Sashay away. Shantay, you stay. Good luck and don't fuck it up. Condragulations. “Ru-isms” from the juggernaut reality show RuPaul's Drag Race on VH1 have transcended television to become synonymous with not only drag, but pop culture in general. The show, which began in 2009 on Logo, has since aired 11 regular seasons, 4 All Star seasons, a companion series Untucked and a British version set to air in the U.K. On top of all this, DragCon was first launched in 2015 in Los Angeles and has only gotten bigger every year, even expanding to New York two years ago.
“When Randy [Barbato] and I started out, drag shows were on a tiny stage. We just thought, oh my God, the artistry is off the charts,” says Fenton Bailey, executive producer of RuPaul's Drag Race and co-founder of World of Wonder, the production company behind Drag Race and DragCon. “I think it was always our dream to see this incredible work on a larger platform. And I think that's what Drag Race and DragCon have been able to provide.”
Los Angeles was a top destination for drag even before Drag Race, but with the show filmed here, and many staying here after their big break, the queen quotient is off the charts — and with the arrival of the 5th Annual RuPaul's DragCon at Los Angeles Convention Center this Memorial Day weekend, even more so. It's going to be a very queeny weekend in L.A. indeed, and to celebrate, we're spotlighting a mix of “wo-men” who have been on the Emmy-Award winning show and some who haven't. Either way, they're all L.A. drag royalty.
Here, a little dish from Mayhem Miller, an L.A. native who's seen drag in L.A. explode, and has been heating it up for herself on and off TV.
Dequan Johnson, known by fans as Mayhem Miller, was born near West Hollywood at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and grew up in South Central and Riverside. “I tell people I was born gay, from the hood, with a big country heart,” says the popular performer and nightlife promoter, known for her glamorous looks and biting wit.
Mayhem had been a fixture in the L.A. drag scene way before she appeared on season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race. “The L.A. drag scene is night and day if you compare it from when I started to now,” Mayhem says. “With the popularity of RuPaul's Drag Race, we have seen a influx of people who have embraced the art of drag. It's more accessible to people. Before, you had to seek and find a drag show, now you cannot only find a show at every gay venue — you can find them at straight establishments too! With drag becoming more and more mainstream people want a piece of it, whether it's on stage or off.”
Those who want a piece of Mayhem needn't look far. She headlines and hosts a weekly '90s theme party called “All That 90s” on Tuesdays at the Abbey and she also appears there for Saturday afternoon's “Brunch Service.” “[I'm known for] my hosting abilities on a microphone. It's very rare you can find an entertainer who is funny, engaging and beautiful all at the same time.”
And her looks kill too—look no further than her krampus-inspired Christmas outfit on last year's Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular. “I'm [also] known for my eyes. The drama,” Mayhem says. “I have a way of captivating the audience with just a glare.” We couldn't agree more.