By Keisha Allisse
Wonderfully self-aware, pop-referential and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, RuPaul’s Drag Race arrived on Logo TV for its third season. Now all you naysayers reaching for your Bible to quote Leviticus can unclench. The show is less about being gay (although that is a reality not hidden) and more about the celebration of a transformative art which happens to be practiced predominately by gay men.
RuPaul, arguably the most mainstream drag queen stateside, ushers in a cast of superstar wannabees. As host, Ru is one part Tim Gunn; in the first half of the show, he plays mentor, administering challenges and issuing critiques; and in the second half, he’s the love child of Iman and Carrie Bradshaw, with a fabulous runway entrance, over the top costumes and pointed, pun-y one liners. He is joined on the judging panel by Santino Rice (he of Project Runway fame) and former sidekick from his talk show days, Michelle Visage along with a rotating lineup of celebrity guests (Lily Tomlin, Vanessa Williams, et al).
Truly, the commentary on the main stage is the highlight of the runway presentation, though the humor bleeds blue at times, it’s clear that RuPaul has a handle on pop culture and fashion as he capably culls from different sources in his observations. He knows his stuff and he ain’t afraid to show it or tell it!
The drag queens this season are a step up from last year, though there are conspicuously few black contestants (the previous seasons two winners were both African and African-American, respectively). This, however, doesn’t prevent the field from being crowded with contenders (Delta Work, Manila Lauzon), an impressive frontrunner, Raja, who once worked onscreen as a makeup artist for America’s Next Top Model, and a fan favorite, Shangela, the first cast off from season two, who returns with some of the best lines and catchphrases (perhaps an after effect of being aware that coming across memorably on reality TV leads to a bigger payoff at the end.)
This season is also noted for the fact that it includes three full figured queens, a rare feat on any reality show not related to weight loss. Though one, Stacy Layne Matthews, is clearly obese, his transformation is one of the more believable, fishy (slang in drag for ‘looking real’) interpretations. As a matter of fact, if you like the kind of drag that pushes the illusion, then Manila, Mariah, Stacy and Delta might make you break your neck on the double take.
For those who don’t let assumptions get in the way, the show is a lot of fun. The liberal use of the word ‘bitch’ and pronoun ‘she’ amongst men does arch the eyebrows, but I get the fact that, as a viewer, this is a different world I’ve been transported to and I’m not clicking my heels until the finale airs.
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo, Mondays @ 10pm.