RuPaul's DragCon

Interview: Chad Michaels on DragCon, Cher, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The All Stars winner gave us an exclusive interview - featuring a hilarious cameo from Sharon Needles.

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Few Ru girls have the sort of long, illustrious career Chad Michaels has worked for. From being a resident performer in Las Vegas, to winning the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, Michaels has always managed to stay on top - all the while remaining a humble and gracious queen. It was an honor to meet her twice on Friday Preview Night at RuPaul's DragCon, and see her as a panelist on the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Presents: Seeing Stars: Cher and Madonna and Britney and Tina... Oh My! panel. This interview took place at her DragCon booth, the second time we met her.


Derek: Hey, we met earlier over there, at the [Dream Girls Revue booth].

Chad Michaels: (remembering) Yeah, yeah! Totally.

Derek: I was wondering, what does DragCon mean to you?

Chad: To me it's all about the fans, I mean, this is our one time of year to really get out and meet like the people who don’t get to come to the shows, necessarily. There’s a younger set, there's the kids, and then there's the people who just don’t go to drag shows.

Sharon Needles walks by and snorts loudly into the microphone.

Chad: Look who that is.

Derek: It’s an icon!

Chad: It is an icon.

Sharon: Icon (points to Chad), retard (gestures to self). Icon (points to Chad), retard (gestures to self)

Sharon continues to her own booth for a meet and greet session.

Chad: It’s my friend Sharon Needles. So yeah, it’s all about the fans and just, know you, getting to connect and see everybody. Give a little back to everybody that supported us.

Derek: Yeah, and you're obviously an icon yourself.

Chad: Thank you.

Derek: From Cher’s last album, Closer to the Truth, what was your favorite track?

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Chad: I loved “Woman’s World.” I think that was really my favorite. I just like the... I like a dance song. I like an upbeat song. I rarely perform a ballad, so anything that is mid-tempo to upbeat from Cher, I’m down. That's what really gets an audience excited. There’s always an appropriate time for a Cher ballad, but when I’m working in the club and I only got a 3-4 minute set, I want to hit the audience and bring them up. So for me it was “Woman’s World," you know? Yeah.

Derek: What are you looking forward to the most this weekend? 

Chad: Let's see... this weekend I’m looking forward to the Mamma Mia! trivia that I’m doing tomorrow. So I’m collaborating a little bit with Mamma Mia!, which is very much an honor for me. So we're doing a little bit of trivia tomorrow at 11:15am. It's emoji trivia. So you're going to have to name the ABBA song using the three emojis provided. So that's what we're doing. And that's a fun thing for me! You know?

Derek: Awesome! Yeah. 

Chad: It's awesome!

Derek: Well, thank you so much for doing an interview.

Chad: You're welcome! Alright, I'm off. Be well, you guys, and have a good time.

Derek: Have a good time at your party you're doing tonight!

Chad: Thank you.


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's your favorite Cher song? Tell me! @DerekPlease on all social platforms.

Interview: Derrick Barry on Kenzo, Britney Spears and RuPaul's Drag Race

Derek meets Derrick! I spoke with the world-famous drag queen & Britney Spears impersonator.

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We talked Kenzo Paris, Ru Girls and Derrick's favorite Britney Spears song. Unfortunately, though, I forgot to gush over how much I love his bop of a single, "Boom Boom (feat. Chris Cox)."


Derek: So I see that you’re already rocking Britney’s Kenzo look.

Derrick Barry: Yes!

Derek: How quickly after [the campaign launched] did you get everything?

Derrick: I actually lucked out, because we were on tour overseas for UK and Europe. We went to Paris - we already had it planned. So when the whole campaign came out, I went and bought the sweatshirt - well you know the pictures - the sweatshirt, the hat, bra, shorts. I think I got one more thing, but I can't remember. Five things within a week of her campaign coming out. So, I was like that’s it, there is a time and a reason that everything happens. That was the fastest I had something recreated, because I was able to go into Kenzo and buy it.

Derek: Yeah, that's so cool.

Derrick: It was very exciting. It was my first time in Paris, just the energy was right and things like that happen and come along every once in a while, you know?

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Derek: Obviously you were very well known before Drag Race. What was it like to going to into the RuPaul universe?

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Derrick: Well, I was lucky, because I worked with so many of the girls already. Many times we would get booked for the same parties, and I would be the one girl that wasn’t on Drag Race. But I was fortunate because America’s Got Talent was in 2008, and Drag Race aired in '09 - and I wasn’t able to do RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1. I was filming AGT. So I was really lucky that it all happened at the same time. I kinda got lumped into, not being a Drag Race girl, but being a part of the family already. Knowing a lot of the girls and being friends with some of them since I started in 2003. Now it is such an honor to be a part of the franchise. It’s so much bigger. I’ve been to more countries than ever before because of Drag Race; it just puts you in a market that you weren't necessarily able to break into before.

Derek: What is your favorite Britney song?

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Derrick: Ooh! "Toxic," I don't even have to think about it! Second places are... I really like “Work Bitch” and “Till the World Ends,” but there’s nothing like "Toxic" with the falsettos. I just love the screams in it. It was next-level production when it came out, and I still think today that song could come out and kill it on the charts again, because it was so ahead of its time musically. I think it’s timeless.

Derek: I think that is why it has so many memes going on right now.

Derrick: Yeah! it’s just so good, I mean, it’s her best song. It’s going to be 15 years old this November, I think, or something like that. So, a long time. Yeah. Still my fave!

Derek: 15 years of In the Zone!

Derrick: Always In the Zone! You gotta always "get in the zone."

Derek: Well, thank you so much.

Derrick: Of course! I love that you wore Britney. That is awesome.


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's YOUR favorite Britney Spears song? Hit me baby, one more time: @DerekPlease on all social platforms. 

Interview: Daniel Franzese on Comedy Tour, Looking and Mean Girls

The iconic gay actor spoke candidly about why representation matters.

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Actor and comedian Daniel Franzese has been a part of RuPaul's DragCon since the first annual event in 2015. At last weekend's event, his booth featured an impressive variety of merchandise; this included photos, collectible pins and even a whole rack of Mean Girls DVDs to sign for fans.

My husband Jacob and I first visited his booth toward the start of Friday Preview Night, and purchased a pin. Daniel could not have been more welcoming. He signed the packaging for us and took a selfie. We talked about our mutual friend Heather Marianna, CEO of Beauty Kitchen, and of course the Mean Girls musical. It turned out we all have seen it, and are pulling for Grey Henson (Damian) at the Tony Awards. It was one of those surreal encounters that only happen at DragCon.

Naturally, I had to return. Toward the end of the night I came back and asked Daniel if he would be open to an interview. He kindly accepted. We talked about DragCon, his relationship with Mean Girls and the importance of having HIV-positive characters on television. 


Daniel Franzese: What outlet is this for?

Derek: My blog DerekPlease.com and Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine. 

Daniel: Oh, I was just in the Twin Cities!

Derek: What did you do in the Twin Cities?

Daniel: Well, I went to go perform - I do stand up comedy - so I've been on tour.


Derek: Oh my God!

Daniel: Actually there’s an artist who who you might know, who's a queer graffiti artist known as HOTTEA, and he’s from that area. You should interview him. Have you heard of him?

Derek: I haven’t heard of him.

 Yarn installation by HOTTEA inside Minnesota's Mall of America. I did not know HOTTEA created this, or I would have told Daniel I've seen his work.  Photo: Mall of America 

Yarn installation by HOTTEA inside Minnesota's Mall of America. I did not know HOTTEA created this, or I would have told Daniel I've seen his work.

Photo: Mall of America 

Daniel: Well, him and I, made these there [gestures to merchandise]. This is a triple-layered stencil of Damian [from Mean Girls]. So we did that there.

Derek: Awesome. So, what has been your biggest takeaway from appearing at DragCon over the years?

Daniel: I just think, the first year, what I was so surprised about - and what has only grown and what they've cultivated - is that this is the most family-friendly LGBTQIA event I have ever been to. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s always been the philosophy of this crowd that, no matter what you have going on in your life, throw some glitter on it and embellish it, you know. That is what this is all about. So I love seeing people of all ages, sizes, creeds and just everything, just dressing and adorning themselves in order to bring pleasure to those who see them.

Derek: Over the years you have been really inspiring as a person in the entertainment business, because a lot of the time people are known for something, they shy away from it. Like they are not into meeting fans of that particular thing. But you are proud of your work in Mean Girls.

 Photo: Paramount Pictures

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Daniel: I didn’t really have a choice in that matter. I think like in the beginning, I felt a certain type of way, where I was like trying to do something different. When I realized the social impact that playing a chubby, gay teen of size meant, in that time - to a lot of people who didn’t have somebody they could look at in an iconic way that looks like that - I realized how much I needed that when I was younger, and how different my life would have been. So I don't necessarily do it to be proud of my work, though I am. I don’t do it to bask in that glory. I do it just to remind everyone how fierce and amazing all different kinds of queer people can be. So I'm very honored, where I used to be nervous to play queer characters. Now I am so honored to be able to tell the stories of our people, because they haven't been told in this way before. I do embrace fans, and I do embrace all people that come out and celebrate diversity.

Derek: Earlier we spoke about Looking Season 2 and the Looking: The Movie; how impactful your character was, being an HIV-positive man on television in the only gay show at the time on television, basically. I was wondering, do people still come to you, having just discovered that season of the show, with something to say about it?

 Daniel Franzese played Eddie on  Looking , a gay series on HBO with a cult following. Eddie, who was HIV-positive, was in a serodiscordant relationship with Agustín, who was HIV-negative. 

Daniel Franzese played Eddie on Looking, a gay series on HBO with a cult following. Eddie, who was HIV-positive, was in a serodiscordant relationship with Agustín, who was HIV-negative. 

Daniel: Absolutely, I have heard a lot, especially from serodiscordant couples. When I was on Looking, my character was the first HIV-positive character that was on television in six years. GLAAD told me that, and they also said that since there hadn't been an HIV-positive character on television, there was a rise in new infections. So that just goes to show you how much representation matters. Since then, I have been an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; I’ve been to the AIDSWatch each year, and we go to speak to Congress. Even though [Looking] has been over, my role as an activist has just begun, because I will always allow my voice to be a megaphone for people who don’t have as loud or as far of a reach. I believe that there’s a lot of people, especially people smarter than me, that have a lot of messages that need to get out there. If it takes a funny, quirky, Italian, chubby comedian then so be it. 

Derek: Final question. Where is your tour going next?

Daniel: I am all over; touring theaters, clubs and colleges around the nation. I have so many colleges. I have a website - WhatsUpDanny.com - with a calendar where, if I'm coming near you, please let me know. If you don’t go to the school and there’s a way I could get you in, I will. I’m appearing this Thursday here at Flappers in Burbank, CA. I keep coming back in, checking in to my Flappers here. This is like my main house club. Also, on July 26, I'll be back at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City.

 Daniel Franzese performing at Flappers as part of the Burbank Comedy Festival.

Daniel Franzese performing at Flappers as part of the Burbank Comedy Festival.

Derek: Awesome! Yeah, I’m so bummed that I didn’t know about your Minneapolis gig, because I would of been there!

Daniel: I’m coming back; I will be back, definitely more Minneapolis dates.

Derek: Well, I’ll definitely be going to that. When you told me that you had just been there, I was like, “what!?” I didn’t know about it.

Daniel: Yeah, I have more coming. I just did NACA, the National Association of Campus Activities, and I did it in Minneapolis. So I’ll definitely be getting a lot of schools from that area.

Derek: Awesome, well thank you so much for your time.

Daniel: Thank you so much, I appreciate you. Anytime. Call me if you ever need anything. 


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 does having LGBT representation in the media mean to you? Tell us! Email ohay@icloud.com or contact @DerekPlease on any social platform.

We Asked 8 Ru Girls What RuPaul's DragCon Means to Them

Alaska Thunderfuck, Alexis Mateo, Chad Michaels, Gia Gunn, Laganja Estranja, Ongina, Pandora Boxx and Shea Couleé all answered our burning question.

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"What does DragCon mean to you?" is a question that both separated and united the queens who answered it. Each had their own separate connection to the event, but all were united in labeling RuPaul's DragCon their chance to connect with fans. 

Alaska Thunderfuck
(Season 5; All Stars 2 Winner)

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com


"I love DragCon so much, and since it started I thought, "this is going to be huge," because it gives people a place to come together where we are breaking down gender a little bit. We can be ourselves and can express ourselves - and literally everybody is so happy today. I’m so happy to be a part of it."

Alexis Mateo
(Season 3; All Stars

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

"DragCon is a collectible edition of the best of the best. It is what it is. It’s art, dreams, it’s magic all in one place. It’s all I can tell you. It’s my first DragCon experience ever. It has been amazing and I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s only going to be an amazing weekend. It looks to be a magnificent event. I’m going to remember it for years to come; it’s going to get bigger and better all the time."

Chad Michaels
(Season 4; All Stars Winner)

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

"It’s all about the fans, this is our one time of the year to meet people who don’t get to come to the shows necessarily. There’s a younger set, the kids; the people who don’t go to drag shows."

Gia Gunn
(Season 6)

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

"For me personally, DragCon is a place to come and be yourself, to come and express yourself... no fucks given and no looking back, and not being scared of being judged as this is a place of artists; free spirits and being yourself. So for me, I also love having an opportunity of meeting all our fans being themselves and being a community."

Laganja Estranja
(Season 6)

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

"DragCon is an awesome place for people to get together from all different walks of life to come, and be creative ,and meet one another and vibe out on drag. So I think that it is a great thing, because that is what we do for a living, drag. So it's incredible that we have a place like this, a convention like this to come together and see each other."

Ongina
(Season 1; All Stars)

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

"DragCon means a celebration of being together with our friends and family, and just really spreading love, light and being really positive this weekend. It is really great seeing all of the different types of demographics that are here, and the age groups. So for me, we come here for the fans, we come here to make money, but really we come here for just experiencing something so much more grand than that."

Pandora Boxx
(Season 2; All Stars)

"I’ve been doing drag for a long time, since 1812, and so for me it means drag has come so far that we have a convention - a successful convention - that keeps getting bigger. It’s amazing to see how far drag has come and how many people embrace it."

Shea Couleé
(Season 9)

"DragCon is such an amazing experience, I love it because I really love meeting the fans, and I really love creating an experience for all the fans. At least with my booth, I just love to sit down and get to know them, and set a really personal moment. With a club meet and greet, it’s really rushed because we have a tight window of time. So this is where I have my ideal meet and greet, and get to create a safe place for me and my fans to meet each other. Not only that, it’s great for the community. We are all under one roof. I get to see all my amazing sisters, because we are all touring so we don’t get to see each other that often. Fans that become friends online get to meet each other here. It’s such an amazing gathering, I love it so much."


 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

We also asked Alexis Michelle (Season 9) what DragCon means to her, but unfortunately our audio file of the interview was corrupted.  She gave a lovely answer about being able to meet her fans in person and connect with friends. 


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 does drag in general mean to you? Tell us! Email ohay@icloud.com or contact @DerekPlease on any social platform. 

Interview: Alexis Mateo Gushes Over Drag Daughter's "Miss Vanjie" Meme at DragCon

The All Star also explains how she's achieved renewed fame as a result. 

 iPhone photo  

iPhone photo  

Alexis Mateo is no stranger to memes. GIFs of her twirling and exclaiming "bam!" have been in circulation on social media for years. The RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag U, and RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars cast member has since become ensnared in a meme of even bigger proportions: clips of her drag daughter Vanessa Vanjie Mateo slowly walking backwards saying, "miss Vanjie, miss Vanjie, miss... Vannnnnjie." We caught up with her at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018 to discuss this and more at her first ever DragCon.


She notices glitter on our faces and clothing.

Alexis Mateo: All this glitter, I love it. I’m digging this.

Derek: Someone glitter bombed us, they were like, "come here and try our glitter."

AM: Poof! Not even asking. Poof! "There’s some glitter for you." I love it.

We share a laugh.

D: I have got to get it out of the way, your drag daughter has become an icon.

 iPhone photo with Vanessa Vanjie Mateo

iPhone photo with Vanessa Vanjie Mateo

AM: I know.

D: How do you feel about the “Miss Vanjie” meme?

AM: “Miss Vanjie” was something out of this world, let me tell you. I knew she was special when I sent her, and I knew she got that potentia,l but I never knew. I knew she went home first; I never knew she was going to this popular and a big phenomenon. The “Miss Vanjie” thing took over the meme world, the internet, the videos, like everything - it went crazy. I’m so excited for her, she’s working so hard and I’m so excited for her. She was so down when she went back home. She was like, “oh no guys, I didn’t do it,” but it was amazing. The whole situation was amazing, I’m so proud of her.

D: And for [the cast and judges] to mention it in every Season 10 episode afterward, not even knowing it would become a meme.

AM: To see RuPaul mention it all the time on the show - and he went to the red carpet with her necklace and her name on it - it’s so incredible. Vanessa is very special, I knew she was a special girl coming in here and seeing how popular she is; it is just amazing. I get to relive my Season 3 fame through her again.

D: Has it reignited people checking out your season, getting in touch with you, becoming new fans?

AM: Yes. I was very lucky, my fan base was amazing from Season 3 to after All Stars 1. To see her bringing them all together, because a lot of people were rooting for her because she was a Mateo... it was like, “oh my God,” people still remember me. It has been 10 seasons and a lot of amazing queens. For me to see her, and to see the backing of everybody, it’s amazing. It helps me to have a little bit of fame again and the opportunity to perform with her has been amazing.

D: What does DragCon mean to you?

AM: DragCon is a collectible edition of the best of the best. It is what it is. It’s art, dreams, it’s magic all in one place. It’s all I can tell you. It’s my first DragCon experience ever. It has been amazing and I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s only going to be an amazing weekend. It looks to be a magnificent event. I’m going to remember it for years to come; it’s going to get bigger and better all the time.


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.


Send your best "Miss Vanjie" memes to @DerekPlease on any social platform!