I can’t lie, readers… I have been very excited to write this post for quite some time. I’ve already written about how I’ve spent my summer, and one of the best parts has been catching up on all of the TV shows I missed while in grad school. While I took Joni’s suggestion and started watching Once Upon a Time, I also followed my sister’s suggestion and started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. One episode in and I was hooked. But, that shouldn’t be a surprise; I think I’ve always been at least a little fascinated with drag queens. When I was a kiddo, I received my introduction to the idea when we watched The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Later on, it was To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, but I just couldn’t get behind Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes as drag queens. (However, John Leguizamo as Chi-Chi Rodriguez was believable.) It was never something weird for me, seeing a man dressed up as a woman. It was just different, and that was ok. Still is. When I got to college, I loved that YSUnity hosted a drag show during Welcome Week. As entertaining as these ladies (and some gentlemen) were, I appreciated how open they were to any questions the audience had about the lifestyle.
So, back to the Drag Race. I figured I would just have something funny and interesting to watch/listen to while I worked on my craft projects, but I was wrong. Just like any great book, movie, album, or show, there are lessons to be learned that you can apply in your own life. Let me give you the t…
1. “Don’t be shady, be a lady.” – Venus De-Lite, S3E3
Have you ever thrown shade? Yes, you have. You just didn’t know you were. You “throw shade” whenever you insult somebody else. It doesn’t take much to insult someone — just borrow your 3rd grader-cousin’s book of Yo Momma jokes. A real lady doesn’t stoop to weak insults or general shadiness. But, there’s also reading. As RuPaul said, “Reading is fundamental.” For a good read, a lady must be creative, smart, and witty, but never malicious. Jujubee from Season 2 reads at a college level:
The lesson here is, don’t lower yourself to play at someone else’s level, but always be on your toes.
2. “You better work.”
Obviously. You’ll get nowhere if you’re just sitting around. Work for what you want and give it your all, so when you get it, you deserve it. There were a couple of weeks where my job search was particularly depressing, and I don’t think I applied for a single job during that time. The next week, I wrote in my planner my paraphrase of a famous Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss out on interviews for one hundred percent of the jobs you don’t apply for.” I applied for five jobs that week. This brings us to our next lesson…
Much like any adjudicated tv contest (America’s Next Top Model, Top Chef, Design Star, etc.), contestants must be consistent in their performance every week to proceed. Whether you’re competing for a promotion, or aiming to improve something about yourself, it is important to always bring your A-game, so to speak. Once you’ve proven your talent with a certain skill time and again, others will begin to associate that achievement with you. From here, the only way you should go is up. Always be looking for ways to better yourself and go to the next level. While consistency is great, it takes a little something extra to be a champion.
Featuring my personal favorite Drag Super Star, Raja (the Professor of Fierce)
4. Sashay Away
After the bottom two contestant are called out to “lip sync for their lives,” RuPaul chooses which queen will stay, and who will sashay away. While one could leave a negative last impression on others (see: Mimi Imfurst), a real lady displays class and poise whenever it’s time for her to leave. Sure, you could go for the “memorable” route of jumping down into a full split as you exit the runway, but I think it’s a little tacky. And, painful.
5. “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – RuPaul
Miss Ru says it at the end of each episode, and it is perhaps the most essential lesson of them all: the most important love is self-love. Several of the beautiful queens who compete on Drag Race tell stories about how members of their family don’t accept them for being gay, let alone being a drag queen, and the other girls reach out to support them. There are a lot of reasons why a person, gay, straight, purple, etc., could have a hard time loving themselves, especially when it seems that those who matter most don’t show them love and acceptance. If you can’t love yourself for who your truly are, it could be difficult to let someone else in and love the real you. I’ve always, always believed that you have to know who you are and what you want out of life in order to love yourself as a complete person. Then, instead of needing others to feel whole, you can simply allow them to be a wonderful complement to the already-fabulous you.
While there are other lessons I could have mentioned, I felt that these are the most easily translatable. I’m currently catching up on Season 4, and I can’t wait to watch the All-Stars Season. I’d like to add, though, that I’ve learned that it wouldn’t kill me to throw on a little more makeup from time to time. If these men have an easier time turning into an attractive woman than I, a biological woman, do, I think I could step up my game a little bit.