Werq the World Brings Drag Show to Hard Rock Live in Hollywood | Miami New Times


Werq the World Brings Dystopian Fabulousness to the Stage

The queens of RuPaul's Drag Race are taking audiences through a galactic metaverse at this year's Werq the World Tour.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo flaunts an extravagant, ruby feathered body suit on stage at the Werq the World Tour.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo flaunts an extravagant, ruby feathered body suit on stage at the Werq the World Tour. Photo by Marco Ovando
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Fasten your seat belts, South Florida. The queens of RuPaul's Drag Race are taking audiences through a galactic metaverse at this year's Werq the World Tour.

The world's largest live drag production, organized by Voss Events, makes its way to Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Sunday, June 25, and the lineup is — not shockingly — sickening.

Drag Race star and Tampa native Vanessa Vanjie Mateo calls it "one of the best tours out there, if not the best for drag."

The Puerto Rican queen rose to fame as the first disqualified of season ten when she slowly waved off stage and bizarrely repeated "Miss Vanjie" as a goodbye. After leaving too soon, she returned for season 11 and placed fifth. Last June, she produced and hosted the dating show 24 Hours of Love.

Sadly, she isn't expected to perform on Sunday, but as a Werq the World veteran since 2020, she knows what it takes to produce a gag-worthy performance.

"You know how when you watch [Drag Race] All Stars, you have some good girls, and then some that make you think, Wait! What? It's not like that," Mateo said. "They should expect a lot of choreo, getting those steps in, and probably a lot of hair whipping."

Most dance numbers are directed by Drag Race's Emmy Award-winning choreographer Jamal Sims, who has also worked with music icons such as Madonna, Miley Cyrus, and Jennifer Lopez.

The cache of star-studded performers varies by city, with seven of the 12 queens taking part in the tour appearing on stage at Sunday's show: Laganja Estranja (season six), Asia O'Hara (season 10), Kahanna Montrese (season 11 and All Stars) Bosco (season 14), DeJa Skye (season 14), Lady Camden (season 14), and Mistress Isabelle Brooks (season 15).

Jon Norris, senior producer of Voss Events, says this year's theme of alternative universes and metallic futurism will make space for queens to live out their fantasies.

"When you bring people into the matrix, or in our case, the 'netwerq,' you can be anything you set your heart to," Norris tells New Times. "We really do live in a dystopian future, so let's just make it fabulous."
click to enlarge
British-American drag performer and Drag Race season 14 runner-up Lady Camden dominates the stage at Werq the Word Tour.
Photo by Marco Ovando
Since its start in 2017, the show morphed into virtual streams and drive-ins during the pandemic and continues to tour even amid legislative attacks on the LGBTQ community.

With lip-synch smackdowns and interactive games with the audience, Norris compared the show concept to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), except one is under attack while the other is cheered on.

"These men in WWE are literally down naked with a Speedo on top of each other," Norris said. "What do you call that kind of sporting event? It's funny we're being put on this pedestal and villainized over only a few instances of drag."

Mateo expects the show not only to entertain but to be a representation of those growing into their authentic selves.

"What the hell is 'indoctrinate'? We just educate the children," Mateo says, throwing shade at Florida's ban on all-ages drag shows.

Amidst the "Don't Say Gay" expansion bill, which the state Board of Education approved in April, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other conservative politicians argued leftwing educators were "indoctrinating" students. Senate Bill 1438, titled "Protection of Children" makes it a crime to admit youth to any "adult live performance," which conservatives have classified as drag shows.

Mateo praised the parents of her fellow sister Aquaria, winner of season ten, for supporting her queer journey with drag. "The type of support everyone needs," Mateo adds.

"She became such a powerhouse entertainer because she always had that support from her family," Mateo says. "We're just being ourselves, like hopefully some people can see me and be like, 'oh maybe I can do this as a proper career too.'"

RuPaul's Drag Race Werq the World Tour. 8 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 954-797-5531; myhrl.com. Tickets cost $65 to $125 via ticketmaster.com.
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