Gay men across Queensland are currently walking around in neck braces. That's how hard RuPaul rocked Brisbane on the weekend. Spectators were left with whiplash, wig-envy and the overwhelming urge to download La Toya albums. But more about the drag legend's epic performance at the sunshine state's Big Gay Day festival. As you might remember from this post, I got the chance to interview Mr Charles in February. During that conversation we discussed our mutual adoration for the thinking man's Jackson at length. It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate the unbridled genius of genre-defining anthems like this, so I knew I had stumbled upon a kindred spirit. Well, on the night before his first QLD gig in 18 years, we had the chance to continue our chat. RuPaul is an adorable man with a huge heart and a razor sharp wit. I loved discussing La Toya's undeniable impact on popular culture with him as well as explaining my Beyoncé obsession and exploring the gems in Stephanie Mills' back catalogue. It was a lovely and completely surreal experience - so thank you, Ru.
After getting the chance to meet the supermodel of the world, I was even more excited about seeing him strut his stuff live. I saw the great diva's one-song Mardi Gras performance and was looking forward to seeing the full show. That appearance in Sydney drew some negative press but I honestly think it stems from critics not understanding the fundamentals of drag. It's performance art. It's comedy. It's the magic of illusion. In RuPaul's case, it's also about sharing brilliant pop music. I can't believe people went along to his show and complained about trivial shit like backing tapes and back-up dancers. Seriously, bitches - take an aisle full of seats! Rant over. So Brisbane's Big Gay Day is something of an experience. It takes place in a back alley, between a parking station and a pub. RuPaul's dressing room was a truck parked across the street. Guys drove to the venue in their Utes. While the event had a definite... rustic vibe, it was also one of the most relaxed and welcoming pride festivals I've ever attended. People were genuinely excited about the Drag Race mogul's visit and several fans told me they had been supporting Ru for more than twenty years.
As the final support act left the stage at 9pm, the booze was flowing and the anticipation was growing. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a full set or a small showcase. It turned out to be the former. Ru strutted on stage with more attitude than La Toya in her epic and highly influential "You're Gonna Get Rocked" video. The wig and make-up was immaculate and I loved the colourful '70s-tastic jumpsuit. Drag's leading lady began the show with 2009's "Covergirl", which he performed in sultry style against a projection at the back of the stage. Next up was RuPaul's iconic hoodrat anthem "Tranny Chaser". The song has always been on my faves - I like to think of it as the saucy sister of Bey's "Freakum Dress"! - and it sounded great live. I loved Ru's cute quips and he threw in some fierce choreography. That was followed by the title track of last year's Glamazon album. Words can't express how much I worship this jam. This tune needs a video, remixes and radio airplay. It's too much fun to waste!
After a lightning fast costume change, RuPaul returned in a beautiful gown to belt out 2004's "Looking Good Feeling Gorgeous". I'm glad something from Red Hot made the cut. I always thought that album was extremely underrated. "Call Me Starrbooty" was another unexpected inclusion - at least, I thought so - but everyone knew the words. Ru's fans came prepared! It was great to hear a couple of the diva's less familiar gems, particularly when they were performed with so much passion and style. Nobody strikes a pose better than RuPaul. The next anthem whipped the crowd into an even bigger frenzy. "Jealous Of My Boogie" is such a cute song. I love the retro sound and think it was a perfect choice for Big Gay Day. It was then time for the pop icon to close the show with his signature tune. "Supermodel" never gets old. Name-checking the Jacksons was inspired and he walked that stage like Naomi Campbell in her non-crazy hey day. My fellow Toy Soldier then gave me a shout-out saying "Mike, you just got rocked!" Truer words were never spoken. Check out Ru talking about our La Toya talk earlier in the show below. It was so sweet and unexpected. Toy truly does bring people together.