Friday night's viewing party for the Season 9 finale of RuPaul's Drag Race here in NYC was a smash-hit, with a line around the block. Considering half of the top talent in the Top 4 were New Yorkers — and fellow New Yorker Alexis Michelle was in the house and in a dress, too — where else would RDR stage the ultimate party for its most-watched season?
Better yet, it was a mostly lovey-dovey affair, a much-needed healing after that circular firing squad on the reunion episode! I guess everyone just missed congeniality so went back to it.
I couldn't stay for the performances, but I did get to chat with all the girls, plus I grabbed Bob the Drag Queen, Bianca Del Rio and Peppermint's best girlfriend Laverne Cox for some great shots.
Speaking of shots, Bianca was hounding Valentina backstage, cackling in her ear, “You'll never see or hear from her again!” about her act. I heard Bianca brought up Valentina's Selena reference onstage more than once, too.
But even though Valentina was ripped a new one for her aggressive fans, she was gracious with me when I asked her about that scorching reunion episode, saying she is still processing the gang-up but acknowledges some of her fans were going too far and were attacking the other queens in mean-spirited ways. She seemed totally sincere in her desire to put out positivity going forward.
Oh, and she looked stunning. Girl definitely didn't go home this season due to her looks.
Shea Coulée was in good spirits and looked better than ever, rocking a “Nothing Really Matters” bob (sad, because during our game of FUCK, MARRY, KILL with Madonna, Cher and Gaga (see above), she chose to kill — gulp — Madonna!). Shea said the reunion had been good for closure, and she didn't seem pissed off at all anymore.
Nina Bo'Nina Brown ... didn't come out. Sigh. Why, girl??? We love you!
Peppermint was in full-on Weezy Jefferson mode — looking regal even when she suffered a nip slip. (I gallantly pointed it out, so to speak, so she could avoid any photo faux-pas.) Pep was really excited and nervous; it felt to me like she would win. I even had her tape a thank-you speech just in case!
She is just such a nice person. I have to say, even though I don't think it was so awful that Valentina won Miss Congeniality, Peppermint probably deserved it even more.
Sasha Velour was wired, too. Her red eyeglasses were giving me Sasha Jessy Raphael, and her laugh gave away her giddiness at being so close to the crown. As we all know by now (and if we don't, too bad, I don't honor spoilers forever), Sasha wound up even closer to the crown when she won the whole damn thing later in the evening.
RuPaul said in a statement:
The world needs drag now more than ever. Sasha Velour represents the future of drag. Her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent arouse and inspire a generation of young people to live boldly, act up and paint with all the colors of the rainbow.
Sasha herself said:
Now more than ever, drag stands as a beacon of joy and strength for queer people. It always reminds me to dream big and dress up by my own rules, to be serious and ridiculous and childish and brilliant! Take my advice: if you want to be queen, just make your own crown!
My fave all season was Valentina, but I thought Trinity Taylor should win as a sort of overall classic drag queen with humor and talent and gender-illusion cred. That said, who could be mad with any of the Top 4 winning?
Alexis knew she wasn't going to win as one of only two non-Top 4 girls there, so she was utterly relaxed, jumping into a fun pic with Bianca and Bob and looking splended in a Kris Jenner way. (Hey, it worked for her on the show!)
Keep reading for videos of each girl who didn't win this season speaking directly to her fans ...
It was a massive undertaking a year in the making, but my oral history of the sort of late (it could still publish, still has a site), often great Playgirl Magazine is here — it pubbed today at Esquire.com, a wonderful placement for me.
It would mean a lot to me if you would click here and visit the story and comment positively if you like it.
I did about 70 interviews, so the amount necessarily left out is staggering — let's just say this long piece is actually only the tip of the penis.
I especially loved the stories of the star models, like Lorenzo Lamas and Christopher Atkins and the fabulous George Maharis, who I bet is still hot as he approaches 90, as well as the stories of the non-famous men, who didn't necessarily know what they were getting into back in the day.
Thanks in advance for reading and sharing.
One of my favorites ever:
As I blogged some time ago, I was honored to be asked to participate as one of the judges in the first-ever Str8UpGayPorn Awards.
I consume porn at least as much as the next gay man, but I had not watched a full gay-porn movie since, oh ... Big Guns? I took my job very seriously and watched every nominated movie and performance, and was pleasantly surprised that most of the nominees for which or whom I voted won.
The event was not without controversy. Some in the porn industry complain that Str8UpGayPorn.com's editor, the outspoken Zachary Sire (pictured, showing his own legit surprise at who we judges chose), is doing more harm than good. I think that while I am not aware of the truth behind every spat, Sire is simply extremely well-informed, not afraid to shine a spotlight on things some performers would rather he didn't (Twitter feuds, arrests) and has a taste level that demands porn productions look good and accomplish what they should without cheating the viewers.
A mini-controversy from the Michael Lucas camp didn't work, so the announced hostess, Sandra Bernhard, showed up as promised, as did a healthy number of faces from porn's who's who.
I arrived early to cover the carpet, watching porn vet Bruce Beckham and the delightful mr. Pam interview the X-rated glitterati before the photogs, including myself, would line them up for posed pics.
Most of the guys in gay porn (the gay ones!) are sweet, friendly, bubbly types who enjoy attention, which makes for great subjects and very few unpleasant exchanges. I was maybe a little too excited to see some of my favorites in the flesh, not least of which a generous helping of Bel Ami boys (including too-stunning-for-words Hoyt Kogan), enough Helix boys to fill a playground (why is Kyle Ross so adorable?), a flock of Cocky Boys (Carter Dane, Taylor Reign, possibly others who rhyme) and porn legends like Chi Chi LaRue, Diesel Washington and Brent Corrigan with beau JJ Knight.
One thing I found charming was how worried the Bel Ami boys — in prom-style tuxes — were about looking sweaty on the red carpet. I did some party shots they vastly preferred, which was hard to take seriously considering they look like this:
All the models were only to happy to pose again and again. The only NO, PLEASE! I got all nice was when I mistook a caiter waiter for a porn god, which, if we're being honest, is not a hard mistake to make.
The show started a little late, but went off without any serious glitches. Bernhard was a hoot, completely unruffled by any missed cues or other minor bumps in the road. This was kind of her attitude:
She was professional, gave a funny opening monologue, was totally game and also gave a great pep talk about how people who do porn are at the forefront of living free and authentic lives. She called Shangela Shan-GELLA, like Frank Langella, but she also happily posed for pictures off to the side of the stage and shared a great story about how, in the '70s, she was in love with a famous drag queen. “She was my boyfriend,” she cracked.
As controversial a site as Str8UpGayPorn.com is, the show was fairly drama-free. Diesel Washington, saved for the end, did point out that the room was very white, but he also did it in a way that was both firm and yet not accusatory, and he still participated. Not just participated — he wore a crazy outfit and brought his mom!
All that, and he's super nice and accomodating with the fans.
Check out more snippets from the ceremony here, including the double-Helix makeout sesh:
After the awards (gorgeous, crystal trophies) were all handed out, I was able to chat up some of the boys and congratulate them before my date and I headed up to the after-party on the roof. It was steamy good fun for all with no nudity.
Hey — they gave at the office.
Really, Zach should be proud of how well his event came off, and it will likely only get better over the years. I know already from talking with them that the winners were duly psyched to have been chosen.
Keep reading for tons more pics, plus you'll find more photos here ...
The handsome James Maslow, onetime Big Time Rush big-time crush, just dropped a touching song/video entitled “Cry,” meant to draw attention to sex trafficking.
Great guy, BTW — work with him in my mag days.
Keep reading to listen/watch ...
The Big Sick — based on comic Kumail Nanjiani's real-life romance — is a can't-miss, sweet, hilarious, heart-tuggingly emotional movie in theaters today.
The story is about a Pakistani-born stand-up comic who falls for a girl who pipes up during his act, can't assert himself with his traditional family and nearly loses her forever; they not only break up, she gets sick. Real sick.
Nanjiani is drily funny as hell, and the love affair between his character and co-creator Emily Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan) is refreshingly rough around the edges, unexpectedly sexy and painfully real.
Directed by Michael Showalter (Hello My Name Is Doris, another great little movie), The Big Sick is the cure for what ails you, if what ails you is an onslaught of formulaic romantic comedies, and not, for example, a killer infection. If you have that, you're on your own.
Great performances from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily's parents, who are having a moment of their own.
Watch the trailer after the jump ...