Words and Photos by Jess Williams
The sun was just beginning to set in the sky as I pulled into King of Prussia Mall, just outside of Philadelphia, on Saturday evening. The excitement within me grew as I was directed through the parking lot to the scene of the main event: Voss Events’ Drive N Drag Saves 2021.
A massive stage with a cityscape backdrop graced the center of the parking lot, with two jumbo screens to each side. Patios lined the first four rows of the crowd, for those extra special guests, before rows of cars began pouring in, in anticipation for the performance. Fans of all ages and walks of life began roaming around the event area. A line for the merch table stretched across the parking lot, while others created Instagram magic at the In The Heights movie display, which featured a massive replica of New York City staples, The George Washington Bridge, a bodega and a salon. After over a year that felt like a never ending hellscape, it was a breath of fresh air to return to live entertainment and a sense of normalcy, with the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in the Drag Race franchise.
The show began with a video montage of news headlines from the last year — coronavirus, elections, global warming, and more. Suddenly, the screen switched off and Season 10 superstar, Asia O’Hara took center stage. Immediately, she ripped into a superhero themed lip sync number and blew the crowd away. Asia descended the stairs to get closer to the audience, when a distance unknown noise began to overwhelm our ears. The noise was coming from a minivan that had parked in the middle of the crowd, and a familiar face jumped out to join the show, the iconic Lady Bunny!
Together, Lady Bunny and Asia O’Hara did a wonderful job hosting the event, providing the audience with top tier entertainment including: lip syncs, a read for the books (the library was certainly open), and comedic relief between performances.
The first performance of the evening was fellow Season 10 contestant, Kameron Michaels. Gracing the stage in a tight fitting leather catsuit and whip, Kameron performed a lip-sync to a combination of “S&M” by Rihanna and “Daisy” by Ashnikko. A veteran performer, Kameron Michaels proved to the crowd that she did not come to play — bending, snapping and throwing it down for everyone to see. I truly enjoyed watching Kameron Michaels’ performance and could see the joy in her eyes as she stunted on all of us, reminding us why she is one of the best entertainers out there.
Next up, was the alien space queen herself, Aquaria. Sliding across the stage, donning a metallic head covering, a silver fringed outfit AND a keytar, Aquaria dove into a lip sync performance of “Dynasty” by Rina Sawayama. Aquaria, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, is most known for her editorial looks and inspiration, however, she certainly blew the crowd away as she played the keytar live, in addition to serving us a grade A performance.
The third performance of the evening was extremely highly anticipated, and my personal favorite: The Seductress, aka Violet Chachki. To cite her own words, the Season 7 winner certainly “came through” in her performance that evening. Violet stayed true to her roots and gave the crowd a burlesque inspired performance and I could not take my eyes off of her. Violet’s captivating energy that she exudes, is one of the main reasons to keep coming back for more. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more epic, Violet graced center stage with a flaming pitchfork — typical Violet. She waved and pointed the flaming pitchfork at the audience, before literally blowing fire off the pitchfork and creating a night to remember.
Asia O’Hara returned to the stage to introduce the crowd to two very important members of the audience that were in attendance that night: Mark and Eric. The two young gentlemen were newlyweds, celebrating their love at Drive N Drag — there’s truly no better way. After the massive crowd of hundreds of people wish the newlyweds well, the evening continued with some highly anticipated queens from the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 13.
Season 13 finalist, Rosé took the stage next. Fresh off a break from the tour due to an injury, I could tell that Rosé was bursting with excitement to perform for everyone. Much to our surprise, Rosé, the talented superstar that she is, took her lip-sync performance to the next level, by giving us live vocals. Not only did she dance her heart out across the stage in a rather challenging routine, she belted those notes for us in a live performance. I was truly blown away at the opportunity to get to experience the sheer talent that is Rosé… and, on National Rosé Day nonetheless!
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (Vanjie), of Seasons 10 and 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and one of the most memorable and notable queens in the franchise took the stage next. Vanjie paid homage to her roots, in a bodysuit with the Puerto Rican flag on it, Wonder Woman inspired gladiator heels and a matching cape flowing in the wind. Vanjie absolutely killed her performance and her face was beat for the gods the entire time. I was truly blown away by the immense amount of talent that was just dripping off of Vanjie. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time, watching her perform. Vanjie is truly a ball of talent and joy.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
Closing out the show was non other than crowd favorite and highly anticipated Season 13 finalist, GottMik. She made history during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, as the first openly transgender queen on the show. GottMik cemented her punk rock aesthetic during her performance that featured dancers in leatherware, assless chaps and other BDSM/kink inspired clothing and a lip sync performance to “Night Crawling” by Miley Cyrus. This having been my first time experiencing a GottMik performance, I thoroughly enjoyed it. She set the stage ablaze with her strong dance moves and high energy, chock full of her trademark rock n roll symbol paired with the tongue out — a la Gene Simmons, if you will.
For the final number, the queens returned to the stage two at a time: Vanjie and Aquaria, Kameron and Violet, Rosé and GottMik and Asia and Lady Bunny. The stars of the show closed out the night with a killer group lip sync and dance routine to “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls.
After attending the first Drive N Drag tour in the fall, I had an idea of what this weekend’s event was going to be like — and let me tell you, Voss Events and the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race have really outdone themselves and blown me out of the water. The talent that has come out of these queens, and many others from the franchise, is truly magnificent and unbeatable. There is no greater feeling than getting to celebrate several of the most talented and notable drag queens out there, a return to normalcy after a hell of a year and, not to mention, pride month, then at Voss Events’ Drive N Drag Saves 2021.
There are limited dates of the Drive N Drag Saves 2021 tour remaining, including Pittsburgh, Boston and New York City. So, if you find yourself remotely close to any of those cities, I cannot encourage you enough to purchase tickets, support the queens and experience the night of a lifetime.
Tickets for the remaining dates can be purchased, here.
For more photos from Drive N Drag and to stay up to date with Jess Williams and their photography, follow them on Instagram, here.