In the L.A. club scene, certain events and characters stand out with an alchemy that can’t be bought: a creative thirst to entertain and a boundary-pushing attitude that portrays nightlife as art. It’s this attitude that sets apart the men from the boys, the badass babes from the basic bitches, or, in the gay scene, the queens from the part-time princesses.
L.A. is full of fabulous fete throwers, for sure, but one duowho’ve been doing it for quite some time have evolved in their level of production and presentation, emerging as lascivious leaders in alternative nightlife. The Boulet Brothers have fiendish fun in more ways than one with their events, but when it comes to the feel and look of what they do, they don’t play around and never have.
The duo, who prefer to maintain mystery by not revealing their real names, have been honing their glamour-ghoul aesthetic for well over 15 years, first with Miss Kitty’s Parlour at the Dragonfly, then with various outrageous offshoots and debauched dance orgies such as Black Unicorn and Beardo Weirdo. Though their vibe has always been of a pansexual nature, attracting nearly as many straights as gays to early events, their current concepts seem more focused on mutating the queer club model with two hot nights — the weekly downtown L.A. jungle jam known as Queen Kong and the monthly Hollywood hellabaloo called Dragula. Both have seen the duo reach horrific new heights in image and reputation as promoters.
“Queen Kong is like a massive, downtown Los Angeles queer clubhouse that everyone convenes at every Friday night,” says Dracmorda Boulet (the taller one). “It's a huge crowd of bearded, beautiful boys, and there are tons of amazing shows every night featuring gay rappers, drag queens, underground queer icons and everything in between. It's so hot and so much fun, it's really our pride and joy.
“Dragula, on the other hand, is really punk and packed and crazy and dangerous,” Drac continues. “It's in a leather bar, and the fags and queens just get drunk and go crazy in there every time we do it. There is a big drag pageant that happens and some of the most creative, filthy and fabulous drag queens in the city battle to win a ton of cash, a crown and the title of Dragula. They mud wrestle, have giant food fights, perform in pools of blood — it's seriously level 10. The last time we did it, people walked out covered in blood, fish guts and confetti.”
In my experience, Boulet Brothers bashes usually surpass level 10, actually, hitting a Nigel Tufnel 11 on the freaky scale. Even when their ideas were less honed during the Kitty days, they never shied away from provocative imagery or un-PC party amusements. I loved chronicling every subversive second. There was a period in the late 2000s when people likened my nightlife writing for L.A. Weekly to Saturday Night Live's “Weekend Update” club correspondent Stefon (Bill Hader) — and in many ways, I credit the Boulets with giving me the goods to write such colorful reportage. From lube-wrestling to naughty XXXmas bashes with Santa spankings, to celebrations of white-trash culture featuring bootie-bopping strippers eating buckets of fried chicken, they always came up with something new and naughty and interesting.
Though the pair are originally from New York, they definitely seem to be inspired by Southern California’s skimpy dress and liberal, anything-goes mindset. “When we first got to Los Angeles from NYC, we felt there was a creative void in the nightlife here,” says Swanthula Boulet (the shorter one). “We were so inspired and ready and full of ideas and drive. The same sort of raging, underground creative energy is still there and has only gotten bigger, but the way we do things is 100 percent different. Now we have a whole company and a team of people who help us put on our events, so we are able to do things we could only have dreamed about back then.”
With Queen Kong and Dragula, their ideas have found a crowd that truly appreciates them and puts as much thought and cosmetic time into their personas as the brothers do. And the Boulets (who, for the record, are partners, not siblings) set the bar with their unique style.
“It's nice to literally be able to wear whatever bizarre things that come into your head and have people appreciate you for wearing it,” says Drac. “It's a far cry from growing up and being treated poorly for doing the exact same thing. As far as how we create our looks, there isn't a plan really, we just start getting inspired by something and it grows from there. It might be a hat we find, or something we make, or the feathers on a particular bird we see — it's very random. We get inspired, and just take it as far as we can go with it.”
Their imaginative getups and accompanying environments have been embraced by the elite drag community here in Los Angeles and across the country. Swan reveals exclusively to the Weekly, in fact, that Dragula is transforming into a reality web series called "The Boulet Brothers' DRAGULA: The Search for the World's Next Supermonster."
“I don't know how much I can tell you about it, but we are so excited to be doing this!" says Swan. “It's a drag competition reality show where nine drag queens will be competing to win the crown, the title and the grand prize. No one has ever done anything like it, and I can't wait to share the trailer with everybody. The first episode is airing on Halloween night and it’s basically a mix of Fear Factor, Jackass and Drag Race. It is completely amazing.”
Outside of airing their new creeptastic competition show, the guys are keeping attention on Queen Kong and DTLA's gay renaissance. “We just finished helping to create and put on the first-ever DTLA Proud festival, and the area is really blowing up right now,” says Drac, sounding a bit stressed out via phone. “We're traveling and performing in other cities, too. We're actually packing right now to leave for NYC to perform at the Bushwig Festival this weekend. Speaking of which, I really need to go and figure out how I'm going to check these two massive wigs into baggage claim.”
Clearly, when it comes to this level of nightlife decadence and dedicated dress-up, the struggle is frighteningly real.
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Queen Kong happens every Friday at Precinct, 357 S. Broadway, downtown. More info on tonight's party here. Dragula happens the fourth Saturday of every month at Faultline, 4216 Melrose Ave., East Hollywood. More info here. For the latest on all Boulet Brothers events, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Los Angeles native Lina Lecaro has been covering L.A. nightlife since she started as a teen intern at L.A. Weekly (fake ID in tow) nearly two decades ago. She went on to write her own column, "Nightranger," for the print edition of the Weekly for six years. Read her "Lina in L.A." interviews for the latest nightlife news, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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