After a full day of watching banda music videos and drawing mariposas on our hands in honor of Jenni Rivera's first deathaversary, we hoofed it over to the new Hamburger Mary's in downtown Long Beach last night for an opening night so perfect, it couldn't help but fill the house.
For its first full day in business at the Pine Ave. location, the Mary's usual Latin-themed Margarita Mondays drag show became a massive tribute to La Diva de la Banda–an honor in the drag world–with nearly 90% of the show dedicated to lip synced performances of her top songs.
Host Bella Farrow and her usual cohorts Ms. Luna, Mia Farrow and Roxy D'Valle started the night with a medley of Rivera's songs as they each strolled down the stairs towards the stage wearing colorful, form-fitting, train-laden dresses modeled perfectly after what La Gran Señora might wear at one of her sold-out arena concerts.
The evening's special guest–Jacqueline Valdez, a professional Jenni Rivera drag queen–came out last during the opening number. Her dedication to authentically representing Rivera's garb and stage mannerisms, only hinted at the show to come.
A wardrobe change later, each queen came back for a solo number of their choice, pretending to belt hits like “Porque no le Calas” and “Ya Lo Se” into a prop microphone covered in butterflies while dancing around the room for dollar bills and taking tequila shots from fans.
Though the show missed out on Rivera's vaquera look from the '90s (think cowboy hat and red handkerchief around the neck), every contemporary iteration of her on-stage personality was represented from the dark ball gown worn during “Paloma Negra” to the sporty jacket-over-little-black-dress number worn during “La Tequileria.” Valdez even emerged for her “Basta Ya” performance in the same black dress with butterfly wing arms that Jenni wore in the song's music video.
Lips in the audience were moving along to every new number and boys unable to control themselves rushed the stage to give the performers hugs mid-songs. But then the queens took a break to perform a few Selena and Laura Leon jams (bitty bitty bum bum!) before sending Valdez out for the finale, a dramatic performance of "Cuando Muere una Dama,” in which Rivera sings of a grand performance in Long Beach to celebrate her death.
Noticeably absent from the show's set list were empowering songs like "Las Malandrinas,” "Reyna de Reinas” and "Ovarios,” but with borracha divas, glamorous dresses and glitz galore, the tribute drag show was surprisingly similar to a real Jenni Rivera concert, and a fitting tribute held on downtown's main drag for the Diva de la Playa Larga.
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