We are all ready for some actual fun. Not just a pretty good porch visit huddled under warm blankets–real, Before Times-level fun. And friends, it might be here. Beginning on Friday, April 9th, the Guinness-certified World’s Oldest Living Drag Queen, Darcelle, who has been in business for 54 years, will take the whole gaggle of queens to Zidell yards for a three-day drive-in cabaret extravaganza.
“I remember drive-ins when they were movies and you put the kids under a blanket because it cost per person,” says the 90-year-old. “But I'm really excited about it, in that we can have our [group] production numbers which we can’t do at the club now because we only have two [queens] onstage separated.”
Currently, the Chinatown club is open, in the same spot it's been since 1967, but with social distancing measures in place: 35 guests are allowed in, max, and there are no chorus ensemble numbers with all nine queens on stage. But at the drag drive-in, with fresh air and space galore, the queens will revive their chorus numbers for the first time in over a year. Rehearsals have already begun.
Darcelle and her co-host, Poison Waters, promise five or six group production numbers in the 90-minute show, on top of some solo performances and, of course, sassy banter. The onstage action will be simultaneously projected on a 40-foot wide screen and streamed to an FM radio station in viewers’ cars.
Waters, for one, is excited to get back into their glitzy group costumes and have some fun. “Darcelle repurposed gowns [bought at a fundraiser]. They were selling them for their nonprofit and she was generous enough to buy one for every girl. Well, then she cut the top off because they'd never fit a drag queen,” says Waters, expounding on the fact that Darcelle still makes all the costumes for the company's group numbers. “There are layers and layers and layers of different colors of pink tulle, and then she made sequin tops for us all and put them together. So they are these big ball gowns, and it's a big beautiful number from the musical Mame. Darcelle sings “Believe,” and we all dance around her.”
The drive-in also offers an opportunity for parents to bring their children to the show. In times past, Darcelle’s has hosted two wildly popular all-ages shows per year, which typically sell out in record time. But for this six-show run, (three matinees and three 9 p.m. shows) any and all ages are welcome. Though, for the record, the likelihood of Darcelle strutting out in her famous glittery assless chaps to "Rhinestone Cowboy" is still quite high.
Friday-Sunday, April 9-11, $95/car (up to 6 people), darcellexvdrive.com