As both the official photographer for the monthly Drag Nation and a longtime supporter of local art, Koko Brentano had a vision: to see the two worlds collide. Friday night's Pop Drag at EXDO Event Center is the result, a convergence of the work of artists Louis Recchia and Zoa Ace with the multidimensional performances of RuPaul's Drag Race alums Nina Flowers and Ongina -- plus a rotating cast of Drag Nation regulars.
See also: - Slide show: Pop Art Drag Nation at Tracks - Slideshow: Drama Drag at Tracks - Dana Cain's Art Collection: Louis Recchia - Don't call him queen: Paul Soileau talks about more-punk-than-drag persona Christeene Vale
So how, exactly, will a drag show and an art show come together as one big event? "I picked out a group of paintings and gave them to the performers, and they based their costuming off of each work," says Brentano. He's been fond of the color-popping, intelligent pieces of Recchia and Ace for a long time, he notes: "I thought their work would adapt itself well to coming to life."
Nina Flowers seemed like an obvious choice for the interpretations, too. Hardly a traditionalist when it comes to being a queen, Flowers is known for her energetic stage presence and incomparable routines.
"Personally, I've never enjoyed drag very much as a transgendered person," says Brentano. "I don't like the whole concept of female impersonation, but when Nina created Drama Drag (Drag Nation's precursor), she invigorated it and made it about performance. A lot of (the show) is about energy and movement, and bringing the dance crews in really changed it."
Brentano's talking about Denver Dance, a troupe of hard-working performers who have helped transform the Friday night shows into something more than just a lip-synching display. With this combination of drag, dance, music and the physical interpretation of art, Brentano hopes to bring some new faces to the already-packed Drag Nation house. As a photographer, she's traveled the country shooting drag shows, and Denver's Friday night event is not just a local mainstay, she says; it's becoming a well-known institution.
On top of Flowers and the regular crew of queens interpreting the work of Recchia and Ace for Pop Drag, Ongina, star of the inaugural season of RuPaul's Drag Race, will also take the stage. This is yet another reason for Drag Nation's continued popularity: It features a constant stream of national talent. From Drag Race favorites to Amanda Lepore and Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry, the Friday show rolls out the best in contemporary queen culture each and every week.
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The Pop Drag edition of Drag Nation goes down this Friday, November 30, at the EXDO Event Center. Doors open at 9 p.m.; tickets are $10-12 and can be purchased at the door or in advance via the club's website.