By Laura Latzko
ArizonaDrag.com started 10 years go with an interview with local drag legend Barbra Seville and has grown from there.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the website, which has drag-based content like interviews with local and national drag queens and a calendar of local drag events.
ArizonaDrag.com also has a Facebook page, which offers pageant updates, information on upcoming events and links to videos and photos.
Over the years, ArizonaDrag.com has expanded by offering its own events, including a Phoenix Pride Pageant prelim and special events with national entertainers.
ArizonaDrag.com was founded by Edward Castro, who continues to be a one-man crew handling everything with the website and its Facebook pageant.
Castro is not only a media producer but a fan of the art of drag. This is really what drives him in his work with ArizonaDrag.com.
To mark this year’s 10th anniversary, Castro will be holding a new event, Dragalicious: A Drag Convention on Sept. 1 at the Cash Nightclub and Lounge. This event was inspired by RuPaul’s DragCon and will celebrate all-things drag.
“The concept is to just throw a big celebration of Arizona entertainers and bring in some out-of-town guests so that people get a different perspective of drag and get to learn different aspects. It’s not only for the fans but for the queens as well,” Castro said.
Shuga Cain, a drag queen from New York who appeared on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, will headline the convention.
The one-day event will have a panel discussion with an interactive heel class; a drag show featuring local performers; a special performance by Shuga Cain; drag storytime, wig and boutique vendors, and a runway competition.
The drag queen with the top look in the runway competition will win a booth at RuPaul’s DragCon.
Audience members will also have a chance to win passes to the national drag convention.
Castro kicked off the 10-year anniversary celebration earlier in the year with the annual Diamond Crystal Awards on Friday, July 19, and a special Dragalicious drag brunch on Sunday, July 21.
During the 10-year-anniversary, Castro has been reflecting on the successes and challenges he has faced, but one thing is for sure. The website has completely changed his life.
The response he has gotten from people locally and nationally is what drives him to continue.
“It’s very humbling that people support it. It’s very humbling that it’s known nationally. I say humbling because this is something that I’ve created and probably the thing that I’ve created that’s lasted longest. For people to recognize and appreciate your work not only locally but nationally, that brings me to tears,” Castro said. “It just gives me motivation, that people still enjoy it 10 years later, to continue to do it for another 10 years.”
Along with the convention, Castro will be hosting other events throughout the year.
On Sept. 29 at the Rock, local houses will compete in the second edition of “POSE: The Competition,” a ballroom-style contest with categories such as vogue, face, butch queen realness, and face.
A portion of proceeds from the event goes to the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Program.
For other upcoming events, Castro will be bringing in national entertainers from popular TV shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Boulet Brothers Dragula.
On Oct. 30 at the Rock, fans can see Hollow Eve from season three of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula during “Hollo Eve: A Nightmare on Melrose Street.” Brooke Lynn Hytes from season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race will perform at the Cash Nightclub and Lounge on Nov. 27 as part of a special event hosted by ArizonaDrag.com.
Diamond Crystal Awards
Over the last 10 decade, Castro has been driven by his desire to give back to the community through drag. Part of this legacy is the Diamond Crystal Awards.
The awards ceremony honors male and female impersonators, male entertainers, pageant promoters and femmes/bio queens from Arizona.
This year at the awards ceremony, Castro gave a special opening performance and renamed some of the awards to honor locals who have made a difference in the drag community.
He also gave out special awards to Mister Phoenix Pride Gray Matter and former Mister Phoenix Pride and Emperor XIIII Eddie Broadway, which included trips to WorldPride and the National Trans Visibility March, respectively.
He plans to continue to honor people who have served the community.
“I want to highlight the Arizona entertainers on a national level by making them part of these major events that they may not be able to afford, or they may not be able to participate in. I want to be able to highlight them in this way for the good things that they do in the community because I think that they deserve it. I think that’s what the drag awards are all about is highlighting the Arizona drag community,” Castro said.
This year, over 2,000 people voted for the Diamond Crystal Awards.
During the awards ceremony, Castro gave out awards such as Show of the Year, Best Performance by a Duo or Group, Chantelle L. Douglas Performance of the Year, Rising Star of the Year, Best Performance by a Non-Professional, Pageant of the Year, Femme Performer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Male Performer of the Year and Male and Female Impersonator of the Year.
Castro chooses the winners for certain awards, including the Miss Ebony Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement, Award of Excellence, and Fan of the Year awards.
ArizonaDrag.com History and Expansion
ArizonaDrag.com started as a local website highlighting Phoenix drag queens and has become more with the addition of services such as coverage of national pageants and interviews with well-known entertainers such as national titleholders.
Through ArizonaDrag.com, Castro has also provided services such as helping local entertainers and university pride organizations with bookings and connecting people interested in doing drag with established performers.
An annual preliminary for the Phoenix Pride Pageant is also part of Arizona Drag’s service to the community. This year, Roman Holiday has served as ArizonaDrag.com’s representative for Mister Phoenix Pride.
Castro is also the promoter for the Mr. Gay Icon USofA and the Mr. Gay Arizona America pageants, a DJ, a member of Barbra Seville’s Wonderful 100 team for AIDS Walk Arizona and a volunteer for Phoenix and San Diego pride organizations.
Phoenix Pride recently honored Castro for his volunteer work with the Linda Hoffman Community Spirit Award.
Castro continues to bring new drag-related offerings on a regular basis.
Castro recently started hosting the “Drag Talk” podcast. It is on a short break, but past episodes are available on the ArizonaDrag.com website.
For the podcast, he has talked to local and national performers such as Reign XIII Emperor Eddie Broadway, Reign XIV Empress Anita Togoboxx, Miss Gay Arizona America Espressa Grande, Jessica Wild from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and male entertainer Axel Andrews.
Through his Dragalicious events, Castro has brought national entertainers, such as Raven and Raja from RuPaul’s Drag Race, into Phoenix. He plans to bring these events back, starting with the drag convention.
Over the years, he has also hosted reoccurring shows and events such as Showgirlz and Queens of Comedy.
Through his work with ArizonaDrag.com, Castro has been able to introduce local and national entertainers to Arizona audiences.
His favorite interviews over the years have been with former Miss Gay Arizona America Angela Dodd and former Miss Gay America Coco Montrese.
When Castro started the website ten years ago as a hobby, he never imagined it would evolve as it has or open up new opportunities, such as promoting pageants and shows.
“It’s interesting how people really gravitated towards it and supported it. If people didn’t care about it or people didn’t support it, there wouldn’t be that many people engaged. People wouldn’t enjoy the awards show, and it would have faded away,” Castro said.
He has faced some struggles over the years, especially with the time commitment required for the website. Throughout his day and in his spare time, he often works on the website and Facebook page.
“My life has changed. Everything is drag now. Since I’m only one person, I have to do everything. You have to be aware of what’s going on, and you really have to be organized,” Castro said.
The Facebook page has grown from 100 to 14,000 likes. Many of these individuals are outside of Arizona.
A number of followers go to the Facebook page for coverage of pageants. He said being able to provide coverage of pageants for those who aren’t able to attend has been highly rewarding for him.
“The thing that I love about pageants is the people that you meet, the connections that you can make. And being able to be there and see someone’s dream come true is something you can’t do over the phone,” Castro said.
Similar websites and drag awards ceremonies have popped up over the years in places such as Louisiana, California, and Texas.
Castro hopes to continue to grow ArizonaDrag.com, first by having more of a presence in Tucson and eventually by taking it national. He also would like to start offering entertainment booking services through the website.
Dragalicious: A Drag Convention
Doors open at noon on Sunday, Sept. 1 at The Cash Nightclub and Lounge, 1730 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix. General admission is $20; a $35 VIP ticket includes a meet-and-greet with Shuga Cain.
POSE: The Competition
6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 29 at The Rock, 4129 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. $10 for reserved seating.
Hollo Eve: A Nightmare on Melrose Street
9 p.m. on October 30 at The Rock, 4129 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix. $30 for VIP tickets that include a meet-and-greet with Hollow Eve; $20 for reserved seating with no meet-and-greet; $10 for standing-room-only tickets.
A Night with Brooke Lynn Hytes
9 p.m. Wednesday, November 27 at The Cash Nightclub and Lounge 1730 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix. A $35 VIP ticket includes a meet-and-greet with Brooke Lynn Hytes; $20 general admission features standing-room-only tickets; $100-$200 admission for reserved tables or booths.
Visit arizonadrag.com and facebook.com/arizona.drag