DOWNTOWN — Two of Chicago’s drag queens are in the finals on a new reality competition show.
The finale of the show, “Camp Wannakiki,” airs Thursday night, and Hamburger Mary’s is planning a celebratory party with an early viewing of the episode. The show challenged campy Midwest drag queens to shine in summer-camp-themed activities, like archery and crafts, so they could win the title of “Ultimate Queen of Camp.”
Chicago queens Alexis Bevels and Muffy Fishbasket made it to the show’s top three along with Pagan Holladay from Milwaukee. The trio were challenged with creating individual music videos for an original song, “Camp It Up,” and the winner of the challenge — and of the show’s first season — will be revealed in Thursday’s episode.
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The episode will premiere 7 p.m. Thursday at Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 N. Clark St. Contestants from the show will be present.
The episode will be released publicly at 8 p.m. Thursday on the “Camp Wannakiki” YouTube channel.
“Camp Wannakiki” was created by the brothers who co-own Hamburger Mary’s, Ashley and Brandon Wright. They were inspired by “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has become a cultural phenomenon and airs on VH1, and “Dragula,” a smaller-scale drag competition show that focuses on spooky and goth drag queens.
Seeing the attention “Drag Race” and “Dragula” queens got, the Wrights wondered if they couldn’t carve out a space for “camp queens” — drag queens whose work is focused on humor.
“Wouldn’t it be funny to have a show that features the campy queens, the funny queens, the comedy queens — as they’re sometimes called?” the two thought, according to Ashley Wright. Their idea grew, and the two wondered, “Why don’t we take these campy queens to a summer camp?”
The queens shared a cabin at the summer camp throughout the show’s shoot, which took place mid- to late May. During the day, they competed in traditional summer camp activities, racing canoes or having archery competitions while in drag. There were nightly “talent shows” where the queens were given a theme and had to put together a look — makeup, hair and clothing — that fit it to win.
At the end of each night, the queens earned a badge — and the one who didn’t was told to “take a hike” and was eliminated. The competitors were judged by queens Apple Brown Betty and Cherry Pi Sugarbaker (Ashley and Brandon Wright).
The competition brought the queens closer together, Bevels said in August, noting there was “no time for drama.”
“I thought it was so fun, and I thought it was really fun to be doing it in drag because it’s such a strange dichotomy,” Bevels said. “This is definitely the perfect fit for me: outdoors, being in camp, being in nature, but also getting to be a glamorous, campy drag queen. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”
The finale was filmed at Hamburger Mary’s in September.
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