Hieeee Energy: Inside RuPAUL'S DRAG CON NYC 2017!
Sasha, fierce, above; playing the Miss Fame game, inset (All images by Matthew Rettenmund; feel free to share with watermark)
I just spent two days flying around RuPaul's Drag Con NYC 2017, the inaugural East Coast version of the popular West Coast dress-up confab, and boy are my charms tired — it takes a lotta energy to approach dozens of lovely ladies and laddies and ask them to pose, even when it's written all over their faces (in MAC) that they'd be more than happy to do so.
It was a balls-to-the-wall-of-your-thighs blast, though. World of Wonder once again struck wonder into the hearts of its legions of fans, I saw things I'll never forget and I got to meet the one and only RuPaul. Luckily, I already love myself, so there was no question how in the hell I was gonna love that particular someone else.
Keep reading for the full run-down and nearly 200 pics …
Don't blush, but I'm showing you Trixie Mattel's entrance …
I showed around 11:15 a.m Saturday, and the event was already in full swing. Only part of the Javits Center was in use for the convention, so it was significantly smaller and more do-able (like certain queens) than, say, Comic Con, yet it did not feel slight and it was always (fudge-) packed.
My plan was to mostly just roam and take pics of all the girls with tables and as many interesting attendees as possible, though I originally thought I might pop into a few panels, too. That never really happened, as I was busy-busy-busy gorging on the people-watching.
This wasn't even close to the fullest that things got!
I'm gonna separate my photos so you can check out the Queens (anyone from RuPaul's Drag Race), the Court (non-RDR fabulosities), the Boys (I fell in love a number of times) and the Celebs (anyone else famous-ish).
With my sexy friend Luigi, one of the many good pals I ran into at RDCNYC2017 — he's single
Enjoy, and please, please chime in with names in the places where I am unsure!
Because I had a very visible press pass, I was — for the most part — able to jump from booth to booth grabbing a few shots with each queen. This meant politely asking their handlers and also making sure the people in line would not riot over having to wait 20 extra seconds.
Everyone was totally great. Well, almost everyone. TBH, Shea Coulée's booth was an issue. Shea was the most expensive queen there, pricier than RuPaul! In order to get your pic with her, you either had to buy $50 in merch or pay $60 cash. Even RuPaul only charged $50 — and for that price, you could get a photo with up to two people in it and an autograph. Shea was also one of only a couple of queens whose booth was completely enclosed to make walk-by photos impossible.
Most of the queens were charging $10-$20 for pics.
This all should've been a clue, because when I asked to take a few press pics, Shea's handler said no, then said it wouldn't be fair to the fans in line (apples, oranges) and even though it would have taken me literally 20 seconds, told me I'd just have to wait like everyone else.
Refresher: Shea is an awesome queen, but did not win her season. No serious harm done, but a bummer.
We were trying to encourage Michelle to cut a solo album — nudge her on social!
Michelle Visage, I had met and stood talking to (along with her hubby) the evening before at an exclusive cocktail party kickoff for the weekend, at which a group of us were coaxing her to do a freestyle solo album. I mentioned owning a Seduction promo store mobile, which she said she remembers seeing. When I found her in her booth Saturday, I expected her to recognize me and never dreamed she'd be tough to get, but because she had a giant line always, she told me no posed pics in her booth, and that I should instead shoot her in the press room at 4 p.m. (I went at 4, but she was in a rush so skipped it.)
The glasses reminded me of an '80s Chicago queen named Memory Lane …
She did tell me it was cool to shoot her as she did her thing, which led to this, probably my favorite pic of the whole damn weekend:
She's her one and only — her one and only — true love!
Sunday, when I returned and asked her one more time, reminding her about missing the press room, Michelle gave me a radiant pose. She was never rude; she is actually extremely outgoing with fans. Rather, Michelle is just firm about what she's gonna do and when. So I was happy this worked out, because when it comes to taking a good picture, it takes two, it takes two — me and her.
The official station for RuPaul was decorated with examples of his most faboosh GLAAD rags.
The only other queen I couldn't shoot was RuPaul, and it was not for lacking of trying. I pulled every string and everyone was very nice, but they did enforce the rules of no personal pics inside Ru's enclosure. It did no harm asking, his assistant Joelle was faultlessly polite (and thanked me for not trying to bully her), and while I was not able to take a pic of RuPaul, my experience meeting RuPaul was ideal. I stood in line for an hour in the morning to get a ticket for 1:30 p.m., came back at the anointed time, and spent another hour or so waiting to get in to see him. Easy!
Supermodel of the playground
Inside, Ru was at a table (I hate when the star is behind a table and you're not … it's impossible to look good in a pic!), and he had a giant smile always and was unbelievably perky no matter how long he'd been there — and he was putting in eight-hour days of doing nothing but meeting and posing with fans. I made him laugh by saying the show was family-friendly as requested … on the outside … and I told him how happy I was for his success in the mainstream; just typical fan stuff. But he was 100% engaged, clasped each person's hand for the photos and was laughing gaily and enjoying everything. He had to be exhausted, but I saw no sign of it.
The most Ru-vealing outfit of the fest …
He was even howling with glee when a vendor — an almost-nude woman with Ru's face painted on her front and Michelle's on her back — went in just before me.
Cash-ay away — they were minting money at this thing, and deservedly so.
He was a treat, and I was so glad that when I'd met him Friday at that cocktail party I had not tried to get a pic when he wasn't werking. My only complaint is that the lighting was shitty and there was no flash (or if there was, it clearly did not help — all the pics are shadowy, and because he's behind a table and the guests are in front, one or the other is out of focus).
Your makeup photography is terrible …
And now for the other queens:
Dorothy, we can go home again — but let's stay out, instead! Pandora Boxx is one of my faves.
I am one of your fans!!!
Chad Michaels: Keep your eyes open, bitch!
Raquel Felch — a sexy, '70s-inspired Peppermint
Phi Phi with a dash of Peppermint
Pokémon ho — Phi Phi's backdrop was inspired.
Naomi Smalls was one of the queens who either recognized me or pretended to know me — either way, that is always appreciated. She had legs for days, weeks, months and years.
Halleloo pass from Shangela
Cloudy, you're in — Kim Chi's backdrop was a showstopper!
Never leave home without your vanity! Alexis Michele was pretty in pink and right by the entrance!
Velour Town — Sasha was super popular, because everybody loves a winner.
Sasha also remembered me, and that one of my pics of her from Gay Pride was used in a prominent mag. Details!
Tempest DuJour in a tea room
Bob's sideshow motif was missing only a big top.
Trixie Mattel, mint out of box
Ongina was bloomin' beautiful!
BeBe Zahara Benet — dark 'n' lovely
Trinity K. Bonet — okay?
I've heard of robbing the cradle, Aja, but this is grand theft!
Aja, all grown up for day 2, accepted this sweet hug.
It's the only Detox!
It's Britneys, bitch! Derrick Barry is good solo or in a pair.
Manila & Raja have only 1 fan between them. (P.S. Their line was insane.)
Jaymes Mansfield had a severed head for business and a bod for $in.
Venus D-Lite gave me classic pretty on day one, then busted out her best Madonna circa The Virgin Tour on day two!
Like a virgin … in my earholes, maybe!
That man-smasher Venus!
In case you were jonesing for some Joslyn Fox News!
Milk, presented by Marc Jacobs, might've been too cool for the room in which EAT MY ENTIRE ASS buttons were being sold.
On day 2, it was less about the Milk food group and more about protein.
Miss Fame had a '40s-fantasy look going — call her Bettie Pageboy
Kimora, who is always ready to give you some headgear.
I was cucu for Cynthia Lee Fontaine!
Stacy Layne Matthews — it's a sign!
Listen, Vivacious is not her Christian name, and it was chosen for a reason.
Jade Jolie's physical appearance has changed more dramatically than some girls who've transitioned — I like!
Ivy Winters was one of the event's absolute nicest — and her penis quilt was only $400. I've spent more for fewer cocks.
I love you, Mimi Imfurst, for thinking of doing this look especially for those of us seeking to score some Handmaid's tail.
Look how cute Jiggly Caliente was — she looked as fresh as a middle-schooler! I Ritalin kid you not.
Laganja Estranja & Gia Gunn were 2, 2, 2 queens for the price of 1.
The best for last? For my money, Farrah Moan had just about the sleekest, sexiest look.
The show was not dripping with non-RDR celebs, but there were quite a few, if you kept your eyes open. Some had tables, some were on panels. One, Isaac Mizrahi, turned me down for a photo, which was unfashionably rude.
Randy Barbato & Fenton Bailey — the queens kings of World of Wonder!
Singer Randy Jones with Mariano Rubín de Celis (who was riding herd) and World of Wonder human work of art James St. James
You gotta read James St. James's Freak Show!
Levonia Jenkins came out ahead!
Start spreading the fake news — it's #altfactkelly
Trump made an appearance, which was a drag.
Joanne the Scammer's stage show consisted of an appeal to buy her merch.
Miss Amanda Lepore
Carson Kressley was ready with this pose before I even asked.
Sheryl Lee Ralph, a real star! And she was completely accessible to one and all.
Famed undies designer Marco Marco — this is his signature pose, covering his face.
This kid is known as Desmond Is Amazing
Nico Tortorella wears many hats.
TS Madison, one of my buddy Steve Grand's favorite Internet personalities
Big Freedia, bouncing past me and to her table
Todrick Hall blew me. Kisses.
Johnny Sibilly, in the pink
Ran into Michael Musto, whose new column appears Mondays at NewNowNext.com.
Actor Daniel Franzese (second from left), Hornet's Alexander Kacala & crew
Porn actor Liam Riley was lending a hand to Shangela
One of my faves, porn star Sean Ford
Porn actor Josh Moore (far right) & co.
Porn stud Billy Santoro was there with a sated-looking boy in tow.
Mr. Boomer Banks, porn-star with an 11-inch calling card
Now, eyeball some of the con's best, most beautiful and — in some cases! — most disturbing looks from the show:
And finally, check out some of the hot guys I spotted at Drag Con. To be honest, there were countless others:
Follow Me on Facebook for More!
And with that, I'll C – U – Next – Year.