As I’ve intimated before, I have a thing for drag queens. Aside from the fact that there are so many fricken amazing performers in the scene, I think some of it stems from the fact that I have some insecurity about my own femininity. In high school, I was told that I walked like a guy and that when I wore a skirt, I walked like a guy in a kilt. I actually was really proud of that (which might partly have been due to my obsession with Braveheart at the time). I’ve been told that I could be more “refined.” I don’t really know how to put on make-up. I certainly can’t dress myself — pretty much everything I own is in a solid color because I can’t be trusted with patterns. I have a mouth like a sailor. I just played Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” for God’s sakes.
(Which was awesome, by the way.)
After years of internalizing and being washed in all these messages, I developed this brassy, kiss-my-ass persona that I’m not entirely sure is my true nature. But it became a character that I could pull out when the party got too quiet or boring, or when a dramatic retelling of what happened at the taqueria was needed. I’m kinda known and loved for that.
I guess you could argue that since I have been living as this person, then that person is probably who I am. Nature vs. nurture and all that. Sometimes I wonder if the softer, more delicate parts of my personality are completely unbelievable because of this.
So anyway, because of all that crap, I am totally fascinated by drag queens — men who are able to embody what it means to be a woman. The process of becoming the essence of woman, however that queen defines it, entrances me. Maybe because it’s something I don’t feel I could ever be.
Last year when I went to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch live, I was in the second row. During the final song, Hedwig (played by Jerick Hoffer) came off stage and started touching the hands of audience members. I reached out my hands over the front row of people, but she passed me. I felt such shame and embarrassment that I had even wanted to be a part of that moment. I still get a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about it. I’ve actually never been to a drag show — I’m too shy. I’d feel like an impostor.
But that night, just as my throat clenched, Hedwig noticed she had missed me. She returned and clasped my hands and our eyes met and I wish I were a better writer so I could explain how much it meant to me — me, this unglamorous, awkward-in-her-own-skin dork who could never be half the woman this man in drag is — to be validated. Understood. Just for a moment.
So needless to say when I found out that Jerick Hoffer as Seattle’s drag superstar chanteuse Jinkx Monsoon was competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race, I immediately became obsessed with the show. To perhaps an unhealthy level, I admit ;) In between episodes of the current season, I have watched seasons 2, 3, and 4 in their entirety (including the behind-the-scenes Untucked episodes). The only reason why I haven’t watched season 1 is because it is apparently unavailable on all of the internet.
I don’t really watch reality TV. Even my short-lived interest in Honey Boo Boo faded after about five minutes. But I love Drag Race. Basically, I wish I were a man (not for the first time) so that I could be a drag queen.
All the episodes from this season are streaming free on Logotv.com (link above) and I highly recommend it. They do a really good job of picking a wide variety of contestants and the challenges are usually pretty interesting. The editing has concocted plenty of juicy gossip and cats fights, which is all very entertaining. I can see how some queens are edited to be this or that, but for the most part I think that you really see who these people are, whether you (or they) like it or not. RuPaul is a wonderful hostess — out of drag, he acts as a fairy dragmother, giving hints and kind, but firm suggestions in the workroom. At the judges table, Ru, always glammed to perfection, is a little more sassy, but still classy. It’s a nice yin and yang, actually. The other judges, Michelle Visage and Santino Rice, can be overly harsh, but I don’t really have a problem with that. That’s obviously what they were brought in to do.
Okay, so now I wanna dish, so if you haven’t caught up, hurry up and do so and then come back and chat! Also, check out Chad Sell’s awesome cartoons of the contestants, you can buy prints, too!