Gigi Monroe (James Hoagland) performs at the Heartbreakers drag show at the Rendezvous on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

Gigi Monroe (James Hoagland) performs at the Heartbreakers drag show at the Rendezvous on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

Juneau drag heads to national stage

Local drag queen one of 8 competing in pageant

Gigi Monroe is going to Hollywood.

The Juneau drag queen will be one of eight competing in a new Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition debuting during RuPaul’s DragCon 2019 in Los Angeles.

Monroe is the pageant’s one small-town contestant. Others hail from Miami, Chicago, Phoenix or the Los Angeles area.

Gigi Monroe prepares backstage for a Christmas-themed drag show in December 2015. (Juneau Empire File)                                Gigi Monroe prepares backstage for a Christmas-themed drag show in December 2015. (Juneau Empire File)

Gigi Monroe prepares backstage for a Christmas-themed drag show in December 2015. (Juneau Empire File) Gigi Monroe prepares backstage for a Christmas-themed drag show in December 2015. (Juneau Empire File)

“The biggest thing I want people to realize is you don’t need to be in L.A. or New York City or Chicago or Miami to have a big impact in drag,” Monroe said in a phone interview with the Capital City Weekly on Wednesday. “I really take that seriously. I’m just incredibly proud to represent my home —even though I’m not from here — I’ve been here six years —it’s definitely my home.”

[Breaking hearts and gender norms]

The pageant is the brainchild of drag queen Alaska, a former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” runner-up and winner of the second reason of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” and the event has an intentionally over-the-top title.

“That makes it a little bit confusing for those of us reading about it here in Alaska,” Monroe said.

RuPaul’s DragCon is a three-day convention celebrating all things drag with both New York and Los Angeles iterations. The upcoming L.A. convention is scheduled for May 24-26, and the new pageant is slated for Sunday, May 26. Monroe said streaming or broadcast information hasn’t yet been shared.

Contestants found out they were selected to compete about a week and a half ago, Monroe said, but an official announcement was made earlier this week.

“I was sworn to secrecy at the threat of jeopardizing my candidacy,” Monroe said.

Now, Monroe said it’s time to prepare costumes and practice routines.

Gigi Monroe clutches a bouquet courtesy of organist T.J. Duffy after a St. Patrick’s Day organ concert at the State Office Building, Friday, March 15, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Gigi Monroe clutches a bouquet courtesy of organist T.J. Duffy after a St. Patrick’s Day organ concert at the State Office Building, Friday, March 15, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Monroe said contestants will square-off in four categories: pre-show interviews, creative costumes, evening gowns and talent. For the latter, Monroe said she plans to stick to the routine that’s allowed her to travel around the country and world.

“I feel like I’ve been working up to this moment the last 15 years I’ve been a drag queen,” Monroe said.

There will be celebrity judges with a $10,000 prize on the line, but Monroe said who exactly those judges will be is still a mystery.

The audience’s make-up is more known.

[Special St. Paddy’s concert features antique organ and drag queen]

Given the event’s proximity to DragCon, Monroe would expect there to be a lot of drag queens in attendance, which is both good and bad news.

On one hand, the crowd will be able to appreciate specific elements of the performance. On the other, it means an audience with high expectations.

“I would say that’s a lot of pressure,” Monroe said. “Drag fans are a lot more forgiving than drag performers.”


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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