A multitude of reality shows reward people with talent, from cooking, singing or dancing, but no shows have offered us the crazy arguments, death-drop gorgeous looks, occasional heart-to-hearts and of course, the epic showdown lip syncs of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
So, as we celebrate drag legend and LGBTQ+ activist, RuPaul’s 60th birthday, we at Platform feel it is only right to look back at the shadiest and fiercest moments RuPaul’s Drag Race has blessed us with over the last 11 years.
From the second the queens enter the “Werk room”, they showcase their looks and personality in their entrance. Most introductions are quickly forgotten, but some stay with us forever. One of the best entrances has to be Laganga Estranja’s “Come on season six, let’s get sickening!” or Latrice Royal’s iconic “Eat it!” line.
However, I think we can all agree on one thing: Long live “Mother” Ornacious. On top of glamorous entrances, the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race have served through their finest “Eleganza”, modelling their best looks on the runway to stagger the judges and win the weekly challenges, so let’s pay our respects to the slays of the past. It would be a disservice to not honour Violet Chachki’s wardrobe, with iconic serves such as her “Death becomes her” look or Fall reveal, switching her sequined, black jumpsuit to a tartan cape, which made us all gag in Season seven.
Some honorable mentions also must go out to Naomi Small’s “Kimono-gate” in season eight, Sharon Needles “Post-Apocalyptic drag” in season five and of course, Courtney Act’s “Animal Kingdom Couture” in season six.
However, looks can only get the Queens so far in the competition, and the lowest performing Queens must face head-to-head in the ever foreboding weekly “Lip sync for your life!” or sashay away. If you’ve ever curious as to where the Drag-race meme “Drag is not a contact sport” comes from, it’s because in season three Mimi ImFurst literally wrestled another Queen during their lip sync, lifting India Ferreh over her shoulder during their lip-sync.
It was all wild and RuPaul was furious – when it was over – she said “Mimi ImFurst, drag is NOT a contact sport” and eliminated her. The Queens really do dance for their lives during the lip sync, and Kennedy Davenport and Alyssa Edwards and Brooke Lynn Heights have famously brought the uniqueness and nerve to the runway in order to place on top.
My personal favourite dance moment – in all Herstory – has to be Aja’s death-drop in All Stars Three, falling effortlessly in an epic smackdown, with Milk asking what we were all thinking “Is she gonna jump from there?”
Now, to truly focus on Drag Race’s best moments, we must focus on the influence the show has had upon viewers over its extensive run, and why the show deserves its position in the Hall of Fame. RuPaul’s Drag Race is largely popular in gay culture, resonating deeply with the LGBTQ+ community as it continually provides a potted queer history.
Whether it is through highlighting HIV/AIDS awareness, trans activism, gender fluidity, or queens like the famed Lady Bunny; or simply by enabling the contestants to discuss their experiences as gay men, the show has put an incredibly rare share of gay and trans history on the world’s television; destigmatizing the tubulations of a minoritized community and providing hope and comfort to the LGBTQ+ community.
Likewise, RuPaul’s Drag Race is avidly popular with women – not merely due to the incredible looks and transformations served by each Queen – but because it is a celebration of the feminine mystique in all its beautiful forms. Adopting a feminine character requires massive amounts of charisma and self-confidence, and the art of drag famously involves being the most creative, fearless, truest form of yourself – which is arguably brave within our world.
Therefore, we want to thank and celebrate ‘Mama Ru’ on her 60th birthday for bringing this ideology to the forefront of entertainment, by appreciating all that RuPaul’s Drag Race has to offer. So, stream RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix and remember, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
By Alicia Ward
Feature image: Quartz