Gather round ladies, because it’s time we’ve had a talk.
And this goes out to all my gays too (except lesbians; keep on doing you and being non-problematic ily).
Last night, I finally had the pleasure of seeing the one and only, Trixie Mattel, on the final night of her Moving Parts Tour.
If you don’t recognize that name, STOP. Go read her Wikipedia page, check out “UNHHH," and educate yourself on the gem of American culture that is Tracy Mabel.
Trixie is the recent winner of “Rupaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 3” as well as the co-star of “The Trixie & Katya Show” on Viceland. As a drag personality, she has quickly secured her place in gay culture and has even started to find herself within the confines of mainstream society.
I saw Trixie perform at a performing arts center in Buffalo, where the previous weekend a production of “Spring Awakening” took place and the following week a dance concert is scheduled to occur. The intimate thrust stage was in the center of a theatre packed with mostly twenty-somethings, and the occasional stone-faced mom who was obviously not aware of the content beforehand.
Another thing the audience had in common was that at least 90% of the theatre was white, and seemingly privileged enough to spring for the $60+ tickets—a huge departure from the drag audiences of the past. Most of the audience was gay men, women and NB individuals, a few people dressed as Trixie, but of course, the dreaded straight white woman (hereby referred to as Becky) had to fill up at least half the theatre, Long Island Ice Tea firmly in hand.
This new development of audience statistics is not new to the drag scene. If you’ve ever been to a gay bar when a bachelorette party shows up, you might have some idea of what I’m talking about.
Before I go any further let me clarify that not all straight white women are problematic, just like the LGBT community is not necessarily all inclusive, and using generalized statements like "straight white woman" is harmful, blah, blah, blah, and now let me carry on with my regularly scheduled rant.
Since as long as I’ve been watching “Drag Race” there have always been Beckys around watching it even louder than me. They love the cattiness of the show and how outrageous the fashion and gay lingo is for a straight person who won’t find content like this on any other primetime TV show.
While I too (and most of the gay community) love “Drag Race” for these purposes, it comes with an appreciation of the queer art being represented and performed. It also comes with an understanding of how special this show is to so many people, and how validating it can be to see a show that represents queer people—skewed, and sometimes problematic as it is—in a major way.
And this is something Becky will never understand.
The fact that someone like Trixie is even giving a national tour right now after winning a competition reality show is a big fucking deal, and the fact that she was even on that stage is even bigger considering the current state of our government.
Over the years, “Drag Race” has become something more than just an unapologetically queer show. It also has started to blend with the mainstream, which is a sign of increased tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community, but also a sign of queer spaces being dominated.
The show itself has been slightly sanitized in the most recent seasons as an attempt to connect with a bigger, straighter, and—frankly—more conservative audience. The guest celebrity judges have shifted from small name queer icons, to A-List straight celebrities who may or may not have any credentials at all into giving their opinion on drag culture (I’m looking at you, Gigi Hadid & Khloe Kardashian).
And look, I’m not gonna sit here and act like I’m some queer history expert, let alone drag history, because I’m gonna be real honest with everyone here and tell you that I fell asleep halfway through “Paris is Burning” (don’t get too excited because I fell asleep during “Infinity War” too) but I can tell you, as a queer person, that it fucking sucks when Becky is the loudest one in the room.
At the Trixie show, everyone was taking their opportunity to join in on the banter with Trixie. This was annoying, but expected since most people were drunk and queer and these things happen.
But within the first 10 minutes of Trixie being on stage, some Becky took her opportunity to shout “VANJEEEE” during a brief silence while Trixie was getting water. For those of you who don’t know—actually you know what, I don’t need to explain it to you—it’s an inside joke from this season of “Drag Race” that has gone way too far and has crossed over into the camp of overused terms that have been appropriated by Beckys like “Yas Queen” and being “slayed.”
Trixie, that scrappy lil gal, of course didn’t stand for this and took her opportunity to roast the girl right back to hell, and she hopefully sat there with her stupid red cheeks for the rest of the performance, because Trixie fucking went for it. She didn’t let up, and ended up expanding on the narrative and making fun of all the Beckys in the crowd, while never showing any sign of real frustration that I can truly feel behind that 6 pounds of make-up and blonde wig.
So, here is my advice to all the Beckys out there:
Don’t stop watching “Drag Race” because tbh you kinda ruined it for everyone else, so for you to tap out now would be like me when I accidentally order two scoops on my ice cream cone—you made this mess, so you’re gonna suck it up and have a good time.
But with that said, take a minute to step back from yourself, and realize that this situation could absolutely not have anything less to do with you.
Literally, no one would care if you didn’t come to the drag show. Some twink in a Lana shirt and cut offs will surely do the job for you, which we’ve all just accepted. But you paid the ridiculous ticket price, so you have as much right to be there as anyone else. So just sit there, and enjoy. Don’t try to be a part of the show. No one is here for you. I’m sure all your friends think you’re hilarious and say you should do stand-up and be the next Amy Shoooomer, but that is not why we’re here right now.
We are here for Trixie. And to celebrate how 10 years ago she was just a little queer boy in Wisconsin trying to find his way, and eventually perfecting his art, turning so much childhood pain, and years of living amongst the straights into something beautiful, and hilarious that uplifts a marginalized group during these troubled times.
We are here to celebrate queer art and that we are no longer confined to the midnight basements of bars and churches, and can publically enjoy this expression in a large social forum that has expanded to include non-LGBT members, whether we like it or not.
Because drag is a national thing. It no longer titillates (depending on who you ask) and maybe this trend will continue till one day we have a drag president.
And I’m sorry if this doesn’t feel inclusive and is in exact contrast to everything the LGBT community, and more specifically, drag values. But I really don’t care.
We’re letting you participate at least—don’t complain before we revoke that too. The LGBT community already has so many problems of acceptance within its own community that it definitely doesn’t need to deal with you spraying your chardonnay everywhere.
Just let us laugh at the jokes of the six-foot mans in pink cowgirl boots, henny.
The bottom line is: it’s great you enjoy the show and that it entertains you, but this is simply not for you, no matter how you look at it. It’s like Beyoncé’s “Lemonade." We all loved the album. But there’s a reason everyone looks at you funny when you really throw down to “Formation.” It’s not for you, it’s not your story, and you have lost your sense of place so you better run back home before you are made a fool by Trixie, or someone who is much meaner in the future.
But by all means, you are more than welcome to pay the ticket price, laugh a bit, have a drink, maybe buy a damn T-shirt, and support this queer artist by sitting there and shutting the fuck up unless she asks for audience participation—because she will. She’s Trixie; she loves a twist.
But until that happens, just enjoy the fact that we have access to the gift that is Trixie Mattel, and the 90-minute set that was over too soon.
And honey, just let Vanjee die.