RuPaul’s DragCon is just around the corner, taking over the Los Angeles Convention Center for a fourth year May 11-13. Boasting appearances from more than 90 Drag Race alumni, a special patriotic panel featuring comedian Billy Eichner and, for the first time ever, an interactive installation of the iconic Werk Room, DragCon is sure to be the kitty cat’s meow.
Ahead of the convention, Billboard spoke to Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato — filmmakers and founders of production company World of Wonder — about the festivities, their plans for New York’s DragCon and how far Drag Race has come since its first season.
Billboard: When you started filming RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2008, did you have any idea it would transform into the cultural juggernaut it is today?
Barbato: The first season was filmed at a little studio called Redemption, right near the Burbank Airport, and while it did feel like we were making something special, it also felt like we were making a public access show. Our control room was in a broom closet, and the yet to be called “untucked lounge” was in a hallway! The struggle was real, so I’m not certain “cultural juggernaut” was on our mind. I will say, though, that when we met RuPaul about three decades ago, we knew we’d met an extraordinary individual whose destiny was beyond our wildest imagination.
Drag is truly taking over pop culture — we even had a drag contestant on American Idol! What do you think the next milestone for drag will be?
Bailey: RuPaul for President?
DragCon seems to get bigger and better every year. What new addition are you most excited for this year’s LA event?
Barbato: We’ve spent a lot of energy trying to make the space more experiential. There will be over 25 visual, Instagrammable vignettes throughout the space, including the actual Werkspace from Drag Race — lots of memory-making opportunities.
I’m also excited about The Runway programming this year. We’ve stepped that up. And there are oodles of amazing panels including Glam Up the Vote panel with Billy Eichner, Peppermint and Alaska and a spooky horror panel with Sharon Needles, Peaches Crist and Elvira!
DragCon is truly a family-friendly event. Was that planned with the inception of DragCon or were you surprised to see so many families show up in the beginning?
Barbato: I wasn’t as surprised as I was fulfilled. I have two young boys who cannot wait to come to DragCon. Last year they got to hear Eureka reading children’s stories, and of course spent a lot of time working the runway. Drag is all about “using all the crayons in the coloring box” as RuPaul has said; it makes absolute sense for DragCon to be a family-friendly affair.
Last year, you brought DragCon to NYC for the first time. Can you tease any plans to make this year’s NYC event bigger and better?
Bailey: You are insatiable! We are taking things one Con at a time. However, it is going to be bigger — last year, the crush of people might have felt very New York, but we want to give people a little more breathing room! New York is so important to us because it stands in the shadow of the Statue Of Liberty: she is the biggest drag queen of them all, and stands for the freedom we all must rally round to protect.
Tickets to DragCon at the Los Angeles Convention Center can be purchased at RuPaulsDragCon.com.