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Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Arts + CultureNightlifeYou want a real drag race? Strap in for...

You want a real drag race? Strap in for the Gaggle Royale pageant

A wild contest taps entire queer clubs and drag crews to compete, via champions who 'Live the Dream'

One of the most rewarding and provocative projects on the local arts scene has been the WorkMORE! performance series, which “brings artists together in new collaborative constellations.” This usually takes the form of pairing drag performers with artists from other fields to see how drag intersects with and expands upon other forms of expression—choreography, drama, visual arts, fashion design, clowns.

But WorkMORE! mistressmind VivvyAnne ForeverMore is a wily minx—beyond the brilliantly unexpected collaborations that have resulted, she has thrown film festivals, political statements, odd locales, and other delightful curveballs into the mix. (Full disclosure: I paired up with Anna Conda for a WorkMORE! back in 2010 to transform Ke$ha’s “Don’t Stop” into an oil-drenched screed against fracking.)

Now, Vivvy is kicking the WorkMORE! concept up a notch into totally bonkers territory: Gaggle Royale (Sun/24 at DNA Lounge) is a drag pageant pitting entire queer clubs/drag crews against other queer clubs/drag crews to compete in a kind of Drag Race squared—and what looks to be an unforgettable show.

Sally Limon competes in Gaggle Royale

“It’s an extension of the WorkMORE! goal we’re bringing together new drag performance groups to create something new,” Vivvy tells me. “Plus, you get all the glamour and dazzle of a pageant, because they’re competing. So it’s meta meta meta.I don’t think there’s been a battle of the clubs before and I have no idea what to expect.”

Speaking of that RuPaul show, Vivvy is earnest that the local scene can dish up thrills with the best of them. “Our drag scene gets so little representation in whatever you want to think of as the mainstream,” she says. “There’s so much incredible talent here. This is our twisted and fun way to showcase it, in the best San Francisco tradition.”

Heaven on Earth competes in Gaggle Royale

Each club or crew sends a champion or team of champions to represent them. “There are two categories, talent and presentation—which is basically the equivalent of an evening gown competition, or what you want the world to see you as. Contestants are judged on the values of technical prowess, overall presentation, and ‘Living the Dream,'” Vivvy says.

Some of the inspired pairings and entrants? The rowdy Rebel Kings of Oakland compete against all-Black drag show Reparations, fabulous Rollin’ with the Homos rollerskating crew sends forth the House of Cakes as champions, Seanie’s Angels of Port Bar in Oakland takes on Cheetah Biscotti from Kind of Blue Revue.

Amoura Teast competes in Gaggle Royale

And, like all good reality pageants, there’s a devious twist: “I’m entering the contest, too,” says Vivvy, a devilish giggle creeping into her voice. “I’ve chosen Heaven on Earth to be my champion, maybe we will win our own pageant.” Who knows what chaos will result?

When I ask if she has any advice a la “Good luck and don’t fuck it up,” Vivvy says “Just step out there and live the dream!”

GAGGLE ROYALE 7pm, Sun/24 at DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.

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Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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