Monday, January 24, 2011

Extravaganza Eleganza!

I do love me some drag queens. I mean, they got honest-to-god bravery, the likes of which 95% of men do not have. In such a male-centric world, these beautiful creatures dare to upend gender norms and not only dress as women, but dress as the wildest, most extreme women imaginable. They press buttons, they instigate, infuriate, provoke, and create. And they contribute far more to popular culture than most people imagine. If nothing else, they were an essential, crucial part of the group of gay men and lesbians who rebelled at Stonewall. With their fabulous high heels, they kicked the asses of those cops and began a revolution the likes of which have reverberated around the world and will continue to for years and years to come. If you know and love a gay man, lesbian, bisexual man or woman, transgendered man or woman, anyone questioning, or a nongendered person (yes, these people do exist, rare though they are), you owe a debt of gratitude to your local drag queen.

So it's no surprise that I also love me some RuPaul, and the wild creation that is RuPaul's Drag Race. I've been a fervent believer from the beginning. Even when I didn't have Logo on cable, I watched all the episodes online. From the first season, I saw Denver reprazent with the inimitable, insane Nina Flowers, who landed second place. (I still think she was robbed, but just barely; Bebe Zahara Benet is an astonishingly beautiful woman.) That gurl, more than any queen I've ever seen, transcends traditional drag (if there really is such a thing), and transforms herself into a creature that is beyond gender. And let me tell you - Nina's makeup skills are SICK. No one can touch her. (Incidentally, I had the excellent fortune one summer day at the local waterpark to meet up with Jorge Flores - Nina out of drag - and I can tell you, at least at this juncture, he was as gracious and friendly a guy as you could ever meet. Hugs, smiles, and genuine greetings for everyone, new and old friends alike.)

Saw tonight's premiere episode of the third season, and, well, here's my take. Bullet-pointed, natch. (You know me too well.)
  • Raja - THE one to beat. Attitude for days, confidence that won't quit. She ain't the prettiest, but she has thrown down, and on this first episode, she was unstoppable.

  • Big girls - Three of 'em? YEAH! If there's any place in gay culture where big girls can really thrive, drag is it. And what's even better, on their debut, none of 'em were lip synching for their lives. The one with the best name - Mimi Imfurst - was even in the top three! HALLELU! Fabulous spin on a Christmas theme, being an overgrown Virgin Mary. Having said that...

  • Mimi Imfurst - She needs to watch it. Breakdowns like hers, even backstage, are not becoming of a queen. When she admitted to the judges that she was surprised that she was not in the bottom three, she served notice that her self-esteem left a lot to be desired. And low confidence gets you nowhere quick.

  • Shangela - Ouch. Second time back, and she still is lip synching for her life the first time around. Glad she made it through, but again, the judges have their sights on her.

  • Phoenix - Unlike her sassy sister from last season who soared to 2nd place, this one is feeling awfully thin. She ain't long for this competition.

  • The pit crew - Duh-ROOL. Only complaint: Far too few of 'em.

  • Mike Ruiz - Ditto. Only complaint: Did he HAVE to be in The A-List: New York? He's FAR better than that. That show just about ruined him for me.

  • Best quote of the night - "Do you know how many Muppets I had to kill to make this thing?" Said about a green boa by a queen who, unfortunately, did not make it to the show.

Little known fact: I have done drag twice in my life. First time was at a queer ball at a college just across the river from ours. FUN, FUN, FUN. Had my friends doll me up, and my best friend loaned me a slinky black dress and her heels. Somehow, I fit them. I thought I looked hideous, but apparently I looked good enough that - I swear on all that is true and right in this world - lesbians at this ball were hitting on me. Weirded me out, and also: do you know how self-defeating that is? Talk about your genderfuck. On the plus side, I performed onstage that night. I did "Respect" by the queen of all queens herself, Aretha Franklin. Didn't have it choreographed at all, but went up there with nothing but attitude. And amongst some really tough competition, I landed my first dollar tip, but even wilder, I won the tiara. (Well, one of 'em. To be fair, I shared the title with a guy who performed a perfect "Respect Yourself" by Madonna that was honestly choreographed to within an inch of its life. Goes to show you that in drag, either way will take you far.)

The second time, I was performing at our med school's no-talent show. ("What? You have no talent? Not an excuse. Get up there and strut your stuff!") In a black dress, lavender hair, and a BRIGHT red boa, and dubbed Lady Belladonna, I performed Peggy Lee's "I'm A Woman" with as much sass as I could muster. Brought the house DOWN. Pictures and even a video of my performance still exist...somewhere. I ain't telling.


Panda!!!! said...

The thing I can't stand about this show is that RuPaul's "songs" play ad nauseum. I am NOT jealous of your boogie!

Uncle Spike said...

I'm with ya. Not my favorite song, either. But Ru is definitely working the self-promotion, like someone in her position should. Incidentally...did you watch the auditions show? You'd have slit your wrists with all the queens performing that damned song.