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!
So we’re down to the Top Three. Right now the big kurfluffle is that some folks feel that Roxxxy Andrews is being edited as a mean girl. Now, granted, Roxxxy, who used to be one of my favorites, has really stepped it up with the bitter bashing of the “comedy queens.” She’s being compared to Phi Phi O’Hara from S4, but she is a FAR CRY from that. Phi Phi was hostile, ruthless, and unlikable — she had one sweet moment giving Chad Michaels (LOVE!) her phone call home, and then that generous spirit completely disappeared and she became the embodiment of every evil bitch who bullied me as a kid. Ugh. That’s for another post.
Roxxxy is just frightened and doesn’t handle pressure well. While she did apologize (and I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was heart-felt and not a last minute ploy), both on stage and online, it’s too little too late, in my opinion. You can’t unsay some things. I’m really disappointed by Roxxxy’s behavior because I believe she is smarter than lowering herself to mean-spirited, completely exaggerated attacks on her competitors. Yeah, they may have edited all the bad things she said and saved them for the end of the series (since Coco had been doing a good job of being the catty one until she sashayed away), but she still said them. Cutthroat is ugly on everyone, darling. I think that Roxxxy’s recent blossoming into this sour person is going to really hurt her chances, especially now that Ru has opened the floodgates and has the viewers vote on their favorite.
Sidenote: I’m curious about why Ru started doing this popular vote thing. I’ve heard that the reason why the finale format changed (the winner is now announced during the reunion episode instead of onstage during the finale) is because of internet leaks, so that makes sense, even though dragging (*rimshot!*) it out like this is torturous for me as a fan. To bring in the public to vote seems like just a sneaky way to get some coveted viral internetz fame. Though I wonder if it’s also because fans were put out by these pretty faces with diva attitudes (Tyra, Raja) winning while the girls with personality over fashion-sense were kicked off. To be fair, Tyra turned it around and Raja very nicely gave Stacy her Heather necklace at the reunion and admitted that the whole Heathers v Boogers thing was mean. I actually really like how being a total jerk is not celebrated in this show. If you’re going to backstab and be nasty, you are going to be edited that way and RPDR fans are just not into it.
This season was definitely more performance-oriented, which upset the pageant queens and was a pretty solid theme in many of this season’s complain-a-thons. Since part of the winning package is headlining a national tour, it makes sense that RuPaul would want to know if people would actually buy tickets.
Having never been a Pretty Girl, I am biased toward the comediennes and the good performers, but I do admit that some of the pageant girls have been stunningly beautiful and a pleasure to watch. Even though I wasn’t in love with her personality, Carmen Carrera from S3 was incredible. Coco Montrese from this season, even with her creepy contacts, is a beautiful, fierce queen. She can’t act or sing a lick, but she is stunning and I can see why she has her own show in Vegas.
Now, OBVIOUSLY I want Jinkx to win :) If Alaska won, I wouldn’t be put out — it would be kinda cute to have Alaska and Sharon Needles as a reigning couple. Honestly, though, once you make it to the Top 3, your career is pretty much gold. If these girls play their cards right (and judging from Jinkxy’s sold out shows in New York and her hectic touring schedule, I’d say she is), they will work no matter who gets the crown. The crown is mostly bragging rights at this point.
And $100,000. ;)