One week from now, RuPaul's Drag Race season 14 will crown a new drag superstar. The season has been one hell of a ride, complete with shocking twists, amazing surprises, and a whole lot of memorable drag. Because of the hit reality TV series, drag shows have taken over the nightlife scene. And this rings truer in New York, a place that has produced many memorable drag queens that have come to compete and even win the reality TV competition. These now-iconic queens have performed in Barracuda Lounge, Industry, and other hotspots where you can watch the best drag shows in New York.
Peppermint, Bob The Drag Queen, Monét X Change—these are just some of the big names that have performed at the legendary Barracuda Lounge in New York City. Located in the Chelsea neighborhood
, it's where some of the most famous drag queens in New York—many of whom have gone on to compete in RuPaul's Drag Race, started their careers. Every Thursday night, they host their long-running 'Star Search,' a weekly drag show that began in 1991. It's said to have been one of the inspirations behind RuPaul's Drag Race and coincidentally, many of the show's performers and host have also competed in the hit reality TV competition.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Commonly referred to as the 'gay church
' of Brooklyn, Branded Saloon is a staple among the LGBTQ+ community in this borough. The cowboy-themed bar regularly hosts some of the best drag shows in New York, ranging from provocative burlesque performances to riotous stand-up comedy acts. The Brooklyn-based drag collective, 'Switch n' Play,' also perform here often. They put on incredible drag shows twice a month, uniquely featuring drag kings and bending the gender spectrum with their out-of-this-world performances. You won't want to miss out on Branded Saloon when you're in Brooklyn!
Hell's Kitchen, the hip district on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan, features a ton of great drag bars and gay nightclubs. One of them is Industry, located on W 52nd St., easy to get to via public transport
. Every Thursday night, they invited some of the best drag queens in New York and let them go wild with their respective performances. Some would go all-out in lip-sync performances, some would fill the place with laughter with their raunchy comedy, and others will go experimental, putting forth a drag show you'll never see anywhere else. Industry is a high-end club that invited some of the more elite gays in the city. You can expect that the drag shows here are up to their standards.
What's great about The Rosemont, the lively cocktail bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is that it celebrates the art of drag. The place goes way beyond featuring local drag queens and famous Drag Race alumni. It elevates the drag experience to a more immersive and even educational level. More often than not, the drag queen shows in New York City are commonly either lip-syncs, burlesque performances, or stand-up acts. The Rosemont, however, offers lively celebrations of drag, even hosting forums and conversations about the history of the art form and of the community as a whole.
3 Dollar Bill
You're probably used to seeing drag shows in intimate spaces, aren't you? Drag queens usually perform in dimly lit bars where they only have a small stage and subpar sound systems to work with. But not in 3 Dollar Bill! This Brooklyn nightclub offers a massive space where drag queens in New York can go all out as if they're performing like pop stars on a stadium tour. Bright lights, a spacious stage, and a state-of-the-art sound system to boot. This place is a drag performer's dream! and as for fans of drag, they'll feel as if they're watching the season finale of RuPaul's Drag Race in person!
Laurie Beechman is an underground theater where drag shows and dinner theater intermix. Located on West 42nd Street, right at the heart of Hell's Kitchen, it's a famous staple among local New York drag queens and Drag Race alumni. Here, they don't just get to lip-sync, they also get to sing live, perform group numbers, teach the history drag, and even strip. The sky's the limit to what drag performers can do on the stage at Laurie Beechman, which is why it's a popular hotspot among the LGBTQ+ community in New York. It's also a great place to celebrate Pride Month
Hardware Bar is a place where talented drag queens can shine as brightly as they would on RuPaul's Drag Race. This iconic gay bar on 10th avenue has the queens singing, lip-syncing, and doing all kinds of stunts as if their lives depended on it. That's how amazing the drag shows in New York City are and Hardwar Bar stands proof of that. One of the most hotly-anticipated shows here is when a queen performs 'Drag Suicide
.' This is when the audience gets to shout random songs and the performer has to perform all of them in one mega-mix of a show.
House of Yes
Lastly, there's the House of Yes, another LGBTQ+ hotspot in Brooklyn. What's so great about this drag bar is that it even encourages the audience to show up in drag. Camp is the name of the game as the queens on stage and the people watching are all in fabulous costumes, stylized wigs, lots of accessories, and of course, show-stopping makeup. As for the drag show itself, thing flamboyant theatrics, flying acrobats, and more. You'd sooner think this was a circus rather than an ordinary drag show in New York. And you know what? It sort of is!
Drag culture is alive and well in New York, known as one of the main gay capitals of the world. In this city, there are a ton of places you can watch the best drag shows, featuring famous queens and local performers you ought to know about!