UD Alum ‘Adopts’ Emmy For ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Melody Conrad 
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Cover photo courtesy of Flickr

Art Conn ’94 expanded his family by one on Sept. 14 at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards Show.

 Weighing in around 8 pounds 0 ounces, the statuette, Emmy, came into Conn’s world when he won “Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming” along with Zaldy Goco for costume design on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Conn creates outfits for Michelle Visage, a judge on the show, developing ensembles that highlight who she is while also giving a nod to the theme of the episode. He combines hair, wardrobe and makeup to create a look that will elevate Visage, striving to make the combo one of comfort and on the forefront of style.

The Emmy, specifically awarded for the work in “Trump: The Rusical,” directly draws Goco and Conn’s ability to take the interests of the client, whether that be Visage or RuPaul, and make something great that they can be confident wearing.

While the outfits are designed to make the wearer confident, however, Conn confessed that his nerves were in shambles at the awards show.

“I was scared to death! I remember Zaldy saying, ‘You’re going to go through this phase of being really happy to be nominated, and then it’s going to get really close to the awards ceremony and you’re going to really want it,’” Conn said. “Once it got closer, I really wanted this award.”

As Tanny (“Queer Eye”) announced “RuPaul’s Drag Race” the day of the event, Conn’s jaw dropped as he rose from his seat in shock. In a haze, he followed Goco down the aisle as the announcer shared that this was Conn’s first Emmy nomination and award.

“The whole thing was a blur. I don’t remember leaving my seat and walking up there,” Conn said.

After accepting the “Dummy Emmy,” or prop used for winners for purposes of the camera, Conn headed backstage to switch out the prop for the real thing. While attached to the physical object, Conn reluctantly handed it over in exchange for his real Emmy. To him, the trophy was synonymous to getting a child, and just like adoption, there was a process to go through before taking the statuette home.

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“It’s all very legal and formal and you have to fill out a form and sign for her,” he said.

For the remainder of the night, Conn held on to Emmy like a newborn even though “she’s a heavy girl.”

“I kept switching back and forth between arms for hours because one arm would get tired, but you’re not putting that thing down. It’s your baby!” he said.

As he spoke to people at the event, Conn’s trophy stayed firmly in his possession. While he momentarily left it to use the restroom, he made sure a trusted friend could watch the award until he returned. If there were no friends, however, Conn ensured that he would have taken it with him.

After the flash of the cameras faded and the ceremony ended, Conn continued to celebrate with friends in the following days, hosting a shower of sorts.

“I keep referring to my Emmy as my new baby saying, ‘It’s a girl!’ and we kept making jokes like, ‘Do you want to hold my new baby?’” Conn laughed.

At the party, Conn’s friends also got a chance to “meet and take pictures with her” and watch the acceptance speech.

As Conn heads back to his hometown in Canton, Ohio, he continues to care for his Emmy by making special arrangements to ensure safe passage on the flight. He checked with TSA to make sure it could pass through security to board the plane and plans to hold her in his lap during the flight.

But where will Conn’s Emmy live in his home? It’s hard to say for certain.

He felt a stand could be nice but “ostentatious,” then suggested placing Emmy near a plant to incorporate it in an unexpected, casual way.

If Conn’s floor plan is as creative as his imaginative outfits, perhaps he’ll find a unique design worthy of an Emmy.

Art Conn’s full acceptance speech can be watched here