I miss PICA’s Dada Balls. I miss the days of debaucherous art-fueled cosmic soirees. The days when the chair of the board wore ass-less chaps, MarchFourth rolled up on its fire engine, and local business owners dabbled in psychedelics. What happened, Portland!? When did we grow up and get boring?

Which is why I was so excited about local gender**k performers Kaj-anne Pepper and Chanticleer Tru (lead singer of soul funk band Magic Mouth) teaming up to produce Critical Mascara: A Post-Realness Drag Ball. Maybe, just maybe, Portland could still turn it out.

The performers certainly did. Competing in four categories—Diva Practice, Glamour Gore, Vogue, and Haaaaiiiirrrr—the artists came from as far as New York, strutting the runway with creativity, style, and crazy passionate flair. Particularly during the Vogue section, I kept asking myself: “who are these people? They can’t be from Portland?” But many of them were.

The audience was a sea of full-throated enthusiasm. I wished there were more who embraced the event by dressing up themselves, and some did, but it seems the days of big costumed bashes have passed—at least for the time. My only disappointment was that the producers, instead of kicking the dance party into full swing while they deliberated the winner, instead disbanded us and everyone left for the beer garden. My epic soiree didn’t happen this time, but that just left more room on the catwalk for those of us who danced till they kicked us out.

Here’s a slideshow of the queen’s competing to be Portland’s fiercest

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