RPDR S4,E1: RuPocalypse Now!-Top and Bottom

The Queen’s good friend (whom for the purposes of our discussions, I shall refer to by his former Drag Name, Bianca) and I did something we haven’t done in decades: talked on the telephone until the wee hours of the morning. We kee kee’d about RuPaul’s Drag Race till we ran out of biting, bitchy things to say. It was wonderful.

Throughout our four-hour-plus conversation (I will get NO WORK done today), a running theme emerged. To use Bianca’s own words:

“I can create from nothing. That is what a good Drag(Queen)does. Create your world and make that fierce–and by doing so, inspire others to create from nothing. How powerful the world would be if more people created than tried to steal or cheat…”

She’s such a fierce, cerebral bitch.

Or, as he broke it down later, a Drag Queen’s job is to: Be somebody. Be about something. Then Prance. So that’s how I’m evaluating the show in general, and the contestants in particular. Who emerges as a “somebody” who was about “something”, and who knows how to prance?

Before we get started, I have to say something about Shangela Laquifa Wadley.

Either D.J. has some serious dirt on RuPaul Charles, or boyfriend gives the best fellatio in Hollywood. That bitch was featured in almost as many segments as the Supermodel himself–INCLUDING the Absolut commercial! Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Wadley is talented. But I think the producers highly over-estimate the child’s audience appeal. She doesn’t have the love/hate factor of a Raven; or the America’s Sweetheart quotient of a Manila. But honey, if she can continue to capitalize on this fifteen minutes and strengthen her Brand, then–say it with me–HALLEIGH-LOO!

Okay. Now.

The Queen loves that even in Season 4, the show is staying true to it’s over the top, campy aesthetic. The production values and choice of challenges and segments remains true to their Drag core. I thought the schtick with Shangela was cute, and the Romero-esque style in which they shot the main challenge free-for-all was pretty inspired. I just hope they don’t go crazy with that stuff. Like Project Runway, I think RPDR works better if you stick close to the original game purpose and objectives. Give us the kinds of challenges dolls in Drag would actually face and let us watch the creativity and sparks that fly. But I had fun with it.

I’ll get into my take on all these divas in later posts this week, but first let’s say ConDragulations to Sharon Needles for her Runway Win. No surprise to me here. She has introduced herself as a somebody, who has something to say and knows how to Prance. Not only was she clearly getting the winner’s edit; but I feel she absolutely deserved it. She pulled off a most delicious hybrid of macabre and couture–and she managed to make the most of every second of her screen time. Her patter during the zombie challenge was inspired. Bianca–who was not a fan–was blown away by the attention to detail in her runway drag. She wants to see if Ms. Needles can do standard drag as brilliantly. If she can, she may just be the first of the “specialty queens” to take the win.

And it’s “Sashay Away” to Miss Alisa Summers. Sweet girl, but she apparently graduated from the Carmen Carrera School of Drag. I really don’t get these queens who think that becoming an entertainer on the level of RuPaul is simply about body and looking good. I have to believe that during the LSFYL, she honestly thought that playing with her fake titties and slowly strutting around the stage would give her the win. I’d rather see a little chunky queen working it for all it’s worth, than simply a pretty man in makeup ANY day.

So what do y’all think? Who peaked your curiosity? Who are you already tired of? Will you continue to watch this season? What about “Untucked”? Inquiring Queens want to know.

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4: FBQ Countdown-Final Fems

Another season of bitchery, back-stabbing and fake fabulousness is about to begin. No, I’m not talking about the next joint session of Congress. Auntie Ru is back. Let’s finish evaluating the contestants:

Madame LaQueer

Another bravado-swinging big diva. Not a good sign when the Queen is more interested in what a contestant looks like OUT of drag than in. For a person who earns their living doing other people’s makeup, I am not particularly impressed with her own maquillage. While I applaud anyone who has the chutzpah to get up in front of people and perform, that doesn’t in-and-of-itself make the performer or the performance good.I’ll be very interested to see if this Big Beautiful Bee-otch can do more than widen her eyes and posture.


Chad Michaels

The Queen is of two mindsets when it comes to introducing someone like Chad Michaels into this draggy mix. Chad Michaels is a known quantity. He has a successful career and a strong following. While each of these girls is supposed to be a “professional”, there is a big difference between doing a few shows on the weekends and performing with Elton John. On the other hand, as Michaels himself says “…I’ve seen girls who have just started pull something right out of their butt, and send a senior girl right on home…” Seniority is by no means the arbiter of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. There is no denying that Ms. Michaels has professionalism and the plastic surgery bills and poise to spare. It’ll be fun to see how she comports herself with the “lesser” divas on the show.

Willam

This bitch BRINGS IT: beautiful, funny, down-to-earth, media savvy and professional. It pisses me off: she’s a fiercer black queen than the REAL black queens on the show! I am genuinely excited about seeing her in all of the challenges and ESPECIALLY on the runway. I definitely think that contestants who understand the art of Acting have an advantage. Being able to appear natural allows your personality to shine through. Whether we like you or not, we get to know you. Knowing how to play to the camera without letting it dominate you is a real skill. This bitch has it in spades. Not my favorite queen yet, but I have a feeling she could quickly become so if her actual presence is as engaging as it appears to be.


The Princess

The Princess scares The Queen. This is definitely a boy in a dress. I’m getting a very strong Morgan McMichaels vibe from this one–which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Talk about an abundance of testosterone! I see a lot of in-your-face interactions with the other contestants. Very sleek and sexy, it will be fun to see Mr. Princess walk the runway. I have a feeling he will be stomping it.

On a side note: why do these bitches think that having an eclectic drag style is unique? Do they not watch the interviews of the other contestants? EVERYONE thinks that having an eclectic style makes them unique. Sorry dolls, just because you change clothes and lip sync to Cher as opposed to Madonna, doesn’t make you unique.

Speaking of unique…

Sharon Needles

LOVE HER!!!

Not my style of drag at all. But who the hell cares? She got me to click on her image just because it was so different. And then she spoke…BRILLIANT. She was the very definition of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. An entertainer with a strong point of view, biting wit and presence to spare–The Queen is excited to see her on the runway AND in the work room. When you can create such buzz simply through a one minute, fifty-two second video, you know you got something. I don’t think she had a chance in hell of winning–given Rupaul’s penchant for style vs. substance. But what a ride it promises to be with THIS queen in the mix!

Okay. There you have it. The Queen’s take on the contestants. He would LOVE to hear more about yours over the coming weeks. The Interior Illusions Lounge will be opening shortly. Can’t wait to grab a cock…errr…cocktail with you and enjoy this season of the Race!

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4: FBQ Countdown-Continued

The Queen has been so preoccupied these last few days, that he’s been shirking his Queenly duties: the throne hasn’t been Pledge’d and the scepter has a few cobwebs. Please forgive. However with the start of Drag Race drawing so near (this Monday), why don’t we continue counting down the bitches contestants?

DiDa Ritz

DiDa Ritz seems to have a nice personality. She’s articulate and bubbly without being nauseating. She still has that beauty pageant vibe–but I am a sucker for a realist: she acknowledges the fact that there are other talented people around. Still, as my friend and I were kee kee’ing about earlier today, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about her. It seems as if all of these girls think that simply being pretty is enough to start a mega career. Being pretty may get you in the door, but unless you have actual talent and a real media savvy, you’ll simply end up as an extra in the next John Waters movie.





Kenya Michaels

If Alexis Mateo and Yara Sofia have a love-child, it would be Kenya Michaels. I am in awe of the girls that come from Puerto Rico. It takes some major cojones (which they tuck very well) to compete in a contest that’s not in your native tongue. The divas from PR are usually smart and talented. Unfortunately there is often a slight disconnect between the queens and American Culture which hurts them in using their smarts to make the best choices during challenges. Often I fear that they are trying too hard to be “American” instead of capitalizing on their unique Puerto Rican sensibilities. Instead of looking to artists like the gorgeous Columbian, Sofia Vergara, and playing to their accent and heritage, they try to blend in.


Lashauwn Beyond

From the way Lashuawn Beyond comes off in her video, she seems like someone the Queen would like to have over for tea. Get your minds out of the gutter, Miss Things. I mean actual TEA. Smart, poised and down to earth. Possibly a little bit too down to earth. I wonder if she’s going to be ready for the cutthroat world of Drag Race. One has to be slightly nuts to put themselves out there for this kind of televised competition. I wonder if Ms. Beyond will be up to that particular type of challenge?





Milan

This bitch might just be a contender. She’s an actor, so there’s already a strong sense of how to bring out personality and play to the camera in a much more natural way. She’s comfortable in the spotlight and it actually feels as if she’s talking instead of “performing.” She’s media savvy enough to have an easily remembered name that rolls off of your tongue; and she knows her body and takes fierce picture. But I’m wondering if like Shangela–another actor–she’ll get tired of “playing” a Drag Queen, and simply use RPDR as a means to getting mainstream television work? It will be interesting to see how smart she is in playing the game.


Alisa Summers

I’m getting a real Tatianna vibe from this one. He seems to be a boy in a dress. A very pretty boy, but a boy nevertheless. Too much talk about his “beauty.” Once again a lady boy that doesn’t seem to understand that with a pair of false eyelashes, some spackle and a good make-up coach almost ANY dude can be beautiful. There’s a very “butch queen” energy about him that could make for some aggressive testosterone-filled moments in the work room. But, that said, there is still something engaging about his candor and infectious exuberance. He is definitely giving body. Hope he makes enough to get his laptop fixed.





I’ll get to the rest of these men in high-heels tomorrow. Will you be watching on Monday?

Cawfee Tawk

Here are more topics that keep rattling around like a pebble in my size 10 ½ Bass Weejuns. Grab your latte and let’s discuss.
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Red Tails: A Review

So, I saw the movie.

Once more, George Lucas has done the impossible.

This time, he has taken a story and legacy fraught with tension and complexity; drama and pathos; heroism and patriotism and rendered it pedestrian and banal.

The Queen is now ready to be marched to the Gallows by the African American community.

Lucas said that he wanted to make a story for fourteen-year-old boys. Well most fourteen-year-old boys that I know like a little plot, and character development to go along with their fight scenes. To be fair, I do think the plot and execution could be summed up as a middle-schooler’s hastily-created-the-night-before book report:

“It’s about the Tuskegee Airmen. They were black. They didn’t let them fight in the war. Then they did. The white soldiers didn’t like them, but then the Airmen saved them. So then the white soldiers liked them. And they got a lot of medals. The End.”

Also to be fair, Lucas is only the Executive Producer of Red Tails. That is to say, the one who gets the money from all the black people that he coerced into seeing this by basically saying that if we don’t, then the Future of Colored Cinema is at stake. The fact that it was directed and written by three brilliant black artists, Anthony Hemmingway (Treme, The Wire) John Ridley (Three Kings) and( Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) is even more bewildering.

I could literally write a dissertation on why Red Tails fails first as a piece of cinema, and second as a fitting tribute to the heroes it claims to honor; but Wesley Morris (who will be joining me on the march to the hangman’s noose) does an excellent job articulating many of the issues I have with the piece. However, there are a couple of points I would like to make. If I didn’t, what sort of opinionated Gay would I be?

  • If you know little or nothing of the history of the Tuskegee Airmen before seeing the movie, you will not learn more by watching it. Despite the countless examples of exposition replacing badly needed action, the literary device is poorly used in telling us why this unit was formed.
  • Mr. Lucas apparently never shared with Mr. Hemmingway, Mr. Ridley and Mr. McGruder the reason that all good stories in general, and Star Wars in particular work: strong characters whom we care about. Instead of rich, complex characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, we get yet another set of one-dimensional archetypical black men.
  • A story that is based on systemic racism barely explores it in any substantive way—preferring instead to paint it in broad, primary colors. According to the movie, all you gotta do is save one white boy’s ass, and suddenly all white boys will respect and “get” you.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there were a couple of times when the audience with whom I saw the movie cheered lustily and loudly…and even clapped at the end. I, however, am enough of a Pompous Arts Snob to declare the response Pavlovian in nature: my people will clap for anything that has one of us in it.

I hope that the film does very well. I want the major studios to clamor for black movies. That way I can pitch a film that really tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. A story of fathers and sons, husbands and lovers, brothers and uncles, which actually explores what it’s like to show true courage in the face of blinding adversity.

You can take me away now, bitches.

Courage Has No Color

The Queen is going to be very candid with you:

Regardless of the hopeful and ebullient way he may seem to approach life, he is quite jaded. It is hard to find black males past the age of, say, ten who aren’t.

In interviews for his movie, George Lucas has talked about how difficult it was to get Red Tails made. No major studio would back it because it had no bankable stars who were White. He had to use much of his own money to get it produced.

I truly appreciate Mr. Lucas’ efforts, and believe his reasons for making this film are grounded in respect and sincerity. I plan on supporting it during it’s first weekend to do my part in affecting box office gross. But I couldn’t help thinking to myself as I watched his interview with Jon Stewart: “That’s all very well and good–you husky, sexy silver bear–but the bottom line is that you hope to make a lot of money off of this.” It’s still a white person profiting from the story of another culture.

The bottom line, however, is that I’m supporting this film for its subject matter. The Tuskegee Airmen are legendary heroes in the African American Community, and deserve a place in the collective consciousness of America. Just as they blazed trails over the skies of Europe, they did so in the hearts and minds of a people desperate to believe in their worth and patriotism.

It is no secret that the Black community and American culture in general has struggled with gay people. The nation as a whole is grappling with issues of equality, choice and acceptance when it comes to homosexuality. However, the Black culture in particular seems to lean farther to the right than most. Of the thousand or so Airmen who earned their wings, some of them HAD to be gay. I have often wondered what additional strength they had to draw from in order to deal with both racism and homophobia?

I know I come from a legacy of people who faced severe adversity, and triumphed. Yet I know that there is much to do. I pray that we as African Americans–and more importantly: as simply Americans–can honor these heroes by courageously blazing new trails of acceptance and understanding.

They needed another Diva in that Great Jazz Band In The Sky

Thank you Ms. James. For everything.

Tea Time

All right Miss Things.

Time to kee kee over some tea. Just some things I’ve been thinking about. Discuss.

Oh, Oh Paula

The Queen has been inexorably drawn into the media firestorm Paula Deen created by coming out about her Diabetes (you know honey–The Sugars). Since I struggle with Type 2 Diabetes myself, it has been fascinating to listen to the comments surrounding whether or not Ms. Deen should use her celebrity as a platform for a healthier lifestyle.

It’s pretty damn obvious that all of this has to do with money, and the fact that she is now endorsing a specific Diabetes medication had a lot to do with the timing of her announcement. Personally I say more power to her. I have no need for her to become my culinary Sugar Guru. But it did remind me of how in the moment I am when it comes to my health. Since I don’t see symptoms, I’m sometimes tempted to have that extra piece of chocolate cake. Even as someone who considers himself relatively intelligent, it’s hard for me to deny myself certain indulgences and comfort food in these trying times–even though intellectually I know I’m damaging my body. Why do we blithely entrust celebrities with our health and well-being? So many times they are being just as unhealthy as we are (yes, Miss Lohan, I’m looking at you). Is it really their duty to do any more than offer their famous face to sell products?

“See Clem? I TOLD you this would happen if we let one of them make it to the White House!!!”

You KNOW our Commander In Chief must be feeling VERY comfortable in his position. He is letting ALL his brothahood hang out! Even referencing The Apollo! Be careful Mr. Obama: you might scare a few white people!

Tell me sir: do you sing to the First Lady like this to get her in the mood?

I absolutely LOVE IT. But I often wonder in this still very polarized country if showing his “black” side will further alienate certain groups of people. I so want him to be who he is, but I also want him to handily win another term. So confusing.

YOU. BETTER. WORK.

In researching stuff for my post on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I came across this phenomenal site and artist Chad Sell. He has an AMAZING talent–not the least of which is shown in a series of artwork showcasing last season’s Drag Race. He manages to capture the essence of each contestant with a simple stroke. Brilliant. Check out his site and show him some love!