03 May 2012 @ 02:14 pm
Okay initially I wanted to write about this only after I explained my obsession towards other reality tv shows and or gay culture in general just so it makes more sense, but now I just really have to talk about this. This is going to be a more personal blog entry compared to other inspiration posts I've done.

RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality tv show in which American famous drag performer RuPaul is searching for the next drag superstar. Simply put, it's just another reality tv show, but with drag queens, of course, complete with sequins and high heels, sass and wits, make-up and wigs, and more.

It's a fun, silly, campy show created to mock reality tv show platform, but what makes this inspirational for me is how they show the side of drag that we(I)'ve never seen before; the creative process, the art of drag. I will have to be honest here, in this religious country I live in, LGBT related issues are still a very sensitive topic to talk about. Needless to say, there is no such thing as drag or gay culture. Guys who dress as girls are considered shemales no matter how they identify themselves (there are not a lot of terms to choose from like crossdresser, drag queen, transsexual). I'm not sure what word would be appropriate to use as a translation as the word in Indonesian is often used in a condesending way, and we don't have a lot of vocabulary on that topic. The image of a tranny here is very, can I say VERY, negative. Like, most of them are cheap prostitutes who stand on their spot in the night waiting to be picked up. And most are doing 'street entertainment' during the day asking for money from people in the cars that stopped by the traffic light. And when I say 'street entertainment' it's definitely not the good kind. There are though, a very few noted drag performers on mainstream television.

Hence, I know nothing about drag culture. I did not know a thing about RuPaul (I think I've heard his name a couple of times, but didn't have any clear idea about what he does exactly and his recognition in the US).

When RuPaul's Drag Race kicked off in early 2009, I first saw it on a YouTube channel I was subscribing to, which uploads other television shows. At the time being, I was watching America's Next Top Model. I wasn't interested in it at first but tried to watch it anyway. Coming from a country with a strong religious culture, it was not easy to enjoy the show immediately, I didn't seem able to look past the fact that they are guys who do drag for a living. And that is not something acceptable in general public of my country. The quality of the show back then were not that good, and with the short attention span that I have, I ended up watching only less than half of the season. I don't know where I got it, but I spent the next two years thinking that Ongina won the season ... which was false. And that, was my first introduction with the world of drag.

In late 2009 when I suddenly became obsessed with Adam Lambert, his bassist (then), and his fandom (also then), I was educated with more knowledge about LGBT related issues in the US. Pride walk, drag queens, homophobia, marriage equality, transgender, all things I've never bothered to know more about in the past. With a lot of people supporting LGBT rights in the fandom, I learned more and more as time passed.

Jump to 2010, Adam Lambert toured the US and the world with his group of fabulous people, and I love them all (but my favorite was of course the tiny bassist). Among the fabulous people was Sutan Amrull, a make up artist of Indonesian origin who also does drag. When they made a visit to Japan (where I lived), I had the chance to met them all, and very lucky me, I had the chance to chat with Sutan for some good minutes. He was fabulous and so fun to be with. I asked him if he's going to be on RuPaul's Drag Race. Actually at that time we all already knew he is, he took a break from the tour and was replaced by a girl named Jenni. But of course, for the sake of confidentiality, he only said "well you'll have to wait and see! They're going to announce the casts in November.".

Jump to January 2011, when I got back to my home country and Season 3 of RPDR started. I was so happy and excited to see Sutan on there I dedicate a fansite for him. Since I missed half of season 1 and the whole season 2, I caught up with everything.

RuPaul's Drag Race, along with it's wit and cattiness, brought a lot for the viewers to see. I love how this is actually more than any other one dimensional TV shows; this covers everything. A contestant must show a variety of talent; singing, impersonation, sewing, modelling, athletic skills, designing, dancing, comedic skills, reading other contestant, throwing shade; and the ability to follow the theme and challenge given each week. Even though this show often focus on drama (because drama sells), vulnerability is also something that this show has to offer. Many of the casts were victims of bullying and homophobia in their past, listening to how they cope with it and how they struggle to be in the place where they are now are always touching. Granted that this show is sort of a plug for all RuPaul's products like books, shoes and music, but it also filled with a lot of love and positivity, like how RuPaul always end the show with the saying "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?". It's also damn funny so if you're not already watching it, what are you waiting for??

Since this is a drag queen competition, everything has to be exaggerated, over the top and I love how this show almost has no rules on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in terms of design and style (unlike professional design related tv shows). You can be anyone or anything you want to be! There are of course the traditional pageant queens, there are more edgy genderfuck queens, goth, naked, broadway, any style is possible. Even though this show has a more serious challenge like that political debate one, I especially love challenges that has anything to do with design and fashion. I can only hope this show gains more popularity to be a wide-known show, but it already is popular among certain crowd, and the show definitely has their own dedicated fanbase.

Watch Online on Logo site (US only, international people click here)
RuPaul's Drag Race Wikipedia page
RPDR Recap on Tom and Lorenzo (my favorite fashion bloggers!)
RPDR tag on Oh No They Didn't
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