Queens of the Bayou

On May 19, the popular Bourbon Street club Oz was packed wall-to-wall as customers watched the season finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Bianca Del Rio, who began her drag career in New Orleans, would go on to clinch the win.

The TV moment was yet another sign that drag culture in New Orleans is at its peak, drawing in large crowds on a weekly basis. The city hasn’t always been open to drag and L.G.B.T.Q. culture, but dedicated veteran performers have paved the way for a queen renaissance. Performers Blanche Debris, Persana Shoulders, Princess Stephany and others offer a look behind the complicated face of the Bayou queen.