Money, magic and tears fuel madness at charity drag queen show

Kathy Griffin and Kay Sedia on Best in Drag red carpet

From “The Money Toss” and stabbing one-liners to the Magic Castle-styled costume changes and personal anecdotes, the Best in Drag Show competition caused the audience to gasp, howl and cry at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Celebrity judge, Kathy Griffin, welcomed the audience with a topical monologue; she encouraged the audience to vote to re-elect President Obama, discussed the realities of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and described the current status of her relationship with Ryan Seacrest as “she and I have kind of made up.”

Melanie Griffith, Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, Grey’s Anatomy’s Sara Ramirez, Glee’s Dot-Marie Jones and Olympic diver Greg Louganis were also judges.

Master of Ceremonies, Patrick Rush warned the audience that “what you are about to see is neither pretty, nor politically correct.” After the blundered opening dance number, he joked that “if you come back tomorrow, it will be perfect.” It was a one-night show.

Color Commentator, Bindi Dundat, who won Best in Drag 2007, said “this year the girls are so hideous, if you put them all on stage you get one complete set if teeth.”

Miss Hawaii, Tiny Bubbles Ho, described as the love child of Bette Midler and Don Ho, tried to charm the judges and said to one of them, “Miss Louganis, you make my Volcano rumble.” Her charms failed to make enough of an impact on the judges because Miss Washington, Typsy Rose Lee was crowned the winner.

Lee, whose favorite phrase is “hold my hair back,” channels a purée of Lucy Ricardo, Eva Peron and a strawberry daiquiri. She wowed the audience with the glamour and creativity of her costumes, like a silver lame martini glass dress. For the talent portion of the competition, she performed a dance number enhanced with smoke and magic to perform six invisible costume changes in 60 seconds.

During a set change, Rush announced that more than $250,000 had been raised in ticket sales alone to benefit the Aid for AIDS organization. Incoming donations were announced during the show and Rush said he was confident that by the end of the evening the number would be closer to $350,000.

Several thousands of dollars were donated by Skechers Shoes, The Orpheum Theatre owners, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, and Melanie Griffith and Kathy Griffin made matching donations.

Griffin’s donation came after Miss Indiana, La Fonda Jackson, performed her aerial/dance number. She sent a note up to Rush, which said that she was donating because Best in Drag “is the only show where you can see Janet Jackson perform with her dead brother and then make him get back into the casket.”

For pictures of what you missed, visit our See & Be Scene page and to make sure you don’t miss out again, visit our Events Calendar page.

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