L.A. is the unofficial capital of drag. Yes, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco are formidable contenders too, but thanks to the “sickening” mainstream success of RuPaul's Drag Race (which is filmed here in Los Angeles), the per capita queen count in Cali has gotten kinda cray-cray.
After the country's best boys-as-babes come here to compete, many stay to try their hand at showbiz. And even before Drag Race was a TV phenom, L.A. reigned as a wiggy wonderland thanks to Dragstrip 66 (photo above featuring current RPDR fave “Detox” and hostess with the mostest “Momma” was taken at one of the last 66's events and a doc about the seminal Silver Lake dress-up party is in the works).
Below we count down the best spots to see she-male entertainers lip-sync (as well as really sing, act, dance and prance) “for their lives” on stage and on dance floors. Many of these clubs, not surprisingly, feature Ru's runners-up, and you will find many of the same performers popping up at each. Cross-dressing creatives are a bona fide community in Los Angeles and we've been lucky enough to cover them all for years in L.A .Weekly. Big or small; “fishy” or kitschy; rockin' and raunchy; or glammy and hammy, you will find an L.A. wo-man to worship at these clubs.
10. Mondays at the Abbey
Monday nights at the Abbey are quite often drag-drenched. Jackie Beat (see clip at end of this post) hosted a hot hap called Mascara Mondays (she's currently on hiatus after an epic hip surgery benefit here), and RuPaul's Drag alums often serve as hosts and performers for alternate Mondays. As one of WeHo's most popular gay eateries and events spaces, the Abbey also throws the regular season premiere shindigs for the Drag Race (“Shannel” is pictured here performing a past party) and the fetes are never less than full throttle fierce. 692 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hlywd. (310) 289-8410, www.abbeyfoodandbar.com/
9. Tie: Trannyshack L.A./Summertramp
Though summer is still a few months away, we couldn't not mention these two. Trannyshack L.A., one of many offshoots from the famed San Francisco house of queen-dom — ruled by the legendary Heklina (pictured) — is at this point a seasonal soiree. But the nomadic monthly dance-club-meets-performance-art extravaganza made its mark last year, winning the Weekly's Best of L.A. slot for drag club. Summertramp, which transformed a downtown parking lot into a polysexual pool party, features drag hosts and patrons who don't mind getting their wigs wet. Trannyshack at various locations, www.trannyshack.com. Trannyshack L.A. bounces around multiple locations. Summertramp is at Tony's Saloon, 2017 E. 7th St., dwntwn. (213) 622-5523, www.213nightlife.com/summertramp
8. Recess at Eleven
There's a lot of buff boys in short-shorts at Recess (the racy dance club from the people behind Tigerheat) but the club also offers performances, of which drag is always the most seductive. On Eleven's dance floor, gender benders serve it in excess at Recess. 8811 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hlywd. (310) 855-0800, www.eleven.la
7. Mustache Mondays
One of the jolliest gay clubs in the city, Mustache at La Cita owes it flamboyant brand of fun to a great DJ (Josh Peace), a relaxed venue, a cool mix of multi-culty, multi-sexy patrons and awesome queens and “tranimals” (Fade-Dra Phey) as hosts, performers (Ongina) and door gals (Miss Barbie-Q). The vamping in this video says it all. 336 S. Hill St., dwntwn. (213) 687-7111, www.site.lacitabar.com
6. Stripper Circus at Here Lounge
The self-procaimed “dirtiest show on earth” at Here has young fit hotties taking it off, but host Rhea Litre (pictured) and glamour gurl/guy guests put it on (makeup, wigs, colorful get-ups and mega-'tude) as part of the big top- (and bottom-) themed debauchery. 696 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hlywd. (310) 360-8455, www.herelounge.com
5. Whore Haus at Los Globos
Art freaks and horror queers flock to this provocative party at Los Globos for its mix of dance floor revelry and weird — gothy and schlocky — drag skits and bits. And these chicas (such as “Rude-ness,” pictured) kill it every time. 3040 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 666-6669, www.clublosglobos.com
4. Showgirls at Micky's
The “girls” at Micky's mad mash-up consist of L.A.'s best faux femmes, many of them from RuPaul'sDrag Race and around the country. These are pros who know how to tuck and absolutely “don't fuck it up” when it comes to entertaining you. This clip above features show fave “Raven.” 8857 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood.
(310) 657-1176, www.mickys.com
3. Hamburger Mary's
Burgers and bootie shakin' are on the menu at Hamburger Mary's most nights, but it's the raucous restaurant's drag-driven eves that offer the sexiest sizzle. Legendary Drag Bingo aint your grandma's game night, but it is a winner with big prizes and a notable charity component, while the venue's other queen scenes — Calpernia Addams “Goddess,” the Starlette Revue Thursdays and Pumped Fridays — are juicier than anything cookin' in the kitchen. Miss Barbie-Q (pictured) is a flava-full example. 8288 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hlywd. (310) 654- 3800, www.hamburgermarys.com/weho/
2. Dreamgirls at Rage
For fans of RuPaul's hit queen competition, Dream Girls at Rage is a must-go. It's produced by Chad Michaels, who took the crown as Drag Race's #1 All-Star, and it features all of the most raved-about royalty from the show (pictured above: Manilla Luzon) impersonating, re-interpreting, grooving, moving and very often outdoing pop music's most popular chart-topping divas. 8911 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hlywd. (310) 652-7055, www.theragenightclub.com.
1. Cavern Club
Located below Casita del Campo restaurant in Silver Lake, the Cavern Club is where you'll find dynamic drag shows that go beyond the usual lip-syncs and laughs. It's a place for sequined sisters to shine and has been for longer than anything else on this list, thanks to Mr. Dan (aka Gina Lotriman from Dragstrip 66). The basement space offers an intimate atmosphere and campy, mostly comic cabaret from the best transexual talents in town, such as Jackie Beat and “Chico's Angels.'” Plus you can guzzle (great margaritas from the upstairs restaurant) as you giggle. And if Jackie Beat's parody of “Vogue” in this clip above doesn't make ya laugh, you must be a Republican. 1920 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. (323) 969-2530, www.cavernclubtheater.com.