|RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Ongina, JuJuBee and Raven snapped photos with Pollo Del Mar backstage before the Season 2 finalists – led by this season’s winner Tyra Sanchez — performed for a packed house at The Cafe. PHOTO BY DAVID WONG
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
“Girls, this is…”
Just as my friend Ongina started to introduce me to her pals from Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jujubee seemed to recognize me. The Boston resident who finished third on the second installment of the smash LOGO reality series immediately rushed across the private dressing room, embracing me.
“Pollo Del Mar! I know you, girl,” Juju announced warmly as we hugged. “It’s so good to finally meet you in person!”
For a moment, I was as confused as everyone else must have been as to exactly how Juju knew me. Perhaps the popular competitor was familiar with me because I recently started following her on Twitter, I thought. I had sent her a few personal messages on the social networking site, though it would take an incredible memory for me to stand out among her nearly 14,000 followers. A second later, as if confessing a secret, Juju answered my unspoken question.
“I voted for you every single day when we were both on the Drag Race casting website!” she said.
Oh, that’s it, I thought! Apparently, being nice really does pay off. Considering many girls on that site weren’t particularly nice, I guess the fact that I was made me memorable. And though I now recall Juju was also very nice during that voting fiasco, to be honest, I had almost completely forgotten she was on the site at all.
In fact, I didn’t realize until a couple weeks ago when a mutual Facebook friend posted a screen capture image taken sometime last summer that she was part of the online melee which saw the two of us — and thousands of other drag hopefuls — vying for but t one guaranteed spot on the show. In fact, that photo in particular showed the Drag Race website, with me ranked several spots ahead of JuJu in online voting.
Obviously, we know how that panned out. It was the Asian-American beauty – and certainly not yours truly – in town Wednesday, May 19, with Season 2 winner Tyra Sanchez and runner-up Raven when the Absolut-sponsored RuPaul’s Drag Race Tour invaded San Francisco’s newly-renovated and oh-so-chic The Café.
Several weeks before, when I first heard the Drag Race champ and finalists were coming to town, I knew instinctively it was going to be a madhouse.
Rather than struggling with the crowd, I planned to skip the show altogether. That decision changed the night before the tour’s Bay Area stop, though, when I received a text from my gal-pal Ongina.
“Can you drive me around tomorrow night?” asked the Drag Race Season 1 finalist, who made headlines when she came out as HIV-positive while competing. Returning for the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center’s Bloom fundraiser, Ongina was in town to commemorate the sixth-annual API HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and wanted to hang while she was here.
Of course, I was game!
At the urging of Tita Aida, I already planned to attend Bloom, the APIWC’s signature fundraising event. Held this year at the stunning San Francisco Design Center, the posh evening — which included a silent auction, open bar and buffet of delicious Asian-inspired goodies – drew a crowd including Miss Desperate Divas 2009 Estee Longah, Rice Rockette Marijoy Tabitsoy, Empress XXXIII Alexis Miranda, Empress XLIII Cher-A-Little and reigning Imperial monarchs Stephen Dorsey and Renita Valdez.
Once she wowed the crowd with two performances, Ongina received the group’s “Diva Award.” Following in the footsteps of SF Supervisor Fiona Ma as only the second recipient of the coveted honor, the Pinay drag superstar joked she would soon have the award statuette turned into one of her trademark hats!
Shortly after, we were off to The Café. Outside the club, the line of drag enthusiasts waiting to get in snaked down Market Street toward Castro. They immediately began shrieking as Ongina passed, leading me directly toward the entrance, where security ushered us upstairs.
At the front of the line, Brooks Rowlett and Ali Mafi tried with no luck to get in with us. Poor Ali! Just a few weeks ago, the Iranian stand-up filmed a LOGO comedy special with Drag Race alum D.J. Pierce (Shangela). Maybe by the time the Season 3 winners visit town, presumably after Ali’s program airs, he really will be “very famous” and get to skip the line?!
Once inside, Ongina and I pushed our way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, finally making our way into the employees-only area downstairs.
There a gathering of fans and fellow queens – Miss San Francisco Gold Rush Anjie Myma, the Ducal Court’s Royal Crown Princess Sandra O. Noshi-Di’n’t, Miss Gay San Francisco 2006 Mercedez Munro — mingled with LOGO staff, representatives from Absolut and those who work at The Café as the eveningg’s emcee, Little Miss Hot Mess, prepped herself.
Nearby, Drag Race winner Tyra (who I had interviewed by telephone just that morning) quietly painted at one make-up station while Juju and Raven chatted at and shared another. Photographer David Wong snapped photos as Examiner.com reporter Marques Daniels gathered quotes from the girls, their admirers and the crew.
Raven, who I found less-than-friendly on the show, proved extremely nice – and disgustingly gorgeous — in person. As I examined her face, she provided step-by-step instructions on how to mimic parts of her eye make-up. “You know who taught me that?” she asked after sharing one of her trade secrets, “Mystique!”
Yes, indeed! According to Raven, the plus-size competitor introduced more to the show than simply the catch-phrase (seen every week) “I’m from Chicago, bitch!”
As sweet as Raven seemed, though, it was Juju I hit it off with that night. Without batting an eye, she gave me her cell phone number, pimped me out to her massive following on Twitter the next day, and that evening put my entire posse on her guest for a show in the South Bay.
“Maybe I’ll make some money tonight,” Juju said during our text exchanges, “They weren’t tipping last night!”
As the gorgeous performer took the stage for her second number at San Jose’s club Motif, I told my friend Andrew “Glo Worm” Slade her concerns about not getting tipped. Eager to support the queen he had rooted for during my weekly Drag Race viewing parties at Lookout – and who had generously comped his admission to the club without ever meeting him — he pushed his way to the front of the stage, a man on a mission.
As her song started, Andrew flashed a $20, setting off a wave of tipping from the lively crowd. Judging from the stack of bills in her hand as she exited the stage afterward, it appeared she made the money she was looking forward to that night.
Once again being nice had paid off, this time quite literally.
Follow “The Glamazon” at Facebook.com/PolloDelMar or Twitter.com/TheGlamazonPDM. Email her direct at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.