THE LATEST THINKING
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I Need A Wig -- Getting Hooked on RuPaul's Drag Race
Watching this past season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Got Me Hooked on this show and phenomenon, and gotten me thinking about my own image as a woman
I hadn't been a devotee of drag queens, considering them to be a wee niche in the world of entertainment. But now, having watched a whole season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3, I am very interested in the show, the field, and some of the over-sized personalities that inhabit this loud and proud universe.
These men, dressed and performing as ultra-stylized women, certainly capture the attention and imagination in a way that is fascinating, entertaining and even intimidating.
What did I know about drag queens, growing up? I'm old enough to have viewed footage of Milton Berle parading around in a dress, wig and accessories, and hearing my parents reminisce about watching Uncle Miltie look laughably garish.
Seeing him in black and white is a heckuva lot tamer than watching these modern queens, who are clad in carnival-like costumes, and performing routines that incorporate so many talents.
Some of these "girls" are so beautiful, to be honest, whipping together outfits with gorgeous wigs and makeup, astonishing dresses and accessories; but others seem to have crawled out from early 1980s videos, looking tinny and freakish. I have to admit that the ones I have enjoyed watching the most are the pretty ones.
Look at Shangela (DJ Pierce), Kennedy Davenport (Reuben Asberry Jr.) and BenDeLaCreme (Benjamin Putnam). These are three men who have created several eye-popping, sultry outfits that could make the typical fashionable woman feel dowdy. These performers also have immense skills as far as dancing, acting, lip-synching and more.
Their stage presence is palpable, but of course they all owe much of their fame to the master-mistress of them all, RuPaul Andre Charles. In each episode this season, and in previous seasons that I might now catch up on, these performers have wowed crowds and given tutorials in how to create personas that shine... but also intimidate.
We could say that many celebrities offer intimidating lives and looks. Actors and actresses, professional athletes, musicians and others walk very tall in our society. But there is something about a big-name drag queen, with impeccable cosmetics applied to the face, sequined gowns and scarves and jewelry fit for royalty, that makes a biologically born woman think, damn, I am a dishtowel to these silk robes, ain't I?
As much as I have cheered on the antics and performances in this VH1 television show, laughed loudly at their jokes, clapped and hooted for their victories and posted about them on social media, I find myself feeling like a dull chick. How could I ever hope to dress and sashay and do a death drop split, even when I was in my early 20s?
How do younger women feel about this? Is RuPaul's Drag Race meant to inspire men who dress like this, or women, or all of us? Or is it meant to be all about a fantasy life that we just peek inside?
I need new lipstick, to start.
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