Get Ready for Hallo-Queen Weekend

Night of the Living Drag and Madame Tussaud’s Halloween

New York City is the place to be this Halloween weekend, especially if you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Party promoter Brandon Voss has planned a two-night extravaganza featuring a dozen of the show's stars.

On Friday, Drag Race vets Shangela and Willam host the fourth annual Night of the Living Drag at Liberty Theater. Set in a post-apocalyptic New York City where only drag queens have survived, the event also features Alyssa Edwards, Gia Gunn, Jujubee, Katya, Latrice Royale, Jinkx Monsoon, Laganja Estranja, Raja, and reigning queen Violet Chachki. The night's DJ? Legendary New York nightlife personality Lady Bunny.

On Saturday, the thrills continue as Drag Race season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio heads to the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum to host an epic dance and costume party that takes place on all nine floors of the building.

In anticipation of the spooky shenanigans, The Advocate talked to six of the queens about their favorite Halloween memories and what they plan to do onstage this weekend.

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Violet Chachki, season 7 winner:

The Advocate: Is Halloween special for you?
Chachki: I've always loved Halloween. It's always fun to be something you’re not. And I also love candy. As a child, even when it wasn't Halloween, I would be digging in the Halloween box [filled with costumes]. 

Any childhood drag on Halloween?
I was Batman one year and I got to wear my mom's panties and it was the weirdest thing. It was great. That’s a vivid memory.

Best costume from your childhood?
There is a picture of me on the staircase of my parents' house and I’m dressed up like a bumblebee and I look really happy. And there is a picture of my sister wearing the exact same costume a couple years before. So it was a hand-me-down bumble costume. My grandma used to sew a lot so she might have made it. I was a jester one year too. I've always loved clowns.

Any neighborhood pranks as a kid on Halloween?
I think my house was always the one getting toilet-papered! [Laughs]

What kind of candy were you all about?
Reeses, but the miniature kind you got on Halloween, the ones that are wrapped in tinfoil. For some reason the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter is just better in that size. I remember dumping out our bags of candy and we would sort them all by the type of candy and then trade. It would be like, "I’ll give you three Smarties for one Reese's." There was a whole hierarchy of candy. And there was always that house that gave you, like, homemade cornballs, and your mom would be like, "No, sweetie. You’re not going to eat that."

Friday's event has a post-apocalyptic theme. Would drag queens really survive an apocalypse?
Yes. It would be like Mad Max but more fashionable, and I'd be the lone star. I'd be the lonely one. Drag queens like to work together, but drag is not a team sport for me. It's a solo gig. 

So you’d be, like, siphoning gas from cars but looking fabulous?
Yes! There'd be a wind machine. [Laughs] Or it would just be really windy, I guess.

What will you do at the show?
[Shares her plans on the condition it won't be published ahead of the show] No, really I'm just going to show up in a pinup jack-o'-lantern costume and call it a day. [Laughs] You can put that in. Usually I do my Buffalo Bill (from The Silence of the Lambs) routine. That's been my go-to Halloween routine for the past three years. I have my nipple pierced and I was going to get the same tattoo to be really authentic. I have this great kimono I wear. I literally tuck my d--- onstage and dance around. I have a little ceramic dog I carry with me. It's pretty epic.

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Katya, season 7 

Is Halloween special for you?
Katya: Halloween is less special since I've been doing drag. The magic of dressing up becomes diluted over all the other days of the year. But I do love scary shit. I love haunted houses. I remember I went to Salem one year, in the middle of the day, like 1 p.m. It was really sunny out and we went into this haunted house. It was so scary, I almost shit my pants several times. So I still like that part of it. I like witches and vampires and all that shit. I don't like, "I'm going to be a sexy gas station attendant."

Memorable childhood costumes?
I always went kind of classic — vampires and zombies. Classic and scary. I’m not a big fan of witty or topical costumes. I remember there was a party I went to a few years ago and every group of guys was the Chilean miners. But actually, I have a fetish. It's really simple, but it's really strong. One of the things that turns me on so much is like frat boys in bad Dracula costumes.

That’s a very specific type! Is that on your Grindr profile?
Yeah — "Looking for dumb meathead in a particularly bad Dracula outfit." Like, really bad makeup and really cheap fake blood and plastic fangs and a shitty cape. I just love that. It’s so sexy to me.

Any neighborhood pranks as a kid?
No, but I had my own haunted houses. I did them with my little sister and my neighborhood friends in my parents' basement. That was really fun. But no, I never got into trouble. I was really shy.

What kind of candy?
Everything? I was really intrigued by the urban legend about, you know, that one house in the neighborhood that's going to try to serve you caramel apples filled with razor blades. Never happened, unfortunately.

Costume ideas this year.
I think I’m actually going to be the Log Lady from Twin Peaks for my nonperforming costumes.

Post-apocalyptic drag queens? Would all you really survive?
No way. We’d be the first ones to go. [Laughs]. Especially the Drag Race girls because we’re all so tired. We’re so worn down. As soon as the apocalypse came, we’d be like [quickly]. All right, wrap it up. It's time to go.

What will your performance be like on Friday?
It's kind of hard to describe. It's like, it's like — It's sort of like a dark Renaissance rhythmic gymnastic routine. It's, um, it's like ...

Are you just making this up off the top of your head?
No, I'm not! I'm not at all! I've been really obsessed with this band called Sopor Aeternus, which is just like Dark Wave baroque music. It's super dramatic and melancholy and dark. The lead singer looks like a horror movie character, kind of. So I'm going to go dressed like her and put a little bit of me into it. It's not all worked out at the moment, but it's going to be like if Germany’s Black Forest had a rhythmic gymnastics routine in the 1600s. That's the thing I’m going for. [Pause] Crowd pleaser!

 

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Jinkx Monsoon, season 5 winner

Is Halloween special for you?
Monsoon: I love Halloween. As a kid it was just my favorite time of the year. My mom and I would always get really creative about how to make my costume because I always came up with really complex things that I wanted to be. 

Give us an example.
When I wanted to be a centaur, we bought a horse costume and found a way to rig up the back to look like I had a half a horse body. Then one year I wanted to be a witch and my mom made me a super effeminate wizard instead. I must have been about 8 or 9 and she was like, "If you go to school dressed as a witch, kids might be mean to you, but I can make you look enough like a wizard that they’ll think you’re a wizard, but you can believe you’re a witch."

Absolute favorite costume ever?
My absolute favorite costume ever. Hmm. It was three years ago, right before I was announced on Drag Race. We wanted to do a play on girls dressing up as sexy little animals so I made a really sexy skunk outfit. I feel pretty good about that one. [Laughs]

Any costumes that bombed?
My Aladdin costume as a kid was pretty stupid. My mom made the costume really well. But I was too insecure to go out with my shirt off, so I wore a white turtleneck under the purple vest. I didn’t look so much like Aladdin but like a weird butler instead.

Any Halloween high jinks? Neighborhood pranks?
No, I was such a goody-two-shoes kid, like all the way through high school. We’re talking straight-A student, never did anything to piss off the teachers. The kid who would stay behind class because he liked talking to the teachers about what we learned today. In high school I became a little punk rocker, so I did mischievous things, but never on Halloween. 

What kind of candy were you living for as a kid?
It was always about Twix for me as a kid. Twix and Twizzlers. Me and my brother had very different tastes when it came to candy, so we would swap some, but I always found ways to trick him into giving me everything I wanted.

Costume this year?
I used to put a lot of time into designing my costume, but nowadays since I have so much in my drag collection, I kind of just wait until I’m going to a party and figure out a costume with what I’ve got. 

You can just whip up a Little Edie costume. 
Little Edie is fun because I never have to find a wig for it.

Would drag queens really survive an apocalypse?
I’ve often joked about making a zombie film where a zombie outbreak happens — or some radiation gas leak happens — and a bunch of drag queens doing a drag show and something about the radiation gas causes their drag to fuse to their skin and they can’t take off their makeup and their make up just becomes permanent. So it’s a bunch of drag queens who get stuck in drag during a zombie apocalypse and they get bit and turn into drag queen zombies. I thought that would be amazing.

What will your performance be like at Friday's show?
Mine’s kind of weird. It’s kind of conceptual. It’s like, what would arise from my drag queen corpse after the apocalypse. [Laughs] I’m doing a throwback to the 1960s psychedelic love rock era. Don’t think cockroaches. But think, what else would outlive the apocalypse — and that’s basically my costume.

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Latrice Royale, season 4

Is Halloween special for you?
Royale: That’s how Latrice made her debut. That's what got me into all this bullshit! [Laughs]. It was about 22 years ago. It was a dare. I knew nothing about drag and I had no interest in it. Back then, In Living Color was on TV. Remember Jamie Foxx's character Wanda? I was Wanda for Halloween.

Did you like how it felt?
I loved it! It was too much fun and I was the life of the party.

Any memorable Halloween costumes from your childhood?
We was broke and po' in Compton, child. I’m from the hood! So it was limited, you know? I was a ghost. [Laughs] It was a sheet with some eyes cut out the head. That was it. [Laughs]

Not a lot of hayrides and autumn celebrations in Compton?
No, ma'am. No pumpkin patches, none of that. [Laughs]

Any Halloween mischief as a child? Any pranks in the neighborhood?
No, because you might get shot! [Laughs]

What candy did you love to get?
Gotta be Sugar Babies. They had Sugar Daddies, Sugar Mamas, and Sugar Babies. I loved all of them.

Would drag queens really survive an apocalypse?
We can survive anything. We're revolutionaries in this world. If we can sustain 10- and 12-hour days in pumps, we can survive a little apoca-locka-locka.

What will your performance be like at the show?
That's a good question. [Laughs] You know what I really like? My aesthetic for Halloween is like, over-the-top. Last year I wore all gold and mirrors and I danced to an opera song. I like to go very ethereal and mystical. It will be creative. I never know what I’m going to do until right when I'm going to do it. Then it all comes together.

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Raja, season 3 winner

Is Halloween special for you?
Raja: That's a tough one. There's a part of me that still has that nostalgia for Halloween and I want to hang on to that, sort of like Christmas. But then I worked in retail, so now I hate Christmas. [Laughs] And I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween too. I’m normally quite excited about it, but then I'm also eye-rolling at the amateurs. And that's what I call it — amateur night. Most of us call it that, actually. But I still love it. For me, anyway, it makes me step it up a little bit. Like, "It’s Halloween. You better do it right." It's our holiday.

What kind of costumes do you go for?
This year I knew it was going to be a challenge because I had so many other amazing Drag Race girls to work with. I knew I couldn't be the jerk who didn't do it right. So I put in some effort because it's a special event. I decided to do a Venus Flytrap look. It took me some time. But the event gave me incentive.

Memorable costumes from childhood?
Well, I started celebrating at age 9 because I lived in Indonesia for most of my formative childhood years. My first experience with Halloween was when I came to the U.S., to Southern California. I remember being really excited and my mom got me my first costume, which was Garfield the cat. It was just plastic and it came with a plastic mask. I remember being really excited about this costume. I wore it to school. I was so stoked about it. But Halloween was what got me into drag because the following year I wanted to dress up like a girl. I wanted to wear a girls’ swimsuit. I drew pictures of it! And I wanted to wear long hair.

Did you do it?
No! My parents would never allow it. My dad was in the seminary at the time. He’s a minister and he has this little son who wants to dress up like a girl for Halloween. [Laughs]

Neighborhood pranks?
No, I was a very good kid. And I respected Halloween. I respected the fact that it was the time of the year when everybody dressed up. I wasn’t thinking of pranks. I wasn’t even thinking of candy. Trick-or-treating was not as exciting as putting on the costume itself. And I grew up in the hood. So trick or treating was kind of scary. [Laughs]

What will your performance be like on Friday?
I feel like any time I'm in these environments with other Drag Race girls, I have a need to set myself apart. I've never been one of those performers who relied on choreography and dancing, so all I really have is my presence. For me that's the best part of being onstage — just being Raja. 

Could drag queens really survive an apocalypse?
I think most of us are pretty resilient. It's the toughest that survive, obviously. But how would you get 301 eyelashes in an apocalypse? 

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Shangela, seasons 2 & 3

Is Halloween special for you?
Shangela: I always loved Halloween when I was a little kid growing up in Paris, Texas, because I could get wild and crazy with costumes. The little drag queen in me was always coming out. 

Did you dress in drag on Halloween?
Yes. One year I was Sheneneh Jenkins from the show Martin. One year I was Tina Turner. My mom helped make my costume. I loved it. For the Sheneneh Jenkins costume, I used black yarn for my hair. It was one of my favorite costumes ever. But one year recently I was Storm from the X-Men, and you know I think I’m Jada Pinkett-slash-Halle Berry anyway, so it was fantastic. 

So the drag calling came early for you.
Yes! Plus I got free candy! And I love free things.

Any costumes that ended up being a disaster?
Any costume that ended up being a disaster was always on RuPaul’s Drag Race. [Laughs

Any neighborhood mischief? Did you toilet-paper any houses?
I never toilet-papered any houses. My grandma always taught me toilet paper is for the bathroom. 

What candy was the best to get?
I definitely loved the little mini-Twixes. I could eat 20 of those in one sitting. But then I had to have every tooth I own filled. Of course, there were always the dollar bills. In our neighborhood, there was always that one lazy house that didn't make it to candy store in time. They would just give the kids dollar bills. I loved that house. 

Would drag queens really survive an apocalypse?
Of course! First of all, honey, we always have an emergency kit not too far away. Also, we’re entertainers. At the end of the day, the only thing the monsters are going to want is to be entertained. So if I have to jump out of a box to entertain a zombie for the rest of my life, I will.

You and Willam are hosting the show on Friday. Any plans you can share?
Willam and I are very excited to be cohosting together. New York City brings out all the tricks and the shenanigans for these shows. I’ll be doing an opening number and that will be full of surprises.

Tickets for Night of the Living Drag and Madame Tussaud’s Halloween are available at VossEvents.com. For information and VIP access, call (212) 481-6303.

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