Gritty. Dirty. Nasty. While on stage this last Friday night at Precinct DTLA, these were the words chosen by drag stars the Boulet Brothers to describe their staple of the Downtown LGBTQ club scene, Queen Kong. Those may not be the usual adjectives one would want to describe a party, but considering the opening theme to the pair’s hit reality TV competition The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula exclaims, “Drag, Filth, Horror, Glamour,” I think “gritty, dirty and nasty” seems pretty on brand as well.
For those living under a rock and unfamiliar with the Boulet Brothers, they’ve been bringing their alternative form of drag — which is far more dark and horror-inspired than, say, most of the drag seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race — to the L.A. nightlife scene for years. We went through some of their history in our history of drag nightlife and spotlight on the duo for our DragCon issue this past May. This last Friday night, the Queen Kong party both served as a celebration for its fourth anniversary as well as the final party ever, with a lineup of some talented drag queens and a surprise performance from the Boulet Brothers themselves. “We look back on the impact Queen Kong has had on queer nightlife in Los Angeles with love and great joy. It is our favorite event we’ve produced to date and we will always love it,” Swanthula, one half of the Boulet Brothers tells L.A. Weekly.
It was the Boulet’s presence at Precinct that really helped shape the downtown LGBTQ scene in general. The club opened in May 2015, when only one other LGBTQ bar existed downtown. There were underground queer promoter-driven parties, such as Mustache Mondays at La Cita, but after Precinct and Queen Kong debuted, things exploded. Two other LGBTQ bars downtown followed including Redline and the now-closed Bar Mattachine, and one year later, the first DLTA Proud event was held.
“It’s been a surreal experience to be able to help shape what the gay scene in DTLA has become. There has always been a bit of gay nightlife downtown, but as this sector of the city started to come back alive and reignite the demand for a more fleshed out scene arose. The alternative gay scene in L.A. has always been very small and fragmented, and we wanted to pioneer something bigger that brought everyone together,” said the other half of the Boulet Brothers known as Dracmorda, right before DragCon back in May. “Our friends had just taken their life savings and created this huge gay bar in downtown and so we created Queen Kong as a flagship party for the bar and for the gay renaissance that was happening down here. Downtown has literally exploded into a new center for queer life, art and entertainment in L.A. and it’s still growing. We feel honored to have been able to be a big part of ushering in a new era.”
Not only did Queen Kong help amplify the burgeoning downtown LGBTQ scene in an audacious new way, but it also provided a mainstream outlet for alternate forms of drag. Sure, there are many drag parties throughout the city, but if you wanted to see some non-traditional, edgier, bloodier drag, Queen Kong was the party for you. While queens at Micky’s Showgirls revue in West Hollywood may have queens fresh off RuPaul’s Drag Race or the pageant circuit, the “Queen Kong” girls were straight out of Friday the 13th.
I would often tell friends visiting from out of town who were looking for a fun Friday night party that Queen Kong was one of the best drag shows around. In fact, Queen Kong and the Boulets helped this alt form of drag become so mainstream that other drag parties like Showgirls started booking their queens as well. Regardless of the type of drag being showcased, Kong created a preeminent LGBTQ Friday night party that seemed to be missing from the scene for a period of time, after the Factory/Ultra Suede closed and before Evita came to Nightingale.
At the Queen Kong grand finale party last Friday, the lineup included some great performances from queens, kings, gender-benders, burlesque dancers and performers. These included Elton John impersonator Tito Soto, who pretended to play a piano’s silhouette that was displayed on a projector screen, make-up artist/queen Glen Alen who came out in a pink gorilla costume before taking it off to reveal some out of this world make-up, burlesque star Diamondback Annie as Paul Stanley from KISS and scary clown Evah Destruction ( just announced as part of the Dragula season 3 TV show cast) who fittingly performed a lip-sync to “Dragula” by Rob Zombie.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was that the Boulet Brothers, who have mostly focused on their hosting skills in recent years, had a costume change and performed as well. It was everything you could want and expect from them, including the throwing of white rose petals, a severed head and a lip-sync to “What’s A Girl To Do?” by Bat For Lashes.
The evil evening ended with the Brothers passing out some shots to the audience and toasting to Queen Kong’s throngs. They shared how they felt that we all built the party together and assured the crowd that even though this party was ending, that they would still be hosting many future festivities in Los Angeles, including their annual Halloween bash. Just like most of the Boulet Brothers’ parties, the finale was everything their fans wanted it to be: fun, inclusive, edgy, crowded and just a little bit sloppy.
The Boulets asked us to “celebrate the fuck out of this legendary party” and that is exactly what we did. Fans may no longer get to see the pair at Precinct every week but they’ll still be seeing them after dark, and on TV. It was just announced that Dragula season 3 will launch on Amazon Prime in the U.S. and 63 countries around the world on Aug. 27 , and will also air on cable channels OutTv in Canada and TVNZ in New Zealand. “It’s the end of an era but that just means it’s time to find new ways to celebrate and make some new magic,” Swanthula says. I couldn’t agree more and thank you, Boulets, for all you’ve done for drag, for weirdos and for LGBTQ nightlife community of Los Angeles.