Jungle owner Richard Cherskov shares HIS SIDE of the competition
Looking at the previous winners of the three seasons of Dragnique, will that change your criteria in selecting Dragnificent’s contestants? What sort of wildly, outrageous attributes can we expect from these new fierce contestants?
This time we have a different process for choosing the contestants – we are doing open auditions. Anyone can enter and a panel of three judges will choose the ten contestants. So it’s really going to be up to the people coming in to the audition. Definitely we are going to be looking for those quirky personalities, those unique girls that bring someone completely different.
Can you give us any teasers of the “surprises” in store for us?
We’ve really taken a lot at all of the things that going along with being a drag performer and we are tailoring some challenges to account for this. For instance, we are going to put the contestants in more situations where they must interact with the audience. This is something that performers must know how to do. For instance, in one challenge they are going to have to go out “MC” and interact with the audience and then introduce the next contestant. In another challenge the contestants are going to have to put on a full-fledged cabaret show along with Jungle’s Fantasy Girls – these are real life skills that we want to test and showcase.
Will the judges continue to select worthwhile LGBT charities? In addition to contributing to these local organizations through supporting the contestants in person with love and tips, are there any other recommendations in how to contribute using Dragnificent’s various social media applications?
Yes! Our first night will be dedicated to Lost-N-Found Youth. And since the first night of Dragnificent takes place directly after Big Gay Game Show (which also benefits Lost-N-Found Youth) there will be a double-header of entertainment supporting this cause. If you come to Big Gay Game Show you can stay for Dragnificent for the same $5 cover.
For those who are new to the concept of Dragnique and Dragnificent, what is the best way to find out more information? Why the transition?
Dragnique started at the Jungle in 2011 and ran for three seasons. We’re so excited about the changes that Jungles is undergoing – we are about a third of the way through an extensive remodel. We have some new creative talent involved and thought that it was a good time for a reboot. Also, Dragnificent is being produced under the revived Fantasy Girls badge – we’ve had three amazing Fantasy Girls cabaret shows over the past three months. Phoenix has done a phenomenal job putting together these productions and we’re excited to have Nicole Paige Brooks as this year’s MC.
Who are some of the celebrity guest judges for this season of Dragnificent?
Rupaul’s Drag Race contestant Nina Flowers will be a celebrity judge the first night (September 19) and she will also perform – we are so excited to have her! And of course last season’s winner Edie Cheezburger will be a celebrity judge the first night as well. Previous winners and hosts will also be invited to guest judge – more details on that later.
Last season’s winner Edie Cheezburger shares HER SIDE of the competition
Considering you’ve been on the other side of the competition, when it comes to judging the first round of Dragnificent, what qualities will contribute to your criteria in selecting the winner of the first round?
You go into drag to transcend social limitations and it’s funny to see some of the girls get upset over the financial limitations of the competition. I’m ideally looking for girls who are extremely creative, who take risks and give the audience a new reinterpretation of that week’s challenge. You can’t win thinking you’re pretty or you’re wearing the most expensive costume, this competition isn’t the place for that: it’s about reaching inner places you’ve always wanted to go.
In regards to the transition from Dragnique to Dragnificent, what are some aspects you worked well for the “essence” of the competition, and what are some you won’t miss if left out?
I love how this competition showcases Atlanta’s new talent as none of the previous contestants were really that well-known. You had such a wide showcase of various girls from all different backgrounds and experience levels, but the challenges forced you to find resourceful means of presenting your persona to the audience. I do wish the judging system was a bit different as a few of the girls went home a bit too early. I don’t think they had enough experience performing in front of an audience of that magnitude. A mentoring system would be a cool way to fix that. Video footage! I would kill to see my performances on Youtube.
Do you have any tips or advice for the upcoming pool of Dragnificent’s contestants?
Reach deep. Don’t treat it like a regular gig. Talent stems from passion. Be amazing, be creative, be entertaining, and have fun!
What was your initial intent for doing drag? Since winning the third season of Dragnique, how has that recognition of your talent changed or evolved your previous perception toward the art of drag?
Believe it or not, drag started for me from community service through the Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence. We outreached by going out on the streets sporting porcelain white faces and nun outfits to promote a selfless message. After winning, my main focus is the Armorettes, another Atlanta charitable organization that uses performances as a means of outreach. We just got in some new recruits and I’m trying to lend them a helping hand using my past experiences as a basis.
How has winning impacted your current career goals and attitude in selecting which future projects to pursue?
Dragnique has brought Atlanta the true art of drag while choosing to focus my set of skills and talents to the Armorettes has reinvigorated the charitable essence of selflessness. The best I can wish for is to bring more awareness to such worthwhile and inspiring organizations like Atlanta’s Lost-N-Found which helps house and provide resources to runaway LGBT youth.