because the show was so long and and most of us had only just met, so I don't know all of their names yet! New York City was represented by three queens, including the lovely Ivy Winters, who performed a nutty striptease to an Ella Fitzgerald scatting ditty in a cute ensemble she'd made. I cannot take my eyes off of Roxxxy Andrews, and I'll be watching the show just to see what she looks like out of drag. Her eye makeup is unbelievably spectacular and to the max! Over the years I've ogled her Facebook pics, and lately she's been doing this new nose contour that drives me absolutely wild. It's slightly Streisand! And her costume reveal demonstrated that she has a real woman's ass -- complete with cellulite!
Coco Montrese is a friend of mine from Las Vegas, so of course I'll be rooting for her. She proved last night that she doesn't need my help. The pint-sized diva has an enormous stage presence and has all the polish of the Las Vegas showgirl that she is. (She's currently appearing in Frank Marino's glitzy Divas Las Vegas.) Penny Tration is this season's big girl, and she did a very credible lip-synch of Gloria Gaynor's "I Am What I Am" in the evening's sparkliest fabric. Though it was an updated circuit mix, the number was so old-school that I think it may have even revived a few T-cells in the crowd. Which is sickening! Or perhaps a better word is unsickening?
Season 5's theme is goddesses, which you can't really go wrong with. This was confirmed after the trailer showed Ru in regal, flowing gold-and-white attire, with birds flying out of the contestants' hands and a variety of stunning new graphics. There does seem to be a greater emphasis on beauty and realness among this batch of bitches. Or maybe this younger crop of queens has been watching and studying the padding and contour that many of Ru's contestants are known for. San Francisco's first-ever entrant, Honey Mahogany, didn't need any padding and stripped down to just pasties! Kentucky's Monica Beverly Hills even looked "fishier" out of drag than in! There are some precision lip-synchers in this crew of painted ladies -- this is going to be quite the heated contest! Alyssa Edwards is a professionally trained dancer and proved that not only is she stunning, but you don't mess with Mesquite, Texas, where she hails from.
There was a lot of of wig-slinging and a lot of Beyoncé in Friday's show. You'd think that someone would ask who is doing what number before they put together a show this long. Otherwise, you get a mini Beyoncé concert, and Beyoncé is already played out, in my opinion. But I guess to many young queens, dressing up like Beyoncé and and dancing and lip-synching to her music remains the very pinnacle of doing drag. I don't get it, but much of the crowd seemed to know every note of Queen B's songs, even her live recordings. But if you must impersonate her, why not do her most recent hit (and her best song ever), "Love on Top," or fumble with an imaginary earpiece and get the words wrong in a number called "O Say Can't You Sing?"? As I said, I don't get it, but as Bianca reminds me, I'm old. And this packed, dynamite show was just the teaser I needed to ensure that my old ass will be watching the premiere of season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race tonight. Also, next Friday night Hot Mess celebrates its one-year anniversary at XL with the return of one of the hottest messes of all time, Tan Mom!
Left to right: Bianca Del Rio, Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Lady Bunny
Monica Beverly Hillz
<strong>Front row, left to right</strong>: Coco Montrese, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Jennifer "JWoww" Farley <strong>Back row, left to right</strong>: Monica Beverly Hillz, Detox, Roxxxy Andrews, Alaska
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jennifer "JWoww" Farley
Sharon Needles and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
Left to right: Roxxxy Andrews, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, Alyssa Edwards
Angela "Big Ang" Raiola
Left to right: Roxxxy Andrews, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, Drita D'avanzo, Serena ChaCha, Ivy Winters
Angela "Big Ang" Raiola and Drita D'avanzo of "Mob Wives"
Left to right: Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, Carmen Carrera, Drita D'avanzo
Left to right: Drita D'avanzo, Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
Drita D'avanzo and Bianca Del Rio
Left to right: Lady Bunny, Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, Bianca Del Rio
Milan and Manila Luzon
Milan and Angela "Big Ang" Raiola
Left to right: Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, Brandon Voss (Owner/Partner at XL Nightclub), Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi