The time has come: on May 7th and 8th, the second annual RuPaul’s DragCon opens its doors at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of fans from all walks of life will flock to downtown L.A. to meet their favorite drag queens in person. But on Friday night before the convention itself kicks off the next morning, Voss Events and World of Wonder have organized RuPaul’s DragCon Opening Night Spectacular at the Belasco Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. While 2015’s DragCon began with just a ribbon cutting, 2016’s will have a major party to celebrate its launch featuring eleven of the most talented drag queens around including Alyssa Edwards, Raven, Jujubee and Lady Bunny. Season seven alumni Katya and season four queen Latrice Royale will also perform in the show and byteclay.com caught up with these two fan favorites to get the scoop.
“It’s going to be a riveting, whirlwind, entertainment extravaganza. No exceptions,” Katya said. “Listen, if it’s a Brandon Voss organized event, you’re pretty much guaranteed there’s going to be shenanigans, tomfoolery, a disorganized hodgepodge of emotions, Shangela’s going to break a bone even if she’s not scheduled to appear [like she did at a 2012 Halloween show]. I’m excited because it’s going to be a good kickoff for a really great weekend.”
So what do these two queens have in store for fans? For Latrice, it’s always a great performance. “With me, you just know you are going to get your life,” Latrice told byteclay.com on a call from San Paolo, Brazil. “You’re going to have a whirlwind performance, there’s going to be lots of high energy, we’re going to do some kicks and sha-blams and make the kids eat it and scream ‘holler!’ I’m excited about doing it. It’s going to be amazing.”
Katya similarly isn’t sure about specifics but knows whatever she decides to do is going to satisfy fans. “I think I’m going to start with a dramatic reading. Actually, I have no idea what I’m going to do yet but it’s going to be great. I think the thread that connects all of my live performances is that they’re really awesome,” she said. “I like lip-syncing because it’s easy and I like to see people’s reactions in real time. I’m a very beautiful person and when people see it close-up, they make a lot of grimaces with their faces and I like to witness that as it unfolds. It’s a magical feeling.”
Katya also told byteclay.com about one performance element that she and Latrice have in common. “The nice thing about people having seen me on the show and then coming to see me live is that they get to see how much I sweat, which is really embarrassing but also keeps me relatable. Between me and Latrice, it’ll be like a live medical exploration into hyperhidrosis and the women who suffer from it, which is basically just me and her,” Katya said. “We both sweat so much that it becomes absurd. You kind of run the gambit between shock and disbelief and a heavy, palpable humiliation on behalf of the performer. And then it just gets medical. It’s really great. But I smell good always, never smell bad. I use a very cheap but wonderfully fragrant perfume called Pink Sugar and it’s specially formulated to mix well with B.O. so it works for me.”
One aspect of the Opening Night Spectacular that is appealing to the queens is the opportunity to perform on a big stage as opposed to at a small club. “I got the bug so bad. The theater bug has bitten me and I have been effected,” Latrice proclaimed. “The people that are there are so focused and you know that they’re there for you. There’s no distractions, you don’t have to compete with the disco on the other side and drunk people who have fallen out and are fighting at the bar. It’s really a situation where you have everybody’s undivided attention and they’re there to get their life with you.”
Even though eleven drag queens are slated to appear, Katya was mum on any possible collaborations that may take place on stage. “They all say we’re sisters but we’re really competitors. You say colleagues and I say enemies. So I just try to do my own thing, keep my eyes on my own paper because when we show up all wanting to do the same Deborah Cox remix, it gets real violent real quick,” Katya joked, even though her good friend Trixie Mattel will also be appearing that night. “We haven’t planned on [performing together] yet, although whenever [me and Trixie] get together, magic happens. It’s kind of unavoidable at this point. We have a really good chemistry and it’s kind of effortless, [like on our YouTube show “UNHhhh”]. Sometimes when you get together with somebody you kind of have to force it, but the laughter kind of unfurls like a banner [with Trixie].”
While it’s clear that Trixie and Katya’s work together can keep both of their performances fresh, how does Latrice keep things fresh after all these years doing drag? “[I like to] try different things, expand [my] artistry and do things outside [my] comfort zone. For me, that’s what it’s all about it because I get bored doing the same old thing over and over and over again. There’s only so many club gigs you can do,” Latrice explained. “To explore different genres of music and have that be embraced by everyone, that’s really the goal for me.” Indeed, it appears that Latrice has achieved her goal, recently releasing a live album of jazz music called “Here’s To Life.” She’s been busy performing her one-woman show to promote the album to sold out venues all around the world. “My hope is that fans will put this record on in the background with a glass of wine and a nice meal with a candle and a lover,” Latrice said. “It’s very casual listening that runs the gamut from the whore house to the church house, so everybody should be able to find something they enjoy.”
Although Latrice and Katya both have a lot going for them in their careers at the moment, they are also preparing not just for the Opening Night Spectacular but for DragCon itself, both stocking up on lots of new merchandise. “I have the most incredible platter of merchandise. I spared no expense at the spread. So many t-shirts, coloring books, calendars, bric-à-brac. If you can imagine it, I’ve got it, selling it for way too much,” Katya said. “I would really implore people to come with their game faces on and their purses fully stocked with American cash. I take tips and I’m always willing to give sexual or financial advice. I’m good for both.” Latrice had a similar message for fans: “Make sure you all come out and see my booth and buy my crap, we’re trying to make some ends meet. I can’t wait to see everybody,” she said.
As Katya prepares for this year’s convention, she also reflected on her experience at DragCon last year. “Last year, DragCon was the best weekend of my life because there were like hundreds and hundreds of people queued in line to tell me that they love me and prior to that I had been operating at a very low emotional vibrational frequency. So I’m counting on that re-up on my self esteem. It’s going to be bigger and better [this year],” she said.
Latrice is also excited about the convention but hopes things go a little differently than they did last year. “DragCon was so overwhelming, I don’t know if anyone knew what to expect. I think we were all kind of just feeling our way. Hopefully we are more prepared than we were last year,” Latrice told byteclay.com. “But it was [still] amazing. Myself and Milk, I know for a fact because we were right next to each other, did not move for hours on end because all of our lines were so long. It really lets you know how loved you are and how people are such huge fans of not only the show but of you. I’m looking forward to having a repeat situation of that and maybe doing it a little bit smarter so I don’t exhaust myself. [Ultimately I was very happy with the turnout], we’re talking little tugs to walkers, all ages were there and they really embraced the culture and drag.”
Clearly the reason why Katya and Latrice had such big lines was because they are two of the most popular queens who have been on “Drag Race,” both winning the fan-picked title of Miss Congeniality in their respective seasons. So how do these fan favorites feel about the queens of “Drag Race” season eight? “I don’t root for anybody, I don’t like to. My vote is always for Michelle [Visage], I think she’s always the unsung hero of every season,” Katya said. “But besides that, I think Bob [The Drag Queen] is incredible, maybe a little too good actually. I love Bob, [she is] really an expert comedian and I feel like she’s the one to beat. I love Chi Chi [DeVayne], I love Kim [Chi]. Laila [McQueen] was great, she’s a good friend of mine. She got chopped early on in a very embarrassing way which was kind of a bummer. But she really let us down and we’ll never let her forget that. And I’ll bet you $150 [Thorgy Thor is the next Miss Congeniality].”
Latrice also revealed that she is on Team Bob. “I love Bob The Drag Queen. I’m so into Bob. Plus I got to work with him on a movie we did, ‘Cherry Pop.’ That’s going to be coming out soon hopefully,” Latrice said. “Bob is a hoot and a holler. We had such a good time together, so I’m really in his corner right now. And I love me some Chi Chi DeVayne. I love a queen who comes from nothing and makes it happen for herself, so I’m really proud of her and she has really risen to the occasion. She’s just showing people you can be something no matter where you come from.” No matter who wins though, Latrice has been very satisfied with the current season. “I’m so glad that we have had a rebirth of what ‘Drag Race’ is all about. I kind of lost my way there for a minute. I’m so into this season. I think that the girls are quite strong characters and they have experience in the art and know what they’re doing. It has more seasoned girls, it’s not just look queens. It’s a diverse cast and I’m very excited to see that it’s back the way it’s supposed to be,” she said.
Don’t miss Katya, Latrice and nine other drag queen favorites at the RuPaul’s DragCon Opening Night Spectacular. Tickets for DragCon and the Opening Night Spectacular can both be purchased here. Check out the first music video from Latrice’s album “Here’s to Life” for the title track here and Katya’s YouTube series with Trixie Mattel “UNHhhh” here.