RuPaul has always argued that drag culture will never become a part of the mainstream. However, after a surprise MTV Movie & TV Award and 40,000 fans flocked to DragCon it seems drag (with RuPaul at the forefront) is quickly becoming part of pop culture. Instead of assimilating into the mainstream, RuPaul would argue that drag reflects pop culture, and at its best, can be used as a weapon against our current political and cultural climate. At his DragCon keynote address, he stressed how important drag culture can be.
“At RuPaul’s DragCon, we celebrate all the colors of the rainbow. We have an orange president that wraps himself in red, white and blue,” RuPaul proclaimed. “How are you going to make America great again if you can’t love all the colors of the rainbow?”
And with his keynote address he made the importance of drag and queer artists in Trump’s America clear.
After last year’s long overdue Emmy win for best Reality Host, it’s become clear that the rest of the industry is finally catching on to the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the ever-growing queer content produced on television. Thousands of fans at DragCon had access to every echelon of television from famous actors (Cassandra Peterson, Jerry O’Connell, Lori Petty, Candis Cayne, Mark Indelicato, Noah Galvin) to reality TV stars (Little Women: LA and Project Runway) to popular web series and social media stars as well as a local politician.
In my afternoon spent at Drag Con, I pushed through thousands of fans waiting to meet their heroes, teenagers trying out drag for the first time, cosplay that rivals anything at ComicCon, and even Daniel Franzese signing old copies of Mean Girls. I walked through a display of past RuPaul gowns worn on the show that were Emmy-nominated in the past. I sat in on a panel about queer representation on television starring actors Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty), Noah Galvan (The Real O’Neals), Elliot Fletcher (Shameless), and Michael Willett (Faking It and United States of Tara). I walked into what was supposed to be a panel starring queen of New Orleans Bounce music Big Freedia but was instead a makeup tutorial starring Drag Race stars Shea Couleé and Laila McQueen. I danced as the infamous Linda Evangelista remix blasted from various booths. I contemplated shopping at the boobsforqueens.com booth.
No other show on television produces an event this massive with essentially endless lines to meet 100 different cast members from winners to all-stars to queens who only lasted a single episode before sashaying away. With 40,000 Los Angeles-based fans flocking to the convention center, it’s bound to attract the attention of industry voters. Even well-known actors like Criminal Minds’ Kirsten Vangsness were spotted enjoying the event as fans. With all of the newfound attention the show is getting (especially after being upgraded from Logo to VH1), the series for the first time has become a major contender in the Reality Competition race at the upcoming Emmys. In the end hopefully, Emmy voters will listen to RuPaul and use this chance to honor Drag Race in a time when America needs to challenge the mainstream more than ever.
The ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race currently airs on VH1. Although the season was widely received as underwhelming. I will advocate for the season for two major reasons. Almost every week has given the audiences a memorable lip sync to gag over. Most importantly, for the first time in years, we have a wide-open race with front runners only now beginning to push ahead. Any of the seven remaining contenders arguably have a chance at being crowned the next drag superstar. We at Awards Daily TV (Megan, Joey, and myself at least) have been avid Drag Race fans since the beginning, and these are our predictions on who will make it to the end (* indicates predicted winner):
Readers, who are you predicting to take home the crown at the end of the season? Who do you want to win?
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on VH1 Fridays at 9PM EST/PST. Tickets for the first New York Drag Con will be available online at rupaulsdragcon.com.