Flexibility and ingenuity are skills that Brandon Voss has tapped into often during his career. For the past three years, he and his company, Voss Events, have partnered with RuPaul’s Drag Race—among the most popular television shows of the past decade— to produce Werq the World, a global tour featuring the show’s former drag queen contestants. (The slang term ‘werq’ is used in the drag community and beyond as a declaration of enthusiastic support.)
“Around 2009, during the first couple seasons of the show, the prize for the winner was to perform at one of Manhattan’s biggest gay dance clubs,” explains Mr. Voss. “Those were my events, so from there I met the producers and formed the partnership we have today.”
To date, the Werq the World Tour has visited 95 cities across 28 countries over five continents. Voss’s company has expanded its offerings, serving as talent management for the drag queens and working with social media influencers to broaden its reach.
But it hasn’t always been easy for Voss. “I was a victim of the dot-com bust in the nineties,” he recalls.
A few years after he’d earned his Zicklin MBA, with his career in investment banking just starting to take off, the mortgage crisis of 2009 hit and he lost his job. Undaunted, Voss worked in nightclubs to make ends meet and leaned on his graduate school experience to pursue a totally different endeavor.
“I decided to get into event promotion almost as a hobby,” he explains. “So it was pretty amazing to watch it grow into a booming business with multiple world tours, a Vegas residency, and several other shows nationwide.”
Voss and his company are now dealing with a whole new challenge. The COVID-19 crisis—and the world’s emphasis on social distancing—led to the Werq the World Tour being suspended until at least fall 2020. In its place, Voss’s company has been working with drag queens to stream content and benefit shows to support the artists impacted by canceled events. “We’re getting creative,” says Voss, “although it’s hard to replace the revenue we all have lost.”
Still, he remains optimistic about the future. “COVID-19 might be the latest challenge,” he says, “but I’m sure we’ll all come through this even stronger than before.”
To find out when the Werq the World Tour will visit a city near you, or to find out more about digital events, visit vossevents.com.