Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Sunday Drag to Enjoy

I have a friend who, over the years, I have come to tease for her complete and total entertainment preference overlap with the tastes of women approximately 15- 25 years her senior. She very specifically loves anything that is aimed at clean-living soccer moms. To borrow from Seinfeld - not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just hilarious because she is an outlier in a marketing demographic in a major way, but all of the same bells and whistles that have probably been studied by R&D folks for the past 60 years to precisely target women with totally different daily lives than hers totally work on her and get her enthusiastic participation in whatever is being marketed.

Examples, in short: hardcore Clay-mate (one who loves Clay Aiken) so much so that she refused to believe he was gay well past the point that most people say, within five years of our ages, had; loves Nicholas Sparks, cries frequently at country songs and when something adorable and touching happens . In summary, she's a loving, feeling, wonderful person who has not built a cavern of cynicism into which she retreats, taking with her only a laptop with which to write a blog and enough snacks to support her emotional eating habits as prompted by writing deadlines and, generally, emotions. She also is Jo in the living, twentieth century version of Little Women, being the oldest of four sisters, a former newspaper reporter, a tenacious achiever who demands superior work of herself and equal footing with her peers, and having married a guy who is sometimes thought to be foreign or surly based on his initial social interactions with others (these folks are wonderful, btw, some of my very best friends, and they have the senses of humor about themselves required to be some of my very best friends). She does have some life situational overlap with the target demographic she aligns with that that makes Hallmark moments touch her way more tenderly than they touch me.

I go about this wordy prelude to say that after years of teasing, I have saved her the trouble of having to isolate my tastes as I've self-identified in a target demographic of which I am not a member, but whose tastes I clearly must share - gay folk! I love the Bravo network, but am suddenly enchanted by the offerings of LOGO. They show both Reno 911 (LOVE LOVE LOVE) and the Sarah Silverman Program in syndication, along with my new flavor of the month in reality programming - RuPaul's Drag Race!

This show is amazing on many levels - one being that it is perhaps the best cheeky spoof of a bonafide hit since Reno 911 spoofed Cops. The format is lifted entirely (as are a few other things that are out of view) from America's Next Top Model. From getting "She-Mail" to learn about a challenge, to the totally excessive focus on RuPaul at about every quarter of the show (modeled after Tyra's camera self-love), this show is that show, but way better. It laughs at itself. RuPaul's admonition and encouragement to contestants every week? "Don't F*CK it up." Hilarious. Blunt. Direct. And YES. Don't! Or you'll go home. How to save yourself from elimination? Lip synch for your life! Contestants have a simultaneous lip synching showdown at the end of the runway. Amazing! Great format! Entirely compelling! I wish more things in life were decided by the merits of lip synching performance, actually!

The show also boasts having found a perfect use for Santino Rice, former Project Runway top three finisher with an acerbic wit and a spot-on Tim Gunn impersonation. This is his forum and his commentary does not disappoint.

Also, drag queen puns, dirty and otherwise, are amazing! I love RuPaul's jokes! And send ups of very accepted drag love (i.e. Kathy Griffin, Dolly Parton, glitter). The contestants wait for judges to deliberate in "the interior illusions" lounge. Everything is tongue-in-cheek. RuPaul leaves no stone unturned...INTO A WOMAN! (terrible but I could not resist).

Beyond being a great send up of a show that takes itself way too seriously and whose contestants are way too skinny, catty, and for the most part, not that interesting as people, this show reveals the different reasons for, and experiences of, dressing in drag. Some of these contestants feel like women when in drag. Others feel like they're performing. Some feel they're they're true selves. One thing is undeniable - they're gorgeous! Like, stunning! Watching their transformations every episode stops me in my tracks. Many times I don't remember which contestant it is I'm looking at because their transformation into their drag persona is so complete. My God, if I could walk like a woman like they did, I might be going places. As is, I'm at home watching them femme it up. One contestant in the episode I just watched said he loves drag because no one had ever told him he was attractive as a man, but everybody thinks he's beautiful as a woman. It was such a crushing, revealing, honest, poignant statement that was a segment cutaway as he walked the runway, essentially a two minute throw away. But wow. That's really a lot to take in. The other thing that's great is that these women do catty as they do makeup - waaaaay beyond the average. But it's part of their characters, and therefore way more likable than a 19 year old whose limbs and thinness make her look like a fawn complaining that a roommate has made fun of her walk behind her back.
This is not petty bullshit, it's in your face bullshit. Which I prefer.

I recommend it. And I'm also really interested in traveling to Key West due in no small part to the gay-friendly commercials they air during the drag race.
But to do that, I better WORK.

(too far of a stretch to RuPaul song?)

1 comment:

  1. Your friend is a typical Claymate. It is your perception of his fans that is off.