“In my mind, I always go back to that moment of Randy (Barbato) and I at The Pyramid Club seeing these amazing drag queens performing on this tiny stage, in this tiny club, thinking, “The world is being deprived of this. The world needs to see this.” This is great art and highly entertaining.” Fenton Bailey.
If there’s one show that is long overdue for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program it is RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now, in its tenth season, the show only continues to gain momentum and is a phenomenon.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
It’s a warm afternoon in Downtown LA and a massive line snakes around the Ace Theatre. People have been lining up since 8 am to ensure they get into the taping of the season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race. No words can do justice the energy and excitement that fills the crowd as they await the crowning of Season 10’s drag queen. Who will take the crown home? As they fill into the theater and sit through the well-oiled machine of the taping, Asia O’ Hara, Aquaria, Kameron Michaels and Eureka are the final four and only one Queen is going to take that crown. It is a lip sync battle to the end.
The audience cheers and screams for their favorite, the energy levels increasing as the night goes on and we get closer to the crowning. The crowd chants,“Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie” when Vanessa “Vanjie” Mateo enters the room. The roars increase when RuPaul speaks. The adulation and energy for this show is normally reserved for heartthrobs, but these aren’t movie stars, they are drag queens, and they’ve been sharing their stories with us throughout the season. We are invested in them.
For ten seasons, the contestants not only bring forth their artistry and creativity as they lip sync for their lives or battle it out in the challenges, they bring soul and emotion to the show. Whether they’re talking about their family struggles, eating disorders, bullying, body shaming, HIV, or prejudices, the contestants bring a vulnerability with them as they share their personal hardships that allow the viewers that allow to connect with them. The representation we see each week, each season reminds the viewer that they are not alone in the world. And each week, RuPaul reminds us, “ If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” reinforcing that message of self-love, no matter what.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is by far the best reality competition show out there. It shines in ways other shows don’t as the queens are taught by mentor judges – this season we had Christina Aguilera, Nancy Pelosi, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon – to celebrate themselves.
The show takes fashion to a whole new level of innovation and pizazz as the queens glitter glue and sparkle in their creations. The lip syncs raise the level of talent, we’re still remembering last year’s Valentina moment, but wait until you see this season’s finale. There’s the judging panel with the bite of the fierce Michelle Visage and of course the “Sashay Away” goodbye from Ru when a queen is eliminated.
At the end of the day, the show is pure, entertaining fun with broad appeal and whether watching one episode or the entire series, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the joy that it brings.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is, to steal from Michelle Visage, “the little engine that could.” It’s time, not just to vote for RuPaul’s Drag Race, but to send it home with an Emmy.
Need more convincing?
RuPaul’s Drag Con
There is no other show out there that has sparked a convention that attracts 50,000 twice a year. Think ComicCon but with Drag Queens. This year, RuPaul’s DragCon LA expanded from two to three days, taking over the Los Angeles Convention Center. In September, RuPaul’s DragCon New York will also expand to three days. Like the show, DragCon is getting bigger by the year with a third as of yet unnamed location and is a testament to the show’s appeal.
People of all ages come from around the world to experience and celebrate it.
I’m not kidding. Walking around the convention hall on the final Sunday, I saw kids as young as four, listening to Drag Queen Story Story Hour. Families wandered the booths, buying merchandise, fans stood in line waiting to meet their favorite contestants, and selfies galore were being snapped.
Brent Fuhr who lives in Thunder Bay, Canada said, “I think, that for me, DragCon is all about the feeling of belonging and really, acceptance and joy. Coming from a smaller city like Thunder Bay, the LGBT community can sometimes be small or feel tight-knit, and can be a bit of challenge in feeling connected. From the moment you arrive at DragCon, it’s a feeling of elation. Everyone is smiling, everyone is open. It really allows you to be comfortable“being you”.
Clay.Toris who flew across the world from New Zealand added, “To say in words what exactly RuPaul’s DragCon means to me is impossible. It’s an experience like no other where people from all across the world all come together to share their art and their love within our community. There is nowhere else in the world where you can truly be as free to be yourself as you can at Drag Con.
Two years ago at DragCon was not only my first time at Drag Con but also my first time out in Drag. I was super nervous but the love and acceptance I felt that DragCon was so overwhelmingly amazing and truly helped me gain confidence in myself I needed and is one of the reasons why I will always continue going back to DragCon every year.”
Not only is it a hell of a lot of fun, it allows fans to connect with the queens and thank them personally for giving them hope and inspiring them. It gives fans a sense of community, acceptance and belonging where they normally wouldn’t find it.
Fenton Bailey founder of World of Wonder said, “The idea that drag is something that would only appeal to men wearing dresses or the LGBTQ community, I think that’s a misapprehension. Actually, drag is a universal thing because we are all in drag unless we’re stark naked.”
RuPaul’s DragRace is also 21st Century thinking, and in this political climate, the show embodies everything about freedom, diversity and hope. It gives promise to its legion of followers.
Billy Eichner teamed up with former queens, Alaska and Peppermint for a panel to stress the importance of voting with his “Glam Up the Midterms” campaign. After the panel, Eichner took to the DragCon floor encourage people to register to vote.
Nancy Pelosi appeared on the show earlier this season, again encouraging the contestants to vote.
“I think Trump and his regime of hatred and exclusion and building walls has actually stimulated all of us on the other side to get more vocal, visual and noisy.” Bailey said. “There is a connection between wigs and high heels and vote against Trump.”
If you’ve never seen an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s never too late to tune in. Leslie Jones only just recently discovered the show and has been tweeting up a storm. You might not have seen the show, but its impact should be recognized.
Each Thursday, RuPaul’s Drag Race dominates Twitter. If you don’t want to be spoiled, this is the one show whose digital strategy is so ahead of the game, that you need to stay off until you’ve seen the show because you will absolutely be spoiled. Has any other first episode elimination become a viral sensation as fast as “Miss Vanjie?”
RuPaul’s Drag Race season ten has an average of 794,000 viewers each week and is the highest watched season of the series. Yes, its popularity is growing in ways we have never seen before for a show that has been on air as long as this.
You’ve probably heard the term, “Shade” or “Sashay Away” and you’ve most definitely seen a “Miss Vanjie” meme. The show has infiltrated our culture and vocabulary.
Untucked, which was recently only available online, now airs after RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH-1 allows us to go behind the scenes with the queens as they discuss the competition and watch more tears, struggles and of course, throw some shade.
What other show has a spin-off where previous queens can come back for another shot? All-Stars.
What other show on TV brings all of this to the table, week after week, season after season? What other show, is aging like a fine wine? RuPaul’s Drag Race that is the show. It’s 2018 and it’s time to “glam the vote” ….
Everybody say love and vote RuPaul’s Drag Race.