It’s been a while since I last saw Dragtastic perform their very funny and comical drag show and I was excited to find out that they would be performing on the LA Demence Cruise sailing from Venice, down the Adriatic and around the Greek Islands, departing on the 6th of July 2019 of 7 nights. I was also very lucky to bag myself an interview with the boys in their dressing room after Thursdays show.
Before The Show
With this being Dragtastic’s first performance of the cruise, first gay cruise and the first time they had worked with LA Demence as a company I was curious to how well an English speaking, lip-syncing comedy drag show would fit in with the other LA Demence shows. With the ship being in Mykonos and a lot of passengers ashore due to it being one of the iconic gay destinations on the ship’s itinerary, I was thinking that the show might be a bit on the quiet side.
I could not have been more wrong, in fact, I was disappointed that I didn’t turn up sooner, the show started at 10.30pm and arriving at 10.15pm meant the only two seats together for my friend and I was sitting at the bar, still a seat is a seat and at least I got one, latecomers were not quite so lucky. When I went back to see their second show two days later I made sure that I arrived with plenty of time to spare, making sure I got a better seat near the front of the action.
Its Show Time
Both shows starting bang on time as advertised. The opening number on the first night being two very camp and over the top nuns, who looked like they have escaped from a nunnery, lip-syncing to the song from Sister Act, I will follow him. This set the show up for a number of laughs and the duo kept on giving it to the audience. When they were not making the crowds laugh, they were performing quick changes under hoops and using trickery and magic to fool the audience by appearing to change in breath-taking time, whilst still on stage.
One thing I pick up on was the distance these boys have to cover from the stage to the dressing room area. It was quite a walk, which I think turned into a little bit of a run for them as they had to be back on stage in time for the next lip sync number to start, the music is all pre-recorded and set up, so they had to start when it started. You noticed when they got off the stage a bit of a sprint started but I guess that could not be helped and they worked as best they could with the situation.
The audience got involved if they liked it or not by the duo, by using the audience in a number of their acts. The poor people getting picked on by Dragtastic just added to the laughter from the rest of the Centrum. Each show lasted 45 minutes, that was 45 minutes of non-stop laughter from an amazing audience. I was surprised that such a European crowd, got the British, camp, slapstick panto style of drag that Dragtastic was giving and known for in the Costa del Sol, but it worked so well and in my opinion, the audience loved it. Dragtastic made sure they included numbers for every age range and different nationalities, even performing some number from different European counties and lip-syncing if different languages.
Both shows were different and had different songs, costumes and acts. Personally myself I preferred their second show, that might have been because of the better seats or the few extra Vino Blanca’s I had before the show! But Dragtastic were a credit to LA Demence and ‘The Cruise’.
Not knowing what to expect, it didn’t take long for the laughter to trickle through the audience, it was very clear early on that they were loving the show. As I looked around people, other passengers who I can only guess had no intention to watch the show were stopped in their tracks by Dragtastics talent and without consciously knowing ended up catching the comedy duo, do what they do best, ENTERTAIN! And entertain they did. By the time the second show was performed on a Thursday night, the whole downstairs area in the Centrum was packed. You only had to look up at deck 5,6,7 and 8 to see people looking over the balcony to catch this lip-sync extravaganza.
Thursday’s show was packed, I think it would be fair to say it was the busiest show that was performed in the Centrum for the entire cruise, I have a feeling that this could have been because of word of mouth from Tuesday’s high-quality show. By their final song on their final show people were shouting for more, the whole Centrum erupted and you could tell that the audience had a really good time. Well done LA Demence for hiring such a fantastic cabaret show. We hope to see them back again next year.
After the show, I made my way backstage whilst Dragtastic transformed back into Barry and John, you should have seen the number of outfits, wigs and makeup they had. Barry explained to me that they made the majority of the outfits for the shows and brought materials from wherever they could. During our interview a German guest popped his head in, I guess he was in the cabin below the dressing room as the door kept slamming due to them running on for each number. I could see his frustration but it was only whilst the show was on for an hour, it was the dressing room allocated to them by LA Demence and Royal Caribbean.
1) How did you get the change to perform and work with one of the largest gay cruise company’s in Europe?
Barry: – After being a passenger onboard the cruise in 2018, my partner decided to write about us in the review post cruise. Little did I know that the directors would contact me and fly over to come and watch our show in Malaga. They loved it and offered us the chance to work with part of an amazing team.
John: – Like Barry said, him and his partner Neil had been on ‘The Cruise’ by LA Demence previously and had mentioned us to the organizers of the cruise. When they told me I really didn’t expect to hear from them but earlier this year they contacted us after seeing a demo video of our show and they came from Brussels to see us working in our home town in Spain at Legends Showbar. They watched the show and practically offered us the Cruise straight away!
2) Having seen your show on the Costa del Sol, I know it caters for a mixture of people, but mainly holidaymakers and families. What changes did you have to make for a hungry crowd of over 2000 gay men?
Barry: – In all honesty we didn’t make too many changes. We adjusted each show so they were not too language dependent trying to put as much visual, comedy and International numbers in so we could cater to so many different nationalities onboard.
John: – It wasn’t so much making changes for a gay audience that was the issue. It was more about making sure that everyone could understand as the cruise has 87 nationalities on board, so we had to use the most visual numbers like Barry said, in the shows. It wasn’t a problem for us because we have over 130 different numbers to choose from and it is growing all the time. It also depended on what we could fit into four suitcases. Gay audiences generally tend to love our shows.
3) One of the best parts about your shows is the number of costume changes. How did you manage to get them all the way to the ship?
Barry: – This was a challenge. The pure amount of costumes/props/wigs/Shoes for a standard show for just one half of Dragtastic is approximately 85kgs, as every number we perform has its own unique costume (which we make by ourselves!! Including our own eyelashes!) , props, wigs or headpiece. We even have to factor in silly things such as: Makeup !! Balloons!!! False teeth!!! . We carried 6 suitcases in total with a combined weight of 138kgs!!! Doesn’t sound too bad 3 suitcases each but try getting it to and from airports and ports… That was tricky!!
John: – Well. It was a struggle. Barry and I filled six suitcases with our costumes, wigs and hats. There was over 100kg + (220Ib+) of baggage, then we needed personal clothing, I mean I wasn’t going to sit in drag all week! Then we flew first to Milan, we then dragged it across town to the hotel in ridiculous temperatures as we had a stopover in Milan. The next morning we dragged it to the railway station in Milan, the wheels buckled under the weight and I think we did a bit too!! We then caught the train to Venice and once again trawled the cases up hills and down paths to the ship which was ready and waiting in the harbour. You should have seen the cabins when we unpacked!! The costumes were everywhere. It was like a fancy dress shop!
4) You have both been performing for years, but this is your first gay cruise. Were you nervous?
Barry: – I wouldn’t say nervous, but more anxious. We were extremely excited to perform onboard to give the cruise a new show experience. We aren’t a typical drag show but more comedy sketch illusionists… (More of a pantomime, slapstick comedy, typical inuendo jokes and fairy-tale costumes!), Our makeup is of a classic Panto dame!
John: – We were a little nervous. Well I was more than Barry, I think as it was my first ever gay cruise. Barry had been on the cruise as a guest a couple of times before. Having said that, performing comes naturally to us. We are celebrating our tenth anniversary of working together later this year.
5) Was it all work and no play or did you get to enjoy the cruise as much as the rest of us?
Barry: – I can honestly say we enjoyed every moment. Although we had to prepare our shows with limited cabin space, and have an outfit ready for a T-dance, on certain days, we made sure we used our spare time to explore the amazing places we visited, and also party with the beautiful people onboard , the big giant LA Demence family
John: – It wasn’t all work and no play, in fact, it was quite the opposite. It was all play with a little work. We really enjoyed the trip. Not only the performing, which was wonderful as we worked on a proper theatre stage for the first time in a year, but also visiting the fabulous ports of call on the ship’s itinerary.
A little bit about Dragtastic
Dragtastic was originally called Bitter and Twisted. We were based in Tenerife in the Canary Islands but we decided to spread our wings a little and five years ago we moved to Malaga on the Costa del Sol. Over the last ten years, we have worked in Tenerife, La Gomera, UK and of course, on the Cruise. Truly international now! We perform in various languages. We have appeared on “Come Dine with Me” on Channel four, Got talent Espana – Telecinco, on Channel Five in the UK , and expect to be filming with them again in a few weeks for one of their TV shows. In Tenerife we won the Tenerifre Entertainment Award three times, and also opened the Carnival in Puerto De La Cruz 2010. We have the copyright on our name “Dragtastic”. Well, it’s a cruel world out there, you have to protect yourself. We love doing what we do. We are always discussing new ideas or ways of doing things. It’s more than a job, it’s a hobby!
Dragtastic are real trailblazers of quality entertainment and will give you the time of your life!
You won’t find another Cabaret Show with such a wide variety of numbers and abilities. Whether you are looking for a fun family show, a glam and glitz night or a saucy but nice adult night, DRAGTASTIC have exactly what you are looking for!
Did you see Dragtastic on ‘The Cruise 2019’ by LA Demence? Let us know in the comments what you thought of the show. To find out more about Dragtastic follow them on their social media accounts below.
I have no professional connection to Dragtastic. During my cruise, I was a fully paying customer on the cruise, with no incentive or reward given before, during or after by LA Demence or Dragtastic. This post is based on my own honest review and experience that I experienced whilst on ‘The Cruise’ by LA Demence.
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