New York is, without question, the world capital of the drag arts. Gender-bending superstars from Bob the Drag Queen to Bianca Del Rio have honed their craft on NYC stages, and the scene shows no signs of slowing. These days, you can catch drag queens (often for free) every night of the week onstage at gay bars throughout the boroughs (and in Fire Island), and even on Broadway stages with shows like Kinky Boots serving fierce performances to midwestern tourists. We've rounded up the best performances to see. Go get your life!
RECOMMENDED: Full NYC drag queen guide
Drag shows and events
Anja Keister and Lee Valone host this mad monthly night of gender-bending, kink and geek ecstasy at Talon. Witness inventive drag from Valone and JJ Sparks and gagworthy burlesque from Ms. Suki E, Trinity Starlight and Qualms Galore. As if the performances weren't enough, the wild night includes a demonstration in shibari—Japanese bondage—followed by drunk geek trivia.
The indefatigable veggie-haired queen presents droll commentary during high-camp screenings of some of your favorites at this weekly series. Sit back and laugh as the silver-tongued diva lacerates movies like Cruising, Mommie Dearest, American Gigolo and Thelma & Louise.
Ultimate all-star Alaska Thunderfuck and her best bro Jeremy Keller honor TV's greatest bastion of kindness, love and friendship, The Golden Girls, at this live musical show. They'll cover songs from the series—including Bea Arthur's outsized "What'll I Do?" and the legendary theme song. Check your lighters at the door; there's going to be a lot of flammable fabric on one stage.
Finally. After selling out convention halls in Los Angeles, Mama Ru's juggernaut culture fest hits Javits Center for a full weekend of panels, pageantry and plenty of shade. Meet your favorite queens, buy merch, and watch the ladies go head to head at after-parties all weekend. The stacked lineup is pretty unbeatable, and continues to grow with alumni and celebrity fans from the series' decade-long run, including: Sasha Velour, Shangela, Tammy Brown, Trixie Mattel, Amanda Lepore, Michelle Visage, Detox and the eternal diva herself, Rupaul.
One of the wittiest queens to ever throw shade and snatch laughs on RuPaul's Drag Race, Season 5 winner Monsoon is also a charming and funny nightclub singer with a penchant for retro sylings and musical theater. In her latest set, performed with piano virtuoso Joshua Stephen Kartes, she takes show-tune requests from the audience and does her best to remember them.
Bow down and worship as the nastiest, boldest and most brilliant drag and queer performers in town gather for this mad, joyous festival in the borough that’s at the vanguard of the artform. Step out of the nightclub and into the dirt for two days of outrageous performance, art installations, food trucks, sweaty dancing and next-level costumes.