HBO drag show that stirred things up in St. George wins an Emmy

‘We’re Here’ will be presented with a best-costumes award in January

(Greg Endries | HBO) Drag performer Eureka O’Hara poses in front of the St. George Temple, in a moment from the HBO series "We're Here."

The episode of HBO’s drag queen reality show “We’re Here” that inflamed passions in southern Utah has won an Emmy Award — for its costumes.

Really. It won a national Emmy from the Television Academy in the category of Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming. Not one of those regional Emmys local TV reporters like to brag about, but a big-time Emmy.

“We’re Here” follows three drag queens to cities across America. In the made-in-Utah episode, former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela came to town; they recruited local members of the LGBTQ+ community to perform in a drag show; the locals told their stories; and there was a lot of love and support.

But in St. George, the show met opposition led by city council member Michelle Tanner, who tried to get the show’s permits for a downtown drag show on public property revoked and ended up getting then-city manager Adam Lenhard fired for refusing the City Council’s demand to cancel those permits — a move that led the city to pay Lenhard a $625,000 settlement.

(Greg Endries | HBO) Despite some opposition, the drag show went on in St. George.

According to the show’s producers, they’re accustomed to pushback from conservative elements in the communities. That’s pretty much the point in the series. But in St. George, they met opposition from elected officials for the first time. But the show went on and there was nothing sexual about it. The costumes were indeed fabulous, so maybe the Emmy shouldn’t be a surprise.

Unlike awards like best actor/actress, best director and best comedy/drama, which are voted on by the entire membership of the Television Academy, the costume design award is in a “juried category.” There are no formal nominees, the “entrants are screened by a panel of professionals in the appropriate peer groups” — in this case, costume designers. And “deliberations include open discussions of each entrant’s work with a thorough review of the merits of awarding the Emmy,” according to the Academy. Panelists can decide to award one, more than one or no Emmys at all in the category.

This year, panelists decided to award two in this category, to “We’re Here” and to “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration,” which aired on ABC. So ... a tribute to a classic Disney animated film and a show about drag queens doing good in St. George.

The Emmys, which are normally presented in September, were delayed until January because of strikes by Hollywood writers and actors. ”We’re Here” will receive its Emmy on Jan. 7, the second of two nights of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards; an edited version of that presentation will air on Saturday, Jan. 13, on FXX.

The primary prime-time Emmys show is scheduled to air on Monday, Jan. 15, on Fox.