The Queens of New York


She stands tall surrounded by a ring of confetti after twirling, kicking and death dropping her way throughout her final lip-sync of the competition. This was the moment were everything on that iridescent stage would count. Three queens stand and only one would be Americas Next Drag Superstar.

The chants and screams from the Ace Hotel Theater are echoed through out all corners of Downtown Los Angeles but it’s easy to imagine that for those three queens silence was the only sense that was absent, until one of their names would be called. However after that performance… there was no doubt she would take home the crown.

As Rupaul makes his way to the stage the crowd’s cheers begin to fade until everything but Ru’s words go silent…

Aquaria was crowned Americas Next Drag Superstar of season 10 of Rupauls Drag Race. And it was again another win for New York City.

NYC has an infamous record of being the home to many influential queens who have walked through the workroom doors, through the silver screen and the hearts of many since season 6.

Being the entertainment capital of the world, it is no wonder that the talent found within the iconic city is just as big as its population, if not bigger… and the drag scene is sure as hell bigger.

There are many reasons why New York is the birth place to such amazing queer entertainers such as drag queens. Even from the words of some of the show stopping NYC Ru-Girls themselves.

Season 10 contestant, Miss Congeniality winner and sponge queen Monet X Change, explains New York City drag to be much different than other cities. “The New York City drag scene is very different than other places I feel cause it’s a lot of one woman shows and basically you’re up on a stage by yourself for two hours so it’s much more intense and much more rigorous,” Monet said.

However, the charismatic Monet explains that intensity of being a NYC queen is inevitably worth undergoing and essentially rewarding. “I feel like it’s much more rewarding because you are involved in every aspect of the show – hosting, singing, dancing and promoting,” she said.

Season 10 contestant Dusty Ray Bottoms also recognizes the intensity aspect that entails the New York City drag scene, which in many cases can be very competitive. “There are 5,000 queens all trying to go for the same gig,” Dusty said.

The Tim Burton inspired and punk musical theater queen elaborates that, “A lot of actors move there and a lot of actors don’t make it in the fields that they want to make it in so they end up doing drag. I feel like some of those people I know that have those musical theater backgrounds really excel because they get the idea of telling a clear story, they get the idea of entertainment,” Dusty said.

Having a musical theater background herself, Dusty incorporates her theater upbringing into her drag numbers and in the process, she adds her own flare similar yet enhanced to the twisted and dark imaginations of Tim Burton.

Like Dusty, there are many queens who encompass musical theater based talents and inevitably shine, having the advantage when they decide to enter the realm of drag .

Season 9 contestant and Broadway enthusiast Alexis Michelle is another queen who  incorporates her musical theater talents into her drag. “Theater is something that most drag queens in NYC have in common,” she said.

“I think that New York attracts performers, particularly to the theater, they flock there to pursue theatrical careers and then they turn their focus toward drag,” Alexis said.

Like the city, the drag scene is rooted with a wide range of queens, each with a different identity, performance and overall stories.

Queens such as Season 9 contestant and runner-up for the crown, Peppermint, a legend in the New York City drag community is a queen who embodies the exact liveliness in which all of NYC has to offer. According to Peppermint, what separates New York queens from other queens is essentially the same reason that that separates New York City to other cities.

“New York City has a lot of what other cities have, but one thing I think is unique about New York City is that it’s in some people’s opinions, an epicenter of fashion, finance, art, theater, nightlife and music,” Peppermint said.

When you have all of those aspects combined, it essentially draws a lot of people who are talented in many of those areas. “The drag scene reflects on what NYC has to offer and it is all of those things which is pretty cool,” Peppermint said.

Having five queens this past season represent NYC on Drag Race, viewers and fans can’t help but assume that there is a reason why New York queens are chosen to compete in the Olympics of drag… And inevitably there is.

There’s an abundance of different queens from Monet to Dusty and from Alexis to Peppermint, each with different upbringings, story telling that’s embedded into their drag. What binds them aside from theater, is that they all consume: the full amount of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent of what it takes to compete on the race and go far in the competition… all of the queens above fulfilled that.

There is no city like New York City and the drag community is no exception. New York City continues to reign with the crown of America’s Next Drag Superstar – from Del Rio, The Drag Queen, Velour and now… Aquaria.