RuPaul’s Drag Race Finale Brings Sequins and Scepters to S.F.

Season 11 contestant Yvie Oddly takes the crown at Levi’s Plaza celebration.

Four finalists on the red carpet. (Zack Ruskin)

Walking the red carpet at Levi’s Plaza on Thursday evening, RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Brooke Lynn Hytes acknowledged that her fellow Canadians might currently be torn about what to watch.

A Toronto native and current Nashville resident, Hytes rose to prominence this season on the strength of her ballet dancing and polished aesthetic (a romantic dalliance with fellow contest Vanessa Vanjie Mateo also made for a few memorable moments). As the first Drag Race contestant to hail from north of the border, Hytes has enjoyed strong support from her countrymen and -women.

In that spirit, she didn’t seem bothered by the suggestion that her Canadian faithful might be distracted by the NBA Finals game airing concurrently to Drag Race’s big finish.

“I might take second fiddle to that,” Hytes admitted. “Honestly, I get it.”

Her words would soon prove prophetic when she finished as the season’s runner-up. Hytes’ Twitter post following the finale was merely further proof of her unflappable good nature (“Guys I got second! That’s first in Canadian!”).

Within the confines of Levi’s Plaza, however, there was no sign that a pivotal basketball game between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors was about to get underway. At least for one night, the large televisions located in a special viewing area would not be displaying the heroics of Stephen Curry. This night, the sport du jour was one that involved outfit reveals, Rihanna bangers, and a healthy length of duct tape.

Indeed, all focus was rightly on the foursome of Hytes, Yvie Oddly, A’keria Chanel Davenport, and Silky Nutmeg Ganache. In a season that’s delivered on delicious drama, legendary lip syncs, and some truly sickening runway attire, the finale arrived with little certainty over which of the final four might join the likes of Jinkx Monsoon and Bob the Drag Queen in taking home the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.”

For A’keria Chanel Davenport — a pageant queen from Dallas with a generous derriere and the dance moves to match — just knowing that this part of her journey was finally ending was reason enough to be excited.

“Oh baby, let me tell you,” she laughed. “No matter what takes place, the fun part still starts here. I’m so excited.”

As an outspoken queen representing for drag’s bigger girls, Silky Nutmeg Ganache was often at odds with other contestants but never allowed those spats to derail her.  Ahead of the finale screening, she shared that her Drag Race tenure has allowed her to reciprocate the generosity of a majorly supportive family member.

“My grandmother is 81 years old and still teaching,” Ganache explained. “She paid my rent and car bills while I was following my dream. I’m very happy and proud to say that last week I took my grandmother to London for a week. That’s winning for me.”

Miss Vanjie and Asia O’Hara. (Zack Ruskin)

Ganache also noted that her post-Drag Race plans include raising funds for a new scholarship fund named for her grandmother that she’s creating to help LGBTQ and minority students help pay for college.

Following their press duties, the four queens were taken to a private room to watch the finale undisturbed.  For those unaware, Drag Race producers usually film each finalist winning the crown and then choose which one to actually use just before the episode airs. Thus, the insanely flexible and ceaselessly innovative Yvie Oddly had no idea that she’d be the one strutting the stage when all the glitter and goopery was over.

Prior to her win, Oddly praised her fans for creating some truly impressive works of art in her honor throughout the season.

“Oh, it’s so next level,” she said. “The art is actually my favorite part of all of this because I remember being a teenager and taking my favorite parts of pop culture and just drawing them and reworking them to show my appreciation for the things I loved. It’s really dope that because I put my view out into the world, these kids are out there making beautiful art inspired by some of the stuff I’ve done instead of doing their homework.”

Midway through the season, Oddly disclosed that she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome — an incurable connective tissue disease that allows for her extreme feats of contortion). It may have made her victory as the 11th winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race (or 16th, when accounting for Drag Race All-Stars) all the sweeter as she’s noted that she may have limited time left to perform her incredible feats of flexibility. Following the television reveal that Oddly had won, she was viscerally stunned when Season 10 contestant Asia O’Hara tried in vain to balance a shiny new crown on Oddly’s head.

“I’ve been working for this my entire life,” Oddly explained to a cheering crowd, “even before I knew this was what I was working towards. Now I’m excited to see what the future holds. All I can say is that now that this season of Drag Race is over, it’s looking like the rest of 2019 just took an odd turn.”

 

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