Review: Panic! At the Disco Opens Pray for the Wicked Tour in Minneapolis

Frontman Brendon Urie celebrates his truth with a new generation of fans. 

This article is set to appear inside Issue 119 of Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine.

 Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram 

Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram 

The mysterious touring band of Panic! At the Disco slowly ascended from under the stage, playing an atmospheric overture in darkness. Suddenly, a small trap door opened in front of them. Sole official band member Brendon Urie literally launched out of it, surrounded by a burst of silver streamers.

Urie strutted across the Panic logo-shaped stage singing "(Fuck A) Silver Lining" like a conquering hero making his proud return. Fitting, since Panic! At the Disco is fresh off releasing a US #1 album; last month's Pray for the Wicked. The Minneapolis stop at Target Center on Wednesday was opening night for the 68-date Pray for the Wicked Tour. 

 Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour )

Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour)

Opening night jitters? Non-existent. High-energy fails to describe the show that followed. Urie said a quick hello to the crowd before keeping the chaos going with the B-52's-sampling "Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time." Despite the track being a deep cut from Panic's 2016 Death of a Bachelor LP, the audience erupted in the sort of concert sing-along usually reserved for an act's biggest hits. This trend held throughout the night; fans were audibly singing along to every song, including a surprise Bonnie Raitt cover. 

Panic! At the Disco has been releasing albums to continued success since 2005, but the band's audience has always been primarily composed of teenagers. These days, that's a whole new generation: Generation Z. The Millennials that were teens when A Fever You Can't Sweat Out debuted mostly stayed home. In fact, it was rare to spot any adults except parents and chaperones. 

The setlist seemed catered to the youthful, hyped-up crowd. Only a few slower songs were performed, and Brendon almost exclusively pulled from the band's 2010s catalog. Only two '00s cuts were played throughout the night; "Nine in the Afternoon" (2008) and "I Don't Write Sins I Write Tragedies" (2005).

 Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram 

Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram 

The high-energy crowd went into hysterics early on when Urie sang about wearing high heels, especially when he pulled out his falsetto. He seemed to take pleasure from this response, later utilizing his highest pitch more often than the original songs called for it.

Behind the stage, an array of massive, vertical video screens provided visual accompaniment to each song. "LA Devotee" featured Instagram-filtered looks at Los Angeles. Graphics for 2011 single "Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)" hypnotized the crowd with iTunes Visualizer-like patterns.

Pray for the Wicked Tour was also noticeably more personal than previous tours. Brendon Urie even dedicated a song to his mother. "This is a song I wrote for my mom, thank you, mom," he said, before launching into the new track "Hey Look Ma, I Made It." The video screens featured a debaucherous puppet version of Urie living large in Hollywood. That puppet was a fan favorite. In the venue's lobby, he was featured inside a custom fortune teller machine; sort of like Zoltar Speaks from the movie Big.

His dedication to the LGBTQIA+ community felt more personal, too. Brendon recently came out as pansexual after years of being a vocal and exceptional ally. He proudly pulled Pride flags of all varieties from the audience during "Girls/Girls/Boys," his 2013 anthem dedicated to queer fans. It is one of Panic's most demanding songs vocally, but Urie sounded stronger than ever while draped in rainbow flags. The standout performance was made even more spectacular by the crowd, as they held paper of different rainbow colors over their smartphone flashlights, which created a rainbow array across Target Center. "You are gorgeous," Urie proclaimed afterward. 

The marathon 28-song-long setlist felt a bit indulgent at times, but the charismatic Urie pulled it off. Even songs he could cut, like deep cuts "Casual Affair," "Nicotine," and "Crazy=Genius," made for engaging performances that highlighted the immense quality of Panic's career catalog. 

 Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram

Photo by Jake Chamseddine from @panicatthedisco on Instagram

Despite the tour's title, and performances of songs like "Hallelujah," "This Is Gospel," and "Say Amen (Saturday Night)," Panic! At the Disco didn't feature much religious imagery in the show. An exception was a video of Urie trolling around a graveyard in demonic prosthetic makeup during "Emperor's New Clothes." 

It felt like the majority-teenage audience was at church, though. They literally evangelized during "Hallelujah," hands swaying in the air in devotion. Their favorite frontman noticed. At the end of the performance, Brendon Urie only yelled one word… "Church!" 

"Is that for me? You drew this? Holy shit," Urie said while holding fan art over his face. Crowd interaction like that feels so natural with Panic! At the Disco shows. During "Golden Days," a fan threw roses on the stage. Urie gripped them between his teeth while trying to sing the bridge. He joked it wasn't "sounding good," and gave them to the drummer. Moments like that were more special than anything Panic could have planned during rehearsals.

The height of fan interaction came when Urie walked through the Target Center floor sections singing "Death of a Bachelor," giving literal meaning to lyrics like "I'm walking the long road" as he made his way to the b-stage. 

 Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour )

Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour)

From there he boarded a flying piano, where he performed a medley of the Bonnie Raitt cover "I Can't Make You Love Me" and a new Panic! At the Disco ballad, "Dying In LA." The latter really showed off the strength of his Broadway-tested pipes (he had a headlining run in Kinky Boots last year). 

Panic! At the Disco later paid individual tribute to Cyndi Lauper. The legendary pop singer wrote the music and lyrics for the Kinky Boots musical. Brendon Urie had a blast covering Lauper's classic hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." He acknowledged his audience's youth, and said, "If it's a little old school and you don't know who [Lauper] is, hopefully, you know this song."

They knew it. One audience member even threw her bra on stage. The performance was crazy. All the female members of the Panic! At the Disco touring band united to jam together, while Urie sang the song with no lyrical alternations. Distorted VHS visuals of the original 1983 music video played on stage screens.

The ‘80s love kept on with "Dancing's Not A Crime," a bombastic pop-rock cut from the new Pray for the Wicked album. Urie paid tribute to Michael Jackson as he moonwalked and sang, "I'm a moonwalker, I'm like MJ up in the clouds." This track took on more of a sociopolitical tone live, with Urie giving intense emphasis to the line "whatever they tell you" before declaring "dancing's not a crime."

The King of Pop-referencing song was the perfect segue into "Miss Jackson," a 2011 hit from Panic and Lolo that references Janet Jackson and her iconic single "Nasty." During the middle eight, Brendon indulged himself in an interesting drum solo that featured vocal samples from Christopher Walken's 2000 Saturday Night Live skit "More Cowbell." Once that randomness was over, he landed a truly shocking backflip off the platform the drum kit was on. 

"I always say this but it's true. I wish I wrote this song," confessed Urie, before leaning into his famous cover version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." It was a welcome carryover from the Death of a Bachelor Tour. It's something Panic! At the Disco is known for now; the studio version is even included on the band's Apple Music Essentials playlist. 

 Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour )

Photo by DerekPlease.com (Taken during Death of a Bachelor Tour)

The fact it was opening night of the Pray for the Wicked Tour was occasionally evident, and Urie was quick to confess the show only had a few rehearsals. The setlist being six songs longer than their last tour felt like a workshopping element of sorts. Perhaps Panic! At the Disco gauging audience reactions before settling on a final setlist.

It was not immediately apparent we were waiting for the encore, once that time came. No usual fake-out "goodnight" was said before Brendon Urie and company left the stage. 

After a few minutes, Panic came back for a three-song encore. Surprisingly, Pray for the Wicked lead single "Say Amen (Saturday Night)" was the best cut from it. The relatively tame studio version is not my favorite on the album, but the live rendition was hard rock and seriously fun. It actually made a Wednesday night feel like a Saturday night.

Before Panic! At the Disco ended the night with "Victorious," Urie took one more moment to tell the audience how special they were to him, and to humanity as a whole. It was a genuine and touching end to one of the most ambitious arena concerts the Twin Cities has seen in a while.



What's your favorite Panic! At the Disco song? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Review: Kesha Closes Out Pride Month in Minnesota

The singer-songwriter brought her all killer, no filler Rainbow Tour outdoors at Mystic Lake.

Photography: DerekPlease.com

This article is set to run in the upcoming Issue 118 of Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine.


June 30, 2018. Dressed in their best early-‘10s, Ke$ha-style garage glam looks, the mostly millennial crowd at Mystic Amphitheater was on fire before Kesha's “Rainbow Tour” show even started. Rainbow makeup shined on the cheeks and eyelids of various fans of all genders.

Photography: DerekPlease.com

Just past 9, a full band walked on stage in white suits. Two backup dancers flanked the sides of a staircase. Above it, a giant spaceship set piece loomed. A glittery curtain in the middle of the spaceship fluttered. Kesha emerged. As she slowly descended the staircase to her dancers, she teased us with the spoken word intro to “TiK ToK.” 

The crowd erupted as Kesha opened her set with “Woman,” a standout single from her latest LP Rainbow. Her and her dancers flipped the bird in synchronized fashion during the chorus. Screens behind them lit up with lyrics. 

Mystic Amphitheater was packed, but the venue was very organized; clear lanes were spray painted in the grass so attendees could leave any standing area for a bathroom or beer run. Not like anyone was leaving during exciting numbers like “Boogie Feet,” though. For that one, Kesha donned a bedazzled cape. “My natural habitat is… in a cape,” she joked. 

Kesha talked to the diverse crowd about it “technically” being the last day of Pride Month. She told the crowd, “One could argue we should go extra f—ing hard because it’s the last day of Pride Month.” Thunderous applause ensued. “Pride is never over,” she declared. 

She then dedicated a rollicking performance of “We R Who We R” to the LGBTQIA+ community. The dedication excited the crowd; the US #1 hit made for probably the largest sing-along moment of the night. It was electric. 

Photography: DerekPlease.com

The singer-songwriter later paused to sign a fan’s vinyl copy of Rainbow. The fan was pretty far back in the audience, so it was endearing to see the crowd work together to pass her record to the stage. Being a vinyl nerd myself, being a part of around 10,000 people witnessing a single record be signed was a cool moment. 

Despite most of her back catalog being dance pop, Kesha performed new rock renditions of her hits. Gone were the digital drums and synths from the original versions. How easily the songs were translated to real instruments proved how much song-craft Kesha put into writing even her “danciest” of songs, like "Die Young."

“Songwriting is in my blood,” Kesha said, while recounting writing her huge radio hit “Your Love Is My Drug” with her mom, fellow singer-songwriter Pebe Sebert. Kesha's performance of the song took on new meaning after learning this tidbit. 

The highlight of the night came when Kesha noticed a giant, glittery, golden penis sculpture in the audience. Naturally, she asked for her fans to pass it to the stage. While it initially read as a joke to the crowd, Kesha took it to a deeper place. She confessed she’s always wanted her shows to be a place her fans could bring their own art. When she attempted to give it back unsigned, the crowd chanted, “Sign it!” - She did.

Kesha taunted us before starting crowd-favorite track “Take It Off” - she claimed she couldn’t start singing until people stripped and threw their clothes at the stage. Obviously, the crowd obliged. She pushed it further, asking specifically for a bra; she received multiple. 

Photography: DerekPlease.com

The spaceship stage piece was a perfect callback to the cartoon ones on her Rainbow album cover. Lights came out of the circular windows on it, which made for a unique and visually interesting light show. Vintage sci-fi cartoons played on the screens behind it.

When Kesha announced her final song, the crowd emitted sounds of confusion; admittedly, the setlist of this tour is a bit short at a nightly average of a dozen songs. However, audience interaction is integral to Kesha's shows and she clearly builds in time specifically for that purpose.

The pop star reassured her concerned audience that it was only the “pretend last song,” and she’d be back afterwards for a couple more. She launched into the brilliant banger “Blow,” which is arguably the most EDM out of any of her singles. Kesha and her band pulled it off fantastically as a balls-to-the-wall rock-n-roll number. 

As promised, she later reemerged for her encore, beginning with a powerful rendition of “Praying,” the confessional lead single off Rainbow. She encouraged the crowd to sing along, and we did. After the song concluded, she spoke about how grateful she was for that, as the song is difficult for her to perform. It came from a time where she wasn’t sure she’d be legally able to release music ever again.

Photography: DerekPlease.com

Kesha declared she had one more “boogie" song’s worth of energy left, and jumped into an electro-tinged, upbeat performance of her debut single “TiK ToK.” The summer before I left for college, I got a free download of that track on her website. It went on to become a giant #1 hit, selling over 16 million copies worldwide. Eight years later, I was standing at her show, reviewing it as press. Talk about a full circle moment. 

When the song was over and Kesha said goodnight, the sentiment of the audience seemed unanimous. We had all just witnessed an artist in her prime, performing exactly the way she’s always wanted to. 

Rain began falling immediately after Kesha left the stage. Fitting, as she had sung “I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain” only a few minutes before. 

5/5

Opening Act: CVBZ

Los Angeles-based opening act CVBZ, pronounced “cubs,” was a hit with the audience right off the bat. The stage name of Sean Jacobs, CVBZ is so fresh he doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page yet. With candid lyrics the crowd immediately vibed with, CVBZ felt like a perfect fit for an outdoor venue like Mystic Amphitheater; even his knitted poncho seemed like something straight out of Coachella. 

Midway through his set, CVBZ humbly stated he wasn’t "the best" singer. However, his voice had a great tonality and shined during songs like “Vicodin,” “Drugs,” debut single “Be Like You,” and “Be Somebody.” The tracks were accompanied by interesting visuals involving CVBZ wearing a full-body green screen suit.

Before his final number, CVBZ referenced a technical difficulty in the previous song. He said, “What you just witnessed is a singer’s worst nightmare.” He brushed it off and offered the crowd fruit, which he threw from the stage. 

Standout track “Feels Great” was a collaboration with Cheat Codes and Fetty Wap. “Feels Great” recently passed 100 million streams on Spotify. Fitting, he encouraged the audience to find him on the music platform. I have a feeling a lot of them added his music to their playlists.


Tickets to upcoming shows at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel are available here.

Find out when Kesha is coming to your city! Visit KeshaOfficial.com 


What's your favorite Kesha song? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Interview: Aja on Her EP "In My Feelings" and 'Drag Race' Musicians

The RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 legend spoke exclusively to Twin Cities Gay Scene ahead of her Pride block party event at Lush nightclub.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

Fresh off releasing her debut EP In My Feelings last month, the multitalented Aja is headlining Lush's Pride Kick Off Block Party this Friday, June 22. I had the chance to speak to the Brooklyn-based queer performance artist about her whirlwind rise to fame, creative music videos and more.


With RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 airing within a year of one another, multiple DragCons, and gigs around the world, have you had a chance to sit and process it all? 

Honestly, I can start to process it when I’m dead [laughs]. Being in an industry like this means nonstop work, and there really isn’t any time to process it. You just have to keep an open mind and let it flow. The only thing you can really do is direct the current.

What’s your favorite song on your new EP In My Feelings?

My personal favorite song off the EP would have to be “I Don’t Wanna Brag (feat. AVG JO)." Which is also my next music video. It will be released this summer and will feature some cool cameos. 

The music video for “Finish Her! (feat. WNNR & DJ Accident Report)” was gorgeous. Where did you get your inspiration for it? 

My inspiration for “Finish Her!” was pretty much Mortal Kombat. Basically, it was a huge metaphor for me saying I’m killing the game, and I am surpassing the expectations of the people who do not believe in me.

You join a long history of Drag Race alums who are also recording artists. Who are some of your favorites? 

I think there are some immense talents in the alumni. Some of the girls are very talented. I think Blair St. Clair has a great voice. Adore Delano has pretty much her own genre. And then there is Shea [Couleé] who is also killing the game. Trixie Mattel being the only country queen in the mainstream. Love all talents.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

If you could have a Ru girl sing a hook on one of your rap tracks, who would it be? 

Honestly, I’m not sure, but it would be a pleasure to work with any of them.

You’ve kept it real when it comes to bad fan behavior at meet and greets. A lot of queens dance around those issues. Have you noticed a positive change in fan behavior since you addressed those issues on live streams? 

I never really pointed out fans having bad behavior at meet and greets. But I did bring attention to a mutual respect when it comes to big arenas such as DragCon. I think it is important for people to be mindful of all the sacrifices coming from all different places to make that amazing of [an event] happen. I received a lot of different reviews from these comments. But mostly they were positive. It’s good to know the fandom is respectful and understands mostly where we’re coming from as the artists.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

With all the amazing things you and the other RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants are doing, it seems the sky is the limit. What would you love to accomplish next? 

I want to be signed on to a major record label and continue my work as a recording artist. I’m starting to use my drag less as a means of a theatrical performance, and more of a queer expression. So Aja is becoming part of who I am every day. I also want to tour the world doing burlesque shows. Violet [Chachki] got to tour with Dita von Teese, and I think that’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to channel burlesque like them and other queens like BenDeLaCreme, and now I have the resources to make it happen. 

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

What can fans expect at your Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party gig June 22? 

Expect lots of fun. I’m insane, I’m crazy. Expect emotions and love! I’m such a human. 


Purchase tickets for the Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party here.

A VIP meet and greet experience with Aja is available here.


What's your favorite Aja song? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Interview: Bebe Zahara Benet at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018

Hometown hero! The legendary Season 1 winner gave Twin Cities Gay Scene an exclusive interview for our Pride 2018 Part II issue. 

with bebe zb.jpg

Flanked by two ripped go-go dancers, the official Bebe Zahara Benet booth at RuPaul's DragCon was the definition of vivacious - much like the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1 winner and All Stars 3 finalist herself. Our third time meeting, we spoke about past memories and enjoyed a lively interview full of boiling hot tea. 


bebewarmfilter.jpg

Derek: We’re here from Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine - your hometown of Minneapolis, in the house!

Bebe Zahara Benet: [Squeals excitedly] Noooo! Well, you guys know I represent Minneapolis because the past DragCons, you guys have not been here. Were you here last year?

D: No, this is my first DragCon.

BZB: How is it? How do you feel?

D: Amazing. It’s so fun! We’re here the entire time. 

BZB: Tomorrow is like, going to be ridiculous, now it’s more quiet. Tomorrow that is like when everybody decides to show up.

D: Yeah! I’ve seen some of your residencies in Minneapolis, like Queendom.

BZB: You have, like at the Pourhouse?

D: Yeah, at Pourhouse!

BZB: You see, this is called support.

D: And then you tried to teach us how to do fans at the Gay 90s. [Laughs]

BZB: Oh, did you see the “Jungle Kitty” fan? You’ll have to take a picture with it.

D: Oh, yeah!

I took a picture with the fan - and one of her dancers!

BZB: It says, “I'm Pussy Bitch.” YAAAAS! It does. [Laughs]

D: Oh my God, that’s amazing. [Laughs]

BZB: It’s an attitude, and it’s a state of mind! It’s very that.

D: What was it like going back to RuPaul’s Drag Race after all the years between Season 1 and All Stars 3?

BZB: Oh my gosh, what was it like? You know what’s so funny is I was very - when I was asked to do the show - of course at first I turned it down a couple of times because I wasn’t sure why, when had already won the show and the title. It’s not as if I needed any validation. But, when I thought more about it and to see how far the show has come many years from when I started. I was very excited to come, you know I would say the seasoned queens can always learn new tricks, but it was very important to also show this whole new generation of fans a different aesthetic and a different point of view of drag. I think that coming to the show and coming a voice there was very very, necessary. For people to know where the foundation all started. So, I was very excited and honey, I was excited to come and see my face on HD, honey! [Laughs]

D: Oh, yes! It’s beautiful.

BZB: I wanna see my face on HD! You know? It was amazing and I had such a good time, I really did.

D: Yeah, that iTunes HD… you look SO good! Oh my God.

BZB: Oh honey, I said I was going to come and make sure she’s painted now.

D: The big twist of the season was that you were coming on, and you weren’t announced right away. How was it keeping that secret, even though a lot of people had already kinda figured it out?

BZB: You know, it was very easy for me to keep it a secret because remember when we started Season 1, being able to be quiet about the season or anything about that was very, very important. I mean even worse than now, you know. So when Season 1 happened, when I did Season 1, nobody knew - even my family. So going to All Stars was like “okay, whatever,” you know what I mean? Plus, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise because I knew people were going to be SO surprised at seeing me walk through the door. And I just really wanted them to have a moment for them to be like, “oh! Did she really show up?” [Laughs]

D: Yeah. To be gagged!

BZB: Yeah! We needed a gagging moment. And I’m sure that was… Was that a gagging moment for you? 

D: Yes!

BZB: Because I knew there were rumors around, but was that really a gagging moment when those doors opened?

D: Yeah, ‘cause I don’t trust anything except for the actual show. [Laughs]

BZB: [Laughs] When it happens, right! 

D: I don’t trust Reddit, or whatever. 

BZB: Did you love the show? What did you think of All Stars?

D: Oh my God, yeah. I was so happy that you made it to the end, ‘cause if you hadn’t make it to the end, I would’ve been… 

BZB: Well did you have any doubts that I was going to make it to the end?

D: No, I just mean because of the fact that everybody was voting each other, I was worried that they were going to like, snub you out sooner.

BZB: Oh, they tried it! [Laughs]

D: Yeah. [Laughs]

BZB: They tried it, because what I had to do was to be good - and even better than good - to not be voted out. Because I knew coming into the show, as much I love the entertainers, they were like, “She’s already a winner why is she here?" So, if I was in the bottom, I would have been gone. 

bebeinterview.jpg

D: Yes!

BZB: I love the glitter [gestures to my cheeks], it’s like you are trying to copy me. I live! Minneapolis in the house. Thank you guys for representing.

D: Thank you.

BZB: We got to represent Minneapolis, so say hi tomorrow.

D: If I see you I’ll be like, “Hey!” [Laughs]

BZB: I will know exactly who you are. Thank you guys!

D: Well, thank you so much!


Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.


What are you doing for Pride this year? Let me know! @DerekPlease on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter

Interview: Audrina Phoenix & KiKi Fierce Talk Haus of LaRouge Collection

Chicago's favorite drag family just released an all-natural skincare collection with Beauty Kitchen by Heather Marianna. 

Kiki Audrina 2.jpg

If you love drag and haven't heard of the Haus of LaRouge, you're missing out. CeeCee LaRouge, Ki'Arra Ross, KiKi Fierce and Audrina Phoenix are some of the most talented queens I've ever laid eyes on.

The tight-knit drag family is super popular online; their 12,000-member Fans of Haus of LaRouge Facebook group just won Best Online Group at the Candy & Chaun Awards. Recently, they teamed up with my friend Heather Marianna, CEO of Beauty Kitchen, to create a skincare line for their devoted fanbase and beyond. 

Read on for my fun interview with Haus members Audrina and KiKi. We talk about their creative process, sex-positivity and more!


For those who are new to the amazing Haus of LaRouge, please introduce yourselves individually. 

KiKi Fierce: Hello, my name is KiKi Fierce, or boy name Nico Garcia. I’m the youngest drag queen out of the group - drag years, not real years [laughs] - I’m 28 and I’ve been doing drag for about five years now. I was the third member to be added to the Haus of LaRouge. I’m known for my fierce FX makeup, and teaching people to live a more body-positive and self confident life.

 Nico Garcia/Kiki Fierce

Nico Garcia/Kiki Fierce

Audrina Phoenix: Hello love, my name is Audrina Phoenix, the newest and fourth member of the Haus of LaRouge. I am 26 years old and I have been embarking on this drag lifestyle for a total of five years. I probably wouldn’t be apart of any of this if it wasn’t for my best friend KiKi Fierce… no literally, she dragged me into this! 

 Adam Rivera/Audrina Phoenix

Adam Rivera/Audrina Phoenix

What do you think is the “X factor” that makes Haus of LaRouge so beloved?

KiKi: Honestly it’s our compatibility. It’s hard to find a group of friends that you totally connect with; you vibe off of each other and basically can finish each others’ sentences. Image that feeling you have with that one best friend, now times that by four. That’s what we have, we have the same determination and drive to succeed in everything we do. We just get each other, you know?

Audrina: I can honestly say I believe it’s because each of us brings something different to the table, yet we all mend so well together. CeeCee LaRouge is the household mother, and just like any other mother she keeps each of us in check. Performance-wise, she is the “class.” Everything she does is with elegance. 

Ki’Arra Ross is the oldest daughter to the household. Just like any other big sister, she looks out for our best interests. [Ki'Arra] is the “Southern” flavor of the group! She always takes you to church. When you see her perform, you can’t help but listen to each lyric to a song, and are mesmerized. 

KiKi Fierce is, well, the fierce one of the group. I believe my bestie was a stripper in another life… with a sprinkle of porn star. High kicks, splits and death drops are just a few of her skills. She brings the body confidence and “sex appeal” to the group. 

And lastly, Audrina Phoenix; the best thing that’s ever happened to this group of men. Apparently I’m the “bitch” of the group? [Laughs] I’ll take it. My personality is as fiery as my name. I keep it real, and don’t sugar coat a thing. When I perform, I make sure I paint the bitchiest mug and I bring all the “sassy” you could ever hope and dream for. You’re welcome!

 The Haus of LaRouge

The Haus of LaRouge

You have a new collab collection out with Beauty Kitchen! How did you connect with the fabulous Heather Marianna, CEO of the company?

KiKi: Honestly, it was one of our followers, Autumn. Autumn has been following us for months and months, and one day she told Heather (who is her BFF), “Hey, you need to check these guys out, you will love them.” After some slight stalking… [laughs]... just kidding... Heather watched us, reached out and the rest is history!

Audrina: Me and Heather are the same exact person, just the opposite sex. No, really! Just like Heather Marianna, I myself run my own business and chair. My full-time job is my business: Adam.RiveraHairstylist. [Heather] is an inspiration, because she built a business from the ground-up doing what she loves, and that takes a lot of balls to do. Not to mention, she’s effin' gorgeous. I’m sorry, what was the question...? I just connected very quickly because she’s real. Well, and gorg. She’s killin’ it and everyone should want to be their own CEO of an amazing brand and company. 

Describe your initial brainstorming process for the collab. 

KiKi: For me, it was all about bringing high-end products for the everyday woman and/or man. We wanted a variety of options, to tackle most common insecurities we have about our skin. From dryness to wrinkles to bags, and more. I believe we accomplished that with this line. 

Audrina: Each of us have a different mindset as to what we like, so it actually wasn’t that easy at first. We each came up with our favorite flavors and scents, and Heather came up with the breakdown with products. 

CeeCee was bubblegum and margarita, which was put into the body spray and body scrub. Ki'Arra was watermelon. Her scrub polish was named after her boyfriend, who is also a drag queen named China. [Ki'Arra's] scrub was called Fine China.

KiKi is a freak in the sheets, so it only made sense that she got the flavored peach “Bottoms Up” body oil. KiKi’s favorite flavor happens to be peach as well. KiKi also came up with my absolute favorite body spray in "cotton candy." Every time I wear it, my inner bitch is released. 

And I love and wear anything coconut scented year-round, so I was the coconut scrub and soak! It reminds me of summer and the beach, so I named it “Life’s a Beach” which could also be a play on words. Just think about it for a second if you don’t get it [laughs]

 The Haus of LaRouge art by  vltchk on Instagram

The Haus of LaRouge art by vltchk on Instagram

The fact that your edible, peach-flavored “Bottoms Up” massage oil can also be used as lubricant is very sex-positive. What a multifunctional product! Describe your experience creating it. 

  Click here to buy.   Safety Note: Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex condoms

Click here to buy.

Safety Note: Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex condoms

Audrina: This was all KiKi Fierce’s idea. She is a proud power bottom! KiKi, I’ll let you take it from here.

KiKi: [Laughs] This was my pick actually. We do a segment on Tuesday nights - family night - called AFTER DARK. This is were we get down and dirty. No subject, no comments, no story is off-limits. You’d be surprised by the amount of freaky followers we have. I wanted to have something that can spice things up. We get so many emails asking, "How can we make sex fun?" And with me, I’m such an openly sexual, sex-positive person - the "I’ll-try-anything-once" kind of person [laughs] - so I wanted something they could bring home to shake things up a little. Making it edible just made it even more amazing. Come on, a massage oil that hydrates and moisturizes the skin, while able to use it as a lube - and then the cherry on top of that is it’s edible - it’s friggin’ amazing! 

What’s your favorite item from the House of LaRouge Collection?

Audrina: It hands down has to be the coconut body scrub and soak. Not because it’s my input to the collaboration; I just love coconut [laughs].

KiKi: I would have to say that coconut body scrub! I use it to shave my face, my legs, and my arms. The scent instantly transports you the nearest beach. It is like vacation in a tub. The scent lasts all day.

 KiKi Fierce

KiKi Fierce

Is there a message behind the collection?

Audrina: We all celebrate body positivity. We are all thicker gals in drag, and as boys. Unfortunately thin is not always "in," or realistic. We celebrate all shapes and sizes, and wanted something women/men could use and feel amazing about the skin they are in. 

 Audrina Phoenix

Audrina Phoenix

KiKi: Me personally, I’m known for teaching our followers how to live a healthy lifestyle with eating properly and exercising.  We work so hard on our bodies and mind, that we forget we need to work twice as hard on our skin. So I wanted this to be something natural, organic with a wide variety of options for our followers. Why spend all day eating healthy, working out, mentally getting yourself prepared for everyday life, just to ruin it by coming home and putting junk on your skin. That's a no for me. So it had to have those elements of natural, made in the US, no harsh chemicals... to bring your skin, your body and your self confidence to the highest peak it could be. I work hard on my body, and miss pizza so much! [Laughs] So why wouldn’t I want my skin to be just as healthy? 

Did your life in Chicago inspire your collection at all?  

Audrina: CHI TOWN REPRESENT! I would say so, we are showing that just because you are not a “Ru girl,” doesn’t mean you can’t make big things happen. We love our city and where we are from so, we are so happy to have had this opportunity as just four drag queens from Chicago.

KiKi: I would say no. I would say my personal life did. From working out, to being the sex-positive person, is what inspired this line.  

You unveiled the full line with an exciting livestream featuring Heather herself. How has your fans’ reception of the line been since? 

 Heather Marianna

Heather Marianna

KiKi: Oh my God! First off, can we talk about how gorgeous she looked on camera? Like seriously, let us take a minute to appreciate that. The fans received her so well! Heather’s personality shines just as bright as ours do! She might have a little drag queen inside that petite body.

The fans loved her, we were already getting so many messages about, “She’s down to earth,” “she’s funny as hell,” “she is gorgeous,” “she seems so real,” “she loves what she does,” “you can tell she cares about the customers and her brand,” etc. [Our fans] definitely were shocked that a person like Heather Marianna with such a high-end, successful, worldwide-known company could be so down-to-earth and caring. I mean, come on, she wrote handwritten notes to put in our followers’ packages. If that doesn’t show you the kind of person she is, I don’t know what will. 

Audrina: We love our followers, and we are just blown away with the response. We get Snapchats and posts on Facebook daily of everyones’ products arriving. Everyone is excited, as it is our very first skincare collaboration. This would have never been possible.

 Audrina Phoenix

Audrina Phoenix

Finally, if you could only describe the Haus of LaRouge collection in ONE word, what would it be? 

KiKi: That’s easy, “FIERCE!”

Audrina: I would say, “ACCEPTANCE.” Acceptance is the key to truly be free. We all are very open-minded, and a very accepting household. Happy Pride Month! 


Shop the Collection

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Audrina on Facebook

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KiKi on Facebook

KiKi on Instagram

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