Thursday night, a select few fans of Rupaul's Drag Race who also happened to be employees of Levi's got to attend a very special viewing party of the Season 11 finale at Levi's Plaza where all four finalists were in attendance along with several other contestants, and America's Next Drag Superstar was revealed.
The event, in Levi's atrium off of Battery Street, was not publicized or open to the public, and was part of a media partnership Levi's has with VH1. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and World Pride month, and San Francisco's rich history with the LGBTQ community, VH1 brought Rupaul's Drag Race to town for the first ever San Francisco viewing party for the finale.
As fans of the show know, for the last several years, Ru and her crew have avoided social media spoilers by shooting multiple endings when they shoot the actual finale in Los Angeles — and that happened several weeks ago. Therefore at least two if not four of the final queens don't know who wins until the episode airs.
Contestants Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Ra'Jah O'Hara, and Soju were all on hand to answer questions, although out of drag — they were here, along with the four finalists, performing the Season 11 touring show at the Regency Ballroom Wednesday night. And Season 10 contestant Asia O'Hara served as host for the evening as she does on the tour, bantering during what would have been commercial breaks during a live feed of the finale from the East Coast. And she managed to engage in some light sexual harassment with Levi's executive vice president and president Roy Bagattini, whom she pulled out of the crowd after asking "who's the highest ranking person here?" Bagattini said he was proud to be hosting the event at Levi's and that the messages of Drag Race are very much in line with the company's culture.
The winner, as many in attendance from Levi's vocally hoped, was Yvie Oddly, who was the most avant garde and out-there queen to appear on the show in several seasons. She was visibly moved and crying as she took to the stage for the crowning after she was revealed to be the winner on TV. "I've been working for this my entire life, even before I knew this was what I was working toward," Yvie said.
Speaking with SFist during a red carpet moment before the screening, Oddly said she wished she was more familiar with San Francisco drag, which she knows is closely aligned with the kind of drag she does. "I've met a few queens from San Francisco in my travels, and I've been here a few times visiting friends here, but I always went to bed like a grandma instead of going out and seeing what my people do," Oddly said. "But from what I garner, San Francisco seems to be a place that puts importance on theatricality and fully realized stories and concepts in drag... and that's what I'm here for."
Runner-up Brooke Lynn Hytes, who was last in SF in April appearing in Peaches Christ's latest drag send-up, First Wives' Fight Club, said she loves the zaniness and campiness of San Francisco drag because it's so different from the kind of pageant drag she does. "I love being inspired by different types of drag, and seeing other forms of drag." She also conceded that in her hometown of Toronto, her appearance in the finale — as the first native Canadian on Drag Race — was likely getting trumped by the Raptors playing in the NBA Finals. The game and the episode were airing at the same time on the East Coast.
Silky Nutmeg Ganache said she was thrilled to have made it as far as she did in the competition, and everything else "is just a bonus." She recently returned from a trip to London with her grandmother, who funded her college education and who's still teaching at the age of 80, and she's raising money for a college scholarship fund in her grandmother's name.
Silky told SFist she just appeared in Lizzo video, which she's thrilled about, and she's recorded an episode of Germany's Next Top Model, and she's in talks with producers about getting her own TV show. When asked about what the worst thing about being on television is, Silky says, "Everybody considers me to be a celebrity [now], and I don't. It's hard because I want to just be the regular-shmegular-gegular girl, but I just can't anymore. It's hard... watching the negative on social media — and there's lots of negative." She says that Rupaul's Drag Race and the huge platform of TV drag creates new opportunities for social progress. "I would like to personally see an all-trans season of Rupaul's Drag Race," Silky said. "When you just put one or two trans people on the show, their stories get lost."
Below, videos of Silky explaining how she got her drag name, and Yvie being crowned for the second time, only this time it was for real.