When you hear "drag race" do you think of racecars and loud rednecks? Well, if you haven't heard of "RuPaul's Drag Race," then that's probably what you're thinking of.
But the drag race I'm talking about is far from skimpy daisy dukes, beer bellies and "yee-haws." Actually, you may some daisy dukes when dealing with drag.
Drag (accidentally) originated in old Greek plays where men would often play the roles of women. I think that some men figured out they had a knack for it and as Ru Paul would say, the rest is HERstory.
Studio 54 was a big reason drag is in the spotlight that it's in today. If you don't know what Studio 54 is, you're probably too young. Opened in the 70s, Studio 54 was the biggest and best disco and nightclub in New York, and probably even the U.S. The discotec was filled with theatrical lights, music, and performers all of who made sure to make your time at Studio 54 the time of your life.
The nightclub gained recognition in the gay community because of its flamboyant and outrageous reputation. Clubgoers would dress not only to impress but to shock. Men would show up in full faces of makeup, mesh shirts, and crazy headpieces. Attendees would describe the environment as welcoming, and unlike any other club, they had ever gone to.
Flash forward to today, many of those club kids are doing drag – or running it.
Yup, Ru Paul used to party at Studio 54 too! Now he's running "Ru Paul's Drag Race," still killing the runway on every show, as well as winning awards. Last year in 2018, the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and won one himself for Best Host.
So, what is it about "Drag Race" that has everybody going gaga?
First off, it's the fashion. Season after season, week after week, contestants show up and show out in outrageous, beautiful, and sometimes scary drag. Most of the time, contestants will sew and create their own wardrobe from scratch. The talent and skills that are showcased on the program are outstanding! The time crunches, the creativity, and the tears all pay off in the end unless you're asked to "sashay away" from the competition as a form of elimination.
Speaking of elimination, another attention-grabbing element of the show is its lip syncs. Every week, two queens are put up for elimination based on the challenge and their drag runway of the week. Once up for elimination, it's time to lip sync for your life! Song choices range from oldies to newbies, and contestants must memorize the lyrics and perform flawlessly. Usually, these performances are littered with death-drops (I highly recommend you look this up if you don't know what it is), wigs being thrown, and clothes coming off. Quite the show.
People also can't get over these queens and their snappy comebacks. The bigger the hair, the bigger the sass. The show even has a "Reading Challenge" where each of the queens "read" their opponents and come to a crude conclusion. Don't worry, it's all in good fun, and the contestant with the best clapbacks wins the challenge!
What I can't get over, though, is the makeup. I'm 21 and have been doing my makeup for years but don't compare anywhere near to what these queens can do. The contouring skills needed to make a man's face into a slender, softer, womanly face must be outrageously high. What's also high is their hair. I can barely tease my hair to get an inch off my face, but these people can get their wigs to stand five feet tall.
All packaged up, these queens are the best beauty gurus you could ever look to for inspiration. From the drag to the performance, they kill it week after week. And my favorite part about the show is even when a contestant is eliminated they always say how grateful they were to participate and that they'll keep growing and getting the best they can at drag.