Lagoona Bloo’s live singing daughter and GLAM Breakthrough Artist nominee is probably the only girl in the biz who can realistically come close to hitting those insane Mariah notes. She’s also just so vivacious and joyful that it’s literally impossible to not, at the very least, smile your way through her performances. See (and hear) for yourself: with Mama Bloo on Mondays at Playhouse, and with sis Kiki Ball-Change at Pieces on Tuesdays.
Screw “triple threat,” Miss Islaya is All The Threats… she acts, she dances, she’s funny, she fashionable, she’s extremely likeable, and she’s a star. We have no doubt that she’s well on her way to being one of New York’s top queens, but she’s already off to a great start: you can find her weekly at The Ritz, Hardware and Happyfun Hideaway.
98. Tim Young
The multi-talented, GLAM-nominated ginger maestro has a popular weekly presence at Club Cumming, and is also a major musical figure at The Q with a weekly show there as well. And if sexy singing piano men aren’t your thing (side note: what’s wrong with you?), you can play Super Smash Bros with Tim every Thursday for The Deep End’s weekly game night.
97. Thee Suburbia
The wonderfully weird Brooklyn drag queen, multimedia artist and event producer had a prolific 2021 on multiple fronts. With Islaya, she formed a new favorite duo The Aunties who performed in several venues in the borough. She also curated large casts for her “Blegends” series honoring Black music legends which originated as digital showcases, then post-lockdown evolved into free entry mini-festivals at Maria Hernandez Park. Suburbia additionally gave us shows with The Haus of Quench and Diego at All Night Skate, served looks in many venues as a Bartschland hostess, and is practically a PhD of Ferociously Fabulous Instagram Lewk Posting. She even showed up in Billy Porter’s music video! Whether she’s making us respect our past or laugh at our present, Thee Suburbia is a queen leading us into the future.
96. Skye Walker
When this now-former Pieces bartender told us early in her dragdom that she wanted to be one of the first drag presences on Twitch (after having to explain to us what Twitch was), neither of us knew then that soon every bitch would be crowding that platform once lockdown happened. But now that we’re on the other side of it, Skye remains the Queen of Twitch, playing video games with the children and being chill and fun. Which is by no means saying that she’s underachieving: the prior reigning Miss Barracuda is one of the fastest evolving queens in Manhattan, with refined cosplay-inspired looks and shows at Hardware, The Q and now Mom’s HK to show off her hilarious mixes and energetic stage presence.
When you see NYC’s Twerking Queen on the Scene enter the room, you know that a good time is coming. Beau adds more than a dash of raunchy flavor to any show or party she’s a part of; you can currently catch her moneymaker shaking weekly with the casts of “Queen 4 Queen” at Pieces, “CxNT” at HUSH and “Shut Up, Bitch” drag brunch at Aura Cocina; you’ll likely catch her at the biggest parties in venues like 3 Dollar Bill and The Q as well.
An iconic scene queen of Bartschland and Sunderlandia, Linux has largely changed her club aesthetic from voluminous asymmetrical creatures to sleek, gorgeous femme realness over time. She’s also made music, walked runways and perhaps most notably become a sought after nightlife writer in the tradition of Michael Musto. You can find her writing in Interview and Paper, and you can likely watch her end Thotyssey’s winning streak in the Best Writer / Blog category at the GLAMs this January.
This pair have been busy DJs and event producers in Brooklyn for several years now, and 2021 was no different. With Hannah spinning the popular monthlies “Yas Mama” and “Be Cute” alongside mother Horrorchata, Ickarus minding the booth for drag brunches at Aura Cocina and Palomas BK, and both frequenting The Rosemont and The Q’s sound systems together and separately, the beat goes on into 2022.
With her popular Rosemont show “OOPS” (that she co-hosted with Magenta and West Dakota) seemingly not returning post-lockdown, the lavish looking Chiquitita made due with only a few performances and shows in 2021. But they were big ones! In particular, her self-produced tributes to Lady Gaga albums and RuPaul’s Drag Race lip syncs at C’mon Everybody were hot tickets throughout the year, helping to materialize that venue’s renewed popularity and the whole concept of ticketed shows in Brooklyn.
91. Logan Hardcore
What do you get when an iconic NYC and Fire Island drag queen known for her unfiltered, no bullshit, anything goes approach to classic drag finally goes stone cold sober after years of being… very not that? Well, a great podcast, for one thing: “Hardcore SobrieTEA” launched in November, featuring Logan coming clean with the joys and hardships of sobriety, the pitfalls that got her to rock bottom and the actions of certain nightlife circles that make alcohol and drugs a very big a problem in our culture. But Logan is certainly not turning her back on the bar drag world, either; although her lifestyle’s changed a lot to something more domestic and healthy than it’s ever been before (healthier than most of our lives, at that), she remains Playhouse Bar’s weekly Tuesday night showgirl, twirling and storytelling to a loyal fanbase.
Brooklyn’s Punk Rock Drag Trans Priestess had much to bestow her worshippers in 2021, including her long-running monthly residencies “Be Cute” at Littlefield and “Jizz” at Metro. The biggest new Charlene contribution is probably “Trish,” a show and sometimes-pageant that she co-hosted weekly, than monthly, than whenevs at 3 Dollar Bill with Rify Royalty. It was such a popular Tuesday night that it was GLAM-nominated for “Best Club Party,” and will hopefully return in some fashion in 2022.
89. Catrina Lovelace
Catrina’s been a fun dancing queen in NYC since at least 2016, but 2020 feels like it’s been a flagship year for her. Not only did she turn out some fierce Insta looks and enjoy another month of her resident Stonewall show (that until recently she co-hosted with Haus of Kiki sister Lola Michele-Kiki), but her popular brunch with Hibiscus at Astoria restaurant Fresco’s Cantina is slated to move to a bigger and better version of that location in January. Catrina also has a new show, “Big Girls Club,” at HUSH in HK with Lauren Ordair and Gigi Deetz.
A friend of ours refers to Sebastian Villa aka DJ Boyyyish as their “DJ crush,” and we can certainly understand why. Aside from the obvious adorbs factor, few project so much joy into their work and onto the dancefloor as Mr. Villa. The surprisingly seasoned DJ was forced out of “retirement” by Ty Sunderland in 2019 to spin his “Love Prism,” and has become an essential star of the scene ever since with regular appearances at The Q, 3 Dollar Bill, Le Bain, Good Room, Boss Nova Civic Club, and a new residency at Public Hotel.
What would the drag shows and ensuing dance parties of Pieces, Hardware and Playhouse be like with out these two vital beatmasters? Well, there’d be a lot less Kylie, for one thing. Both VJ Ricky and DJ Nicky are known for being reliable professionals with their fingers on the pulse of what’s new and what’s good, and both can mix up a mean “drag suicide” in no time. Bonus accomplishments: Ricky is a EuroVision “ambassador” who spins many of their parties, and Nicky has an all night weekend dance party at Industry.
86. Svetlana Stoli
The campy-comic Russian Doll of NYC is the showrunner of one of the City’s biggest and and most successful drag dining experiences: The Lucky Chengs’ brunch and dinner shows, currently housed at Secret Room in HK. Svetlana also got around quite a bit in 2021, with frequent shows at New Jersey’s Club Feathers and Brooklyn’s Happyfun Hideaway.
85. Vincent Cooper
The young nightlife and multimedia producer extraordinaire is situated at The Q these days, where his longtime brainchild The Lady Liberty drag competition has found it’s new home. Hosted by Brita Filter and a Guest RuGirl of the Week, LL is bigger and better than ever, turning out all the drag stars of tomorrow.
84. Elektra Lite
She sings, dances and hosts, and NYC was grateful to see Ms. Lite return to us post-lockdown. In 2021, Elektra hosted shows at Hardware (with Skye Walker and DD Fuego, plus a dance party with DJ 2Face and Neon Calypso), Pieces (with Ruby Roo) and Playhouse (with Lagoona Bloo).
In a drag bar world where drag queens are still considered the go-to entertainers by venue owners and producers with limited vision, this guild of drag kings and “things” has carved out their own platform and created their own opportunities. Led by Muscles Monty, Richard and Sweaty Eddie, the crew presented frequent shows at Singlecut Beersmiths and Club Cumming, a BoiPkg fashion show at 3 Dollar Bill, and perhaps most notably the four week “Takes The Cake” drag competition for kings and things at Purgatory. Queer rap artist and visionary producer Senerio joined the Boys for that show, and he continues to produce and perform with them and plan out a more diverse and interesting future for drag and nightlife. Between all of them, they have a whopping four GLAM nominations this year: Best Male Artist (Senerio), Best Competition (Take The Cake), Best Event Producer and Best Group / Duo (both The Cake Boys). Props must also be given specifically to Sweaty, whose surreal animation video work is getting widespread recognition.
One thing you certainly can’t do with Ms. Novaczar is compare her to any other queen in NYC… or the world, for that matter. With witchy-alien-bohemian looks, her profound theatricality and her high falsetto singing, she’s made an interesting mark on the City’s nightlife that might remind some older folks of a riskier, more surreal East Village drag scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s. But it’s the singing that got Novaczar her first taste of global fame, landing her a slot on WOW and Paramount Plus’ singing drag competition Queen of the Universe. Her time on the show was short lived (why someone thought it would be good TV to drop five competitors on the second episode before we got to know them is something that should be workshopped before season 2), but she certainly had an impact. Since Queen, Nova’s dropped a single and continues to be a GLAM-nominated door goddess and guest performer at Monster Bar.
The time-tested fan favorite comedy mess queen spent another year in the same wrap dress and wig, but also sported some interesting new gigs! Normally Busted is exclusively at Cherry’s during the Fire Island season, but this year saw her giving her unusual-as-usual shows at the Ice Palace and the Pines. And here in NYC, in addition to her established weekly at Pieces, we also saw her give us a few weeks of shows at Barracuda Bar. If 2022 has even more Busted to bust out, it won’t be a bad year at all.
One of New York drag’s most shablam-tastic and outrageous drag performers, AndrogyNY was one of the few queens who actually somewhat thrived during quarantine thanks to the huge success of “Take a Shot Tuesday.” This was a wild, digital drink-and-dragfest she hosted with sisters Brenda Dharling and Jacklynn Hyde that evolved post-lockdown into a short-lived live show at Playhouse before becoming a popular Fire Island / Ice Palace kiki over the summer. AndrogyNY was all over the Ice Palace this summer, hosting several shows and leaping from several surfaces, before returning to Rebar Chelsea in autumn for the revival of the now weekly “FUQBOI,” a GLAM-nominated drag and gogo affair. And she’s developing new skills as well via running the lightboard at Hell’s Kitchen’s biggest weekly drag revue, “QUEEN” at Industry.
79. Misty Mountains
The beloved campy comedy queen continues hosting fun brunches all weekend at La Pulperia, and a Monday evening show at Icon Bar in Astoria, Queens. But why settle for just two boroughs? These days Misty is also the Saturday night hostess of Bronx’s cute new haunt, Identity.
78. Tina Twirler
With that very unique combination of confidence and humility, a love of the art forms of dance and drag and a superhuman talent to express a full range of emotions in her performances, Tina is more than just a great queen–she’s kind of a legend in the making (that’s not bullshit — look at the dance and ballroom kids watching her perform with gaping eyes and mouths). Having won the last grand finale of Lady Liberty, Tina now hosts her own show at The Q (alongside sisters Julie J and Mairyea) and a brunch at Tito Murphy’s (with Inita D), she’s a monthly co-host of Holly Dae at Monster, and nowadays basically has her pick of any gig she wants.
The winner of the last two Best DJ GLAM Awards and a nominee once again, Jake aka JCLEF with his eye-catching fashions and informed discography of eclectic beats was certainly a busy and in-demand talent in 2021. In addition to his usual gigs supporting drag shows in The Q, Pieces and Playhouse (where among other shows he handles the “Polish The Queen” drag competition, no easy feat for any DJ), he also dropped heavy beats on top of the Pines partygoers this summer.
76. Selma Nilla
The social media stunner who never fails to deliver a big production live performance, Selma hosted weeklies at the Ritz throughout 2021, and was made part of a cast of popular queens for the new “BirdQage” revue at The Q. And in an oddly banner year for drag queens on cooking shows, Selma (who hosted her own online cooking segments during lockdown) appeared on a memorable episode of Netflix’s baking disaster competition Nailed It with sis Lagoona Bloo.
One of New York drag’s most stunning and fashion forward hostesses, you can catch Digna starring in both her own weekly and a group show with Islaya, Elle No. 5 and DJ BaeJing at The Ritz. Always a circuit queen at heart, she’s also the belle of the ball for many huge dance parties, as well as the new weekly, sexy affair “Machismo” at HUSH.
74. Lexington Banks
With shows at Rise, The Spot, Hardware and Pieces, the effervescent and towering glamor girl Lexington may well be the true breakthrough artist of 2021, even if the GLAM voters didn’t catch on this time (it was a very competitive year for that category, to be fair–we’re definitely on the lookout for her noms in 2022). As someone who just exudes so much positivity while entertaining the masses, there’s no doubt we should invest everything in Ms. Banks to be a future drag superstar.
In 2021, these Peachez were ripe, henny. This multi-talented, still fairly new queen and a champion of the Haus of Cummings took her place as one of the NYC Queens to See. The Broadway-informed diva broke through as part of a mega-talented lineup of Ultimate Drag Pageant contestants a few years ago, and now has shows at Pieces, Playhouse, The Q, Mom’s HK and a weekly brunch of her very own at Tito Murphy’s. She’s also broken through to mainstream stardom thanks to a great display of terrible cooking alongside mother Marti on the popular Worst Cooks in America TV competition.
72. Steve Sidewalk
Still one of New York’s most crowd pleasing and popular DJs, Steve did a fair share of national touring in 2021 in other cities that also know he’s a boss. At home, Steve can be commonly seen and heard at The Ritz, Rise, The Spot, Monster and many other bars and clubs.
The site of the most important queer rights movement in history, Stonewall was also the epicenter of protocol safety when the citywide lockdown lifted, strictly enforcing social distancing within the bar. And even as most venues began to ease their restrictions as vaccinations became more available, Stonewall hung in there with mandatory assigned seating that led to a change in their programming–“Piano Bar” shows Monday through Thursday–that’s still largely in effect today. With Stonewall being a global tourist destination, many enjoy this new programming format, while others welcomed the cautious return of weekend dance parties and some drag shows later in the year. Stonewall and its neighboring sister bar The Duplex seem to still be in the process of transitioning back to full capacity, but the friendly bar staff and important historical significance keep the people pouring in.
70. Jasmine Kennedie
When this (very late) list finally publishes, the world will probably have seen young Jasmine premiere on Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, New York’s soul representative this time around. She’s going to be interesting to watch: most NYC drag fans know that she’s gorgeous, polished, kind, professional, a sick dancer, and filled with an obvious love for the art of drag. But since she hasn’t done a ton of full-on hosting in NYC as of yet (compared to the average local RuGirl, at any rate), most probably don’t know much else. No doubt Drag Race will show us many other facets of both Jasmine’s personality and her skillset; at the very least it’s going to make for some great TV, and we couldn’t be happier for her.
Still the girl who can perform acts of athletic amazement in heels better than most people can in dreams, Jax’s drag performances were appointment viewing at Icon, The Q, Hardware, Pieces, C’mon Everybody and 3 Dollar Bill in 2021. And of course her photography and editorial skills also remain fantastic, providing us with a fetching Insta look book of her own as well as fierce shots of her drag sisters.
After a rough period of lockdown, Rockbar gradually returned to business as usual in 2021. But for this venue, that entails a pretty diverse programming schedule: drag shows, burlesque, game nights, karaoke, viewing parties, nudist parties… and of course, many signature bear, fetish and underwear soirees that keep the boys coming back every year.
67. Paige Turner
A time tested favorite of Broadway-flavored New York drag with her girlie-girl fashions, song parodies and just a taste of dick jokes, Paige spent most of 2021 out of New York–specifically as a resident performer of Provincetown’s Pilgrim House. Towards the end of the year though, we finally got our Paige back as she debuted nights in two new venues: The Spot and Hush.
66. Neon Calypso
Here’s a queen transplanted from Boston who can serve drama, dance and comedy along with the best New York queens, but still maintains a fascinating edge that is uniquely Neon. In addition to being a featured performer in Susanne Bartsch’s lavish “New York, New York” showcases at Sony Hall, Neon also turns out Hardware’s Saturday night party with Elektra Lite and is a frequent guest of Devo Monique’s Wednesday night show at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Bar. Later in 2021 she also got a show at new venue HUSH with Virginia Thicc and Missleidy, and starred in a one woman, one night only showcase at The Q, Kaleidoscope.
65. Amanda Lepore
Queer nightlife is not an industry or lifestyle that’s kind to aging, but every year of Amanda Lepore seems more Stun than the last. No one in the biz is as strikingly recognizable as Amanda, and any brand of cosmetics or fashion or liquor with any sense of taste fall over each other for her endorsement. Ms. Lepore continues to be an A-List hostess for events from the likes of Susanne Bartsch, Brandon Voss and Deryck Todd, and as a burlesquer and singer is performing more frequently in recent years as well.
64. Scarlet Envy
But wait… was she the drama? Sometimes the traits that make a queen a cool human and intriguing artist in person do not play the same way on a competition show, either with the other competing queens on the season or with viewers at home. Brooklyn chanteuse Scarlet seemed to strike out with most of the former as a Season 11 contestant (we’ll never really understand why). But she positively bewitched the latter, who welcomed her and all of her baroque quirks back for another go on the most recent round of Drag Race All-Stars. Scarlet gave us some memorable moments (bubble dancing! A dress made out of her grandparents love letters! Lesbian mom love!), and when she sashayed away once again, there was still more to come. Since All-Stars, Scarlet’s been releasing and performing original music, and even dropped a fun vintage flavored video celebrating her new famous catchphrase that’s also become a Tik Tok sensation. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next from this charmingly aloof, unpredictable dazzler.
63. The Eagle NYC
Where The Boys Are! The iconic Chelsea watering hole has been a home to manly men, leather daddies, fetishists, kink provocateurs and regular guys for years. They suffered their way through lockdown and an ensuing construction-related shutdown, but by 2021 The Eagle was soaring high once again.
62. Jon Ali
Hardware, Pieces and Playhouse’s very sexy DJ of drag shows and dance parties did lots of globe-trotting and thot-posting in addition to his usual partymaking. He’s also a cypher for all the best new queer dance music, and his playlists are essential listening all year round.
Dragula fans had a lot to say about this demonically talented, Mexico City-raised queen who had only been performing for about three years in New York before landing on the latest season of the spooky monster drag competition. Although her frequently antagonistic approach to several of her castmates led to some arguably cringeworthy viewing moments (particularly with AFAB contestant Sigourney Beaver), the one thing you can never say about her time on Dragula and really her whole career to date is that Zavaleta was ever boring. In fact, Shudder probably owes her some back end goodies, given that this year’s Dragula was the horror streamer’s most watched show by far. But besides the drama, we got to see a very human and vulnerable side of Zavaleta on the show, as well as her potent talent for makeup, costuming and performance. It will be fascinating to see what her next step is.
60. Rebar Chelsea
Another sexy boy bar in Chelsea with a long history in the neighborhood (it was formerly G Lounge for several years), Rebar offers more diverse programming then most nearby queer venues including drag shows, bingo, drink-n-draws and Drag Race viewing parties. But Rebar is still probably best known for its sexy weekend circuit-ish parties like FUQBOI, CALIBR, RAM, Pegate, Treta and Clandestino. The bar patiently waited through lockdown before gradually reopening as permitted, offered up a fun new night with Jayse Vegas and the Dragon Sisters, and as of this writing are preparing for the grand opening of a new HK sister bar, Thirst.
59. Inita D
Despite the hardships of lockdown and a personal tragedy (that she turned into a celebration of a life), it’s hard to think of many queens who have worked harder and delivered more joy and talent to the people who needed it than Inita did in 2021. With regular gigs at Fresco’s Cantina, Rise and Monster, a brunch with Tina Twirler at Tito Murphy’s in HK, a new show in the works at The Q, and numbers with the all-popular QUEEN revue at Industry, Inita is also one of the city’s busiest and most in-demand queens. If you’re looking for cheerleader athleticism, showstopping moments and just plain old fun from your drag queens, look no further in 2022 than Lady D.
58. Leggoh JohVera
The creator, producer and emcee of 3 Dollar Bill’s weekly “OTA” competition has to be one of the busiest people in ballroom today. Not only is his flagship night — finally GLAM nominated as Best Competition this year — a massive weekly enterprise, but in November Leggoh also presided over a multi-week ballroom workshop at Ridgewood’s Nowadays. And throughout the year, he’s been bringing the event to other cities across the country, including Los Angeles. The children may suddenly be really into voguing right now, but the subculture has defined all of queer culture for half a century; JohVera is both a curator of those traditions and an innovative trendsetter of ballroom moments to come.
57. Jeff Eason
New York nightlife’s most prolific and most frequently GLAM-nominated event photographer and Get Out Magazine correspondent continues to capture the best images of the most glamorous people at the most fabulous kikis. Jeff is the most, and an institution unto himself.
These sister bars are not the only options for drag and queer events in Astoria — now we have the expanded Fresco’s Cantina and Katch. But longtime “Gay Cheers” Albatross and it’s swankier kid sis Icon remain the hubs for Astoria fabulosity, showcasing a friendly staff and roster of drag queens that can’t be easily compared to their Manhattan or Brooklyn counterparts. They’re also the sites of some fun parties like the super-popular new monthly “Leather & Lace” at Albatross which is produced by Audrey Phoenix and Dean Dante, and that party’s upcoming Icon twin “Skin Tight.”
55. Pattaya Hart
One of New York drag’s most celebrated pageant queens, gorgeous Pattaya is finally able to step down from her extended and fruitful reign as Miss Gay America in January. And she certainly has a lot of gigs waiting for her in NYC: at Rise and Monster, and with the celebrated cast of QUEEN at Industry.
54. Macy Rodman
Brooklyn drag legend turned quintessential trans recording artist Macy was quite visible in 2021, performing her thrashing originals and sharp covers with her trademark growl in venues like 3 Dollar Bill, C’mon Everybody, The Sultan Room and Elsewhere. It all led up to September’s release of her masterful album Unbelievable Animals, and a cute video for her moody ear worm “Rock n’ Roll Gay Guy” (which, newsflash, has been taken off YouTube!?)
All the props in the world go to Jan for bravely returning to the Drag Race set for All-Stars immediately after her debut on Season 12. The two experiences were similar, at least for viewers: she displayed much talent and cleverness, had a clearly larger skill set than most of her fellow competitors, and was routinely criticized by judges and fellow contestants for traits like perfectionism and overenthusiasm, i.e. the same traits that any queen needs to win a drag competition. I guess you can “weaponize your BFA,” but sometimes that weapon can be turned against you? We’ll never really understand the franchise’s strange handling of Jan, but she took it all in good spirits and even won an All-Stars challenge. Keep in mind, it’s hardly a sad story for this multi-threat entertainer: since Drag Race she’s earned an even huger fan base, recorded tracks as a solo act and with girl group Stephanie’s Child, filmed music videos and original content, performed in major local events, and is preparing a UK tour for 2022.
The two-level venue has a long history that reaches far beyond its West Village walls, and continues to be a destination for tourists and regulars alike of multiple generations. The older crowd is often drawn to the upstairs piano bar, while younger nightlifers descend to the basement for drag shows, dance parties and very sexy affairs featuring gogo brigade Spunk. It’s also the best place in the city for a good old-fashioned disco tea dance, care of DJs like Lady Bunny, Flotilla DeBarge and Michael Wilson. The venue’s had its ups and downs over time and changed management in recent years, but this Monster cannot be killed and remains as popular as ever.
2021 saw the rise of many hot new DJs — perhaps largely for the reason that after a year of quarantine, the queers needed to dance again. Few rose as quickly or as hotly as these two though, with each soon headlining their own popular kikis at 3 Dollar Bill: Rocket’s “Rocket No. 9” and Luis’ “HER.” Now they are both top tier DJs at new hotspot The Q (in regards to both reputation and location in the three story venue), and can be found spinning for hundreds of sweaty disciples every weekend both separately and B2B.