I was so happy to see all the LGBTQ*-related events to attend when I began classes at Penn State after my experience growing up in a small town (Bellefonte, if you’re curious). Luckily, drag shows were one of those events.
I took for granted the existence of the drag scene until there weren’t any shows in the area. Thankfully, surrounding towns have consistent shows for Pennsylvania drag fans to attend. Within the last two years or so, I have found myself following the state’s many drag performers and gagging on their eleganza. Therefore, I decided to share with you some of my (ever-growing) list of favorites in Pennsylvania.
***Disclaimer*** If you’re anything like me, you probably love and binge-watch Rupaul’s Drag Race on the regular. While there are amazing Drag Racers who are based in or are from Pennsylvania (Mimi Imfurst, Sharon Needles, Alaska, etc.), this post will focus on some of the state’s other sickening drag performers.
Fish doesn’t even begin to describe this Pittsburgh beauty.
I saw Lola for the first time when she performed “Burn” by Ellie Goulding at Cobalt in Washington, D.C. a few years ago. I had seen Lola make her rounds in Pittsburgh clubs after that, but I hadn’t seen her perform again until her Vain at Cavo show featuring season 7’s Katya earlier this year.
She performed “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette as her first number, and it was after seeing this performance I became a super fan of hers. Every time she performs, it’s clear her passion is in each of the songs. But it was something about “Ironic” that resonated with me: so much so that every time I hear the song, I think back to Lola’s stunning performance.
This multi-talented queen did not disappoint when I saw her live for the first time. I could tell each song had a concept, and it helps that Kitty makes all of her own outfits and props.
Looking through her Instagram, it amazes me how many looks she can pull off — everything from serving some Taylor Swift and Adele realness to Wonder Woman and the flying money from “The Wizard of Oz.”
The highlight for me, however, is her use of current events to create a comedic number (i.e.: the Jared Fogle case), but also creating a statement about said event. While some may be offended or feel uncomfortable, it’s almost a drag queen’s job to push the boundaries and challenge society’s views.
And Kitty does just that.
If you are ever in Pittsburgh, you can catch Kitty performing with Lola in her Vain at Cavo shows as well as at Blue Moon.
Iris is one of my boyfriend’s favorite queens in Philadelphia. This queen’s makeup is always so striking, and her performances are even more intricate and energetic.
I haven’t made it to the Philly area recently to see a show, so it’s been a little while since I have seen Iris perform. I did, however, get to see a YouTube video of her performing “Do It Again” by Robyn and Royksopp and was living for the robot costume and choreography.
Similar to Kitty, Iris is a fashion designer as well, starting GreenHaus Fashions for the masses to check out her unique styles. You can view and order styles on her store’s website.
You can see Iris perform in the Philadelphia area–usually at Voyeur with Mimi Imfurst and the list’s next queen, Ariel Versace.
One look at this Philly mermaid goddess’s beauty, and you will be hypnotized.
At least that’s how I felt when I saw Ariel perform as Sarah Sanderson during Philly’s Outfest last year. She performed a group “Hocus Pocus” number with Mimi Imfurst and Farrah Mascara, which led to me doing more research on her afterward.
Her transformation video on YouTube blew me away. She’s painted for the gods, and I loved how her collection of big hair always compliment the look she goes for. She recently did a Marilyn Monroe illusion, and she absolutely killed it.
I saved one of my very dear favorites for last. The current reigning Miss Heart of Delaware hails from Philly and is one of the most professional queens I’ve ever met.
She was just starting out when I saw her during my sophomore year during the 2011 Penn State student drag show. She performed the crap out of “Candyman” by Christina Aguilera and has brought that same energy–if not more–since then.
I had the pleasure of performing with Aida at last year’s Penn State student drag show, where she was a fabulous hostess and gushed over my family being in attendance (it was my second show ever). Whether she’s slaying a Jessie J number or performing as her favorite movie character, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, you’re always in for a good show with Aida.
She’s quite the busy lady, though: always posting about shows she has each week in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. So when she comes to your town, make a point to go see her.
All photos courtesy of the queens’ Instagram accounts.