Shangela is Ready to WERK This Saturday in Pittsburgh

“Tell ‘em I’m coming, honey, that’s all! Tell ‘em I’m coming."

From Paris, Texas to the Paris of Appalachia, drag legend Shangela is bringing her Fully Lit Tour to Pittsburgh on Saturday, February 4. Shangela’s first solo tour in the United States, which will play at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall promises to be fierce, fabulous, and fiery. The RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2, Season 3, and All Stars 3 veteran said, “This is a 90-minute ride of some of the biggest milestones in my life and career thus far where Pittsburgh audiences can expect to see everything they’ve come to know about Shangela — high energy performances, hilarious storytelling, sparkle, glamor, and a lot of fun.” One of her most recent milestones is making it to the finals of the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars and placing fourth overall.

The best part since starting the tour on January 19th to pretty much all sold-out audiences so far for Shangela has been reconnecting with fans. And no, not the official Halleloo fans purchasable on Shangela.com. 

“Every night before the show, I have a one-hour meet and greet.” This is her main source of energy to stay fully lit, “they fully charge me up for the night. Their love, their energy, their excitement is amazing and what I’ve always pulled a lot of my motivation from.” It’s not only the encouragement that drives her but criticism as well. “That type of response motivates me even more. I’m like ‘I gotta do better, I wanna do better’. It makes me feel good too, seeing myself evolve and grow.” The fan experience is pivotal to creating her solo shows. “I was so excited to be able to partner with Live Nation and have a great sponsor behind me like AT&T to help me reconnect to my audience in the best way possible- because there’s nothing like a live show.” She looks to powerhouse performers like Beyonce and Lady Gaga as the standard for giving her fans their ticket’s worth of entertainment.

Drag shows are a hallowed space to Shangela. “You can express your gender identity, your creativity in a drag show however you want it to come out.” This freedom is what she feels is a root of the current attacks on drag entertainers by politicians. “It’s very disheartening and disappointing to see so many legislators try to mischaracterize the drag community in order to push their own political agenda. Some people don’t want you to be free, baby.” Shangela has experienced a lot of this head-on with her Emmy Award-winning HBO show, We’re Here, where she travels with Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara to conservative American towns to put on drag shows with locals. “I’m excited because whenever I go to these shows, a lot of my We’re Here kids will come out and support their momma. I get to bring them on stage and share them with the audience like Mayor Bruno from Del Rio, Texas.”

The pilot episode of We’re Here took place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so the area holds a special place in Shangela’s heart. “The thing about a Pennsylvania audience is that they love a good time. And Shangela loves to bring a good time, so I think we’re a perfect match for each other.” Her goal is to transform the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall into a place where she can showcase how we can all come together and celebrate each other and the world of drag. “It’s now that our community and our team of allies have to stand together stronger now more than ever.”

Abby Lee Miller and Shangela.

Shangela is no stranger to reality television and even made an iconic cameo in the first season of the Pittsburgh set Dance Moms. She was introduced as a special guest to give a lesson on “working the stage”. Shangela has remained friends with Abby Lee Miller since 2011. Miller even attended the Fully Lit tour during its New York stop with The Real Housewives of New Jersey star, Theresa Giudice. She looks back on her appearance with pride. “It was an incredible moment not just for me but the drag community. That audience got to see someone in a position of power like Abby Lee Miller, they got to see kids welcome and embrace a drag entertainer, a diva, someone who inspires confidence and fun to people and that was it.”

Unclehood is a vital part of Shangela’s life outside of drag. “I have the most beautiful nieces and nephews. I talk to them about my drag and it’s easy to answer those questions and have those conversations and to let them be excited about seeing people different from themselves. They understand that everyone has a place in this world and they’re allowed to be welcome.” These feelings inform a lot of how she wants to move forward in her life. “I wanna inspire the children, honey! Let them know whatever they want in this world- it’s possible if they go out there and they work for it.”

Working hard goes hand and hand with Shangela’s trailblazing accomplishments. She was the first drag queen to walk the Oscars Red Carpet in drag, the first drag queen to be on Dancing with the Stars US. She went on to list a few more, “First drag entertainer to ever attend the Vice President’s residence and deliver a welcome address, one of the first to be invited to the White House for the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act.” She never set out to be the first of anything, but it’s rather a bonus of pounding the pavement that holds a lot of responsibility. “I never expected to be the first in those spaces, I’ve always had a dream to work as an entertainer, to explore every opportunity that I want to see for myself. I’m a person that’s not going to ever give up on the things I want in life.”

The once self-proclaimed Nancy Drew and Daenerys Targaryen of Drag, Shangela would now consider herself the Olivia Pope of Drag, Kerry Washington’s character from Scandal. “Olivia Pope always said, ‘it’s handled’ and they came to Olivia to seek solutions. I wanna be the girl that helps others. She was a professional, honey!”

In regards to re-entering Drag Race for a Global All-Stars season which was recently announced by MTV, Shangela wants to mainly focus on her television and film projects as well as touring. She added, “It’s Shangela. You never know where I’ll pop up. If there’s a box, no box is safe. So I never say never.”

“Tell ‘em I’m coming, honey, that’s all! Tell ‘em I’m coming,” Shangela finished the conversation saying, “Get tickets at Shangela.com cause I love a Pittsburgh audience and I’m ready to turn up with them and get “Fully Lit”, baby”

Get tickets to see Shengela’s Fully Lit Tour on Saturday, February 4 at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall.

Drew Praskovich is a writer and filmmaker born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Drew's work for QBurgh has been nominated for a Golden Quill Award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. His short film, Seahorse, about a pregnant boy, has been screened around the world from the South Asia's biggest LGBQTIA+ film festival KASHISH Mumbai to NFFTY in Seattle, WA where it took home the Audience Award. His writing has been seen in TABLE Magazine, The Pittsburgh City Paper, and more. He currently resides in Beechview. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. (he / him / his)