Alaska Thunderfuck Teases Denver Valentine's Day Concert | Westword
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Alaska Thunderfuck Shreds Valentine's Day in Denver

The RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner will play a concert at the Gothic dubbed Valentine’s Day Is Terrible: An Evening With Alaska Thunderfuck.
Alaska Tunderfuck says you can go to college or get on Drag Race.
Alaska Tunderfuck says you can go to college or get on Drag Race. Photo by Albert Sanchez
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“I have had so much fun in Denver, so much so that I don’t really remember it," says Alaska Thunderfuck. "Denver has always been one of those cities — there’s amazing drag there, there’s an amazing community around the drag that happens there. I just love the place."

And the drag superstar will be back in the Mile High City soon. After a show at the Aggie Theatre on Wednesday, February 21, she'll be at the Gothic Theatre on Thursday, February 22, for her performance that's been dubbed "Valentine’s Day Is Terrible: An Evening With Alaska Thunderfuck."

As the runner-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race season five and the winner of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Thunderfuck has witnessed the staggering rise in the popularity of drag firsthand, seeing it go from its risqué and subversive underground roots to being a celebrated art form worldwide. “When I was first on Drag Race...it was pulling on people who were working in the sort of underground community of drag because that’s all there were to put on the show," she recalls. "Now Drag Race has been around for a long time, so the kids on the show grew up watching Drag Race, so they have the ability to visualize drag as a viable career option. It’s kind of like college; you can either go to college or get on Drag Race.”

But with drag's acceptance into mainstream culture, the inevitable appropriation of certain aspects were bound to take place, such as throwing shade and reads, which come from a place of love in the drag community, Thunderfuck says. Yet with drag’s popularity in the age of internet anonymity, there is a fine line between poking fun at someone out of respect and being a troll.

“The art of shade and reading really is an art," she emphasizes. "If it’s my drag sister or my drag mother who I respect, and they call me a horse-faced bitch, that’s, like, wonderful. That’s a high compliment coming from someone I love and respect. And reading and those things come from a culture where we, as the queer community, have had to keep our claws sharp because we’re walking out to a world that can be very hostile to us. The problem now is because reading and shade has become so common, there are these kids online who think they’re the experts when they call me a horse-faced bitch. That’s not respect; that’s not a badge of honor.”

Since leaving Drag Race, Thunderfuck's career has blossomed. With four studio albums, numerous TV and movie appearances, a perfume line, a young-adult book, a memoir, a successful podcast and a YouTube channel with a staggering 60 million views, she is playing in the big leagues. What has her attention right now is DRAG: The Musical, which she co-wrote and stars in.

“I’m really interested to see where DRAG: The Musical is going. It keeps sort of growing and evolving and going to the next stage, so that’s really exciting. It’s something we’ve worked on for eight years. It keeps getting better and growing. That’s in the now. I’ve been listening to the Barbra Streisand audiobook, and now I want to be a director of film. Solely because Barbra Streisand did it,” she says with a laugh.

Firmly established as an icon in the drag world, Alaska hasn’t forgotten the road that led her here or the advice she has received along the way. She likes to pass on that advice to younger queens, and it usually boils down to a simple truth: The little things matter in drag.

“I remember this one gig with this all-drag rock band. I had just started doing drag so I was a mess," she remembers. "I was putting my outfit together, and I was using these cheap, shitty safety pins — probably from the dollar store or something. This one queen was like, ‘You can’t use that, you need to use the good safety pins, here.' She gave me some of hers. That was really good advice. Get the good safety pins; they’re strong, they’re amazing. Oh, my God, good safety pins turn me on!”

Alaska Thunderfuck, Wednesday, February 21, Aggie Theatre, 204 South College Avenue, Fort Collins, and Thursday, February 22, Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, Englewood. Tickets for each show are $35-$150.
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