8 Things We Learned at RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2019

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Jennifer Graylock-Graylock.com for World of Wonder
RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Jamal Sims and the queens of RuPaul's Drag Race officially open RuPaul's DragCon NYC to the public on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 at  the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

This weekend, RuPaul's DragCon NYC took over the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City for a 3-day drag extravaganza. Featuring more events, more queens and a crowd of over 100,000 diverse attendees, the event showed how far drag has come in the modern day.

“RuPaul’s DragCon NYC is over, but the love and beauty that filled the Javits Center will stay with me forever," RuPaul said in a statement. "Kudos to all of the gorgeous attendees, the super talented queens, and the spectacular vendors that came together to make magic... And a loving reminder from Mama Ru, don’t forget to sashay your way to the polls in 2020."

DragCon had its fair share of twists and turns, including special announcements, appearances by the Drag Race UK queens and one-on-one discussions with icons like Diane von Furstenberg and Whoopi Goldberg -- even presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren made a special appearance via video. With so much to do, see and experience, here are 8 things we learned at RuPaul's DragCon NYC!

1. RuPaul's Drag Race is coming to Las Vegas

Yes, that’s right, Drag Race is heading to the Las Vegas strip, with a residency at the Flamingo! RuPaul's Drag Race Live! will be a live revue show directed by RuPaul and award-winning choreographer and filmmaker Jamal Sims, featuring a bevy of Drag Race queens including Aquaria, Asia O'Hara, Coco Montrese, Derrick Barry, Eureka O'Hara, Yvie Oddly and more. Tickets go on presale Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. PT and will go on sale for the general public Friday, Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. PT. For more information and a complete show schedule, click here.

2. DragCon will cross the pond for new U.K. dates

DragCon is going international as it gears up to take over London on January 18 and 19, 2020! The new convention will feature all of the Drag Race UK queens, including Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Cheryl Hole, as well as the hottest upcoming UK drag talent -- for more information and to purchase your tickets, click here

3. Queens, activists and Elizabeth Warren want you to get out and vote

Politics was a hot topic at DragCon. One panel, called "Trump and Mitch, Sashay Away: How We Win in 2020" was hosted by political action group Swing Left, where panelists Marti Gould Cummings, Ashlei Blue, Geena Rocero, and Latrice Walker spoke with moderator Jon Mallow about ensuring a better future for LGBTQ people everywhere through voting. Cummings, a long-time NYC drag performer and founding president of the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, had a lot to say -- they recently announced their run for Manhattan’s District 7 City Council seat in 2021. “If I’m not using my status to fight for whats happening in our country, specifically trans women of color, if I’m not speaking out about that, it’s a waste of me even having a platform,” Cummings said. 

In addition to the full panel, United States senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren took a break from her campaign to address the convention show floor via video, introduced by All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel. In the video, she told the audience that she’s “in this fight for full LGBTQ+ equality," and encouraged all attendees to“get into the fight" by registering to vote. “Everyone should be able to go to school, to work, to get health care, or just walk down the street without fear of discrimination or violence. Equal means equal, period. And that’s what I’m fighting for,” said Warren.

4. Diane Von Furstenberg took a stand for feminism

Legendary fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg told the audience that she’s “100% a feminist" during her "RuTalk" with RuPaul. Throughout the discussion, where the two talked about Furstenberg’s role in the new HBO documentary Liberty: Mother of Exiles, she exclaimed that she has always been, and will always be, a feminist. “Which doesn’t mean I can’t also be feminine," she clarified. "I still have room for the man in me as well." You can watch the trailer for the new documentary here.

5. Success in drag is not dependent on Drag Race

During the "Queens of New York" panel, speakers Dusty Ray Bottoms, Brini Maxwell, Marti Gould Cummings, Merrie Cherry, and Flotilla Debarge were asked if drag performers need to get on Drag Race to have a career in drag. Most if not all the performers made it clear that while Drag Race is extremely helpful in bolstering the careers of queens everywhere, success as a queen comes primarily from stamina and discipline. "You don’t need Drag Race to be a successful drag queen," said Bottoms.

Cummings added that being polished is not everything when it comes to drag, and that hard work in the drag scene is what will ultimately pay off.  “When I started in drag back in the day, I had no wig, no boobs, no pads, barely a piece of make-up or lash, and these other queens would be like -- how did this bitch get booked?" he said. "Because I’m good at what I do, I’m funny and I’m talented. Do your aesthetic, but don’t rely only on your looks. It’s all about how you handle the mic and performance. Focus on captivating your audience."

6. Whoopi Goldberg wants you to be confident

Comedian and television superstar Whoopi Goldberg had a wide-ranging discussion with Ru during the weekend's second "RuTalk," chatting about everything from marriage to millennials a personal failure. But during the discussion, Goldburg put a special emphasis the importance of confidence. “If you know you are good, you have to say it," she told the crowd. "People will say that’s bragging, but if I don’t tell you, you’re not going to know -- you are just going to assume by looking at me that I am something else. I am good at what I do... this is who I am, dig it or not dig it, this is me."

7. Drag legends focused on the art of performance

During the panel "Drag Stories: The Journey Of Drag In Show Business," some of drag’s early pioneers, including Dianne Brill, Simon Doonan and Frank DeCaro, talked about the art and history of drag. They referenced everything from the documentary Paris is Burning and the Emmy-nominated FX show Pose, to icons like Lady Bunny and Pepper LaBeija.

But they all agreed on one thing: drag is art and should be seen as such. Brill described drag performers as artists who paint their face and bodies like a canvas: “You’re showing something not everyone sees … it’s radical to enter into the world with something inside of you that you want to express,” she said.  

8. Trixe Mattel gave a stunning Nicki Minaj cover

The skinny legend herself Trixie Mattel gave an intimate acoustic performance to a group of VIP attendees on the first day of DragCon. Performing some of her fan-favorites from Two Birds and One Stone, the star stunned when she whipped out a cover Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda," spitting the rapid-bars of the song's bridge to the crowd's amazement. Trixie shined throughout her performance, but definitely brought the house to their feet by proving her skills as a rapper. Check out a clip of her performance to the All Stars 3 version of "Kitty Girl" below:

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