Star-studded ‘Drop Dead Drag Pageant’ set for Lakeshore Drive-In live show

The “Drop Dead Drag Pageant” is a tribute to the 1999 mockumentary film “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”

SHARE Star-studded ‘Drop Dead Drag Pageant’ set for Lakeshore Drive-In live show

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall is one of the contestants for CircuitMOM Productions’ “Drop Dead Drag Pageant.”

Steven M. Koch/Provided Photo

Some of Chicago’s well-known drag performers are ready to strut their stuff on the city’s lakefront Friday night for a Halloween-themed spectacle. 

CircuitMOM Productions’ “Drop Dead Drag Pageant”  — a tribute to the 1999 mockumentary film “Drop Dead Gorgeous” — is scheduled to take place Oct. 16 at the Lakeshore Drive-In (the Adler Planetarium’s parking lot, 1362 S. Linn White Dr.). Showtimes are 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The pageant kicks off with the hostesses welcoming everyone back from a “commercial break” with a recap of the bathing suit competition that “happened earlier” with the contestants on the screens, according to pageant officials. The actual show is the talent portion with nine choreographed production numbers, mock pageant awards, and the crowning of the new queen. 


CircuitMOM Productions’ “Drop Dead Drag Pageant.”

CircuitMOM Productions

“We’ve attended a few similar-type events just to gauge what the public response would be to them, and they looked, sounded, and felt like we wanted to try our own,” said Matthew Harvat, CircuitMOM Productions president. “We felt that Lakeshore Drive-In at the Adler Planetarium has the ideal setup for what we do since we’re known for production.

“There’s really not a bad parking spot in the space, so we were drawn to it for our Halloween concept. And since we wouldn’t be having any Halloween parties like we normally do at the House of Blues or at the Aragon or some other venue in the city, we felt like we needed to do something.”

Tickets ($30-$250 per vehicle for up to four persons) are available via Universe. There is a maximum of six persons per car; additional ticket purchase will be required. No outside food or drink or pets permitted. The event is all ages, while attendees under age 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The event, which plans to feature eight drag stars for each show, will adhere to social distancing guidelines by requiring concertgoers to park their vehicles one full space apart. All attendees must wear a mask or facial covering when outside any vehicle. Masks will also be available for purchase at the event.

Notable contestants include performers from “Dragula,” “Chicago Local Drag Superstars” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” such as Jaida Essence Hall (“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 12 winner), “Landon Cider” (Season 3 winner of Netflix’s “Dragula”), and “The Vixen” (“RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum and co-founder of “Black Girl Magic”— a showcase of Black drag performers), among others. 

And Harvat, the pageant’s “reigning queen,” says socially distanced outdoor performances are the best creatives can offer under the circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic dictates.

“You know that the excitement of having a live audience just drives creativity — all that is gone until we get this pandemic under control,” said Harvat. “This is the safest way we could do a Halloween event that still provides lots of high end production. … And we’re keeping hope alive until we can all go back to being inside venues next year.”

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