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Bob the Drag Queen, of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' shops at Spandex World for fabulous fabrics

New Yorker Bob the Drag Queen, who is competing in the eighth season of "RuPaul's Drag Race," spoke with AMNewYork at Spandex World in Manhattan on March 11, 2016, about how colorful, shiny and tactile fabrics inspire his costumes. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)

“Black is always elegant,” Bob the Drag Queen declared among a sea of fabrics ranging from stretchy rainbow sequin, cheeseburger-printed spandex and the elegant glittered velvets.

The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season eight winner took us shopping in March at Spandex World (253 W. 35th St.), an alluringly tacky albeit practical -- if you’re a drag queen or perhaps designing costumes for an '80s-themed music video -- fabric shop just on the outskirts of the Garment District.

While preparing for the show, Bob the Drag Queen visited Spandex World about once a week, stocking up on fabrics from which to create catsuits, gowns, cocktail dresses and beyond.

Educated at the University of YouTube, Bob has no formal sewing training and did not grow up with a parent who sewed. This self-taught customer sews only for herself.


Photo Credit: Viacom

"I'm actually the same size as all of the women in my family," Bob said, noting that towering over this 5'7" reporter he probably couldn't make her a costume.  A wedding dress, out of hot pink, glittery cheetah-printed fabric, perhaps (as suggested for this reporter).

To make an outfit, Bob starts by creating a tube of fabric that's as tight as her thinnest part, her waist, which will then stretch around the rest of her body.  Sleeves, shoulder pads, a skirt, a hood or whatever other embellishments amp up the outfit can be added from there.

 It takes around 90 minutes to two hours for Bob to sew an outfit.

"The key to sewing is having someone good to listen to," Bob said. He listens to NPR while making an outfit, usually "This American Life" or "Serial," along with various comedy podcasts.

The Upper West Sider moved to New York City in August 2008. A theater instructor and comedian, Bob got hooked on the first season of "RuPaul's Drag Race" that same year, and began doing drag soon after, at Pride in June 2009. Since, Bob has been "hired and fired from every gay bar in the city," he said, but one of her favorite spots to perform is at Chelsea's Barracuda (275 W 22nd St.) where you'll find her Mondays at midnight.

Since season eight of "Drag Race" premiered on March 7, Bob's life has drastically improved. That is, he was recognized by a TSA agent at LAX as well as by a flight attendant, and a server at Chipotle gave him a coupon for a free burrito.


But being a RuPaul alum doesn't mean one
Photo Credit: Oliver Pavick Photography

But being a RuPaul alum doesn't mean one should stop being thrifty. Bob requested a $15 bag of scraps at Spandex House, a well-known secret to cheap style held in the back, and was presented with a trash bag full of stretchy fabrics. "If I can get two outfits from this it's a good investment," he said as he inspected a piece of sequin-dot fabric. Bob also shops for makeup and more at midtown beauty outlet Beauty 35, the website of which is currently suspended for "nonpayment" if that gives any sense of the 8th Avenue shop's reputation.

Though originally told my style was "tacky" thanks to the suggestion of rainbow sequins, Bob went along with this reporter's fabric suggestions of a glittery velvet (elegant! New York!) fabric for a cocktail dress with multicolor sequin detailing.

"Maybe you should be on 'Drag Race,'" Bob suggested as he ordered a yard and a half of fabric. "But if the fans hate this, it's your fault."

If you want to own a piece of Bob the Drag Queen history, Bob is also auctioning off outfits from "Drag Race" for charity, on eBay.

To see more fabulous looks, stream old episodes of "RuPaul's Drag Race" on


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