Apr 25, 2024 - Culture

Drag Queen Brunch goes big at Jazz Fest 2024

Poppy Tooker smiles in a photo with drag queens Leveau Contraire and Debbie with a D.

Leveau Contraire, Poppy Tooker and Debbie with a D will make a return to Jazz Fest in 2024. Photo courtesy of Tooker

Drag Queen Brunch was so successful at last year's Jazz Fest that it prompted organizers to completely rework the Food Heritage Stage schedule.

Why it matters: The change means the festival will host Drag Queen Brunch three times over two weekends, putting the family-friendly show in the spotlight.

What she says: "We drew the biggest crowds, standing room only," show organizer Poppy Tooker tells Axios New Orleans. "It was like this unbelievable sensation."

  • "The idea of going back to just doing a cooking demo is impossible once you've reached Taylor Swift status on the Food Heritage Stage."

The big picture: For decades after its invention, "drag happened in queer spaces, in the dark, and was created by people who scraped together beauty from whatever they could find," writes Jaya Saxena in a history of drag brunch for Eater.

  • But that changed in the 1990s, when drag started going mainstream.

Zoom in: In New Orleans, after the art form merged with brunch, it was most notably seen at the Country Club in the Bywater.

  • Drag brunch slowly grew beyond downtown, helped along when Tooker wrote her book, "Drag Queen Brunch."

What they're saying: Now, to have it on New Orleans'  biggest cultural stage "means so much," Tooker says, especially in the city that invented brunch.

  • "After we did the first one on the Jazz Fest stage, I got emails from people saying, 'Thank you. I am so happy that my first exposure to drag queens I was able to do with my children at the festival at your brunch,'" Tooker says.

If you go: The Food Heritage Stage is located inside the Grandstand, and it highlights local ingredients and chefs with programming every day except Rolling Stones Thursday.

  • Each drag queen show features Debbie with a D, Laveau Contraire and Cucci Licci with other guests and is "totally G-rated," Tooker says.
  • Drag shows are scheduled for this Saturday and both Sundays.
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