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SXSW: 'RuPaul's Drag Race' queens take over Austin Motel

Eric Webb
"RuPaul's Drag Race" alum Manila Luzon performed at Austin Motel as part of Culture Trip's South by Southwest activation on Monday, March 11, 2019. [Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Culture Trip]

Two drag queens stepping off a double-decker bus and hitting their high heels on South Congress Avenue: South by Southwest, or something you could see any day in Austin? Either answer is probably right, but when it happened Monday night at Austin Motel, it felt like an event.

U.K. travel startup Culture Trip took over that landmark lodge with the snicker-worthy sign March 9-11, reinventing the space with “SoHo”-inspired vibes. For the pop-up’s final party, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Bob the Drag Queen and Manila Luzon stormed the motel’s courtyard for a little drag bingo. The pair first emerged from the London-style bus decked out in blue and red and holding a Union Jack. They did a meet-and-greet with a few lucky fans before the party kicked off.

The drag queens turned out lip-sync extravaganzas before leading partygoers in an ink-stamping good time that was as ribald as you’d imagine. Did a British woman think that marking any five spots on her card was a bingo, whether or not they were in a row? Yes. Did Bob not let her forget it the entire night? Also yes. Was one woman’s silver, glittery bodysuit compared to a Chipotle burrito? Did the queens flirt with a man born in the 1940s who was there with his wife? Would I be writing rhetorical questions if the answer was no to any of these?

Of course, the whole shebang had to end in a "lip sync for your life" between two of the guests, to Madonna's "Vogue." SXSW is a time for the wild and wonderful. An intimate drag night just south of the river fit the annual whirlwind as well as a glued-down lace-front wig.


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