[Sean Howlett | Copy Editor]
Hunty. Eleganza. Gagging. Hieee. Fish. Realness. Werk. Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. All phrases that have quickly become staples in my vernacular, and I only have my (slight) obsession with RuPaul’s Drag Race to thank.
Based loosely on America’s Next Top Model, but for Drag Queens, the show features RuPaul as the Tyra Banks of the show (similarities aren’t coincidental), a superstar of the LGBT community since the early 1990s. S/he (Ru says either is fine, just as long as you’re talking!) hosts the show, which sees a number of queens competing against each other in certain challenges. The icing on this incredibly camp cupcake is the final challenge of each episode, where the bottom two contestants have to Lipsync For Their Life against each other in order to stay in the competition. Sounds fun and hilarious, right? The show, now seven seasons in, has captured the hearts of fans across the world – gay, straight, male, female, both and neither!
So what is it about Drag Race that makes it so interesting?
It comes down to the fact that there are these insanely creative individuals being tasked with anincredible amount of things – sing, dance, act, style, create, sew, design, pose, brand – the show has it all, and these queens aren’t given much time to do it. That’s what makes it so awesome; seeing people turn out three new outfits after having acted in an infomercial the week before, a task that followed performing in a two-part musical. Every challenge is different and these wonderful and weird creatures that inhabit RuPaul’s Drag Race are endearing and warm, as well as incredibly talented.
Take Sharon Needles, winner of season four, as an example.
She walked down the first runway challenge in a body suit complete with skull cap and nails to high heavens, with fake blood pouring out of her mouth. The artistry and effort that went into that outfit was insane, introducing viewers to a sub-genre of drag called Gender Fuck and looking oh, so amazing, doing so. On the other end of the spectrum there is Courtney Act – can we just take a second to appreciate how punny these names are – who, after carving a career out on Australian Idol, came third in the last season and looks not only incredibly convincing but also absolutely stunning as a woman.
It all comes down to the leader of this tribe of misfits – Ms RuPaul Charles. Former supermodel, singer, actor and actress, with legs for days, Ru encapsulates everything the show is about with the motto ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else’. Above all, everything on this show comes from a place of love; of wanting to see talented people do well. Of wanting to see the underdog rise up and show off their talents, whatever they might be. Alongside Ru, of course, is Michelle Visage, whom some of you may know as the woman who challenged and befriended Katie Hopkins on Celebrity Big Brother back in January. She brings more of that sass the show is known for; calling contestants out when they look too manly, ‘reading’ queens for bad make up, awful dresses or lacklustre contributions that week. These two should be the next Ant & Dec, in my opinion.
There’s a heart that runs deep amongst the show; as cliched as it is, everyone there forms part of the weird and wonderful community that people, both in and out of the LGBT community, have taken real joy in denying legitimacy until now. Drag Race has certainly gained popularity in recent years, possibly due to the hysterical nature of the memes that come out of the show and the dedication of its’ fans. I embrace it, all of it, from every sequin to false eyelash to poorly hemmed dress line. No TV show has ever brought people together in such a way that creates a real collective identity. Well, all until RuPaul utters the famous words ‘good luck, and don’t fuck it up’.
Have I convinced you that the weird and wonderful world of drag is your next Netflix addiction? Well, you’re in luck! Seasons 1-6 are on Netflix, and the latest season has just started airing over in the States.