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Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Should Be Watching: RuPaul's Drag Race

There's a lot of stigma about drag queens and crossdressers in general.  The majority of the attention is negative.  People spend time fixating on the sexuality and sexual identity of the cross-dresser instead of taking professional cross-dressing as the artform it is.  And it is an artform.

Before 2009, I had no real experience with professional cross-dressing, or Drag.  Sure, I'd watched Too Won Foo, cosplayed as a feminized version of a male animal character and seen the odd older gentleman dressed as a woman on the train, BUT, I knew nothing of REAL Drag.  One summer day, I happened to be watching a hilarious comedy on the LOGO channel and saw an ad for RuPaul's Drag Race.  I was completely mesmerized by the bronze, golden haired beauty telling me to tune in for reruns of the first season.
I saaaaid, tune in.
Curious, I did.  AND I was not disappointed.  Now, as I've said before, loads of people get hung up on the fact that Drag is men dressing up as women.  But what I got hung up on was the amazing amount of work, prep and artistry it took to turn this:
into this:

My first thought wasn't "Ew!  That man is wearing a dress!"  It was "Oh wow!  I want to be that pretty too!  And I want to sew my own high fashion clothes!  And I want to be fearless and FIERCE!"  And how can you not when you're seeing guys transform themselves into elegant, out-of the box 'women' in the span of an hour?

Just like on project runway and face-off, the contestants have to complete challenges involving strange goals.  One episode they had to make garments by incorporating real, off the vine fruit, as accessories.  Another required them to create a look inspired by the apocalypse.  And in yet another, they had to transform straight guys into drag queens!  And don't get me started on the spin-off series RuPaul's Drag U, where they take ordinary women and make them into extraordinary divas, boost their self-esteem and leave them with a new outlook on life.

From these feats and the mind-blowing results, I get inspiration for everything from the hair, makeup, clothes and jewelry.  A show about drag queens taught me about plucking and thickening my eyebrows, applying make-up and how to make my waistline look slimmer using nothing but contrasting colors.  Each episode has the added bonus of campy jokes and random silliness too.
You never know when you'll see this.

One thing that has upset me about more recent seasons of the show is how catty the Drag Queens have become.  Technically, RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality TV show, but the first two seasons were pretty classy.  If someone had a disagreement, they took a break and then came back and worked it out like adults.  The second and third seasons featured drag queens outright insulting each other's art and being downright nasty.

If you can stomach the shouting matches, put aside your prejudices and just tune in for one or two episodes, I'm sure you can find a lot of inspiration as well.  If you're trying to get creative and find motivation, you should be watching RuPaul's Drag Race.  The Allstars season starts next Monday!

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