Calling the fifth annual GLITZ a drag show just scratches the surface.
It was a three-and-a-half-hour blowout with enough heart and humor to kick off Pride in Juneau and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the LGBTQ civil rights milestone the Stonewall Uprising.
Dozens of volunteers, 17 drag kings and queens and a sold-out audience at Centennial Hall Friday night came together for an event packed full of memorable moments and did-they-just-say-that quips.
These are eight sights, sounds and special performances that stood out among the rest of GLITZ’s considerable glamour.
The opening number
Fifty years ago this month, a police raid on an LGBTQ-friendly bar in New York City, the Stone Wall Inn, led to spontaneous violent demonstration and the galvanization of a community. By 1970, Pride parades were popping up in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. GLITZ’s opening payed homage to the event with a stage made to resemble the bar, and a cops-vs.-queens ensemble performance that imagined what would have happened “if the cops would’ve just joined the party.”
Kelexis Davenport gets a microphone
Kelexis Davenport of Dallas was a special performer at this year’s GLITZ, and took time in between stage-commanding routines to banter with Juneau’s Gigi Monroe, who hosted the event, or pepper the audience with bawdy humor. Davenport was impressed with the crowd’s enthusiasm.
“I learned when I was a little kid the word gay means happy, and because of you, I am,” Davenport said. “This is a small town, but you b_tches got some heart.”
Sonique and Tenderoni show off their flair
Sonique and Tenderoni made up the rest of the night’s trio of special guests. Tenderoni is a drag king from Chicago, and Sonique is best known for competing on the second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and being the first contestant on the show to come out as transgender.
Tenderoni brought the crowd to its feet during a performance that mashed up the viral hit “Gangnam Style” and MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” with an impressive crab walk and gallop blend. Sonique was a dead-ringer for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in a strategically stitched spandex suit. She showed a flare for acrobatics while Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” blared to a lot of applause and dollar bills.
The back row of the GLITZ audience was basically a non-stop dance party.
People maybe danced with more abandon toward the end, but an early performance featuring “So What” by P!nk came close to starting a mosh pit. However, a joint performance by GLITZ’s seven local drag kings under the name The Seven Dudely Sins might have drawn the night’s biggest reaction. Decked out in white athleisure wear and light-up shoes, the dudes worked their way through a medley of boy band smash hits that got the crowd singing and dancing.
United We Stand
From the moment Mikhail Van Jackson stepped on stage in a gladiatorial ensemble with arms spread in “Are You Not Entertained” formation, it was clear his performance was going to be a little different. By the time U.S. flags and Pride flags joined the performer on stage while miniature Pride flags were passed out to the audience, the lyrics “United We Stand” were blaring again and again over the sound system.
The show of unity was one of the night’s most affecting moments.
After the show, Van Jackson told the Capital City Weekly he wanted to bring attention to regent anti-LGBTQ policies, specifically the Trump administration’s attempts to ban transgender troops.
“I wanted to send a message of support,” Van Jackson said.
Many of the night’s performances made inspired use of props.
Ryder Strong’s medley of ’80s hits began with the drag king interacting with a vintage Walkman that led to a nifty rewind effect. Tyquan came out with a backing band an instruments for an homage to Prince. Miss Guise may have had the most elaborate accessories. She came armed with fliers to toss into the audience and a device that looked like a weed whacker. Instead of manicuring a lawn, it unspooled ribbon and sent it into the audience.
Juneau’s drag mother brings the house down
Gigi Monroe emceed GLITZ and performed several times throughout the night, including an awesome Liza Minnelli-themed performance that drew a solid through line to the first music heard during the show, Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Garland was Minnelli’s mother. Over the year’s both have become LGBTQ icons, too.
However, Monroe saved the best for last.
In GLITZ’s ultimate performance, Monroe performed to “I Am What I Am” backed by frame of light bulbs that evoked a vanity.
During the song, Monroe cast off her wig to reveal short brown hair. Then, off came her fabulous dress to reveal a male body in boxer-briefs. She then sat at the mock vanity to quickly remove makeup and put on a dress shirt, pants and jacket while singing.
Not long after the music stopped, Centennial Hall was on its feet.
“I’ve never seen drag like that,” said one voice.
“I want to cry,” answered someone else.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.