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Austin City Lip Syncs: Local drag queens serve it at ACL Fest

Eric Webb
Austin 360

Last year, Austin nightlife superstar Louisianna Purchase made history as the first drag performer booked for the Austin City Limits Music Festival — but since it was 2020, there was a bit of an asterisk. 

With no in-person festival because of the pandemic last year, she made the schedule for ACL’s virtual program. There’s still a pandemic, but there also are vaccines, and with the fest back in Zilker Park, she got to really seal the deal. 

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Tatiana Cholula lip syncs during "Best of Austin Drag" on the Bonus Tracks Stage at ACL Fest on Oct. 1, 2021.

The “Best of Austin Drag” revue came to ACL’s Bonus Tracks Stage on Friday. During the hourlong block, Louisianna Purchase hosted a cavalcade of drag performers, busting out of the gay clubs and into the same turf as Miley Cyrus and George Strait.  

"Every performer on TV starts as a local performer,” Lousianna said. “Isn’t that something?!” She knows a thing or two about that, competing on the horror drag competition show “Dragula,” but she also meant the cultural juggernaut of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which launched drag into the mainstream. 

Louisianna Purchase emcees "Best of Austin Drag" on the Bonus Tracks Stage at ACL Fest on Oct. 1, 2021.

Chanel Andrews, clad in a perfect Wonder Woman outfit, twirled on the stage to a medley that included “I’m Every Woman” and “Holding Out For a Hero.” Estee Slaughter vamped to “Rebel Rebel,” a blue lightning bolt streaked across their face. Amber Nicole Davenport really stole the show, twirling in a black dress that revealed to sparkly red leotard, breaking out a jump split and a slow split that brought fest-goers running to the stage to throw their dollars. Tatiana Cholula became Donna Summer, lip synching to "I Feel Love."

Amber Nicole Davenport performs during "Best of Austin Drag" on the Bonus Tracks Stage at ACL Fest on Oct. 1, 2021.

Louisianna invited members of the audience to lip sync for their lives, too. (Will Billie Eilish do that? Don’t think.) “Get it divas! This is a competition!” she exhorted a young trio working it out to Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” Another trio battled to Doja Cat’s “Say So.”  

“Now get off my stage. I don’t like to share,” Louisianna joked after crowning one winner. 

Louisianna Purchase judges an amateur lip sync contest during "Best of Austin Drag" on the Bonus Tracks Stage at ACL Fest on Oct. 1, 2021.

It’s been a rough couple of years for LGBTQ cultural spaces (again, pandemic). Look no further than Austin Pride’s annual parade and festival, called off two years in a row now because of the coronavirus. So, a booking for some Austin’s favorite queer entertainers at the city’s marquee music festival, who got to bring their art to eager fans as Megan Thee Stallion partied just yards away, couldn’t have come at a better time.