The queens of New Haven

How the art of drag impacts one Connecticut city

By Samantha Bashaw

In between bursts of hairspray, a towering figure in six-inch heels shakes her mane. Kiki Lucia applies fake lashes with precision, masks a flat chest with flawless boob contour and cinches her waist tight to form a perfect hourglass figure. Lucia, 34-year-old drag queen extraordinaire, is ready for her show.

Kiki Lucia prepares for her performance at 168 York Street Cafe in New Haven.

Kiki Lucia prepares for her performance at 168 York Street Cafe in New Haven.

She descends the wooden staircase at 168 York Street Cafe in her hot pink dress and blonde curly wig. The small room below her is packed with regulars and drag show virgins with dollar bills ready to tip their reigning queen. She cues the DJ as “Barbie Girl” blasts through the speakers. Her fuschia lips break into a smile as she lip syncs each line, spinning and dancing down the aisle with grace.

Every Friday night for four years, Lucia has performed her personalized show “Let’s Have a Kiki” at 168 York Street Cafe. She is one of the dozens of New Haven queens and is considered by some to be the “mom” of a drag scene that is starting to grow in popularity.

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