Alex Blaze

Who's Watching Rupaul's Drag Race?

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 05, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Alexis Mateo, raja, rupaul's drag race, shangela

I know there are some Bilerico readers out there who are watching the third season of Rupaul's Drag Race. It's the best season yet, where the winner will take more than a year and a half's minimum wage.

I have nothing deep to say about this other than I hope Alexis Mateo wins - she's cute, charismatic, and energetic even when she's wearing a bedspread. Raja looks like a favorite to win in terms of technical skill, but I can't get over the fact that she doesn't seem to have a feminine side at all.

What do you all think? Here's Shangela dressed up like an pineapple upside-down cake to inspire conversation.

shangela.png

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Rupaul, oppressor of transsexuals.

Hood Fan. | March 5, 2011 4:56 PM

Dana, oppressor of Ru's Talent. Can I get an A-MEN?

Really? That's the best come-back you could think of? I've heard better stings on Nickelodeon.

Shangela needs to go because the girl can't sew! And she can't back up everything she spouts off because she has backed down when she's been called out!

It's one of those things... She was eliminated last year for her lack of sewing skill, she had a year to study up, and there she is with the same problems. I think that judge was being stupid when she asked if Shangela really wanted to be a drag queen, but maybe someone should have asked her if she really wanted to win? She knew sewing was part of the competition.

But she has a lot of charisma. More than most. Hallelu!

RuPaul, enabler of Shirley Q Liquor...so nope not watching this show.

10,000 better things to do.

Ron Avila | March 6, 2011 3:53 AM

Love the show. Whoever wins it sure is fun to watch. I know some don't "get" drag. Who cares? Some don't get opera or country music or puppetry etc. I hope you find something you can say something positive or at least constructive about.

Om Kalthoum | March 6, 2011 12:17 PM

100,000 better things to do. YMMV.

I love the show. These bizarre negative comments may spur me to do a longer post about it.

I don't watch the show, but I guess I don't see the need for hating on it in particular. Across the globe as well as in this country, you'll find some transgender or transsexual people performing in drag shows, after all, and at points all along their transitions, before, during, or even after surgery.

I feel no particular shame or pride in admitting that I performed in DC for a few months one summer, on Sunday nights at Freddies in 2003. For me it was an exercise, one I explored as part of gearing up for transitioning to full-time for work. (Beating stage fright made walking into the workplace on my first Monday morning a snap.) Not everyone can or should try it, and not everyone would get anything out of it, but for me it was useful as well as fun, but it also gave me a lasting admiration of the effort undertaken by those for whom it's a full-time gig.

In clubs across the country, you might find old-school drag performers working alongside those who have had top work, top and bottom work, were on HRT or were not, with just about every variant from among those possibilities in play. Identifying where any one individual fit in, as a DQ or transgender or transsexual, can challenge even the most Adamian sensibilities when it comes to labeling and naming everything. But as a result of exposure to that subculture, I like to think that I'm a lot less reductionist and a lot more open-minded when it comes to defining what is or isn't a transgender or transsexual narrative.

Which brings to what I think the problem may be, which is that many of us in the transsexual community worry about how certain narratives get imposed in mass media, fostering false expectations of transsexuals in broader society. It might be obvious to most of us that not every drag performer is transgender or transsexual, not unlike the truth that not every trans person is a sex worker. But because those kinds of stories involving transgender or transsexual people perhaps too readily find people willing to produce them, I think there's a valid concern that the more everyday narratives of survival and struggle, of adaptation and acceptance, tend to get drowned out.

That might lead some of us to reject drag as a form of expression, whether the performers are trans or not, but I wouldn't. I guess I think we ought to remember a debt of gratitude to any number of queens who adapted and survived in their own ways in their own days, few of whom conform to anyone's scripted standards of care, at Stonewall and at Compton's Cafeteria, and as documented in "Paris Is Burning" or "Screaming Queens."

We should also remember that RuPaul hardly holds the patent on saying or believing or doing things that offend many in the community; you can get angry, or you can take it as a reminder of the need to educate. None of us will be able to control how others act, but we can all empower ourselves to influence how transsexuals and transgenders are seen by how we act and represent ourselves. Our everyday lives can be acts of cultural diplomacy.

I think something like this show challenges us to more aggressively advertise other trans narratives. Maybe it's a point of entry for many people from the mainstream to trans stories of one form or another, but just because that's where they might be coming in, that isn't where they have to stay.

I have a problem with Ru's support of Shirley Q Liquor and decreeing that it's okay to call trans folk "trannies" even if they find it offensive. No thanks. Never seen an episode.