Kings Or Queens

February 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

Over the weekend, Roomie #1 and I turned to VH1 and saw a reality show that was completely unexpected:

Drag queens.

By the time I figured out the title and premise of the show, I was already hooked: it’s like America’s Next Top Model on acid. Instead of waifish young women competing for a modeling contract, these men-dressed-as-ladies are competing to win RuPaul’s approval and whatever the prize is. I think that part of my interest in this show [apart from pure morbid fascination] originates from my LOVE of makeovers, and when these contestants are spending literal hours on their transformations, the makeovers are guaranteed to be amazing [or terrifying, depending].

Roomie and I spent some time deliberating whether these are men or women. They still have their junk, but they use feminine pronouns and call each other “bitches” and “dolls”. Gender these days is a rather fluid concept, but I will use masculine pronouns so as not to confuse myself.

The first thing that struck me was how much these men want to be women. The wigs, the makeup, the clothing, the pitch of voice…I wonder if they are happy as drag queens, or if they would have preferred to be born as women. Are they simply performers or is it a lifestyle? Hmm. The host of the show, RuPaul, guides them as a man in a suit, but during judging he dons full regalia and becomes his feminine self, which I actually did not notice until Roomie pointed it out.

So far, the judging consists of a few challenges that narrows the drag queens down to two choices to eliminate. These two unfortunate souls must then lip sync for their lives [NOT my words] in an effort to survive the show. Not exactly the kind of elimination that I’m used to, but it’s pretty hilarious. Or embarrassing.

Apart from the one that got booted at the end of the first episode, the contestants all have relatively nice bodies. For men…and for women? Most of those men have seriously nice legs, nice enough to make me forget the junk taped between their legs when they’re prancing around in their heels.

And then there’s Ongina. He is the fourth one from the left:

He is Asian, which would explain why he’s the shortest and looks absolutely adorable when next to the other contestants, but especially RuPaul, who is enormous. When I first saw Ongina [I couldn’t say his name without Roomie getting uncomfortable, hah], my jaw dropped at how pretty he actually was.

Rupaul's Drag Race Ongina

I couldn’t really find a good picture online [though there are many more on his MySpace, link above], but it’s apparent if one watches him in action. He somehow looked like someone else I knew, and it took me a few days to figure out who:

Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayumi Hamasaki! It’s the big eyes, for sure.

Two last observations. So far, it’s pretty evident from the cramped feel of the judging room that RuPaul’s Drag Race was produced on a much smaller budget than America’s Next Top Model. Also, I find it amusing that during judging, RuPaul has a super-bright halo-ish light shining on him at all times, the kind of light that is usually used to obscure the viewer from noticing something that is not supposed to be noticed. Is it supposed to make RuPaul look more feminine?

Anyway, this is what I’m watching while waiting for new episodes of Gossip Girl to come around. It’s pretty sad that Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty aren’t even riveting enough anymore for me to bother keeping up.


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