The largest drag production in the galaxy descends upon Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House on Saturday, September 14. Werq the World 2019, presented by Voss Events in collaboration with VH1 and World of Wonder, will include the stars of the Emmy-nominated TV show RuPaul's Drag Race, including Denver's own Yvie Oddly, who won the show's most recent season.
With Drag Race judge Michelle Visage and season ten contestant Asia O'Hara acting as hosts, the Werq the World experience will consist of epic performances by Drag Race alumni including Aquaria, Detox, Kameron Michaels, Kim Chi, Monét X Change, Naomi Smalls, Violet Chachki, Plastique Tiara, Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo, and, of course, reigning winner Oddly.
Oddly has already completed two international tours this year, starring in the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11 cast tour and co-headlining the Pretty Weird tour with fellow cast-mate Plastique Tiara. But Werq the World is a whole other level.
"This doesn't diminish any of the tours I've done so far, but for me, Werq the World is just a bigger platform to express yourself on," says Oddly. "It's a bigger production value, it's going to a lot more places, and it's going to reach a lot more people. So it challenges me to step my drag up from, say, a small club venue to what would I do in a theater or possibly a stadium. It's really exciting, because what I've been taking on tour with me is a lot of drag that people did not get to see on the show, which is just me making commentary about being a human, and just being like an average girl. Werq the World is also giving me the opportunity to return to some of what I think the fans really got to love, at least from me visually, on the show — which is a craizer, out there, dramatic aesthetic."
As Oddly's fans, aka the Oddballs, know, she lives up to the name "Oddly" by turning out conceptual, experimental looks that redefine and expand drag's notions of beauty and artistry. So she was thrilled to find out about Werq the World's intergalactic theme for this tour and wants to use it as an opportunity to redeem her monster look from season eleven's "Monster Ball" episode. According to the Voss Events website, the show "Takes you on a journey to save the galaxy," so expect the queens to serve futuristic, alien-esque and out-of-this-world looks.
When it came to her Werq the World looks, Oddly turned to the same folks who made her show-stopping Drag Race outfits: her fellow Colorado drag performers. All but one piece she wore during her run on the show were made by people from the Denver and Colorado drag communities, so it was a no-brainer for her to collaborate with them again.
"Because they have done such a great job and because we have so many fantastic and really creative minds in Denver who just don't always have the spotlight, I felt really comfortable going back to working with them specifically for these outfits for Werq the World," Oddly says. "They need to be these creative, conceptual things, that no one has ever seen before, and I need some bold people who are willing to lean with my pickiness."
As she's been off traveling and performing since her Drag Race win, a whole team of local designers has been working on Oddly's Werq the World wardrobe. Starting on Wednesday, September 11, in Kansas City, Missouri, those designs will be worn in 47 cities over two months of touring, bringing unprecedented exposure to Denver and Colorado's talented drag communities. Werq the World 2019 has already toured Europe earlier this year, and will continue to tour Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia with a rotating cast through February 2020. Voss Events estimates that over 150,000 fans will witness the production on the North American leg of the tour alone.
With eleven drag queens and Michelle Visage on the road, things can definitely get chaotic. There's a lot of wigs, pads, nails, outfits, shoes, makeup and props to wrangle. But there's also strength in numbers.
"Strangely enough, I really enjoy traveling with a pack of drag queens," Oddly says. "All of our chaos kind of has to balance each other out. In one way, it's harder because we're all these really strong independent beings who have made it — not to say we haven't had any help — but have made it on our own. But it's also really nice, because you have sisters there to lean on, and there's more people to be responsible if you're a grown adult baby."
Lose a nail on tour alone, and you're out of luck. Lose a nail on tour with this crew, and you'll have ten queens offering you replacement options.
So what can we expect from the actual show? Top-tier talent, gag-worthy fashion, and an all-around over-the-top production.
"I think as audience members, you can expect to see the very best of Yvie, and I can only assume the very best of a whole lot of other girls, too," Oddly says. "But I put my all into this. You're going to see a whole bunch of new looks, a whole bunch of new concepts, and moves, and basically a whole new me."
As a former theater kid, performing is what Oddly lives for.
"My favorite thing about performing live is just the exchange of energy between an audience and the performer. I like all the different mediums that drag has allowed me to explore artistically, but there will never be anything as satisfying as making an audience laugh, or making them cry, or making them shocked."
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But Oddly is also just happy that the Denver tour stop will allow her to spend a little time at home before the rest of the tour.
She says of coming home, "I feel like a sports team that won the Super Bowl. I really just want to see my friends and family, people who were always there on the journey. I always make sure to take out at least a little bit of time to just veg and take in my house and take in all of these things, essentially take in the place that used to be everything for me and now is just one part of my life."
Werq the World 2019 starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 14, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Regular tickets range from $52 to $62, and VIP meet-and-greet tickets (which include a seat in the first few rows and a chance to meet the queens after the show) are $162; get tickets at axs.com.