When New York Magazine began releasing photos of international drag sensations, many fans were excited to read profiles on the artistic geniuses.
Unfortunately, Vulture's coverage reminded many that a RuPaul's Drag Race bubble exists and not everyone respects the Queens for the artists they are. Instead of treating the magazine's cover stars like those prior, the publication ranked the performers, classifying them as either Top Tier or Bottom Tier. The reductive representation offered no further insight on the fascinating queens—who they are beyond surface level accomplishments or individual placements on the show. While Drag Race is a launchpad for hundreds of queens, Vulture failed to appreciate the profundity of the new generation of Instagram and reality TV celebrities.
The lives of drag performers tend to be disregarded, with fans favoring the spectacle and on-stage characters. This is a reminder that queens embody a type of expression that both embraces and rejects gender to cultivate a new narrative and understanding of personhood. Drag culture is a celebration of self and the ability we have to truly be ourselves. Unfortunately, Vulture overlooked the depth of those underneath the makeup, even dwindling some down to a dehumanizing footnote.
Queens photographed for the publication reacted swiftly, taking to Twitter to criticize the written content and the photos' lighting.
Although Martin Schoeller is known for his up close, unedited style, the article did not match the quality of the photos. Willam Belli (of Drag Race and television fame) called out the journalistic integrity of Vulture's editors, claiming none of the subjects were informed they would be ranked.
If journalists bothered to look beyond the accessible information on a drag queen's career, each artist's influence on our cultural consciousness would be more recognized. In turn, they could become championed members of our society, surpassing Pride coverage and queer-oriented events (ahem Met Gala). Uplifting their stories year round (outside of the reality show format) would increase the number of pivotal voices allowed to transform our culture. If it wasn't obvious enough, these entertainers have contributed to a shift in Western society and impacted younger generations for good: Gen Y and Z are more inclusive and expressive than past generations, which will inform the future, with or without journalistic appreciation. Vulture should know better.