‘Rupaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World’ review
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
Before I get into this review I must come clean: I’m a huge fan of Rupaul’s Drag Race. However, it’s not because of the occasionally cringe-worthy moments or the faults of a host (RuPaul) who may or may not have some incredibly outdated opinions when it comes to the art of drag. I love the show because of the drag queens chosen to showcase their talent to the world.
Being a fan, I was naturally excited to hear that a lineup of Drag Race alumni would be performing at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on September 22 as part of Werq The World, a worldwide drag tour hosted by Voss Events. I purchased my ticket (slightly perturbed by the hefty price tag) and at 9 pm on the day, I settled into my seat as the lights dimmed promisingly.
The show was hosted by Bob the Drag Queen (season eight winner) and featured performances by Kim Chi (season eight runner-up), Valentina (season nine Miss Congeniality), Eureka O’Hara (season 10 top four), Kameron Michaels (season 10 top four), Asia O’Hara (season 10 top four) and the current reigning drag superstar, the winner of season 10 of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Aquaria.
If you don’t know what transpires during a drag show, I’ll give you a summary of probabilities: Lip syncs, dancing, hair flips, splits, voguing, outfit reveals, jokes, and audience banter—all of which I got to see.
Over the course of the two-hour show, I laughed, cringed, waved my hands, and shouted classic Drag Race quotes with the rest of the audience. The production value of the show was seriously impressive. From the elaborate individualized sets that were put together for each drag queen’s lip sync, to the lights, smoke, and backup dancers that accented every performance; at times I felt like I was watching the TV show.
The show at the Vogue opened with a lip sync number that revealed all the queens performing. Bob the Drag Queen, in a Cruella de Vil inspired outfit, welcomed us to the show, explaining—like I just did—how a drag show works. As she left the stage, Kim Chi took her place in a Sailor Moon outfit and did a nostalgic lip sync to a Sailor Moon theme song mashup that the audience seemed to really enjoy. Next up, Kameron Michaels was wheeled onto the stage, standing in a set piece that looked like a giant mirror of which she was the reflection, with a jagged gold crown on her head. Her number included songs like “Disturbia” by Rihanna and spoken word bits that added to an evil queen persona she was trying to emulate. Each queen had a different theme and emotion behind their performance which kept it fresh.
Aquaria, clad in a sequined stars and stripes outfit, did a comical lip sync to a horribly sung “Star-Spangled Banner” and while the performance was much shorter than the other girls, I did enjoy it. Admittedly, I expected a bit more from the current reigning champion but there were rumours she was suffering from a respiratory infection, so I gave her a pass. Valentina was a disco queen for her performance, lip syncing to classic songs like “On the Radio” by Donna Summer and showing off some impressive moves in a shimmery silver mini-dress.
My favourite performer was Bob the Drag Queen, who had three outfit reveals to match her fiery performance. She lip-synced to “Burnin’ Up” by Jessie J and performed a mix of fire-centric songs featuring an iconic moment in Drag Race history, in which Kennedy Davenport tries to explain an outfit for a season seven runway theme—Death Becomes Her—and fails miserably. It was a performance laden with inside jokes for Drag Race fans, which the audience reacted happily to. Strangers were lip-syncing with each other, bonding over the shared experience.
As the final group performance concluded and confetti settled on the audience’s shoulders, I was surrounded by smiles, glitter, and chattering fans from all walks of life already reviewing their favourite moments from the night. I was struck by how far drag culture has come since Drag Race first aired in 2008. While the show isn’t representative of drag in its entirety, it’s a great start to acceptance. Werq the World certainly embodied that notion and for that, I can’t complain.