Part I: Getting the ticket
It all started a few weeks ago, when the Facebook algorithms thought it would be of my interest to know that “Rupaul’s Drag Race Battle of The Seasons” was coming to Barcelona. It is my believe that personalized publicity doesn’t work as well as digital marketers with their bullet points presentations think they do (I’ve been offered one to many virginal Chinese brides), but this time they were correct. The Ru girls were coming to Barcelona. I couldn’t believe it. Sure, Adore had come in September, but never in my right mind I would’ve thought that THE Battle of the Seasons would come here.
There were three types of tickets, nosebleed section, pista (dance floor?) and then pista + Meet and Greet. As tempting as it was to buy the Meet and Greet ticket, it would’ve hurt my wallet. I meditated on it for a little bit and then, when I sadly decided to buy the “Regular” ticket (partly because of the money and partly because I didn’t want to be that fan) I noticed that the “Meet & Greet” entrances were sold out, so I was relieved (kind off).
The acquisition of my pista ticket was followed by a frantic call to the people I know who like the show and live in Barcelona (all two of them). Unfortunately, for different reasons, they couldn’t make it. I didn’t worry, I had time. I would find someone to go with.
Disclaimer: Whenever I quote someone (even myself) I’m paraphrasing. I was so excited during those two days that I was practically high and might have even imagined complete conversations in my head.
Disclaimer 2: My pictures are shit :D
Part II: Pre Party
Well, I was wrong. Two months went by, and I still hadn’t found someone to go with. The evening before the show I was getting ready for a night in when I decided to check on my Twitter, just to see if the queens had said anything about arriving in Barcelona. Michelle Visage had asked for the direction of a vegan restaurant, but that was about it – UNTIL I noticed a retweet from the official account of The Battle of the Seasons’ tour @RupaulBOTS
So many questions.
Did this party have an entry fee? Did you have to be on a list? Were the queens really going to be there? And if they were, would they be on a VIP section or mingling among the guests? Would we be able to get to them? Would they be in our out of drag?
I freaked out.
Partly at the possibility of seeing them up-close, and partly because if I went I would be to renouncing to a quiet evening by myself watching porn playing The Sims 4. I snapped out of it and quickly texted Rash, one of my fellow drag race friends (half of them), and asked him if he would like to join me. He said yes and after a quick shower we found ourselves in front of the Axel Hotel at the corner of Aribau with Consell de Cent.
To my surprise, there was no cover to be paid, nobody asked us if we were on the list, no hordes of crazy queens, nada. We just went right up to the terrace. I had only been to the terrace of the Axel Hotel once before, it’s got an amazing view of the city. A great place to hang out.
The first queen we spotted was Jinkx Monsoon, actually it was Rash who recognized her. We were sitting and she was walking around, right in front of us. Just like any other person. In fact, I had quickly glanced at her before, but just thought she was some random woman (surprisingly, there were some people who knew nothing about Rupaul’s Drag Race at the terrace). We fidgeted for a little before finally deciding to go for it and talk to her. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to, so I just blurted out:
“Hi. Sorry to bother you. I have nothing original or witty to say, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m a big fan. I love you and you’re such an inspiration.”
She was so gracious. Jinkx thanked me and than asked for my name. I replied and then went on to introduce Rash. I asked her if she had seen anything of Barcelona. She said that no, and went on to explain that she had spent the entire day in her room because they had arrived very late the day before and were exhausted. But she added, with a tired smile, that it had all been worth it.
I then, of course, asked Jinkx if we could take a picture with her to which she kindly agreed.
To wrap things up she asked us if we would go to the show the next day and went on to say that the last one was always the one to see. And like in the same airy way in which she arrived, she went on and I was left with a sense of awe.
I tried to force my way into the conversation my friend was having with another person, but I couldn’t concentrate. My knees were shaking so hard I could barely stand.
There was something about Jinkx, something about that encounter, in that moment, that I can’t quite put into words, but I’m going to try. She didn’t seem human in the best sense possible, her pale skin mixed with the chilly air and the calm way in which she talked made her seem more like a spirit than a person. An evolved spirit from another dimension. A fairy godmother of sorts.
The next queen we spotted was Ivy Winters. She was dressed fabulously in a hairy furry jacket, leather? leggings and sandals. She had already been surrounded by a group of Drag Race enthusiasts so I couldn’t cut in. After that, there were a couple of moments when I could’ve gone for it. Just approach her, but it never quite seemed like the right time. Maybe I was still shaken after talking to Jinkx, maybe I wasn’t brave enough. Anyhow she then later went into the VIP area and didn’t come back out again.
The rest of the queens almost appeared instantly; Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck (or is it 5000 now?) and Pandora Boxx all went straight to the VIP section and barely engaged with us “commoners”. Both Alaska and Pandora stood very close to me for a brief moment (I think they went out to get drinks), but they both had a don’t-come-near me vibe to them. I don’t know what was going through their heads – All I know is that it didn’t seem like the right time to approach them.
Courtney Act was the last queen to show up that night. She was very nice and charismatic from the get go. As soon as she was done with an interview, she approached the fans that were standing right where the VIP area began. A “Behind the velvet rope” type of situation, if you will. Realizing that I would never get across the group of raving fangays, I took advantage of my long arms and raised them up to take a picture. I wasn’t looking. I could’ve taken a picture of the floor for all I knew. To my surprise when I checked out the result, she was waving at me!
After talking to the fans behind “the velvet rope” Courtney got out of the VIP area and started greeting everyone near by. Group by group, she went talking to people and taking pictures with them. She eventually reached us…
“Hi. I’m the one who took that awkward picture from above.” Was the first thing that left my mouth.
“Do you want a better one?” she asked.
“Yes!” And then I shit my pants a little bit.
The three of us posed for a selfie. It was a FAIL. I have a Windows Phone. While the phone in general is not bad, the camera is HORRIBLE. It’s the worst. After this weekend I made a note to myself to start saving for a better phone and pronto. Anyway, as I tried to check my selfie, I bumped my arm against Courtney’s head! Only to realize that I hadn’t taken the picture *sad panda*. Luckily, Rash came to the rescue. He pulled out his iPhone and took a proper selfie. Charmingly, the Australian drag queen wished us a good time and went on to talk to other people.
To my disappointment, Michelle Visage never showed up. All I kept thinking was “I need to tell her how much I love her podcast!” As the evening went on, it became clear that there was little more that we could do. (That’s the official version – the real reason is that the beers were too expensive). As much as I love the show and the queens, waiting around for an opportunity to approach them can be tiring. After Ivy left, so did we. As we were leaving Sharon was talking to a group of people near the elevator. For a moment, I crossed paths with her and we looked at each other. Sure it was for like half of a second, but we had “our moment”.
I barely slept that night.
Part III: Meet and Greet
Day of the show. The Meet and Greet was at 7, the doors opened at 8 and the show was scheduled to start at 9. I got there around 7.15 and I found myself with two lines in front of the Sala Apolo. One had very few people – the other no people, at all. The security guard lets me know which one is my line (the one with the very few people) and informs me that they’re allowing to upgrade the regular ticket to Meet and Greet by paying the difference.
Immediately, I said no. I was fine. I would wait. I had already spent more than enough money as it was. Why would I spend more? Besides I had already seen them up close the day before… but they weren’t in drag…
All of a sudden, it was like a Ping Pong match inside my head. I had just the exact 10 Euros I would need to upgrade the ticket sitting in my wallet – the gut feeling that I would regret it if I didn’t do it started to sink in. Fuck it! I paid the difference and went in.
I had never been in a Meet and Greet scenario before and I found it very strange. I didn’t want to take too much of their time (because there are other forty bitches waiting to stab you if you did), but then I didn’t want it to be too quick either, because well, I paid good money for it. There was also the thinking of what I wanted to say to each of them, because they all wake up something different inside of me so I couldn’t tell them all the same thing. Even if I struggled with the words, I wanted to say something that was heartfelt because I don’t think it must be fun for them to stand there like a cardboard figure whole everyone takes picture after picture without even a “hi”. I swear, there were people who did that. They stood next to a mother-fucking Rupaul’s Drag Race queen, took a picture and then went, without even saying a word – seriously.
The dance floor of the Apolo had been completely cleared out to hold the event. The fisrt thing I noticed when I walked in were three important groups of fans waiting their turn to take a picture with Alaska, Ivy and Michelle. There were A LOT of people waiting to greet Alaska, but, surprisingly, even more people waiting to meet Michelle. Which I totally understand, I mean, she’s fabulous, but it still surprised me.
An eager crowd of at least 20 surrounded the RPDR judge, and she was cool as an ice cube people – I don’t know how this people do it, honestly, I’d be having a panic attack. She did ask (once) for people to stand back, but it was done in a very respectful way.
Still bothered by he fact that she didn’t go to the party, I decided to see her first. It didn’t take me nearly as long to as I had thought to get to Michelle. When I finally did, the first thing I blurted out was…
“We missed you at the party last night!”
“Sorry. I didn’t go,” she replied. “I had a headache.”
“I love your podcast, by the way.”
“Oh, thank you.”
She then went on to say that she had been listening to the latest episode with Wendi McLendon-Covey and that she still couldn’t pronounce her name. I added that it was probably one of the funniest episodes they had ever done and that I laughed out loud the first time I heard it. I then asked someone else to take a picture of Michelle and I. She worried that it didn’t have a flash. This woman, Rupaul’s right hand, was willing to wait for me to turn on my flash and take another picture! That’s when, to my mortification, I had to explain to Michelle Visage, of all people, that my phone is shit and that it doesn’t have a flash.
I left Michelle and headed towards Ivy. She was looking gorgeous in a reddish / brunette wig and a cute outfit that was composed of a corset and a cigarette skirt in a peachy / salmon colour – or at least I guessed as much, it was really hard to tell because it was very dark. I asked her if she had made it herself, which of course, she had and also admitted that it was very tight.
After Ivy, I made my way to Alaska (I could make a joke here, but it’s too obvious). She was looking FIERCE. Her makeup was everything. From head to toe, the outfit was impeccable and let me just say that Alaska, in and out of drag, is a very sensual being. Like she exudes sexuality, which is something I never would’ve guessed from watching the show. It’s a vibe that I got only by standing near her.
Pandora Boxx was the next queen on my list. This is when I got really nervous because, well, Pandora is and always has been one of my favourites. I don’t have a rank, but if I had to pick just 5, she would be in that group. You cannot tell in the picture (because, again, it’s shit), but she was looking gorgeous in a red sort of “Día de los muertos” themed corset and a big blonde wig. I stumbled with my camera, again. I was really envious of iPhone owners at this point – whipping their phones out as if they were fucking Iron Man and taking those amazing pictures while I was struggling to turn mine on.
Anyway, I finally got my act together and asked someone to take the picture for me, only to lose it again. After the shot, I thanked Pandora. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it went something like this….
“Thank you for being so brave and putting your story out there. I know it may not seem like much, but it helps -”
And that’s when it happened, I choked up. If I had said one more word, I would’ve started bawling my eyes out right then and there. Here’s the thing (or should I say the Tee?), during her season, Pandora admitted to trying to kill herself when she was a teenager because she couldn’t quite deal with the fact that she was gay. On top of that, Pandora receives a lot of hate on social media and I don’t know why. Sure, people who are in the public eye will always be the targets of shady comments, but she seems to get more than the other queens – or at least she talks more about it than others. So, basically, all of this makes me connect with her in a weird way. I am aware that it all may be the gimmick of a reality show, but the connection is still there.
Well, all of that combined with a couple of anxiety filled weeks in my personal life created an emotional bomb that exploded right then and there. And that’s when the magical thing happened. I had only one hug that entire day and it was from Pandora Boxx.
By that time, Jinkx, Sharon and Courtney had come out as well. There wasn’t going to be enough time for me to meet all of them so I went to the one who I hadn’t taken a picture with yet. The Queen of Halloween herself.
She was, literally, cornered by crazy fans. People, were pushing and hitting elbows on ribs. After my break through (down) moment with Pandora, I was relaxed. I would wait. If I got a picture with Sharon then it would be great, if not then great as well. As I imagined, there wasn’t enough time and before I knew it, a beautiful bitchy elfish-looking type of guy with an earpiece whisked Sharon Needles away. Seriously, the crew guy looked like fucking Arwen in Alexander Wang.
Part IV: The Show
It started a little late, but just enough, around 9:15. Visage opened the show singing! I knew that she was vocally trained, but I still didn’t expect it, she blew me away! After the song, she introduced the show with a short and sweet monologue. The woman knows how to handle a crowd, from the get go, she had us at the palm of her hand. The stand out moment was when she told everyone that if they ever saw her picture in Scruff and Grindr that it was really her and that she didn’t want to see pictures of people in drag, she wanted to see dick pics.
“Quiero ver vuestras pollas,” she went on to say in Spanish. And of course, the crowd went wild.
Alaska kicked off the show with her own version of Witney Houston’s I have nothing and her song Your Make up is terrible. She’s got a lot of energy and that sensual vibe I sensed before, she brings to the stage.
Ivy went right afterwards with an impressive number that involved quick changes and juggling. She had about 12 dresses in three minutes, or less, I’m not kidding. As Michelle said way back during Season 5, she is incredibly talented.
Jinkx Monsoon (the spirit) went up next. She performed a heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of Radiohead’s Creep. The number gave me a newfound respect for both the song and the queen.
Courtney Act was up next. She sang two songs in her usual cutesy, skimpy outfits.
Following her was THE Sharon Needles. Oh my god. Now I understand why she won season 4, she was always my favourite from that season, but seeing her live, wow, just wow, it doesn’t compare. She COMMANDS your attention when she’s under the spotlight. Sharon Needles is a star. I’ll leave it at that.
After that, Jinkx, Michelle and Alska did a cabaret number. They threw shade at each other and got chance to also sing and dance.
Finally it was time for MY Pandora. I was really excited because I was craving for some comedy. The cabaret number had a few haha moments, but it wasn’t hilarious. I wanted to laugh my head off and Pandora didn’t disappoint. Her number was called The Hunty Games, which obviously was a parody of The Hunger Games. More like a spelling bee competition than an actual Hunger Game, Pandora stood in front of a microphone and answered the questions of a pre-recorded audio.
AUDIO: Not the drag queen, the state.
And then a picture of Sarah Pallin was projected behind of her.
The “Game” went on until she hilariously lip synced to a couple of songs and finished with a live performance of her latest single Unicorn.
After Pandora, came the Snatch Game. One of the best acts of the entire show. Which featured Alaska as Laganja Estranja (brilliant!), Courtney as Jinkx (unexpected and entertaining), Jinkx as Liza Minnelli (delicious) and Sharon Needles as Joan Rivers (very funny as well). Laganja, probably, was the one who got the most laughs, because her characterization was the most obvious. But in my opinion Jinkx was the one who did the best job. She had the look, the voice, the moves, everything. Sadly, I think that her jokes went unnoticed by some of the younger audience because they simply didn’t know who Liza Minnelli is.
Writing those words felt sinful. Seriously, it was almost as if the keyboard was burning up.
Unfortunately, I lost my Snatch Game footage. I don’t know what happened, I recorded a video but it is nowhere to be found. And I didn’t take any pictures because I was so busy laughing.
There was a 15 minutes intermission and then Ivy continued the show. Man, the stilts. We all saw it on season 5, but to see it live is jaw dropping, to say the least.
Pandora was up next, again – with probably the funniest and weirdest act of the entire evening. At first it seemed she was going to lip sync Frozen’s Let it go in full Elsa cosplay. But after the first chorus, she took a bag filled with white powder and snorted it. What followed was an insane mash up of music that only got faster, louder and crazier every time she snorted.
Jinkx and Alaska followed with a live cover of Total Eclipse of the heart. And then Sharon went back on stage with a (for a lack of a better word) spooky performance. While I don’t remember the exact lyrics, the song talked about being authentic and being judged for being so. The chorus asked a question about why couldn’t it be Halloween every day. She sang dressed as Angelica Houston in The Witches. Just thinking about the performance, gives me the chills. It was authentic and the first time during the whole show that got away from camp and / or blatantly sexual.
It was followed by a performance of Courtney Act, she sang All The Lovers from Kylie Minogue and her very own Mean Gays. To my surprise, I heard someone say behind my back “I hate Kylie” which prompted a visceral reaction inside me.
There are many things worth hating in this world; But KYLIE. IS. NOT. ONE. OF. THEM!!!!!
This led to one of the most heart-warming moments of the entire evening (Courtney’s performance, not my meltdown) when a fan approached her and handed her a bouquet of red roses. She graciously accepted them and took them with her off stage.
You could tell we were coming to a close because the performances got less rehearsed and more “real”. Jinkx also showed off her impressive vocal cords and even gave some advice.
“If you have it today. You don’t wear it tomorrow,” she said.
Those words carried me through the week. Even though I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, I didn’t feel alone. I never felt alone.
Lastly Alaska and Courtney went out again. This time they performed a duet of their American Apparel song. And then it was it, the final number. It was a very bittersweet moment. A part of me didn’t want it to be over and the other part was ready to go home. Because I was TIRED. I hadn’t taken a seat in about four hours and now my back and my legs were hurting. Yes, I know. I have no endurance whatsoever.
The closing number was a sweet rendition of Rupaul’s Superstar, which I felt was very fitting.
And that’s it. I wanted to write everything down just because I felt so much during the course of those two days and I didn’t want to forget it. The experience was worth every freaking penny. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I don’t think there is anything left for me to say, but thank you. Thank you if you read ALL of that (it is a lot, I know) and thank you to the performers, and thank you to wonderful people who organized this event because it was freaking awesome.