Dallas’ Purple Party imports Drag Racers, DJs and dollars for its charitable mission
The Purple Party Foundation — an all-volunteer organization that donates all its profits to charity — holds its biggest event, the weekend-long Purple Party, starting next week, and the celebs will be out in force. Among them are couple and RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Manila Luzon and Dallas’ own Sahara Davenport. We grabbed some time with these fierce queens to talk about their fame, their couplehood and how Dallas drag differs from New York.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
Dallas Voice: Sahara, you used to live in Dallas. Is this some kind of homecoming for you? Sahara Davenport: Yes! I’m anxious to be coming home. I started at Village Station [now Station 4]! This is my first time coming back since I was on [RuPaul’s Drag Race]. I miss our Highland Park ladies.
Manila Luzon: It’s Dallas so we are dragging out our biggest wigs and adding extra rhinestones. This is the first time we’ve ever had to wear only purple!
Sahara, you’ve been in New York for a while. How is drag different there? Sahara: In Dallas, you perform with a group. In New York, there are no real show-bars. You’re a bar-star — there are no casts. Queens would ask, “How do you fit in a taxi with all that hair?” I had to find my own balance.
How long have you been a couple? Sahara: We just celebrated our six-year anniversary. We met at a bar in New York, and six years of one-night stands later, we’re still together.
I was doing my whole thing and Manila was just a partygoer, dressing up in her costumes and getting wasted. After a while, she started to perform. It’s been great, having that support — someone to zip up my dress when I need it.
Are you two often asked now to perform together? Sahara: I really want to come and do my stuff for Dallas. But I also know [our fans] want to see us together, so we will if they’ll allow us. The Rose Room cast will be performing also.
Manila: The most exciting thing we did together was performing on Christmas Day in Sweden. It was nice to go to the winter wonderland of Robyn and ABBA and Ace of Base.
They were singing along to us and knew our music.
Sahara, you became famous during the very popular second season of Drag Race; Manila, you went even further, coming in second place during season 3. Were you better prepared knowing what Sahara had been through? Sahara: If you recall, Season 1 was a docu-series — a reality TV pageant with cameras around. I saw it and said, “I can do that.” I’d done commercials, I knew how to act in front of a camera. I didn’t think it was gonna be what it became. They were throwing hamburgers at me! And kicking me! I was taken aback. The paranoia set in quick. So I forewarned my lover: “Choke ’em, put ground glass in their powder, poison ’em.”
Manila: Sahara tells a completely different experience than I had. Sahara was a working queen and didn’t wanna look as crazy. But the longer you stayed the more popular you get.
Sahara: I was more nervous watching Manila’s season than my own. But I was shocked! Manila was a partygoer and I thought, “They’ll eat her alive because she’s so sweet.” And he’s wreaking hell!
I’ve walked around Dallas’ gayborhood with Drag Racers and I’ll tell you: They are greeted like royalty. What do you think accounts for that? Manila: They feel like they are in the living room with us. We can’t take ourselves too seriously. And they see us out and about and they know, we may look like Angelina, but we’re just men in dresses.
Sahara: We know the power of TV. When It’s showing in Australia and then you go there, they appreciate you and know you and ask you about your story. You may have filmed it two years earlier but they ask “How’s your family doing?’” They get into it. How can we not appreciate it? We are men dressing up in women’s clothing — something we would have been stoned for not long ago. And now we have fans. I think that’s kind of cool.
Manila: The show runs months later in other countries. You’ll wake up one day and look on Twitter and you have, like, 1,000 Italian tweets and you’ll go, “Oh, I guess the show is now playing in Italy.”
The current season is almost over. I think it’s great that Sharon Needles, who is not the glamour queen who has traditionally won, is in the finale. Manila: That’s why she’s so popular. After four seasons, the attention span of Americans is zero, so the second someone comes up with blood coming out of their face, they grab your attention. You think,
“I’ve seen four seasons of red lipstick but never blood coming out of her mouth.” If I were to do it again, I’d actually step it up and have shit coming out of my mouth and if I can put some corn in it, all the better.
Speaking of which, an All-Star edition is coming up. Are either of you in it? Manila: We’re not allowed to say, but it will be exciting. A lot of us get that one season and don’t come back — our life-span is as long as we are on that show. So the chance to come back would be good for our careers.
That, and appearing at the Purple Party.
Meet the musicmakers
The Purple Party is really a series of parties, featuring music by DJs from all over. Here’s what you can expect from the spinners and the vibes of each party.
Wayne G, The Main Event
The U.K. DJ and producer has remixed the likes of Gaga, Kylie and Whitney. He brings his hard house sound to the party at South Side Music Hall. Brandon Moses opens.
Corey Craig, Rise
(Saturday pool party)
This Dallas native is used to A-list gay gigs spinning his disco house and electro funk at the GLAAD Media Awards and Sydney Mardi Gras. He’ll get you wet at the Crowne Plaza Downtown pool party. Dallas DJ Adam Metts opens.
Alyson Calagna, Resurrection
The goddess of circuit parties, Calagna defies genres to create what she labels “truthology in sound.” She lays down her beats with opener Gabriel Marestein at the Dallas Grand Ballroom.
Joe Gauthreaux, Ignite
(Friday opening party)
Hailing now from New York City, Gauthreaux, left, started in New Orleans at Oz Nightclub, only to grow into one of today’s premiere DJs. His sets have been heard at the Winter Party Festival, Black Party New York and San Diego Pride. He’s growing beyond club work to produce his own remixes and is a reporting DJ for Billboard. He opens the Purple Party with Dallas’ Paul McElroy at Station 4.
Paulo and Michael Tank, Glow
(Sunday closing party)
These two slabs of DJ deliciousness hope you enjoy their beats as much as their biceps, though both are muscular and exciting. Paulo, below left, and Tank, below right, are gonna tag-team you — on the dancefloor. Paulo brings his tribal progressive sound all the way from Portugal by way of L.A. Tank brings his turntable cred from the likes of the Buenos Aires White Party and Snowball in Singapore. He’s even charted to No. 1 on the Billboard dance charts. The duo headline the official closing of this year’s Purple Party.
Where’s the party?
What you need to know to get your Purple on
Ignite, the opening party at Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. May 4 at 9:30 p.m. $20. 18 and up. Special guests Sahara Davenport and Manila Luzon join the girls from the Rose Room.
Rise, the pool party at the Crowne Plaza Downtown, 1015 Elm St. May 5, noon–6 p.m. $20. 18 and up.
The Main Event at South Side Music Hall, 1135 S. Lamar St. May 5 at
9 p.m. $50 online, $70 door. 9 p.m. 18 and up.
Resurrection, after hours party, at Dallas Grand Ballroom, 1015 Elm St. May 6, 1:30 a.m. $30. 18 and up.
Glow, the closing party, at Plush, 1400 Main St. May 6 at 6 p.m. $40.
For more information on Purple Party events and its charitable mission, visit DallasPurpleParty.org.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2012.