RuPaul, easily America's most famous drag queen extraordinaire premiered her new reality program, RuPaul's Drag Race on LOGO. Move over Bravo! RuPaul has just cemented LOGO as the home of screaming queens and shade throwing fierce biotches, at least for the next few months as the show steams through this cycle.
When I heard about the pending release of this reality program, I was cautiously excited about the whole affair. Having been indoctrinated into my campus queer community via ad nauseum repetitions of But I'm a Cheerleader screenings, RuPaul was forever ingrained into my mind as a fabulous performer. But I wasn't sure how this incarnation of the famed drag performer would translate to reality television. My reaction and some recaps from monday's episode after the jump...
When I heard that RuPaul was doing a drag queen reality show, I became elated. When I heard it was produced for Logo, I was decidedly un-elated. I don't mean to bash on the one gay television channel widely available on cable television, but they haven't exactly been known for their consistency in production value. Aside from Rick & Steve and the occasional documentary, Logo for me has been the home of Queer as Folk reruns... which, frankly, I can do on my computer with no commercial breaks. Did anyone else see the New Now Next Awards? I was horrified by such categories as "Because You're Hot" award. There was really no explanation for the methodology in the selection of the winners, or even how the nominees were chosen. And the cramped setting of some tired bar in New York hardly oozed the glamor and elegance of an awards ceremony, that should really only be set in a large theatre space with a proscenium and everything.
But RuPaul's Drag Race broke through all of my doubts and merged everything I love about reality television into one fabulous streak of genius. This, my friends, is event television.
We are introduced to the contestants, 9 lucky ladies who will be competing for the title of America's top drag queen. It is refreshing that the producers mixed in a little diversity in the drag queens, but it does feel a bit repetitive sometimes. I definitely confused Shannel and Jade several times during the show. I also was sorely disappointed that no one's name seemed to be particularly pun-y. Something like Ida Nevaseyneva would have just made me leap for joy. My current favorites are easily Ongina, Nina Flowers and Tammie.
Ongina is wonderful in her andro-drag Asian betch-fest. Although I agree with the judges that their needs to be more of a transformation and illusion in her drag persona.
I love Nina Flowers because she goes from his hard-core tat whore dude in a muscle shirt into this super fab punk-rock drag diva.
And finally, Tammie... just because watching a train wreck rubs me in a schadenfreude kinda way. But I do like that her drag persona is this time-displaced Betty Boop meets Blanche DuBois on speed. What's not to love?
I'm not entirely sure what these queens are competing for... there's a title, they get to be in a parade, and there's a cash prize somewhere in that hurried grab bag of cross-promotion swag. But I'm pretty sure that the contestants could be competing for a pastrami on rye and they'd still wanna be there, just for bragging rights.
I'm also a little unclear on the format of the show. RuPaul and her producers seem to have crafted a skillful amalgam of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. I believe the polite word is "homage," but the judges table at the end of the episode was so radically similar to Tyra's Top Model set up it's a little eerie. And someone needs to tell the director of photography to cut it with the soft lens. Get that vaseline off that camera! It's just distracting and makes the whole show scream 90s high school glamor shot, shoulder pads and all. Exhibit A:
But I did immensely enjoy the "Drag on a Dime" challenge. These bitches can sew, strut, and best of all lipsynch. Oh, this wouldn't be a Drag reality program with out the "Lip Synch for your Life" segment. I just hope they switch up the song every episode. While I love RuPaul's new single... the shameless cross-promotion is a touch desperate.
Nina Flowers rightfully won with her delightfully retro floral punk ensemble. The hair is flawless, and definitely partied like it was 1999. Victoria's sorry unflattering dress got her booted. I was sad to see the only lady of size get the first axe, but grrrl. You gotta bring it if you want to survive in this fish pond.
I thoroughly look forward to next week's installment. I hope you are too! What did y'all think?