You can always expect a few things on the music stage during LA Pride weekend: powerhouse divas belting, audacious drag queens, lithe boys shaking it in something skimpy, highly danceable grooves throughout and in between it all, and signers interpreting every naughty word and antic for the deaf. In the audience, it's pure good vibes and unity, a sea of rainbow garb, flamboyant style and looks ranging from butch and leather to femme and freaky. Of course, a lot of the crowd just blends in, and you cant tell the difference between whose even gay or straight, and that's sort of the point too. Pride parties are about expression, music, humanity and love, regardless of who you happen to love. When Sunday night headliner Estelle sang “One Love” near the end of her set, it really said it all.
Yes, as the abundance of dragsters and speedos might suggest, some stereotypes are true, but at Pride, the gay community owns up to 'em in the giddiest-way. The performances on the main stage tended to run behind both days as did the amusements in the Tom of Finland-sponsored Erotic City tent, and everytime we inquired, someone near us would say, the event was running “on gay time.” We were grateful for it actually. The lapsing schedule meant more freedom to meander through the intriguing vendor booths, such as Top Secret Hair's rainbow faux-hawk (“fawk”) wigs, arguably the most popular style statement at the fest, and Microbe's cuddly plushies modeled after disease molecules. There were penis lollypops, lubes and condoms galore, apps for men-to-men hook-ups, whips and chains for tough-lovers, and a mass of statement tees (the baseball jersey proudly proclaiming “The Other Team” was a clever one). Ogling half-naked boy toys and colorful merch is fun, you don't need to pay $20 admission for that in WeHo. Whether you attend the Sunday morning parade or not, the festival is all about the main stage come afternoon and evening.
Saturday, highlights included the dapper and dynamic Prince Poppycock offering the operatic vignettes that made him a runner up on America's Got Talent, “Finally” funk mama Cece Peniston and show closer Mya, who served up all her hits including “Ghetto Supastar” and “Lady Marmalade,” complete with choreographed dance routines. See her again TONIGHT at Mustache Mondays at the Belasco Theatre.
Sunday, we caught the large and in charge vocal talents of Dominque Karan, followed by RuPaul's Drag Race winner Raja doing his (we say “his” because he was only in semi-drag) track “Diamond Crowned Queen.” He's still lip-synching for his (professional) life and doing it well.
No synching/mouthing with Tranzkuntinental (unless you count Detox Icunt and Willam Belli's brief tongue-ings). The queens play live and loud (easily most clamorous during Pride). The main stage generators blew out during the incomparable queen Momma's number, which led the audience to chant her name as the stage went silent. The band came back to finish the set, but in all, it was a more dance-friendly set than we prefer from them, focusing on Lady Gaga and mixing in everyone from George Michael to Kanye West mash-ups.
Speaking of dancing, the dance tent was sweaty and bouncing pretty much the entire weekend, with DJs spinning a high-energy mix of house, techno and remixed dance hits. Most heard bootie-shaking track: “Pon De Floor” by Major Lazer and the Beyonce reworking “Run the World.” Between the VIP area (with free grub courtesy of Cahuenga Ave's Kitchen 24, which will soon be opening in WeHo serving post-Rage-rs all night), the wild dance tent and Erotic City's half-naked happenings, it's a wonder we caught the live music at all. Thank goodness for “gay time.”
See pics from the stages, Erotic City (the official “Mr. Christopher St. West” leather boy contest!), VIP area (cast members from The Real L Word) and much, much more in our Pride Slideshow.
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