I love TV dramas. Weeds, Dexter and True Blood (bisexual vampires… YUMMM!) are all shows I would marathon the hell out of on a Sunday afternoon, given the chance. Once you’re hooked, it’s go time, and no one can stop that train from derailing. But then life got busy, as it tends to do, and my TV life went dormant.
Recently, through several annoying suggestions from friends, my marathoning got revived as I started watching season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo. What I presumed would happen after just a few highly charged episodes came true: I’m now madly addicted to Ru and her drag-bitches like some deranged crack addict, sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the familiar “Now, sashay away” and “Don’t f*** it up!” mantras each week.
This is not the drag I remembered. The makeup got better, the gowns more bedazzled, the attitudes more… bitchy!!
Drag queens have been doing their thing in clubs across the world since the late 1800s and in the past 50 years have turned gender-bending entertainment into a gay culture phenomenon. How I used to cringe when my little straight girl friends would call me up and beg for me to go to drag night at the gay club with them. “Pleeeeease,” they’d say. “It will be soooo fun!”
I don’t care how butch-gay you are, drag queens are the peak of high drama fun in a world of Debbie Downer entertainment. People love their karaoke, but please… In my book, amateur drag shows are the best entertainment in the world, second only to America’s No. 1 drag queen professional, Madonna, of course. I won’t get into what I think of local revues, cause I’m no critic (mmhmm), but ever since I stepped out of my own dark closet nearly 20 years ago, drag has been a part of my life. My first show was at a revue at the Blue Moon in 1993, when the diva Misty Dawn ruled the stage. God, I miss her.
I rarely take to women’s clothing myself, excluding three Halloween nights and one Pet Shop Boys concert in 1999. But I must admit, every time I dragged up, it was definitely for the camp value, not for the realistic approach. Let’s face it, I don’t have a pretty woman’s face and my adam’s apple looks like I swallowed a Tierra. Still, there is something about dressing up in fishnets, trashy tube tops, size 12 heels and glitter gloss that is downright fun-tastic!
I thought most drag queens should be skinny and sultry, until I saw the likes of Jiggly Caliente and Latrice Royale on Drag Race. These big bitches not only were convincing, they could move! So what does make a good drag queen? I consulted my good drag-friend Babs who said it was more than just eyeshadow and waist size, it is the whole package, “cause honey, if you ain’t got a talent, you need to just “sashay away.”
Here are some of Babs’ tips on how you can become a drag queen superstar (at least in your inner circle) over night:
1. Makeup/Style: Every drag queen should have at least one favorite look. Camp drag, celebrity, showgirl, torch singer. Your passion should be center stage. On RuPaul’s Drag Race, Chad Michaels does his Cher character best, right down to cosmetically enhanced cheek bones. Ask yourself, do you want to look like the rich and famous, or your own creation? Once that’s determined, your makeup and clothing should mirror the look. “Copying is the best form of flattery,” Babs told me. Open up your favorite gossip mag, slap on the Mac and give it a whirl! (watch how to apply drag queen makeup video here)
2. Move that body: Most good stage drag queens know how to dance. Did you know that there are even drag queen dance classes? On RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is seen during the Lip-Synch for Your Life segment where two queens up for elimination dance and lip-synch to a song. It is during this show stopper that you’ll see painful splits, toe spins, leaps and some serious moves take place, as well as it should. “Dance lessons are key here,” Babs said. “Take a few salsa or rumba classes, watch the best dancers are the clubs, and discover what makes your drag body move.”
3. Name that tune: Most good drag queens can lip synch a broad range of standards, from Patsy Cline and Doris Day, to Cyndi Lauper and Rhianna, down with immense feeling and passion behind the music. (learn some lip synching tips here) “This is where the mirror comes in handy, honey,” Babs declares. “Sing to yourself with that music blaring and really get into it. This is, of course, if you plan on taking the stage in your drag. If not, do it anyways to get a feel for your character.”
After my Drag 101 with Babs, I decided that even though drag is not my cup of tea, it still makes me happy to know that the GLBT community holds this culturally unique entertainment to the highest regard. We gays can be the biggest, judgiest haters in the world when it comes to drag, and the drag queens know it, so we normally get some downright good performers. Every good gay club in the U.S. has good drag queens on its stages. Like it or not, they are part of our extended family.
Mad Myrna’s Friday Night Divas has been shaking their groove things for decades, in one form or another, putting smiles on gay and straight faces alike, because it is raunchy good entertainment… period. It is my hopes that the more we can be supportive of this outlet, new generations of drag will keep the illusion going and turn it out like they do each week on Drag Race.
So to all you “butch” gay men, quit arguing that drag queens are ruining your life with perpetuating America’s stereotype of what gay men are and go with the pink, satiny flow. Dragsters are a needed notch on the GLBT belt.
Speaking of, who do you think will take home the crown this season of Drag Race and why? Give us your thoughts below. I will be watching, for sure.