In 2007, before she was the RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season 2 winner we know her as today, Alaska Thunderfuck got “dog walked” in a drag pageant. Yeah that’s right. She came in dead last.
“It was the second drag show I ever did — I don’t recommend doing that,” she told Out. “But I did so well in my first drag show that I felt like I was unstoppable, I was on fire, I was invincible. So I entered a drag pageant in Pittsburgh called the Miss Pegasus Pageant. Pittsburgh pageantry does not fuck around — they are really, really serious and really, really strict and I was off the deep in.”
“I came in dead last.” And then a star was born?
Thunderfuck is a long way from that first pageant. In fact she won her second pageant a few years later called the Miss Happy Hooker pageant, also in Pittsburgh. And of course, she competed on Drag Race which is a pageant of sorts. Now, while that televised competition’s namesake gets into Elizabethan drag for Vogue, Alaska is readying a pageant of her own creation.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” she says pointing back to the 2017 “Night of 5,000 Alaska’s” bar night she threw for her birthday as a precursor. “I was so blown away that so many people showed up and the amazing performances people turned out for a stupid bar show, that I wanted to do it on the next level.” That next level will debut during DragCon LA 2019, titled Drag Queen of the Year.
With a $10,000 prize (via PayPal,) a crown, sash, and bouquet of flowers on the line, Thunderfuck hopes the event sets itself apart with its inclusive impetus. “I love pageants,” she said, pointing to events like Miss Continental as personal favorites. “I’m the first person to sit in the front row and holler and scream. But something that I haven’t seen is just an openness to who is allowed to apply.” *Case in point, while the Miss Continental pageant has historically been looked at as trans-inclusive, until January it barred contestants who have undergone “bottom-surgery.” Recent changes have opened the pool to all who were born "a biological male," meaning that cisgender women are still ineligble. In contrast, Drag Race Thailand seemingly allows cisgender men, as well as all women to compete — Angele Anang, a trans woman, won the most recent season.
“So this is sort of an experiment: if a pageant is open to everyone — which this one is — who is going to apply? Who is going to compete? What’s it going to be like?” Thunderfuck says. And, in an exclusive to Out, the queen has revealed the eight contestants of her competition.
Selected by an Anonymous Council of Drag Elders that sifted through many (“millions,” Thunderfuck laughed when pressed) applications, the chosen queens are aimed at not only being the strongest applicants but representative of the diversity of the pool. There’s tried and true pageant queens represented (a former Miss Gay USofA in fact,) cisgender women, as well as a former Dragula competitor.
“I travel around the world and I do the Alaska show,” Thunderfuck said after explaining that the event will feature competition categories similar to other pageants. “And that’s my job and that’s great, but this is an opportunity to turn that in on itself and make it not just about Alaska and make it about everybody else. It’s a chance to water the crops and give something back to the drag community that isn’t necessarily on RuPaul’s Drag Race or represented by RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
These are the eight contestants that will compete in Drag Queen of the Year on Sunday May 26 during DragCon in Los Angeles at The Montalban Theatre. Tickets are available.
Abhora - Miami - “What makes me different than other drag queens is that I am actively trying to destroy ‘drag.’
Sabbyiana - Montebello - “I’m a gay, Latina, professional dancing queen from Montebello. I’m basically the Gloria Anzaldua of drag.”
Aurora Sexton - Los Angeles - “What makes me different than most drag queens is that I am a transgender artist, housing 2,387,547 personalities in my head.”
Kat Sass - Chicago - I think the first thing people notice is the sheer size and scale of my work because so many of my costumes are absolutely massive in scale and concept.
Calypso Jete - Los Angeles - “My drag is a platform for youth to inspire and teach through my storytelling, productions and use of my body to let them bring their imagination to life and have fun while doing something you have a passion for.”
Gigi Monroe - Juneau, Alaska - “A chameleon does not even begin to describe my drag abilities. I can do the character illusion thing, the glamour thing, the edgy rock and roll thing, the bizarre thing, the drag dancer thing, the classy hostess thing, the model, the performer, the public speaker... whatever the venue and audience call for, I can deliver.”
Lyle - Los Angeles - I think it’s time I compete in a competition like Drag Queen of the Year because it’s about time I share my art with the masses who I know would appreciate the way I see the world.”
Astrud Aurelia - Phoenix - the art that excites me tends to exist in more subversive planes and places drag queens don’t immediately jump to in media, tending towards underground music, video games, fashion, comedy and personal icons.
*CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect new January 2019 Miss Continental guidelines that allow for all contestants that were born "biologically male." It originally said the pageant still barred those who had undergone "bottom surgery." This was an error.