Support Local Drag! You hear plenty of Ru girls say it, but I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some of them doing it first-hand. In the last 6 months alone I’ve seen Adore Delano, Kalorie Karbdashian, Laganja Estranja, Jasmine Masters, Jade Jolie, and Shangela come out to local shows after their own shows and meet and greets in Sacramento, California had finished. More than that though, two Ru girls have held competitions for local queens that have come through Sacramento – Trinity The Tuck Taylor and Delta Work. While there are plenty of stories to tell about all of these queens, the focus of this article is on the honorary “local queen” in California’s Central Valley – Delta Work.
Right about a year ago it began. The Dirty Work with Delta Work competition started in Sacramento. Once a month Delta Work would visit the state capitol and provide local queens and kings with the opportunity to compete for a cash prizes each night as well as larger prizes for those who won the semi-finals and the finals. This monthly competition series drew in talent from around northern California to compete, including some of the brightest stars in the Sacramento area. Delta Work would begin each show with a number of her own before introducing the non-competing cast and the competitors for the evening. In her introductions spoke with compassion about being supportive, about the fact that there are many different types of drag and that they are all valid. And then she watched as the performers (those competing and those performing) turned it out in number after number. I captured almost every performance from 2018, and in most of my videos you can see Delta enjoying herself as she watched the gals and guys perform their hearts out. To relive the 2018 competition you can visit the playlist on my Youtube channel.
Dirty Work with Delta Work is not the only time Delta has shown her support of local drag, by the way, and it’s not the only time in 2018 that I was able to see her in such a capacity. She also played a key role in Fresno’s First Drag Festival, brain child of Bella Ramos, a single mom and ally to the LGBTQ community. Although Fresno is California’s fifth largest city by land area, many probably can’t locate it on a map. Located along Highway 99 in California’s Central Valley it’s a long distance away from places like Los Angeles and San Francisco – cities that are most likely to be top of mind when thinking about hotbeds for drag in California. And yet Fresno has a significant drag community with shows almost every night of the week there and in nearby towns, and they have a regular stream of Ru girls booked at Fab Fresno. I myself have made the 2 ½ hour trip a couple times to see Ru girls and some of my favorite locals do their thing on stage. Still, Fresno is not exactly a “destination city,” and it’s not what one would consider a progressive city. But Bella was determined to make an impact, to broaden the reach of drag in Fresno, to create an event that would allow underage fans to learn and enjoy themselves, a place where kids with questions about themselves, about drag kings and drag queens, about what being transgender means, about wigs and makeup and glitter could feel comfortable and free to ask questions.
Fresno’s First Drag Festival was definitely an unknown, and though a number of extremely talented local drag artists were booked to perform and/or be on the panel, having a headliner with some clout was definitely a bonus in drawing folks in. Enter Delta Work. She performed, spoke to the crowd, and spent time speaking with the fans in the meet and greet. Yes, it was more than just a quick photo-op, she spent time chatting with folks. Unfortunately I was running low on memory and battery life on my phone (I record A LOT of drag shows) so I wasn’t able to capture every moment, but I did capture a lot of the performances and panel moments – available for viewing here
There is so much negativity in social media, where people tend to zone in on what they see on TV and they decide that what you did, regardless of how long ago it was, that moment in time defines you. Too often the good things people do away from TV, where it matters most, those moments don’t get the same kinds of attention. Well if I have the opportunity then I want to change that, and Dragadventures has given me that opportunity. In the time I’ve gotten to spend with Delta I’ve found her to be quite kind, funny, and silly, as well as a true fan of the art of drag. I’ve seen her interact with fans and queens/kings alike.
Most of my friends are drag artists, and I felt tortured watching them compete against each other in Dirty Work with Delta Work. And I will agonize yet again this year as Season 2 is getting ready to begin. But I also want to thank Delta Work for giving so many talented artists a platform, an opportunity to shine on a brighter stage. I couldn’t think of a better way to thank Delta than to ask my friends, some of the queens who’ve worked with and/or competed for her to share their thoughts. Here’s some of what they had to say…
Delta seems to be a big fan of Jaymelah Moore, and if you’ve read my previous interviews you’ll know that she’s not alone in that regard. Though Jaymelah didn’t compete she did perform frequently as a cast member for the Dirty Work shows, and one night Delta threw every dollar she could find toward Jaymelah as she tore it up on the stage. And what does Jaymelah have to say about Delta? “Delta work is an angel…if you disagree…I’ll fight you…jk I won’t fight you but I will cut your heel off of your favorite heels (laughing)’
When I asked Sasha Devaroe, who ultimately won the 2018 Finals and is about to begin her southern California bookings (one of her prizes for winning), what her thoughts were on Delta Work she said, “She my good Judy is all I can say (laughs) I love me some Delta and she one of the humbled nicest and down to earth drag race queen I have met!”
Competitor and semi-finalist Mercury Rising was quick to chime in with, “I have to say, it’s shocking to see an Emmy award winning hair stylist remember a humble local gal like me. Even at drag con, we made eye contact and she smiled, waved and said ‘Hey Mercury! Are you here with Ronnie (top notch local promoter)?’ And gave me a hug. Like that humility if you ask me”
One of the hardest working queens around, and a finalist in 2018, Hellen Heels is a long-time admirer of Delta Work. When I asked for her thoughts she said, “For me Delta Work has always been a symbol of class, being one’s self, and honesty. She doesn’t ever say one isn’t good enough, but she doesn’t praise anything she thinks came lazy. Since Season 3 she has spoken her mind, been a pioneer for beautiful big gurls, and has shown us that you can do the best you and not have to do the bells and whistles to get positive attention. I admire all those qualities and try to instill them in the queens I mentor. I make sure to visit her every time I go to Dragcon, I have most of her merch, and I do this because I support and stan a queen who has stood the test of time simply by being authentic. She is gorgeous, takes no one’s shit (see: Shitgirlplease) and is inspiring. To my Delta, I will always look up to you.”
I’ll end this article with this message from Bella Ramos, who had this to say about Delta and her experience working with her, “As an ally to the LGBTQ community, I felt I needed to do something more. More than just verbally expressing my acceptance of the LGBTQ community. I decided to take steps towards creating Fresno’s First Drag Festival. I didn’t know where to start! After speaking and meeting with a few people from the community, I started to do my research. I found Delta Work, a RuPaul alumni, and decided to bring her on as our FIRST special guest Drag Queen. At first, I was extremely nervous, I didn’t know what to expect, but the day finally came and I had the pleasure of working with such an amazing, caring and extremely professional person!
Working with Delta Work, has set the bar high for any Queens I work with in the future. She was graceful and eloquent before, during and after her performance. Our VIP guests absolutely adored her! My own boys loved meeting her and spoke about her for the next 2 months after meeting her. She took her time with all of the guests and spoke about her experience working with us at Fresno’s Drag Festival. Before her departure, during our goodbyes, Delta Work said, that she would be happy to be a special guest at our event in 2019, if we decide to hold the festival again!”
Written By Contributor Rebecca Cave