Brodie Trinket is a star. Wearing an outfit made of paper rainbow butterflies, she prances around the stage while an announcer tells the audience that Trinket loves "cookies, herding bad boys, and nipping their butts." When asked for a comment, she simply pants. Trinket, by the way, is a poodle. Not everyone is a fan of Trinket's colorful butterfly getup, however. "What a showboat," a tattooed punk says to her friend as she cracks open a PBR. "Give me some fishnets." The competition is truly fierce at Capitol Hill PrideFest's Doggie Drag Contest. Apparently, people even have opinions on how dogs should pull off a Madonna impersonation.
The event is emceed by Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur and judged by five drag queens, two of whom say very little but look very pretty. The other three queens (DonnaTella Howe, Fraya Love, and Londyn Bradshaw) have plenty to say. "I think this dog is kinkier than all the puppies in this community," says DonnaTella Howe, referring to George, a scraggly dog whose drag inspiration is "50 Shades of Gay." (George's special talent is "looking like Bernie Sanders.") Brodeur is not pleased by Howe's pup-play reference, and she repeatedly reminds the queens that this is a "family-friendly event." The 5-year-old next to me, however, does not seem phased by the references to Grindr and kinky sex.
"I'm looking for a dog with Beauty, Instinct, Talent, Charisma, and Hair, honey," says Fraya Love, in between cackling and downing a Jell-O shot. "That's an acronym," she clarifies. Cowgirl Cody, another poodle contestant, certainly has beauty. She wears rainbow pants and goggles. Londyn Bradshaw says she looks like "the gayest Amelia Earhart," which is a difficult thing to achieve, because Amelia Earhart already looks pretty gay. But Cowgirl Cody does not possess the instinct of Madame Tiny Hands Covfefe. (Trend alert: There are two dogs named Covfefe.) Madame Tiny Hands, the better of the two Covfefes, is a very small doggo, the kind you can accidentally step on, with flowers stuck on her butt and camouflage pants. She beelines to the photographers, licking them while wagging her cute little tail. The crowd is won over.
A talented reveal is performed by returning competitor Pico, who is dressed as Sia this year. The blond pup's look includes Sia's famously obstructive and oversize wig. Pico shakes it off, revealing her puppy face. The crowd screams. "Now everyone knows what Sia looks like!" yells DonnaTella Howe. But the best reveal comes from a dog wearing multiple tutus. I can't hear her name being announced because people are guffawing over something on her back. It appears that a living, breathing lizard is perched up there, buried in tutus. "This dog believes friendship is magic," reads Brodeur. "She also loves being rode by dragons." Sexy.
As the event winds down, so does Brodeur's patience. "Let's keep it moving. We've got dogs in hot wigs out here," she says to drag queens wearing hot wigs. Brodeur seems unfamiliar with Drag Queen Time, which is perpetually late and under the influence. The queens make a joke about safe words as Brodeur shuffles the final dog of the day onto the stage. It's a loud and hairless thing, an obvious nod to Sasha Velour, the new reigning queen of RuPaul's Drag Race, who also happens to be loud and hairless.
But who has the right amount of Beauty, Instinct, Talent, Charisma, and Hair to be crowned the queen of PrideFest's Doggie Drag Contest? None of them, apparently, because the event has run too late and needs to end, as Brodeur reminds the audience once more. The crowd doesn't seem to mind that a winner isn't announced. "Do you have an Instagram?" someone asks a nearby dog. The dog responds by taking a piss. His fans go wild.