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DragCon 2017: Sashay Away

Have you ever been to a place where you can buy false eyelashes, butt padding, a wig in any shade and style you can imagine, body glitter, corsets, psychic readings, and sex toys all under one roof? No? You clearly haven’t been to RuPaul’s DragCon.

On Saturday, September 9th and Sunday, September 10th, the people of the New York put on their lashes, dusted on all the highlighter they could find, and laced up their heels to strut into the Javits Center. Inside, they found eight rows of booths selling everything that one could possibly need to both look and feel amazing. That’s the whole point of DragCon – and drag itself – to feel beautiful. As our darling mama RuPaul Charles says it best, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?!”

While Ru wasn’t in drag, everyone else sure was. Amongst the booths selling t-shirts with Katya Zamolodchikova’s face on them were meet and greet areas for the Queens themselves. The star-studded guest list had something for everyone, from Raja to Ginger Minj (featuring her boyfriend & a surprise engagement ring!) to Chad Michaels. Each Queen was beat and dressed to the nines, ready to meet & greet their fans. Getting to the Queens, however, was a challenge in and of itself. Be warned if you’re looking to attend next year’s DragCon, you. will. stand. in. line. Maybe forever.

The length of the line varied for each Queen. I zipped through Chad Michael’s line in under an hour. That sweet, Cher-loving woman embraced me and I will never be the same. However, the same was not the case for reigning Queen Sasha Velour. Her line was astronomically long for the entirety of the weekend, full of people looking to gaze into the face of heavenly beauty and take a photo with royalty. If you wanted to see any of the big names, you had to be prepared to wait. Michelle Visage’s line was so long that people got confused where it began and ended. Ru’s line wasn’t the longest – but it was the priciest. Photos with the Queens ranged anywhere from $10, a simple pin or print, to $25, a signed Michelle Visage book or tote bag, all the way up to $50 for a photo with Ru himself. Some queens graciously allowed you to just meet them for a signing, no merch purchase required. You didn’t have to pay for a photo, but you did still have to stand on line.

While the lines can get annoying, they’re there for good reason – you wait so long in line because when you get to the front, it’s not just hello, hug, photo, goodbye. Each Queen was taking to the time to ask your name, chat for a moment, take a photo, and really be with you. When I got to the front of Aja’s line, I was greeted with the biggest smile and a “Come here, sis!” She asked my name, and we chatted for a minute before she told me that I was inspiring her next day makeup look. She posed with me for a photo and gave me another hug before turning and giving my friend an equally warm welcome.

The most beautiful part of DragCon, even better than being in the same room as Detox lounging in a lucite bathtub, was the positivity. Absolutely no one was having a bad time. DragCon is a place where everyone was accepted, no matter their sexuality, gender, outward appearance, or otherwise. It was heartwarming to see so many kids and young teenagers walking around with the biggest smiles on their face accompanied by their parents. If you ever need a reminder that the human race can be purely, wholeheartedly good, watch a mother stand in line with her son to meet Alexis Michelle at a drag convention. Watch an eight year old boy in a full face and a perfectly laid wig strut a pink carpet in boots that I wish I own. It’ll melt your heart.

If you’ve never been to DragCon, get ready for a life-changing weekend. This was my first year, but certainly not my last. I’m already thinking about what I’ll wear next time, comfortable shoes included. And if you’re not a fan of Drag Race (yet), don’t worry – you have a whole calendar year to catch up! With both Season 10 and All-Stars 3 set to air before the next convention, the guest list for next year is guaranteed to be sickening. I’m hoping for an appearance by my personal Drag Mother, the Queen of Snakes herself, Alaska. Who knows, maybe Mimi Imfurst will actually show up in drag next year.


Jacquelyn Kozak is a junior at Fordham University studying English and Visual Arts. She enjoys long walks through the zoo and looking at viral videos of dogs, and is allergic to her own cats.
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