“Whoever is confident in doing this, please step forward to the front. Whoever is not confident, step to the back. We want to camouflage you.”
It’s 10:30 a.m., and a choreographer is trying to assemble about 50 drag queens and kings on a makeshift stage on the corner of Paradise and Harmon. Just a normal Sunday morning in Vegas, right?
Wrong. Well, that scene definitely could happen, but on April 12 the Hard Rock Cafe attempted the Guinness World Record for Largest Drag Queen Stage Show, promoting its monthly Drag Queen Brunch that began in November.
“Do we have any other queens who have arrived?” asks choreographer Paul Pratt, one final call before the rehearsal mandated by the Guinness rulebook. “Where she at?!”
From a bearded glamazon in a black-and-white number serving Joan Collins à la Dynasty to drag kings sporting trucker hats and makeup mustaches, it’s quite the motley crew. Professional drag performers from around town are joined by amateur (even first-time) queens and kings for the record attempt, as Hard Rock Cafe reached out to various organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada to organize enough participants to break the record. The number to beat was 55, set by GSWS Columbus at Axis Nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, in July 2014.
“You’re having a good time!” “Turn to your left, turn to your right!” The drag royalty is mid-rehearsal, working it onstage with samba moves, sassy snaps and Mom-dance staple the “lasso.” It’s apparent some of these queens and kings haven’t watched the instructional YouTube video in preparation, but they get it together toward the end—and that camouflaging is definitely helping.
A few drag performances from Drag Queen Brunch regulars and several mimosas for the surrounding tables later, the moment is here: time to attempt the record. Once again the ragtag bunch takes the sunny spotlight, this time with numbered wristbands on for the official count—but the group is six kings and queens shy. What to do?
“Brandon! Go put a dress on!” screams veteran queen Michelle Holliday from the stage. With makeup teams and costume crews on-site, a frantic search for willing participants ensues.
While Guinness has yet to confirm the record, with Las Vegas’ final count of 61, Columbus might have to start planning its revenge. Because, as Drag Queen Brunch host Kitty Litter put it, “[We] just made drag history!”