With tomorrow’s one of a kind competition edition of Rapture right around the corner, the valiant Rapture crew and six finalists are polishing off finishing touches that will put the X-factor in “Queer Avant Garde Extravaganza.” Envision yourself sitting among the buzzing audience, the air electric with excitement, eagerly awaiting the dazzling array of drag performances to determine which queen will take the crown and reign as Rapture’s first resident. Hosted by the marvelous Arson Nicki, the competition will be judged by Mercury Divine (Kitchen Sink, Werkshop Wednesdays), Londyn Bradshaw (Weird, West End Girls), and Angel Baby KillKillKill (Tush). Festivities will also include a photo booth courtesy of Lady Miss Kiki and music curated by Julie Herrera (Flammable) and DJ Kirky (Luv Ladder/Pony).
The art of drag is no one-dimensional performance—the multifaceted and dramatic nature of a drag performance assuredly resulting in a titillating feast for the senses. In addition to the fundamental runway element of a drag show, queens will generally cover several categories of entertainment throughout their routine such as theatrical storytelling, comedy, and musical acts. Considering the astounding amount of detail that goes into crafting a drag act, attendees of tomorrow night’s competition are undoubtedly in for a sensational night full of top-notch talent.
To lend more insight into what’s in store, we had the pleasure of chatting with Arson Nicki about specific details of the competition.
What kind of performance can we expect to see tomorrow night?
Folks in attendance can expect to see all kinds of genres, moods, and stories onstage, but all under the gigantic form umbrella of lip sync. They have free rein over the material for their numbers in the first round (aside from a few key caveats), but I chose their final lip sync song, and I can guarantee that it will be nothing short of epic.
What will the queens be judged on?
Performers will be judged on their execution of words, how much their looks contribute to the storytelling of their performances, and how unique and unusual their performances are. The audience, judges, and I will all rank them based on those criteria, and the highest ranker in each round wins. I wanted the criteria to be as objective as possible so that the competition is less focused on who "does best" and more focused on who brings what we are looking for based on the above prompts.
What would be significant about being the first Rapture resident?
Having a guaranteed paid spot to do one number per month at an avant-garde drag party is a huge opportunity. I'm hoping the winner takes this as a chance to experiment without fear of losing their regular spot the next month. When you know exactly how much time you have left, it's easier to budget your time and resources towards those strategic creative risks.
What sets Rapture apart from the other drag events in Seattle?
In a city full of early-evening seated shows, Rapture stands out as being one of the only regularly-occurring events in Seattle that combines drag performances with a dance party, allowing for endless play with format and content. This show format has come and gone over the years and is very popular outside Seattle, but for some reason, the idea doesn't seem to ignite quite as easily here. The community runway and photo booth elements combine to encourage attendees to show their support by dressing up and taking space to see and be seen, which is not an experience I get anywhere else.
What made you want to set up this competition?
Honestly, every few months we get tired of the format and wanted to change things up. In Seattle's drag scene, if you stagnate, you fall behind quickly, even if what you're doing technically "works"; this was a way to keep things unexpected and interesting. I have literally no idea how this competition is going to go, and I prefer it that way.
How did you choose the judges?
The judges represent the past, present, and future of Rapture. Mercury Divine is one of our past performers, Londyn Bradshaw performed at Rapture very recently in August 2018 edition, and Angel Baby KillKillKill is one of the guest performers booked for October 2018. In addition, all three are regular attendees of the party and peers of the competitors, so they know what to look out for and have significant amounts of context to work from.
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Now that we’ve been made familiar with the components of the competition itself, it’s time to get to know our six phenomenal finalists before we experience them on stage, in the flesh. Each queen has carefully constructed a short biography that they believe sets the scene for the personality you’ll meet on Saturday night.
Michete: Michete is an underground pop star who started doing drag in order to trick the gays into paying attention to her. So far, it seems to be working.
One: One’s mom has tried convincing them to do drag without using their body in harmful or diminishing ways. One’s mom keeps failing.
Bosco: Bosco is the patron saint of guilty pleasures, the current brand ambassador for the 7th ring of Hell, and used to run Satan's official Twitter (Bannon needed a gig after Trump laid him off). She's recently relocated to Seattle after being priced out of Hell by the recent tech boom. You can't even get a studio in the River Styx for less than a thousand bones (human) these days! But now that she's here, Bosco can't wait dig her claws in and leave her mark.
Aria Kane: Aria Kane is the new “witch” in town. She creates her own brand of “glamour ghoul” by combining her dark sensual fashions with killer performances. Aria believes the sharpest thorns often produce the most beautiful roses.
Snakeoil: J Walling, aka Snakeoil, is an artist, designer, and performer based in Portland, OR and leads the art collective Drama Club. They have produced three fashion exhibitions, won seven ballroom and drag-based titles in the Pacific Northwest and have thrown underground sex-positive queer events. They are known for their handmade avant-garde designs, boundary-pushing performances, and presence in the nightlife community.
Stasia Coup: Stasia Coup is a brand new performer on Seattle’s drag scene. Rapture being her debut performance, she is the competition’s resident dark horse, and is fully prepared to overthrow the Seattle stage. She brings to her work a postmodern dance sensibility, a high-fashion-meets-DIY aesthetic, and a unique, transmasculine take on drag. Her work seeks to project visions of queer resilience and beauty, and to transport audiences to alternate worlds.
This is not something you want to miss, be sure to grab your ticket ASAP and meet us in Timbre Room Sept. 8th!
By Katelyn Wynecoop