When the Queen was a young monarch-in-training, navigating through post-college life, he got his first real taste of Drag through the eyes of one of his most beloved friends. Suddenly swept up into the world of Paris Is Burning; “Houses” “Balls” and “Realness” became common words in our new lexicon. The two of us worked by day on Wall Street(unbeknownst to us at the time, actually embodying a personae that most of our contemporaries only dreamed of), and I watched my very good friend transform at night into “Bianca.” It was an out-of-body experience watching him “walk” a ball his First Time in Drag. Viewing from the sidelines, the New York Balls and the people they attracted were reminiscent of everything from High School with it’s cliques and cultures to the manufactured glitz and glam of Hollywood. I experienced everything from the High Art of celebrating the Feminine Mystique, to the low and often misogynistic objectification of women.
Why the hell am I telling you all of this?
Because I often experience a similar feeling/reaction while watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. I am both fascinated and appalled, charmed and horrified–kind of like looking at my face first thing in the morning. I want to give the show and contestants the dignity and respect I would want, and at the same time rip into each one of those bitches with the ferociousness of a hungry panther.
So, in blogging about RPDRS4, I will work hard to walk that line between a Black Man respecting the work of his brothers, and a Fierce Black Queen accepting no less than Diva Realness from men in dresses.
That said, let’s look at a couple of them bitches.
Maybe I’m just an Old Queen. But when I saw young Miss Thing’s video bio, the first thing I thought was “Stop playing with your hair. It’s not sexy, it’s tacky.” He (My pronouns will be person specific: if the contestant elicits an auto-response from me, I’ll go with it. This one seems like a boy in a dress.) seems sweet and smart enough, but there’s nothing that stands out about him. Except that he’s already contradicted himself. On on hand he says that being a big girl is one of the things that makes him special. On the other, he’s worried about the camera adding ten pounds to his frame. Pick a side of the street girlfriend, and stay on it. Otherwise the only thing jiggly about you may be your tenure on the show.
Phi Phi O’Hara
Well, darling. That lovely silk Freudian Slip you stepped into in your video intro, just about says it all.
Pretty enough (reminds me a little of a young Phyllis Hyman), and personable in that Pageant Queen sort of way. I just don’t think that these lady-boys get that being an entertainment personality is more than just desire. While I abhor Ru’s acronym for what he’s looking for in a Drag Race winner, it nevertheless is absolutely spot on. Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent really DO need to be evident from the jump. As lovely a person as she seems to be, there is just nothing that I see that is very unique. I think what the show needs is an on set Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent Coach to help these girls find that one thing that sets them apart from the others. Give these bitches a dose of Media Reality, and whip them into shape.
And RuPaul? If you’re reading, I’d be more than happy to take the job.
Ooooh Girl. Would not be my choice of styling. But Drag is over the top. And there is something about her patter and bravado that makes me sit up and take notice. It really will be interesting to see if these big queens can be versatile enough to encompass a range of looks. I think zaftig divas get pigeonholed much quicker than smaller contestants, and need to showcase their diversity right out of the gate. I have a feeling Miss Royale will be better able to do that OUT of drag, than in. Good luck diamond lips.
Well, three down. I’ll get to all of the divas before the January 30th premiere. I’m just starting with the FBQ. And honestly, there are a couple queens of other ethnicities that I’m much more excited about. I’ve also asked my fabulous aforementioned friend to weigh in from time to time. Even though he’s put his Bianca togs aside, he is still one of the fiercest black queens I know and MUCH better able to objectively assess these Mascara Men than I.
Until then, I leave you with a true FBQ…