The often vacant parking lot outside the former Sears at Neshaminy Mall was no longer empty on Oct. 9-11, as the cursed souls of deceased drag queens rose from the dead to haunt Bensalem with killer dance movies and stunning looks.
After months of being deprived of live entertainment due to COVID-19, locals and out-of-staters alike witnessed incomparable talent when Voss Events’ Drive ‘N Drag: Halloween Edition made its first weekend-long stop at the mall.
The socially distant, drive-in event featured favorite queens from the hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race, including West Chester’s Aquaria, “Body Builder Barbie” Kameron Michaels, Violet Chachki, Yvie Oddly, Kim Chi, Vanessa Vanjie and Asia O’Hara.
Guests ranged from children with their parents to retirees, and everyone in between. Strict COVID-19 safety measures were in place, such as mask-wearing when outside of the car. Rule-breakers would be reprimanded by staff … or snatched by demons and taken to the underworld.
Two massive screens were set up on either side of the haunted house-inspired stage, allowing the queens and their exquisite makeup skills to be seen from virtually anywhere in the parking lot.
“It’s a cool concept,” Kim Chi told The Times ahead of the opening show. “I think people are looking for things to do right now. So, just to be able to provide some sort of entertainment in a time where people are dying of boredom is great. How many more Netflix shows can we stay home and watch?”
For Kim Chi and the other queens, many of whom had their residency in RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue cut abruptly short earlier this year, it’s a thrill to get back to what they do best – performing.
Throughout the evening, Asia O’Hara led the “seance,” introducing each queen by telling a riveting tale of how they died. The Drag Race season 10 star commanded the stage, inciting roars of laughter as she called out late arrivals (“You’re just getting here?”) and befriending older audience member “Miss Susan,” whose house she was set on visiting afterward for a home-cooked meal.
A standout Drive ‘N Drag act was Vanessa Vanjie, who rose to Drag Race stardom after her unforgettable departure in season 10. Despite being the first contestant to go home, her hilarious chant of, “Miss Vanjie … Miss Vaaanjie,” while shimmying off the stage made her a household name. O’Hara led the crowd in the chant as the petite, spitfire queen took the stage, donning a flaming red wig and green-fringed leotard. Miss Vanjie gave 110 percent as she danced to “Outrageous” by Britney Spears and “Breaking Dishes” by Rihanna, putting her signature sass into every turn, kick and hair flip.
Every performance was unique and memorable in its own way. The tattooed Kameron Michaels stepped out of her usually reserved comfort zone and entered that of an evil, cackling clown. She pushed her makeup chops to the limit, painting on colorful jester-esque eyes and huge red lips, all of which went perfectly with larger-than-life blonde pigtails.
Pennsylvania native Aquaria, the champion of Drag Race season 10, transported fans to a mental institution as she performed a medley of the Lady Gaga hits “Sour Candy,” “911” and “Replay” in a hospital gown, with backup dancer nurses attempting to pin her down.
One of the spookiest acts was by Drag Race season seven winner Violet Chachki, who put on an entire production in mere minutes. As the haunting “Come Little Children” by Erutan played, she transitioned from a witch flying on a levitating broomstick, to a scantily-clad fire-thrower, spinning wands of flames in both hands.
Yvie Oddly, best known for her deep, infectious laugh and inhuman flexibility, was her usual kooky self, sporting a gigantic golden skirt and dancing to “Gimme More” by Britney Spears.
As for Kim Chi, who O’Hara explained tragically “died” by eating too much chocolate, her act was enjoyably dramatic as she mourned the loss of a deceitful ex-lover by drowning her sorrows in candy.
At the end of the show, O’Hara received a huge round of applause from the audience and her fellow queens alike. As attendees prepared to get back in their car and exit the parking lot, O’Hara had some not-so-sarcastic words of advice.
“Come out of 2020 as better individuals,” she said.
The queens performed a whopping six shows over the span of three days at Neshaminy, even braving the rain (and a fall on stage, in Vanjie’s case) during Sunday’s show. They’re now headed to Denver, Colorado and New York to wrap up the month-long tour.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com