The top ten New York City drag queens

Lashes, hairspray and a whole lot of sass—these fierce queens bring the sparkle to NYC

0

Comments

Add +

New York City wouldn't be the same without its vibrant drag scene, and our top ten queens supply the best couture costumes, humor and songs. In Manhattan nightclubs and on the silver screen, you can catch this fierce bunch owning it with pride


Lady Bunny

Lady Bunny Photograph: Billy Erb

1  Lady Bunny  


After cutting her teeth in Atlanta with some kid named RuPaul, the queen of trash talk hopped up to NYC in the mid-’80s and quickly became the driving force behind the pioneering Wigstock festival. Her gravity-defying hair and ultra raunchy song parodies (she works dark blue) have helped shape a generation of cross-dressing comedians, to whom she remains the unofficial fairy godmother.


Joey Arias

Joey Arias Photograph: Heath McBride

2  Joey Arias 


With his unique combo of outlandish couture-fetish costumes, potty-mouthed patter and Billie Holiday–channeling vocals, Arias has been an unhinged fixture of the East Village scene since the late ’70s. His peaks include backing up David Bowie on Saturday Night Live, hosting Cirque du Soleil’s risqué Zumanity and starring in his own phantasmagoria, Arias with a Twist. He returns regularly to spread his legend at venues like Joe’s Pub.




Charles Busch

Charles Busch

3  Charles Busch 


A devoted flame-keeper for classic silver-screen camp, Busch specializes in peerless embodiments of tough-as-nails Hollywood dames. After writing and starring in such downtown hits as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Psycho Beach Party, he’s enjoyed crossover success as a playwright (Broadway’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife) and was the subject of the 2005 film documentary The Lady in Question Is Charles Busch.

Bianca Del Rio

Bianca Del Rio Photograph: Mathu Andersen

4  Bianca Del Rio 


New Yorkers have long known this New Orleans import for her hilariously cruel humor and flawless aesthetic. But when she appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race—a contest she seems all but certain to win tonight—we learned that behind those massive lashes and acid wit lies an incredibly sweet, generous and (yes) kind performer.


Sherry Vine

Sherry Vine Photograph: Jolie Ruben

5  Sherry Vine 


The long-standing class clown of NYC’s drag scene, Sherry Vine takes funny very seriously, striking viral gold with parodies of Lady Gaga, Adele and Madonna, among other pop icons. Vine got her start performing alongside Joey Arias and Raven O at the era-defining Bar d’O in the ’90s, the inspiration for a thousand drag careers.


Linda Simpson

Linda Simpson Photograph: Jolie Ruben

6  Linda Simpson 


Though she doesn’t lip-synch, sing or dance, the quick-witted Simpson has been a fixture in NYC’s nightlife circles for more than two decades, thanks to her work as a journalist (she’s a former Time Out staffer), photographer (her 35mm photos were recently on view at Chelsea’s ClampArt gallery) and writer-star of her own Off Broadway shows. These days, you can catch her pulling balls and cracking jokes at bingo nights around town.


Horrorchata

Horrorchata Photograph: Maro Hagopian

7  Horrorchata 


Drag ain’t always pretty. Gender-fucking icons from Leigh Bowery and Divine to Sharon Needles have shunned girly (or “fishy”) looks in favor of arty, creepy or downright icky. And a new breed of north-Brooklyn queen is taking that baton and running with it. Leading the charge is House of Bushwig cofounder Horrorchata, who tortures and delights boozy gipsters (“gay hipsters,” you squares) with her punk-rock freak-show antics.

Lypsinka

Lypsinka

8  Lypsinka 


The demented alter ego of ballet pianist John Epperson, Lypsinka raises lip service to a dance form in rigorously assembled collages of songs and spoken word, mouthing along to sound clips drawn from deep within the banks of collective camp memory. At her awe-inspiring best, she doesn’t just own her material, but seems possessed by it.

Bob the Drag Queen

Bob the Drag Queen

9  Bob the Drag Queen 


Until last year, Bob went by the stage name Kittin Withawhip, but her new moniker is typical of the irreverent humor and sass that has made her one of New York’s faster-rising new stars. At her late-night shows all over town, she lip-synchs an eclectic repertoire of show tunes and pop, showing off a mix of sparkle and shadiness.

Shequida

Shequida

10  Shequida 


Some queens lip-synch and some queens sing, but Shequida sings. The classically trained, Jamaica-born diva attended Juilliard and has parlayed her four-octave range into everything from an Off Broadway show called Opera for Dummies to an appearance on America’s Got Talent. But she’s not all about glass-shattering high notes: You’ll find her camping it up at plenty of parties around Hell’s Kitchen and beyond.





Users say

0 comments

Read more gay & lesbian features

Top ten New York City drag queens

Lashes, hairspray and a whole lot of sass—these fierce queens bring the sparkle to NYC

Courtney Act's “Mean Gays” video

The Australian songbird sends up West Hollywood—with a little help from her Drag Race friends

See what happened at the GLAAD Media Awards

The best and brightest in gay-friendly film, TV and magazines were honored

A field guide to bears

Robert Valin, founder of the Urban Bear, schools us on the finer points of cubs, otters, husbears and hamsters

2014 Pride March marshals announced

Two actors and a full-time activist lead the charge down Fifth Avenue for Gay Pride

See more in Gay & Lesbian