Queuing to meet drag royalty, Alaska, from Season Five of RuPaul’s Drag Race and winner of All Stars Two, I couldn’t help but marvel at the effect the show has had. You would expect the line to be filled with gay men but no, it is at least 80% girls. The range from teens to early twenties and they are excited, they are very excited. Some are in replica Alaska looks, many have gifts for their hero and all of them are chattering about the last time they met her, the next Drag Race stars they are going to meet and what they mean to them. It’s really uplifting stuff to be honest.
The appeal of modern drag stretches across the generations, I was talking to a fantastic mother and daughter combo who are superfans of the queens of RuPaul and were off to Birmingham the next night to see Ben Dela Crème.
Back in the day drag queens stayed on the gay scene and were let out once a year for Pride where the rest of the world could marvel and say “they have better legs than me” or “you’d never tell it was a man” but the small show from across the Atlantic has blown this out of the water. If you’re new to this phenomenon, read my break down of all things drag race.
But back to business. Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 was once the enfant terrible of the drag race world, she made her presence known wherever she went and could sometimes be a little acidic. Watching her interact with her loyal fanbase and we see a much more natural and relaxed Alaska. One girl totally clammed up when she got to speak to her and Alaska was kind, coaxing her to get the most out of the experience. I will admit, I did dry up a little bit when it was my turn for a photo but thankfully it came good in the end as the interviewer in me kicked in.
The show was an Evening with Alaska, and what an evening it was. The first half gave UK queens the chance to take the stage but the second half was reserved for Alaska and her collaborator, Jeremy Mikush. Some queens from Drag Race have gone on to enjoy massively successful careers but tend to stay in their lane, Bianca Del Rio came as a stand-up comedian and she remains one, Adore Delano and Courtney Act were known singers and remain so whereas others are still lip syncing for their lives. I’m not putting any of these down but what is fascinating about Alaska is she is fast becoming the break out star that can do everything. She has two solo albums under her belt as well as one with the AAA Girls and a ton of collaborations. She is starting to act with a role in…..erm…..Sharknado 6. As for comedy, she has always been hilarious but this is now starting to be refined into an entertainment act rather than just for fun.
All of these skills were present in bucketloads as she took to the stage amid hysterical screams worthy of a Little Mix concert. She dipped into her back catalogue repeatedly and the crowd sang along with absolute gusto. In between songs, she had us in stitches, my face was actually aching. She even dealt with wardrobe malfunctions with grace. Some more obscure songs were requested such as the poignant Killer and Diamond in the Rough. This was fascinating to me and seemingly Alaska who was clearly delighted songs which show off her writing talents were being favoured over crowd pleasers like Come To Brazil or Valentina.
However Alaska wouldn’t be Alaska without her usual brand of honesty and she wasn’t shy in giving her opinions in the Q&A session, yes she agrees that Shangela should have won All Stars 3 and, shock horror, she stole her catchphrase “Hiiiiii” from some UK queens.
She ended the show with a peek into her next venture, a trippy musical project with Jeremy called Amethyst Journey. This is a massive departure from the usual electro dance tracks from the stable of drag race to a more folk based reflection on the state of the world. It’s a risky move but when they launched into lead single, Aliens, the crowd loved it.
It was a truly brilliant evening with Ms Thunderfuck and a humbling experience to see how the drag racers are giving girls a safe place to have fun, dress up and understand that everyone is different and who cares? Long may these queens reign.