For 8 seasons, RuPaul’s Drag Race has produced some of the best characters, the wildest moments and the most over-the-top antics to ever bless our TV screens. Competition TV seems like it was custom made for the all the laughs and drama produced every week on the long running reality show. The thing about these fabulous characters is that their hair might be fake but they are the real deal. Once the winner is crowned and the cameras stop rolling, these queens hit the road to perform for their fans across the world.
For the 10th anniversary of Montreal Pride, a gaggle of queens, most of which will appear later this month in All Stars 2, packed their wigs, gowns and lashed and crossed the border to serve us the realness we deserve. Last Thursday they stomped the stage to a massive crowd who had gathered to gag on their eleganza. We were front and centre to capture the queens in all their glory and we even got to drop backstage and meet with a few of them. Here’s a look at the performances of the night. Each queen proved her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent from start to finish.
Live from the TD Musique stage in Place Émilie-Gamelin, local reigning drag icon, Mado co-hosted the event with season 8 winner, Bob The Drag Queen. The gloves came off early as back and forth banter lead to friendly jabs directed at contestants from past seasons of the highly popular TV show. Mado was more subdued that normal but she wasn’t outshone by her co-star. Mado’s looks were all as extravagant as you would expect while Bob The Drag Queen was dripping in glamour and walked the stage purse first.
Alyssa Edwards was the the first performer of the night. One of season 5’s most popular queens, she lit the stage on fire as she danced to a stripped down version of Sia’s Chandelier. A professionally trained dancer, Alyssa looked lovely as she moved across the stage elegantly, owning her stage and setting the mood for the night.
One of season 7’s strongest contestants and a top 3 finalist was Ginger Minj. A talented performer, she has one of the most powerful singing voices of any queen to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race (proof of that right here). She burst onto the stage doing a side-splitting mix of Adele’s Hello, Lionel Richie’s Hello and Drake’s Hotline Bling. The routine garnered howls from the audience which was one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen in an open space in Montreal.
Phi Phi O’Hara polarized fans across the spectrum during her time on Drag Race. She may not have been the most loved but she was certainly one of the most determined. The second season runner up was second to hit the stage and showed us that there’s nothing tired ass about the show queen. She rocked out, danced and fell into a split while singing live. She excitedly addressed the crowd and we replied in warm ovation.
Manila Luzon followed next, singing live with her latest single, Ovahness. One of the series most outrageous queens, she may have been the runner up on season 2 but she’s been winning ever since. Manila has released a splattering of singles since her time on Drag Race, participated in the first season of All Stars and turned it out on stage during her performance at Montreal Pride.
Jujubee was one of the highlights of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her quick wit, cutting reads and love of fried chicken had her standing out in the crowd. She kept her performance at Pride quick and and to the point on the TD stage. After her performance and a few quick words to her fans, she left the stage and left us wanting more.
Very few of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants have fan followings like Alaska. When she hit the stage after a rousing intro the crowd went wild. She started quietly with a shy rendition of RuPaul’s Responsitranity before exploding into one of her most popular singles, Anus. At the show she was all treasure and with her smart yet sly sense of humour she reigns queen of her world and her fans.
The next performance was one of the best of the night. In a very short time Katya has shot to the top of Drag Race’s most popular performers. She is easily one of the funniest and definitely one of the most enjoyable queens to ever enter RuPaul’s work room. She stood out on season 7 and would go on to win the season’s Miss Congeniality award. Her set started with the Twin Peaks theme song which led to her coming out dressed as the Log Lady from the series. She eventually lost the granny get-up and did a spectacular lip-sync to Knock On Wood. Katya will be gunning for the crown once again when All Stars 2 airs later this month.
Thorgy Thor has something very special and very unique. Her performances are visually captivating, they are acrobatic and timeless. She dazzled us with a jazzy spectacle that had her jumping on speakers, dancing wildly and appearing to really enjoy her time on stage. One of the season 8 contestants, Thorgy was the one of the most determined to win. Her spirit was as infectious on stage as it was during the 8th season of the show. She likes to ham it up, she paints for the back row and puts on a show that will be remembered because she is a true entertainer.
It goes without saying that Sharon Needles know how to work a crowd. The season 4 winner sauntered onto the stage looking fantastic and billowing like wisps of sultry smoke. The spookiest queen to snatch the title of Drag Superstar, she performed an original song for the crowd and had us all roaring for more. Her Snatch Game portrayal of Michelle Visage is still one of the best moments of the series.
The show kept going for another hour with stellar performances from Miss Fame, Violet Chachki and a fantastic return to the stage from both Ginger Minj, Manila Luzon, Katya and Thorgy Thor. The fun kept going right to the end where after the show we went back stage to hang with the queens before they were whisked away to their hotel.
We had a quick chat with Alaska about what it was like to tour as a drag queen. She said that it was an exhilarating experience but that there are times when they are treated worse than dogs. It’s unfortunate that performers of this calibre are still undermined and under valued. They did receive one of their warmest welcomes here in Montreal which should make us all very proud. We also had a visit with bubbly Manila Luzon and came face to face with Thorgy who is a wonderful and thoughtful human being. She told us that she was happy to be with us, celebrating Pride in Montreal. Sharon Needles, Miss Fame and Violet were among the other queens we got to meet backstage.
Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race were not disappointed by the spectacle that these hardworking performers put together for us. These people sing, they dance, they make us laugh and the energy that comes from their following feeds them life and keeps them giving us more. Fans can catch All Stars season 2 when it debuts on August 25th on Out TV here in Canada and on iTunes the day after.
Image credit: David Major-Lapierre (instagram: @davidmajorlapierre)