STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
It took a lot more than suspenders and taped glasses to win the Revenge of the Queens drag show Thursday night hosted at El Rancho Bar.
The winner, Philip Powell (aka Phil-eesha Phil-ya-up), was decked out in a sequined minidress, blonde wig and stiletto high heels for his drag-queen performance.
A rambunctious crowd cheered on a total of 12 contestants as they strutted, stumbled and shimmied down the runway during the drag show, which was resurrected last year after a several-years hiatus.
While co-organizer Jennifer LaCroix admitted this year’s geek theme was more challenging for a drag costume than last year, contestants found a way to add their own geeky touches to almost every outfit. Sequined suspenders, a plaid miniskirt and a bright orange fanny all made an appearance on the runway.
But the theme of geek didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of skin flashing across the runway.
Ethan Riser, dressed up in nothing more than a Princess Leia-style bikini gave a risque nod to Star Wars nerds, and Cody Birk put a naughty schoolgirl twist on the geek theme with a pink miniskirt and half-buttoned collared shirt.
This year’s contestants had a much easier set of tasks than last year, when each of the participants had to limbo under a pole, carry a tray of shot glasses while sashaying through a line of traffic cones and hula hoop for as long as possible.
After a few contestants last year almost fell off the runway, organizers decided hula hooping was “a bit too dangerous,” LaCroix said. She said she hoped the event would be more streamlined this year than last.
This year, each contestant first had to carry a tray of shot glasses and serve a few in the thirsty crowd. Craig Hozingo, wearing a black miniskirt and high-heeled pleather boots, brought two bare-chested bodyguards with him as he teetered across the runway while Tirzah Camacho broke out dance moves that drove the crowd wild. One of the bolder women near the runway tried to sneak a dollar bill into his tighty whiteys as Camacho shimmied past.
Participants’ second challenge was to do their best impression of the El Rancho walk of shame. Some of the male participants interpreted the task as an invitation to take off their shirts and shed their stuffed bras, baring their chests to the crowd. Others skillfully stumbled across the stage, pretending the cheering crowd was a group of skeptical early birds on Main Avenue.
Similar to last year, the vast majority of drag-queen contestants signed up the day of the event, including Buddy Gurnari and his wife, Debbie Gurnari. The couple had attended the Shuckin’ Suckin’ Oyster Eating Contest at the Highway 3 Roadhouse earlier in the afternoon and, after a few drinks at the Irish Embassy, decided they should switch clothes and enter the drag-queen contest, Buddy Gurnari said. He was dressed in hiking boots, a plaid mini skirt and a cheerleader sweater that left more than a sliver of his round tummy exposed, while his wife had the air of a nerdy office worker with a button-down shirt that was caught into the zipper of her khaki pants.
Though the contest was just a hair above organized chaos, the crowd didn’t seem to notice and roared with approval each time the contestants came on stage.
The drag queens, meanwhile, were happy to bask in the spotlight.