The drag world is still shook from the news that for its ninth season, RuPaul’s Drag Race will leave its Monday night perch and land on Friday night — not to mention hopping networks from gay pioneer Logo to music mainstay VH1 (both channels are owned by Viacom). The producers of the Ultimate Queen Competition at Tracks quickly decided to follow suit: When the next round of their highly anticipated local drag battle royale premieres this season, it will be on Friday, March 24.
For eight seasons, RuPaul’s Drag Race has helped gay bars build their own audiences with “viewing parties” of the popular show on Mondays, when attendance at venues is typically down. Tracks built a popular night around the show and used it to develop Ultimate Queen, an amateur drag competition that has launched the careers of dozens of Denver’s drag elite and crowned seven winners (and one All-Star), who've been given stints at the venue’s monthly Drag Nation.
“I personally cannot wait for this season,” says Tracks's Tyler Hoff, who directs the Ultimate Queen melee. “We have a fresh new cast of mentors and hosts, with a season full of new challenges. Hands down, this will be the best season yet, and with a new night, I know Ultimate Queen will be the only thing you'll want to do with your Friday night.”
The UQ competition mirrors the Drag Race schedule, which typically runs fourteen intense weeks. At least thirty local queens will put their their best high-heeled foot forward in an effort to prove themselves Denver’s best up-and-coming drag superstar.
This season’s mentors have their work cut out for them, as Diva Dozen star Mariah Spanic will be joined by three UQ winners — Yazmeen StaxXx, Yvie Oddly and Bella Couture-LeCher — who will judge the contestants and assist them whenever they see a wig, lash or rhinestone out of place.
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Hosting duties for the series falls on the shoulders of Westword’s choice for Best Drag Queen in 2016, Felony Misdemeanor, with an assist from baddies Vandy Sexton and Mia StaxXx, who will keep the beauties in line and cut up and kiki with the audience. And that audience is bound to be big, since Tracks is attaching the competition to its already bustling night.
Fridays are about to become fierce.
Doors open at 7 p.m. for the Ultimate Queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party on Friday, March 24, at Tracks Denver, 3500 Walnut Street. The event is free and 18+; for more information, go to tracksdenver.com.