Nightranger: Lash and Learn

Shannel rages at RuPaul's premiere party.

View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: Dragstrip Reunites, Cirque Berzerk and More."

We've always said real gals could learn a thing or two from drag queens, so it was no surprise when the makers of RuPaul's Drag Race also created a show called Drag U, in which biological women score a makeover by the hottest she-males from the show.

In many ways, we feel like L.A.'s club scene — especially the gay stuff — has been our own little class in sass. Last week's audacious activities (the Drag Race 3 preview party at Rage, Dragstrip 66's 18th Reunion at the Echoplex and the decidedly straighter but no less flamboyant Cirque Berzerk at Club Nokia) were a perfect example. Read on and take notes, kiddies. You may be quizzed.

It might be all about illusion, but ironically, RuPaul's Drag Race is one of the "realest" reality/competition shows on TV. Behind the big wigs (and quips), inch-long lashes and sequin slew, these dynamic dragsters have a lot to say and they never hold back on the show or in real life, something we can all learn from.

The party brought one of the glitziest, glossiest and gabbiest gatherings ever to Rage last Tuesday night (and for this homolicious hub that's saying something), with the entire new cast of royals in attendance — plus Ru-kalike Vanessa Williams and Adam Lambert — to watch the premiere on TV screens, sip fruity Absolut vodka drinks (the show sponsor and part of the reason the queens are often so loose-lipped in front of the camera) and "lip-synch for their lives" as part of the club's regular Dreamgirls Revue. Raven, Shannel and Sonique from last season were so smokin' onstage, we weren't sure if we should be attracted or envious or both.

Keep an eye out for three L.A. lovelies (makeup artist Raja, a blond babe named Venus D-Lite and a returning surprise contestant) on RDR3, which airs Monday nights on Logo TV and Tuesday nights on VH1.


It had been a while since we stomped and romped about Santa Monica Boulevard's boy-toy circuit, so after Rage, we made our way up the street to the equally vivacious Micky's, where Recess, the over-18 dance party from the Tigerheat guys, was in full effect. Like the 'Heat, this gathering (which some have nicknamed "Twink Tuesday") features the latest pop releases, and every hot-off-the-press buzz track is put to the ultimate test: the gay dance floor. Based on Tuesday's ass-shake action, the new Britney Spears is a full-on booty-banger, but the new J.Lo? Not so much.


Lady Gaga obviously knows a few things about gay club love. The video diva would be nothing without her queer following, and with her soon-to-be-released Born This Way, she is clearly continuing to court and support the community. The title definitely inspired our pal DJ Paul V., who created the website Born This Way ( as a "project for gay adults (male and female) to submit pictures from their childhood with snapshots that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves."

The site features lots of fun pics of adorable little fellows in mommy's clothes and femme poses, but what makes it really illuminating are the accompanying anecdotal essays about each subject's childhood. At the Dragstrip 66 reunion Saturday at the Echoplex, V. told us the site is blowing up; we're guessing that has as much to do with the unique content as it does with the Gaga connection.

Dragstrip, by the way, marked its 18th year (and first year since the club closed) with a school-themed "classless reunion" and live show by one of our faves, Tranzkontinental, and we give both the bash and the band (which featured mean/queen girls Rhea Litre, Kelly Mantle, Detoxx, Willam and Momma up front and some new go-go girlies) an A-plus. Check out our "class favorite" photos in the Nightranger slide show this week.


There may not be drag looks at Cirque Berzerk, but amid the demented drama and death-defying feats, there's pretty much everything else: killer clowns, retro vamps, sideshow freaks, burlesque vixens, etc. Fans of the fantastical surrealism of L.A.-based troupes such as Lucent Dossier, The Do Lab and Mutaytor (all of which feature overlapping members and friends) will be familiar with the show's arty, lusty and gothic/steampunk aesthetics, but the new production presented this year at Club Nokia certainly has a wider appeal as well.

The general theme is one of death, both literal and symbolic. Death of inhibitions and death of monotony and normalcy are evoked via the lead female character's journey through a sinister "underworld." The soundtrack (composed by co-creator Kevin Bourque, who plays a Satan-like character in the show) meshes vaudeville-era jazz, circus sounds and dark industrial rhythms. Even if it's not under an actual big top as it once was, it's easy to succumb to Berzerk's hedonistic temptations as the show's makeup, sets, styling and music work together. It's a seductive atmosphere that sucks in both the protagonist in the show and, ultimately, the audience.

Cirque Berzerk's nearly monthlong run concludes on Sunday, Jan. 30. Friday and Saturday have two shows apiece (8 and 11 p.m.) and Sunday offers a special afternoon performance at 4 p.m.

Tip for ticket buyers: Try to get a balcony seat. We saw the show from both levels of the theater, and the view from the upper level is better for all the aerial performances. Plus, looking down onto the hell-themed happenings makes sense, right?

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The Echoplex

1154 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026



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