Blood, flying wigs and impersonations: Crash Landing Cycle 19
Left to right: (back) Trannika Rex, (front) Klonopin Kardashian, (back) Auntie Heroine, (front) Sutton Fister, Coco Iman and Willy LaQueue waiting to hear the results for the top three. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
Crash Landing Cycle 19 had a lot of things going on: flying wigs, fake blood squirting from doll heads, kicks, splits and impersonations of other queens. The top five performers in the final round of Cycle 19 were Auntie Heroine, Klonopin Kardashian, Coco Iman, Sutton Fister and Willy LaQueue. At the end of the night, Auntie Heroine was named Cycle 19’s winner.
After walking on stage and taking the win, Auntie Heroine said, “drag is about love and I feel the love tonight.”
“Auntie Heroine’s Nico impersonation will go down in herstory,” said Trannika Rex.
Crash Landing was created by Nico and Trannika Rex at Berlin Night Club. Trannika said, “Nico came to me with the idea of a competition for weirdos and I thought it filled a void. I created the format and brought the idea to Berlin and then we asked Lucy if she would be into bartending. She said yes and here we are today... The show started out big, took a little time to find its footing, and now it’s a well-oiled machine."
Each cycle lasts three rounds, with every show taking place on the second and fourth Monday of the month. In order to vote, people must be physically present to receive their ballot slips. Contestants are allowed to participate in as many cycles as they wish.
Trannika Rex said, “The show structure is intended to move quickly so that we crown a new winner, every six weeks and can speed the upward mobility in what can be a slow-moving field.”
The first round starts with 15 performers, the second round with the top 10 and the final round with the top five performing two songs of their choice with a complete costume change.
This round resembles a more standard drag show set up and “tests the contestants ability to show variety and complete quick changes,” according to Crash Landing's Facebook page.
Left to right: Trannika Rex, Auntie Heroine, Sutton Fister and Willy LaQueue. The three performers listen to hear who will take the winning spot of Cycle 19. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
“It’s a lot of behind the scenes work but it’s a labor of love. There are three types of drag queens in the scene: queens trying to break out, queens who work regularly but still have other jobs, and full-time queens. The intention of the show is to bring queens from the break out level to the regularly working level and we’ve seen the rise of so many queens in that time,” Trannika Rex said.
Coco Iman during first performance. Photo provided by Joseph Moreno.
Coco Iman has been performing since 2013 and was first of the top five performers to take the stage for Cycle 19’s finale. “It felt amazing making it to the top five. I was like you really, really like me,” Coco Iman said. Her first performance was to Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ in a purple 70s style outfit made by Ryan Royale.
Her second performance was to Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’ in an outfit she made herself. Iman said, “it took me a few days to get everything together… the music inspires my outfits. I follow the music.”
Second to perform was Klonopin Kardashian to a Cupcakke / Gaga mix mashup of G.U.Y and Vagina mixed with Venus. Klonopin shocked the crowed by jumping into the air and landing in the splits.
Kardashian said, "Crash Landing was my first time performing in Chicago, but I started doing drag a year and a half ago when I lived in Houston, Texas."
Klonopin Kardashian in Jacob Blank costume during first performance. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
She said, “Jacob Blank (@iamjacobblank) made my first costume, we both brainstormed the idea of a jarring tacky color clash look, reminiscent of the drag queen Divine. I felt like a sexy 80s fitness model jacked on scag.”
Kadashian’s second performance was to “Gay Bash, My Boy Gash + Fatter in Person” and said, “My songs were produced by a good friend and amazing queen back home Ondi (@ondi4real). We worked on these over the summer. It was fun coming up with lyrics together and recording isn’t very easy, but I had an exciting time and I want to make more music one day.”
Her second outfit was a pink reveal with a leotard made by Darius Vallier underneath. Kardashian's finale of her second performance ended with her eating a cheeseburger.
Kardashian said, "I’ve pulled burgers out of my bra, I’ve turned myself into an ice cream sundae, I’ve rolled all over the floor of the bar. I love being a messy troll in drag."
The third performer was Sutton Fister. She wore a pink leopard kimono and corset with high-waisted black pants. Her first song was to Shania Twain.
Sutton Fister performing to a Shania Twain song during first performance. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
Fister’s second performance she sang her own rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘New York State of Mind” where she inserted Chicago and Berlin several times throughout the song.
Auntie Heroine was the fourth performer and took the stage in a maroon rouge, sheer draped ensemble with thigh high boots.
Auntie Heroine during first performance. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
In Auntie Heroine’s second performance she donned a velvet dress and a black corset. In the beginning of her second performance, she removed her velvet dress to reveal a fishnet rainbow dress.
Auntie Heroine during second performance. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
Her music for the second performance was to her own rendition of Pocahontas’ “Colors of the Wind.” One of the lines from the song was: “Don’t believe me, just go and ask your dad. You’d like to think all of this is a choice. You’d think I’d walk in these heels every day, hell yes…”
The final performer was Willy LaQueue who walked onto stage in a pink suit and danced to a Bruno Mars song. LaQueue donned a tiny, strappy, revealing piece and danced to an EDM song for the second performance. LaQueue shocked the crowd after jumping, swinging and hanging off of Berlin’s dance pole.
Willy LaQueue during first performance. Photo by Nicole F. Anderson.
Crash Landing had Jay for Pay and Mickey Mirage perform as special guests. Trannika Rex and Nico brought up past winners to the stage such as Auntie Chan and Irregular Girl.
According to the Crash Landing Facebook page, the winner of the cycle receives $200 in money, $200 worth of Sugarpill Cosmetics, $200 of Arda Wigs, a booking at Drag Matinee and a wig styling by Wig Takeout.
Klonopin Kardashian said, “I’m proud of the show I put on and I hope I left an impression on people and that I will hopefully be able to perform more in Chicago.”
In the future, Trannika Rex hopes to see more sequins and stones. She said, “It was popular to stone outfits for a while and now that’s petered off and I’m noticing more pedestrian costumes but sparkling on stage never goes out of style and I’d like to see more craftsmanship/custom looks again.”
Audience goer, Joseph Moreno said, “It was great! My favorite moment was Klonopin having a backup dancer even after getting [the dancer] injured.”
At the end of the night, Cycle 20’s contestants were revealed and audience members resumed dancing.