Dragcon 2017: Panels
Setting aside the shopping and celebrity sightings, the Dragcon panels alone are worth the ticket price. It’s always tough to choose what to see in any given time slot. We ended up seeing seven this weekend, but easily could have spent all day just attending panels.
Good to know: the queens listed aren’t always the queens who show up. Sometimes that means you get an exciting surprise (Raven, Sonique, Morgan McMichaels, and Tyra Sanchez joined the Season 2 panel on Sunday) but that also means you may watch a smaller panel. I experienced this at both 2016 and 2017 panels, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen nonetheless. If there is someone you’re desperate to see, though, I’d recommend checking in with that particular performer on social media to make sure they’ll be there before you stand in line.
Waiting in line: If you can, spring for the VIP pass. We didn’t in 2016, and it meant a lot more standing in confusing lines in hot hallways (although the lines did appear to be better managed this year). If you have a VIP badge, you stand in a separate line and when the room is opened up for seating, everyone in the VIP line enters prior to those with general admission badges. If you’re angling for a good seat with a general admission badge, you’ll need to start lining up well ahead of time (30 minutes) for popular panels. Given that there’s only 15 minutes between panels, that means you might not get to see everything you want. With VIP, we were able to exit one panel, make our way to the back of the VIP line, and start entering by the time we got there, while still getting good seats.
Only Judy Can Judge Me | April 29
Moderator: Michelle Visage
Panelists: Candis Cayne, Heather McDonald, Jamal Sims, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ross Mathews
Dragcon judges talked about the challenges and highlights of judging drag talent. I was impressed at the absolute respect they all have for the talent, even for those whose performances they weren’t super into. Michelle Visage is an excellent moderator, and it’s impossible to hear Ross Mathews speak without smiling!
Wig-ography: A Master Class | April 29
Moderator: Bobbie Pinz
Panelists: Derrick Barry, Dida Ritz, Nebraska (assisting)
Bobbie Pinz is clearly a master of his trade (and has the Broadway credits to prove it). My sister and I both felt like we learned a ton about wearing and caring for wigs, and Derrick and Dida were charming and informative. Bobbie Pinz promoted lots of different products, but I appreciated that he always made a point of sharing inexpensive versions and where you could find them. I won’t do his referrals justice by trying to remember them all, but his online store seems lists them (and you can of course find them elsewhere).
Wow Presents: Bro’Laska with Alaska & Corey Binney | April 29
Panelists: Alaska, Corey Binney
By far the highlight of our weekend. For those unfamiliar with the web series, Bro’Laska features Alaska and her super straight half brother Corey talking about whatever comes to mind. Which maybe doesn’t sound like much beyond a gimmick, but the two are really fucking funny. They’re also honest–I appreciate how frank Corey is about his initial disdain for his brother’s drag and how he speaks about how he “did a complete 180” on his understanding of the LGBTQ and drag community.
Queens Reading Celebrities | April 29
Moderator: Bruce Vilanch
Panelists: Darienne Lake, Robbie Turner, Tempest DuJour
This was the weakest panel I attended, although it still had some very funny moments. Getting to see Bruce Vilanch in person alone was worth the price of admission (which was basically zero, since we came in a bit late and didn’t even have to stand in line for this one. The queens read excerpts from famous (and inane) autobiographies, making fun of the authors along the way.
Wow Presents: Untucked Live! – Season 9 Queens | April 30
I haven’t actually watched Season 9, but given how talented and funny basically everyone on Drag Race is, it was still a great time.
RuPauls’ Drag Race Season 2: Re-united Live! | April 30
Moderator: Billy Francesca
Panelists: Jessica Wild, Jujubee, Nicole Paige Brooks, Pandora Boxx, Tatianna, Raven, Tyra Sanchez, Morgan McMichaels, Sonique
Jujubee!!! Jujubee is, on any given day, my #2 or #3 favorite Drag Race contestant (depending on what Raja is wearing). Last year I went to a panel hoping to see her but she was a no-show, so I was glad she turned up for this one. Season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race had a lot of talent, and it was fun to see the panelists talk about things like their favorite one-liners.
Wow Presents: Fashion Photo Ru-View with Raja and Raven
Raja is one of my all-time favorites, both for her humor and overall look (color! patterns! jumpsuits!). This is the one panel I’ve gone to both years, and while they’ve both been very funny I think this year’s was better executed overall. The two fielded questions, then reviewed different looks from the Dragcon exhibit floor. Raja and Raven are hilarious together, and come across as having a genuinely great time.