“Growing up as a gay freak in D.C., the only place I ever felt comfortable was the DC Eagle,” says drag performer Dracmorda, or Drac for short. “I wasn’t a biker or a leather person or anything like that, but I had a giant Mohawk. I was so weird looking. And that’s the only place that people just wouldn’t look at me like a total freak.” Drac pauses, then adds with a chuckle: “Granted, you could barely see in there — the lights were out. But still.”
Three decades later, Drac is now one-half of the Boulet Brothers, which TimeOut magazine has referred to as “LA’s naughty nightlife kingpins.” Together with Swanthula, Drac’s partner in life and drag, the Boulet “brothers” first came to attention producing nightlife parties, including one of Los Angeles’ biggest annual Halloween balls (which would have celebrated its 20th anniversary this year if not for the pandemic) and also what Swanthula, or Swan, describes as a “super punk rock drag party [set] in a leather bar.” Named Dragula, the party has evolved in recent years into an increasingly popular reality TV competition series.
“Our drag is a culmination of everything we love: horror, fantasy, performance, presentation, and production,” says Drac. He cites “villains from He-Man cartoons and comic book characters” as primary inspiration for the duo’s eccentric, over-the-top looks. When asked about the striking way their eyes often appear to be irisless, Swan teases, “It actually reflects our extraterrestrial origins.”
The Boulet form of drag is decidedly not like the exaggeratedly glamorous, sassy, and feminine drag that has become mainstream in the past decade. Drac characterizes that as “very whitewashed and very safe, family-friendly and non-threatening: ‘Here’s a tongue pop with a blond wig and I look like a girl.’ [Or] ‘we’re pretty white muscle gays that say quirky, snappy things.'”
The Dragula party was created in part as a reaction to that, a place where one could “be queer and unapologetically adult and raw, and talk about real things that are happening with them — sexually, politically, all those things. It was very freeing for people.” Dragula, the show, is similar in spirit: wild, edgy, and open to any and all along the LGBTQ spectrum and beyond.
Thwarted by the pandemic to produce a new, fourth season of Dragula in time for Halloween, the Boulets instead decided to pursue an idea that had been on the backburner: making a Dragula spinoff that’s part documentary, part reality competition. The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection provides “a more in-depth look” at a handful of past Dragula contestants who are getting another chance to compete and shine.
“When we bring them here and they compete, you’re only seeing them in a limited capacity. And you don’t get the chance to see who they really are necessarily,” says Drac. “The focus is on the runway and the performance and the competition. [We] go to their house, see where they live, see what their friends and family are like, and their actual real-life experiences.”
Traveling cross-country to shoot during the pandemic offered its own kind of horror for the Boulets. “It was really scary to see the way that other places and other states were not giving a fuck, it seemed — restaurants were open and people were not wearing masks and eating inside,” says Swan, who references the name of Dragula‘s elimination round to add, “It was almost like our Extermination Challenge. We were really putting our necks on the line to create this content. And there was definitely a danger element to it.”
In addition to planning for season four of Dragula, casting for which opens on Halloween, the Boulets are exploring other new pursuits. “Honestly, we’re just getting started,” Drac says. “We have so many ideas. We’re working on something scripted. We’re working on a book. We’re working on a movie…. I feel like we’re giving a safe home for outcasts and freaks, and we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection is available on the AMC Network horror streaming service, Shudder. Visit www.shudder.com.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.
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