You might want to be sure you’re sitting down as you read this because what I am going to say next may very well shock you. Ready? Are you sitting (or at the very least leaning against the nice yellow box from which you just jauntily grabbed a copy of this paper never suspecting you might need its support as you are greeted with a shocking confession)? Yes? Ok, deep breath:
I watched my very first episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race a few weeks ago.
I know, I know. What kind of queer am I, anyway? To the six of you who persevered and didn’t throw your paper away in disgust or throw your phone across the room: thank you for persevering. No doubt the queer police are on their way to confiscate my credentials, but before I sashay away (see what I did there!) I want to share with you my profound joy and happiness in being introduced to the most wonderful television show on earth.
Let’s be clear: of course I have known about Drag Race’s existence for years and seen obsessive Facebook posts and blistering critiques about it (She-Mail, anyone?), but I haven’t had cable in more than a decade and it just didn’t seem worth the effort to acquire through quasi-legal means. Plus, I am not a huge reality TV fan to begin with and have never seen shows like America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway or whatever, so I just filed the show under “Not My Cup of Tea” and went on with life.
Pity past Ashley, for the terrible life choices she has made.
This all changed a fateful night a few weeks ago when Netflix started streaming Season 8. I figured I would get half an episode in, but from the moment the first queen sauntered into the workroom, I was hooked. This show is so wonderful that my wife, a business owner who works fucking hard (and by “fucking hard” I mean she wakes up, starts working, drives to work, works all day, comes home, has dinner and then works again until it is time to go to bed, 6 days a week) wandered into the living room at one point to see what I was up to and didn’t go back to work. In fact, she didn’t work at all for the three nights it took us to binge the full season. This has never happened before.
At one point, after I laughed, sobbed, and had to close my eyes because I was stressed about who was going to be voted off (all in the space of a single episode), I turned to my wife and asked, “is that what it feels like to enjoy sports?!”
The show certainly struggles with moments of misogyny (and has a history of conflict with the trans* community) but I can’t even get mad about it. I get mad about everything! Honestly, there was an off-hand comment about fish that in literally every other circumstance would get my blood boiling and the channel changed, but in this case only got an eye roll and an unhappy sigh. Who am I?
I’ll tell you who I am: a bloody evangelist for this show. I’ve had a religious experience and Ru is my saviour. This show perfectly captures the essence of drag: it’s formulaic, campy, glittery as all get out, and raunchy as hell. It really shouldn’t work but yet somehow it does.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to stream more episodes and practise my walk. Purse first, of course.