Drag queens are among those who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With gay bars and clubs — typically the venues of choice for these performers — still closed or unable to host indoor events, the queens have largely lost their courts and their sources of income. Fans of drag have also lost a distracting form of entertainment, which many are thirsty for after months of social distancing.
One group of performers, however, has come up with an innovative and relatively pandemic-friendly solution: drive-in drag shows, where audience members can experience live shows from the comfort and safety of their own cars.
“People need entertainment,” Brandon Voss, the organizer of Drive N’ Drag, told NBC News. “People need to get out of the house. These are difficult times. The opportunity to put our people back to work and bring our fanbase a little joy in what is truly the s---tiest of times makes it worth all the hard work.”
Voss said the Drive N’ Drag performances, which will be held weekly starting Friday in cities across the U.S., will include concert-style productions, light shows, food trucks, tailgating areas and drag queen waitresses on roller skates.
“It’s the full fantasy,” he added.
Gigi Goode, a top-three contestant from the most recent season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” will be among the drive-in performers. Since season 12, which debuted in late February, coincided with the early days of the pandemic, Goode and the other new “Drag Race” stars have been unable — until now — to take advantage of their newfound celebrity with live performances.
“This is going to be my first time performing in front of a large audience,” said Goode, who will be featured in Drive N’ Drag’s Los Angeles and Chicago shows. “I haven't even gotten booked at a club since my season started. I spent every single episode at home with friends and family.”
“It really is the only way that we can have this sort of caliber of live performance right now, and it still be safe, because people will be in a sense still quarantining in their cars,” Goode told NBC News. “Obviously, drag queens have primarily been performing from their living rooms and what have you, so I'm just very excited to finally get in front of an automobile audience.”
Goode said that she has something really “campy” prepared for her performances.
Yvie Oddly, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 11, will also be taking part in the drive-in drag shows.
“This is really special for me, because I remember always going to the drive-in movies growing up,” Oddly said, adding that she’s excited to bring “some of that magic and the experience of a drag show” to the drive-in experience.
While Oddly, who was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder at age 15, said it’s been nice to “take a break from performing so constantly and rest my body a little bit,” she’s once again ready for her close-up.
“I am itching to be in the audience and at least hear some horns honk. My cats don't give me the applause I need, you know?” Oddly said laughingly. ”Honestly, I would probably be doing it if I had to pay to do this.”
Oddly will be performing at Drive N’ Drag’s kickoff performance on July 17 in New Jersey, as well as shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.
Drag icon Lady Bunny, founder of the annual Wigstock event that began in 1984 in Manhattan's East Village, will be among the drive-in entertainers.
"Laughter, not Clorox, is the best medicine,” Bunny said in a statement to NBC News. “So if you've been cooped up for months and are ready to unwind from the safety of your own car, I’ll cure your cabin fever and make you laugh your masks off!”
While most evening shows have already sold out for many locations, Voss said additional daytime shows are being added to meet the demand. The full schedule can be found on the Drive N’ Drag website.