Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center was transformed into a glittery oasis welcoming thousands of attendees and more than 40 famous drag queens, at the third annual RuPaul’s DragCon.
As RuPaul deejayed a mix of gospel and retro hits, drag queens who were former contestants on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” greeted fans. For over a decade, the television show helped bring drag culture into the mainstream.
“I’m versatile. Sometimes I’m a princess. Sometimes I’m a villain. Today I’m obviously a princess,” said Nina West, who won the title of Miss Congeniality in the show’s eleventh season.
At the conference, West greeted long lines of fans while dressed in an all-white gown and a Dolly Parton-style blonde wig.
“I didn’t have a lot of role models growing up and so now I have the opportunity to be a role model for others,” said West. “I take this responsibility seriously and want to bring hope to people in a time that’s otherwise not very hopeful.”
Brooke Lynn Hytes, who was also at DragCon, appeared on "RuPaul's Drag Race" with West. Perched on a dark blue couch and wearing neon heels, Hytes said she is happy to have remained close to West.
“It’s hard for us to keep in touch, but the show has made us closer,” said Hytes who hails from Canada and is referred to by fans as “Queen of the North."
“If I was a Disney princess I’d be Pocahontas because she has the best hair. If I was a villain I’d be Maleficent,” said Hytes.
Also at the conference were Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" season four champion, Monét X Change. The two stood next to each other in leather and camouflage. “We aren’t really friends. We are just smiling for the cameras!” said Vanjie while Monét nodded in agreement.
The longest lines of fans belonged to Vanjie, who sashayed her way into the hearts of drag fans after being the first queen eliminated in season 10 of the TV show. Her larger-than-life exit from the show catapulted her to stardom and got her back onto season 11, where she became a top five finalist.
Vendors from across the country displayed their dazzling designs, high-end wigs, sparkly kaftans and campy art. Panel sessions at the conference ranged from politics to beauty tips, including the workshop “Disney on Broadway: Serving Hair Face and Looks for 25 years.” RuPaul also had a one-on-one conversation with Whoopi Goldberg.
Among the activities at DragCon was Kid Zone—a space accommodating families and groups of all ages. Kids had the chance to participate in the Drag Queen Story Hour.
Jonathan Bloom brought his three kids to the story hour on Sunday, the last day of the three-day convention.
“My husband is jealous that he’s not able to join us,” said Bloom, whose oldest daughter, Ruby, is transgender.
“There’s more than just boys and girls and we want all of our kids to know that they can be whoever they are,” Bloom said. “And the show of love and acceptance here is wonderful.”