Upstate’s Newest Drag Royalty

By Cody H. Owens

I’ve watched RuPaul’s Drag Race ever since Season 3, but, admittedly, last year was my first live drag pageant. And I was a judge! (Whaaaaat?) It seems kind of ridiculous at first, but it does make sense. Without actually being a drag queen, it was the only way for me to truly experience what it all entails.

Spoiler alert: it entails a lot.

Even the physical act of crowning a queen is difficult. It takes two people, twenty hairpins, and at least forty-five seconds of an anxious crowd watching you struggle. And it all starts several months prior. Upstate Pride SC has to create a marketing plan, book the venue, recruit contestants, find judges, and organize the entire night down to the minute,  though even with all the planning nothing ever seems to stay on schedule.

On the flip side, there are the participating kings and queens. They orchestrate their routines, build their costumes, practice with their backup dancers, and talk to themselves for hours, I assume, answering questions they may or may not be asked during the Q&A.

It’s a labor of love.

It’s a labor that makes the defining moment of the crowning all the more meaningful for everyone involved.

Upstate Pride SC crowned its newest Ms. and Mr. Upstate Pride on Friday, Jan. 29. This queen/king pair will represent the organization and our 2016 theme of “Peace, Love, Pride” until a new pair emerges in January 2017. After weeks of hard work, with two live drag shows under my belt, I know they deserve it.


Congratulations Princess Mocha, Ms. Upstate Pride 2016. And congratulations Mr. Big Poppah Cherry, Mr. Upstate Pride 2016. You both worked it, and as representatives of UPSC, I can tell you that we couldn’t be more proud to have you be the new faces of our mission.

Now, until next year’s live drag pageant, I think I’ll just indulge in Drag Race Season 8. Or maybe I’ll go back to Club South 29 before then for more live drag. Or maybe, equipped with a newfound appreciation for what drag performers do, I’ll even try it myself. Maybe…

See more pictures from the 2016 Upstate Pride Pageant