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RuPaul’s Drag Race Doesn’t “Fuck It Up”

queen600Finally! RuPaul has given us a reason to watch Logo! A must-see instant hit, RuPaul’s Drag Race is one part Project Runway, one part Top Model and a whole lot of gloss. Don’t get us wrong, Drag Race is basically every reality TV show you’ve ever seen recycled in the name of drag, but it’s the first bit of original programming the moribund network has produced that doesn’t make us embarrassed to be gay. It’s sleek, it’s weirdly sexy and it’s loaded with product placement, just like real tee-vee!

Since we’re going to be blogging this thing until it gets canceled (or Ru winds up in rehab), let’s talk about why this should be your new favorite reality show, because I know you’re thinking: “Eh, it’s on Logo, so it must be awful.” But really, it’s actually sort of not!

If I just introduce the contestants, you won’t believe me, so we’ll start with the only thing that lends reality television any legitimacy– the sponsors. With Project Runway on (let’s face it) “permanent hiatus,” there’s something comforting about seeing a commercially sponsored make-up table on television again– and drag race has MAC, which actually beats the Runway’s “L’Oreal Make-Up and Hair Room,” hands down. I mean seriously, who used L’Oreal? My mother, that’s who. Sorry, Mom, love you!

On top of that, Absolut, the official sponsor of homosexuality, has thrown in $20,000 of prize money to the winner. Plus some magazine called PAPER will give the winning queen a photo spread, assuming they don’t fold within the next three weeks along with every other print publication in the world. The point is, these are actual companies! Hell, Janice Dickinson makes do with less.

The judges also lend the show some credibility. Bob Mackie shows up as a guest judge in the first episode (for all you boys and girls too young to know or too lazy to Google, Bob Mackie is the very nice man whose designed all the costumes for America’s first drag queen, Cher). Santino, the loud-mouthed Rasputin from Project Runway is also a judge, as is some woman whose canned lines and frosted locks make us hate her too much to look up her name.

See? Doesn’t that sound like the description of an actual television show?

Onto the actual recap portion of the post:

We’re introduced to a bunch of drag queens in quick succession, all of them fully pressed (that’s drag for “in drag”– see, you’re learning things already). You don’t get a whole lot of time to get to know them in the first episode, but here’s how it breaks down. Meet Bebe, whose from Michigan by way of Cameroon and has a gorgeous accent! Tammie (“with an I-E!” she squeals) who thinks she’s channeling Bette Davis, but looks more like Bette Davis’ corpse! Shannel, from Vegas, where she’s called ‘the Barbara Streisand of drag,’ “because I’m a perfectionist”–but we think it’s the nose.

Then, there’s Jade and Akashia, both of whom come in wearing assless outfits. In the pre-recorded interviews, we learn that boy-Akashia is really kind of hot. Victoria is a plus-sized Southern drag queen who sort of represents the old school and who is “just happy to be here,” which is sweet. Ongina is sort of a pretty, nice, friendly version of Bobby Trendy, which, come to think of it, means that she is in no way like Bobby Trendy at all.

picture-2Finally, there’s Nina Flowers, who shows up in a blonde mohawk and a couture Mad Max inspired look. Nina’s the kind of drag queen that eats small children for breakfast and polishes her nails with the blood of her enemies. In short, we love her and want her to carry our babies.

After the initial meetings, RuPaul appears via flat panel display and tells the queens how fierce she is and introduces her catch phrase, “Don’t fuck it up.” Now, as catchphrases go, this one is a winner and if we’re going to have to listen to gays at bars quote reality TV catchphrases, at least RuPaul has given us something to really bite into.

Surprise! Then the real RuPaul shows up, out of drag, and tells the queens how beautiful they are, and we get a bunch of cutaways to the girls talking about what an icon RuPaul is, how she opened doors for the drag community, blah, blah, blah. Then Ru goes over the prize winnings and mentions that she flew them all out to L.A. by Southwest Airlines (downmarket, but again– actual company!) and that their first challenge will be a photo shoot. What Ru leaves out is that the photo shoot will involve being hosed down by a bunch of muscle boys.

You’d think a bunch of drag queens, in full make-up, costume and hair would freak out at the idea of being doused with water, but impressively, they all jump right into it. This is how you know these drag queens are serious- in fact, they don’t even complain as Ru shouts at them to “Grab that hose” and get doused. If this were Top Model, the entire episode would be about the girls complaining about the water– how cold it is, how it messes with their hair– but the queens dive right in. Score one for the man-ladies.

picture-3After cleaning themselves off, Ru announces that their first challenge will be to design a drag outfit that exemplifies their style using only thrift store clothes and items from the dollar store. Does this sound like every Project Runway opening challenge? You betcha, but this time it’s with drag queens! And some of them can’t sew. Victoria, the elder stateswoman of the group confesses she’s out of her league and her dress is truly something hideous (are those picnic flags?), but when Ru comes by to do his Tim Gunn impersonation, the two queens who worry him most are Akashia and Jade, who aren’t making enough use of the tacky knickknacks. All the queens are convinced Akashia’s had a lot of work done, but she denies it. Because there are no blind queens on the show, nobody believes her.

Sadly, we get no scenes of the queens living together and instead move right into the elimination challenge. In fact, the backstage cattiness is practically nonexistent, which is sort of nice in an “Oh, see, drag queens are people too” way, but we hope it doesn’t last. At elimination, Ongina does a cute little over-the-top tango dance in a ruffled dress made of loofahs; Nina serves up some Brigadoon punk look that has us floored; Tammie with an “i-e” does corpse Bette Davis again (this time the style is corpse Bette Davis at the beach); Bebe plays up the whole “I’m from Africa” theme, which is going to get old quick, but is cute as a “getting to know you” look; and Victoria, Lakashia and Jade are various shades of awful.

The judges deliberate, Blondilocks judge spews out some canned lines and Nina wins because she’s awesome. Here’s some video of her, showing just how awesome she is:

Lakashia and Victoria are on the bottom two, and to decide who will “sashay away,” the judges make them do an impromptu lip-sync routine. If there was any doubt that this show wasn’t going to be a hit, it was wiped away once the lip-sync took off. What other show makes their contestants run around the runway at the same time making total fools of themselves? Dance, monkeys, dance! Unfortunately, poor Victoria looks sad and lost and she’s sent away saying something about how proud she is that she was picked out of thousands of applicants and how big girls can follow their dreams, which is sweet. Goodbye forever, Victoria! At least we’ll never come to hate you, like we undoubtedly will with most of these girls.

So, did you catch Drag Race? Have we been sniffing too much nail polish or is the show as good as we think it is? Again, it’s a dumb, schlocky reality show– but it’s a dumb, schlocky reality show with drag queens — and that makes all the difference. You can watch the full episode online here.

On:           Feb 3, 2009
Tagged: , ,
    • Qjersey

      it was brilliant…and it seems Ru is gently mocking all the other reality competition programs at the same time…”tyra tirade” in an upcoming episode.

      Nina Flowers is the one to beat

      Akashia and Jade…need to go back the the ballroom where “kunty is king” and “I look like a 20 ho” is “fierce”

      Feb 3, 2009 at 8:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nick

      The contestants are kind of boring, do you think they didn’t want anyone to upstage RuPaul? That said, the judges were great.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 8:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ggreen

      RuPaul’s Drag Race and all of Logos own produced shows have the same flaw. They are produced in NYC.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 9:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hardmannyc

      ^^^ Because shows produced in LA are inherently more interesting? I can only assume you made that comment to try to sound like an ass. You succeeded admirably.

      The show sounds cute, but aiming to be the next RuPaul is aiming the bar kind of low. On the other hand, I guess that’s part of the fun.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 9:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ggreen

      @hardmannyc: Yes, You’re making a lot of ASSumptions. I did not ask for your opinion of my opinion nor did the writer of this post.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kb

      well, it had some good points. Ho Ever…… the lighting is off. I guess they wanted all the girls to look smooth and plastic…

      If Ru says “Gentlemen start your engines and may the best girl win”… more than just this one show.. i’ll shit out barbie’s for the rest of the season.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Japhy Grant

      @ggreen: Acccctually- RuPaul’s Drag Race is produced in L.A. by World of Wonder Productions.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tyler

      I have to agree that I was looking forward to this show and so far it hasn’t disappointed. I mean hell, I had to find LOGO on my channel listings first becaust I NEVER watch it. The last thing I tried to watch on LOGO was that Rosie O’-hosted sketch show which was ‘orrible.

      My only complaint is, WTF is with the lighting/camera lenses? I mean, this is like Janice Dickinson-glowy to the EXTREME! I understand that Ru looks a little worse for wear these days (is she doing ok??) but the contrast was so bright, and the lens SO SMEARED WITH VASELINE that I could hardly make out anyone’s facial features half the time. I love drag makeup, but could hardly see it. FIX THAT PLEASE!

      Also, props to Absolut and the other sponsors for standing behind THE GAYEST TV SHOW EVER! Loves it.

      Oh and on a sidenote, I first saw Tammy whatserface (the Bette Davis lookalike) at here lounge in WeHo on their Monday night drag thing and she was so….WIERD. I was talking shiz about how creepy she was and Jackie Beat, who was the host, TOTALLY called me out on it. I was punished by being made to walk around the bar shirtless collecting tips. Point being, don’t talk shit about drag queens cause those bitches stick together.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sean

      My partner and I loved it. What I loved about it is that it took the best of Project Runway and the camp of America’s Top Model and filmed it all through a vaseline covered lens nervous breakdown! RuPaul is bringing back to life the camp of it all while at the same time showing how much this is truly an art. Nina Flowers was the huge stand out to me here. But you couldn’t help but love how RuPaul spoke her great sound bites of “Don’t f–k if up!” and “After consulting myself, my accountant, and my housekeeper, I’ve made my decision…” as well as her lampooning self-promotion. SKOAL RuPaul!

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ousslander

      Loved it. A little low on production dollars but very entertaining especially when mocking Tyra Banks.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 10:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Leland Frances

      And just when we thought Japhy was beginning to take the goal of moving us beyond Society’s mere minstrels, butts [!] of fag jokes, and victims of fag bashing to personhood and first class citizenship with equal legal protections and opportunities…he publicly cums in his Tuesday panties for this castrati clown fest which puts us right back in the gay watermelon patch. “Yeh, Massa, forget those troublemakers like Kunte Kinte. Just keep laughin at ole Mammy and her little cut ups. Sho be funny ain’t they Massa?”

      Attention HRC, NGLTF, Victory Fund, Lambda Legal, Frank, Baldwin, Polis, Obama: you can retire or forget about The Gays. We already have the right to tape our dicks between our legs, put on dresses and heels, scag drag makeup, and scream and squeal – even in the military. “Tis enough. Twill serve.” You all go on and worry about people who are actually suffering, actually care about being equal.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 11:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brewster

      @ggreen: Actually, this was shot in L.A.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dgz

      @Leland Frances:

      you’re right leland. except for the fact that the audience for this show is gay, and not “The Man.” (going along with your DEEPLY flawed comparison between the black experience and the gay civil rights.) and of course, drag is a part of gay culture designed by gays, for gays. i respect the fact that you don’t like it, but are you seriously blaming drag for DADT or Prop 8? is it flamboyant, cartoonish, over-the-top? of course. but i think the playground bullying you obviously experienced as a child has established a connection in your head that doesn’t exist.

      second, YOU are the one holding back the community. hello, trans hate? (“castrati?”) hello, femme hate? guess what? some gays are effeminate and even proud of it. you need to realize that these feelings are the result of severe misogyny. no, you’re not immune just ’cause your gay.

      p.s. another stereotype holding us back that you should look into: bitchy queen.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen

      @Leland Frances: And I’m the one in therapy.


      Feb 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dgz

      sorry, by “these feelings” i meant your femme-bashing, not effeminacy. just in case that was unclear.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ask ena

      This show is great for the strange reason that it’s not a joke (a la Janice Dickinson). The contestants are complex people and this show is not afraid to show it. They are also great fun to watch, both in drag and out, and I applaud Ru Paul and World of Wonder for doing this right!

      Feb 3, 2009 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JM

      It was produced in LA, in Burbank actually.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • D H

      Bebe Zahara Benet……………or Nina Flowers…….they are the two to beat! Just beautiful and FIERCE.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin vancouver

      Im thinking that Tammie is lookin way more like Edith Piaf then Bette Davis may they both rest in peace! WERQ !!!

      Feb 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TommyD

      actually sorry for the correcting but all the queens think REBECCA has had work done.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 3:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bobp


      Feb 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pinwiz

      I think you’re getting Jade and Rebecca mixed up. Rebecca had all the attention and failed outfits, while Jade had little focus so far.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JohnD

      @ggreen: no, actually, RuPaul’s Drag Race was produced right here in LA by World of Wonder

      Feb 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mb00

      I watched it last night. I thought It was fun. Would have liked to know a bit more of the contestants, but maybe we will as the show develops.
      The only thing that I found EXTREMELY grading was that filter they used on everyone. They were lit to the death.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mb00

      oh and by the way, I liked Tammie Brown the best. And out of drag, he’s a really nice looking guy.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin

      Drag Queens are a vital part of our culture.

      Enough said.

      Feb 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • txslimdude

      I thought the show was rediculous entertaining… but can’t believe no one has commented about that levi’s commercial in the first or second commercial break… HOT!!! I tried to find it on youtube and the levi’s website to no avail :( nice to see a major brand producing artful, creative and sexy commercials for gays… now if only they would air on mainstream channels ;)

      Feb 3, 2009 at 8:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BrianZ

      I think the show is brilliant. I really had a good time watching and will be sure to catch the rest of the season!

      Oh, and my $ is on Nina: Bitch is fierce!

      Feb 3, 2009 at 9:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joanne

      You all need to get out more. That show sucked and it took us many steps back. I wasn’t a fan of the the Queer Eye guys, but give me them any day over a has been drag queen. It would have been better if a real drag queen like Joan Rivers hosted.

      Feb 4, 2009 at 12:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fausto Fernos

      Japhy I love your review and I totally agree, this show just might save Logo financially and in the esteem of many queers out there who thought it was just a crappy cable channel.

      I’m sure Drag Race will have a lot of haters, but Marc and I absolutely loved it and look forward to watching it and talking to some of the contestants on our podcast.

      Feb 4, 2009 at 2:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DeWillis Washington

      You make rationalizations and excuses for this lecher.The man is obviously devoid of any morality or impulse control and hardly material for a pedestal.As a public official he should be setting the pace and showing an example.Those of you who choose to laud this man’s behavior under the auspices of “he’s gay so it’s okay” need to address their own integrity.This kind of attitude explains the Proposal 8 debacle as well as the underlying cause of the rapid deterioration of this country.

      Feb 4, 2009 at 4:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fitzwilliam

      love love loved it! sad to see porkchop (serious drag name) go home. your link doesn’t work though on “rupaul’s drag race”…

      Feb 4, 2009 at 11:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • epilonious

      You’re confusing a few people… which I an understand in the beginning of project runway, but these are drag queens and very different. @Pinwiz was right because you were confusing Jade and Rebecca Glasscock.

      Akashia hasn’t had any work done. PThe speculation about “nose jobs” was about Miss Glasscock.

      Also, Jade didn’t have her ass hanging out in the beginning, that was Shannel (Akashia made the darling line about “oh, I thought I would be the only ho with her ass hanging out… but I have a muscular ass, hers is a bit more flabby *camera cuts to jiggle*… so…”).

      Otherwise, I feel sad that Miss Porkchop had to go, she seemed like a sweetheart, but they gave her a good loser edit. And Nina is something fierce.

      Feb 4, 2009 at 11:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fitzwilliam

      @txslimdude: HELL YES. I found the Levi’s videos — there’s a bunch of them!!! http://www.iamunbuttoned.com


      Feb 4, 2009 at 11:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cole

      Ugh! This was awful. I don’t know how many more chances I can give Logo. It’s like going on the same bad date over and over and I just can’t break up with it. I want it to succeed, but this show was trash. Rupaul was so 15 years ago. Thank god for Bravo!

      Feb 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tonytigger

      Out of all the concepts out there for programs and this is what a gay network comes up with? Are we living in 1979?

      Feb 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bradg2

      If this is the best that gay TV can do I will stick to a good book.

      Feb 5, 2009 at 11:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Monica Roberts

      What piss me off is that .. what about the MILLIONS of transexicals like me who cannot AFFORD to shave they face, armpits or neck, and is forced to post 20 year ode blurry drag pix of theyself on they transvestical blog because they have 3 roomates, no money, no wigs and no job?
      Why should rich boullionaires like Charles Knrapps and Ripiaul make a “MINT” doing shows when talentless skanks like me collect welfare??? Iva only intercourse is to bitch about it behind the wall of our own shame for not being able to “pass” because we are so rude and arrogant in publics???

      WOOPS.. as Donna Day and Naomi Sims used to say…

      “I be done crack my own face!!!” LOL

      I should be grakeful to myseff for tellings it like it:


      Feb 6, 2009 at 12:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rigato

      Absolut….A VODKA is the official sponsor of homosexuality? What, do the inventors of the rufie throw in a prize every now and then? Let’s get some real sponsors…seriously. Something a bit more respected than a bad liquor that tastes like nail polish remover.

      Feb 6, 2009 at 2:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Faberge L'Eggs

      @Rigato: I think that was meant in the sense that Absolut sponsors a lot of LGBT stuff, not that we all need to go out and drink it because it’s now super cool to do so and all the hot gays are doing it. I agree though – not my fave vodka.

      I hope Nina wins. Her hair alone was unbelievable. I suspect she might be like Stefan on Top Chef NY, running away with it from the start and never revealing the slightest lack of confidence.

      Also, Leland Frances/comment #11: what is your deal? That is some serious internalized homophobia. Chill the fuck out. Good drag queens are amazing.

      Feb 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Thor

      If only this show had the same amount of funding as Americas New Top Model and Project Runnway. If it did it would be one of the best shows on television.

      Feb 7, 2009 at 4:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy Bauer

      love, love, LOVED it!

      Feb 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gurlene

      I watched Logo for the firt time in months and was truly entertained by this show. It looked original and though I thought some things could have been done differently I remembered that it was not my decision to make and I felt entertained regardless.

      Let us hope they keep up the good work till the final episodea and hopefully on to season two. I do miss the Rupaul show. It was aimed at mature queens like myself and rest assured, there are many of us still out there who did not perish during the plague of the 80’s and 90’s and is still present unfortunately.

      Feb 8, 2009 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mitchell

      Ok, you made just a few missteps.

      It’s not Lakashia, it’s Akashia

      Also, Jade was not criticized at all and SHE was the one who dressed like an african voodoo queen

      BeBe dressed in more of a tina turner style not african at all.

      Rebecca and Akashia and Victoria were on the bottom. Jade was nowhere near the bottom. Also, RuPaul had no qualms with Jade’s outfit in the workroom

      Glad to have helped :)

      Feb 15, 2009 at 11:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • flawlesso

      I hate that I have to download episodes because I live in Canada. I think this show is great! I’ve only seen the first one though. Couldn’t find any others to watch because of “copywrite laws” Fuck you! Everyone should be able to watch. I swear Canada accepted gays before the States did? I dunno, I’m styll young but, that’s just my two cents.

      Feb 17, 2009 at 3:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eric

      Correction: Bebe is not from Michigan. Most recently she is from Minneapolis.

      Feb 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Supergirl 2009

      Please note that international readers are blocked from seeing the video clip on this article. They are also blocked from watching the show on the Logo site.

      One nice person who was offering international RuPaul’s Drag Race fans the only way to see the show had his YouTube account suspended. This was after complaints from you-know-where.

      See freethedragrace.blogspot.com and support your international brothers and sisters who, at the end of the day, just want to be able to see this fantastic show.

      Feb 21, 2009 at 6:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • steve

      This show is soo bad and does not represent what drag quenns are about at all. What is with today’s drags- this show is just a bunch of women, not drag queens. The 2 best drags were the first to go home. This show is ridiculous and has no balls. Being drag is about being something different and outrageous- not top 40

      Feb 22, 2009 at 11:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Karim de Oliveira

      I loved the show!! I am in the UK and they don’t screen it over here! Thanks for the internet I was able to download the whole thing and I am loving loving loving it!! Even though I didn’t quite catch that they really aim to be c.u.n.t.s here!!
      of course that is for creativity, uniqueness, nerve and talent!!

      Apr 23, 2009 at 11:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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