While the art of drag is under attack in some parts of the country, a group took to Portland, Ore., to show the beauty, humor, and importance of the art back before the International Drag Day back on July 16.
The city hosted the world’s longest continuous drag performance July 10-12, clocking in at 48 hours, 11 minutes, and 30 seconds. Drag-a-Thon was held from Monday to Wednesday at the famed Darcelle XV Showplace nightclub, and it was certified as the longest by Guinness World Records. The previous record was 36 hours, 36 minutes, and 40 seconds, set six years ago in Melbourne, Australia.
The show featured performances from more than 120 queens, kings, and emcees, with hundreds of songs and set changes. Participants included such famous performers as Peppermint, Eureka O'Hara, and Lala Ri. The event raised over $300,000 for the Trevor Project, which assists LGBTQ+ youth in crisis, including $50,000 donated by the production company Wildfang.
“This event has been a historic testament to the power of self-expression,” Emma McIlroy, founder and CEO of Wildfang as well as the producer of Drag-a-Thon, said in a press release after the show. “I’ve produced a lot of shows over my career, but nothing like Drag-a-Thon. We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Portland community — there’s no other city in the world where we could have pulled this off.”
The nightclub’s founder, drag queen Darcelle XV (offstage, Walter W. Cole Sr.), died in March at age 92 but had already approved the Drag-a-Thon. Darcelle XV was recognized by Guinness World Records in 2016 as the world’s oldest drag performer, and the club is the longest-running drag club west of the Mississippi. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now run by Cole’s son, Walter W. Cole Jr. The Portland City Council recently announced plans to rename a public square for Darcelle XV.
Check out these incredible shots from the historic show. (All photos by Holly Andres.)