My Girlfriend Is Obsessed With RuPaul’s Drag Race. Here’s What I Learned
“Cover girl, put the bass in your walk … head to toe, let your whole body talk …”
“Good morning to you too, my love”, I yell from the bathroom. This isn’t some song playing on the radio, no, it’s my girlfriend singing.
She’s singing “Cover Girl” by RuPaul Charles — a famous song from the show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
RuPaul’s Drag Race???
Gentlemen, start your engines …
No, no, no! RuPaul’s Drag Race is not, as one may think, a show about cars. Nothing masculine like that. Quite the opposite — it’s a show about drag queens, competing against each other in various disciplines. You win by being “the best woman”.
… and may the best woman (extends right arm, puts left hand on hip) win.
Let’s rewind a little. What the actual fuck is a drag queen?
The Europeans among us might remember Conchita Wurst, an Austrian singer who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. Conchita Wurst is a drag queen.
A drag queen is a person (usually a man, but can technically also be a woman or someone who identifies as transgender) that likes to hyper-dress-up as a woman. By hyper-dressing-up, I mean that they don’t just dress like a woman — they dress like a woman on a mission, with extensive makeup, crazy hair (usually not their real one) and beautiful, often self-tailored clothing.
They’re mostly beautiful, and some of them elicit reactions like “no way that’s a man”, “holy shit she’s hot oh wait that never mind” and sometimes seriously confusing the average heterosexual male.
Drag Queens don’t go by their real names (except for a few, like RuPaul), but instead adopt a new identity with a fictional name. Here’s a few of my favorites:
- Alaska Thunderfuck
- Sharon Needles
- Courtney Act (gotta say it with an Australian accent)
- Penny Tration
- Rebecca Glasscock
- Jinks Monsoon
- Shangela Laquifa Wadley
- Bebe Zahara Benet
- … and so on
When they’re not “in drag” (“in drag” meaning that they have their makeup, fancy clothes and wig on), they’re just normal people. “Normal” in a sense that it’s usually gay men with unusually high-pitched voices, feminine physique and a … let’s call it “distinctive” … behavior (much like your gay best friend).
But when they’re in drag, there’s no limit. They have some crazy outfits, their makeup is so flawless it makes every woman jealous, their skin is smooth as a baby’s butt, and their hair is on point, perfectly matched to their outfit.
It’s quite impressive. Many of these men really look like women (and the more feminine they look, the more “fishy” they are in drag lingo), they act like women, and they walk like women. In size 46 (12 for you wonderful US readers) high heels. Across a runway. Which might be more impressive than their makeup.
So now that we know what a drag queen is, let’s talk about RuPaul’s drag race.
As mentioned before, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a show in which drag queens compete to become America’s “next drag superstar”. So imagine it like America’s Next Idol (or Deutschland sucht den Superstar), just with drag queens — and different challenges.
Each episode, one of the 10–12 drag queens who start in a season is eliminated. This usually happens in three steps:
- First, the drag queens have to complete a mini-challenge. This could be a photoshoot, an impromptu dance-off or a “reading”, a challenge in which they slam other queens. They can be real bitches (or dicks?), man. The winner of this mini-challenge then gets an advantage for the real challenge.
- For the real challenge, the queens usually have to impersonate something in their drag. It could be “female CEO drag”, or “drag that expresses your personality”, or “drag you’d wear to a wedding”. Sometimes, they also have to dress up other people as drag queens, most notably female martial art fighters or gay military veterans. The winner of the main challenge receives a “sickening” (= very awesome) prize, like $2,500 worth of makeup (which, considering the layers they put on their faces, probably lasts for a week).
- The worst two performers of the main challenge are then up for elimination, which means that they have to “lip-sync for their life”. A song is played, and they have to lip-sync to that song, and add a dance performance. In drag, of course. Adding in a “death drop” highly increases the chances of survival. In case you’re wondering: you’re jumping into a full split and yes, you land on your testicles. Hence the “death”. Makes me cringe every single time.
For reference, here’s what survival by lip-sync looks like. The person you can see in the video preview is RuPaul, the host of the show. That’s a man, I shit you not.
After 10 episodes, America’s next drag superstar is then crowned. And then, it starts all over again.
Luckily, it’s on Netflix, so it can be binged.
“God, I hate that bitch”, my girlfriend expresses her disappointment with one of the new participants. Hysterical laughter ensues. She’s loving it.
While I initially started watching RuPaul and his (her?) fellow queens because my girlfriend was incredibly excited about the show and I’m a wonderfully loving boyfriend sometimes, I quickly started enjoying it more than I want to admit. There’s a lot to learn:
“You’re born naked and the rest is drag.”
This quote is from the fabulous RuPaul himself (herself?), and it shines light on a bigger lesson that we can take away from drag queens: you can be whoever you want to be in life.
You start out naked, but then it’s up to you to be the person you want to be. As a kid, you don’t realize this yet, but as you grow older, you can adopt whichever identity you want to have. Want to be an athlete? Then go be an athlete: work out like an athlete, eat like an athlete, sleep like an athlete and in no time you will be an above-average athlete. Want to be an entrepreneur? Read like an entrepreneur, work like an entrepreneur, act like an entrepreneur. Want to be an author? Write a book. Want to be a female illusionist? Be a drag queen — that’s as close as you’ll get to looking and acting like the most fabulous women in the world.
I’ll say it again: you can be whoever you want to be in life. And the best thing is: identity can change over time. When I was younger, I used to think of myself as someone “who’s just not good at sports”. At some point, I shed this identity. How? By working out like an athlete, eating like an athlete and eventually even stretching, doing yoga and recovering like an athlete.
The same can be applied to you: are you someone who “just isn’t good at remembering names”? You can make a habit out of using certain memory techniques (or just repeating the name over and over again in conversations). This will make you identify as someone who “uses techniques in order to remember names well”, and will soon turn you into someone who “can remember names well”.
The point is: identity isn’t static; identity is fluid. Just as a drag queen changes her outfit every time she goes on stage and turns into a fabulous woman, you can be whoever you want to be too — by living your life like the person that you want to be.
Drag helps to escape the harsh reality
Whenever a drag queen puts on her drag, she steps into a new world. A world in which her problems from “real life” don’t exist. Just as every person has their personal escape mechanisms from reality, drag queens go into drag — and for a while, the problems are gone.
This helps cope with trauma — whether it is from childhood or from recent events. Going into drag totally changes the environment for that person, being able to get rid of everything that scarred her in her “male” life.
Drag Queens are highly talented
I had not realized this before, but holy shit, these people are GREAT at what they do. On the show, they tailor a new outfit to perfection within a few hours, they lip-sync and dance to any given song like a true performer, and they are better at makeup than most women arguably will ever be. They also probably use more makeup in a year than most women in their life.
That’s impressive as hell. It takes a lot of skill and practice to do be able to do all these things. Being a drag queen isn’t easy — the best of them (i.e. the ones competing for America’s Next Drag Superstar) are professionals like any other professional.
This ain’t no joke. No, as RuPaul would say: “girl, this is the motherf***ing olympics — you gotta bring it every single time.”
On a side note — since drag queens are often wearing tight outfits, they somehow have to hide their male genitals. This practice is referred to as “tucking”, and while I don’t want to go into detail here, you can refer to this article in order to learn how to hide your penis in the most effective manner.
RuPaul is 58 years old
Just look at this:
This man (!!!) is 58 years old!!! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t (neither that that’s a man nor that that person is 58 years old). Ladies, if you want to look younger — pay close attention. You might be able to learn a thing or two (like, how to install clips under your wig that pull back your skin so you don’t have any wrinkles … yeah).
If nothing motivates you to read, drag will
Now, I’m not sure if this just applies to my girlfriend or also the general population. She hasn’t been reading a lot, until she stumbled upon RuPaul’s life guidebook Workin’ It — RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Style, followed by I’m Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell (known as Aqua Disiac in the drag world). It’s never been so hard to drag (pun intended) her away from her reading.
And, as we have seen, there’s quite a lot to learn from them — so you might want to check them out too. 10/10 recommendation.
Had you asked me two months ago if I was ever going to watch a show about Drag Queens, I would’ve been astonished. I mean, which heterosexual man watches shows like that with his girlfriend? Right?
I’ve grown to like it, and I’m actually looking forward to the next episode. These drag queens are, after all, humans like you and me. Just with a slightly different hobby, which they’re very good at.
And few things are more intriguing than witnessing true mastery.
You can find the first 10 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix.
If you’re into other things than drag queens, feel free to check out my other posts too. Maybe you enjoy one of them, too.
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