TV Features

RuPaul's Drag Race Has a Class Problem

The popular reality show is not without controversy, but it's time we talk about the class barriers it perpetuates.

VH1

There's a lot to say about the various social justice pitfalls of RuPaul's Drag Race, from the discriminatory exclusion of trans contestants to RuPaul Charles' recent fracking controversy.

One issue that hasn't been sufficiently addressed is the show's inherent class problem. With the costs of participating in the show exponentially mounting each season, this issue feels particularly prescient. Nowadays, drag queens have to spend down payment-sized amounts of money in preparation for competing, which creates an inherent class barrier and disadvantages working-class and poor contestants.

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MUSIC

TRIXXIE Premieres “Stuck On You”

A testament to unrequited love.

TRIXXIE

Press Photo

Meet pop/EDM singer-songwriter TRIXXIE, who debuts her new single, "Stuck On You."

According to TRIXXIE, "This song is about being in love with someone who doesn't feel the same. That person being stuck on your mind even though you don't want them to be on your mind. Being so in love that the only thing that would make you happy is that call from that one special person."

Stuck on You

Although "Stuck On You" is only her second single, TRIXXIE's first single, "All of My Life," a collaboration with Cheat Codes, shot through the ceiling and amassed more than 2.5 million streams on Spotify, along with 1.7 million views on YouTube.

Full of shimmering beats, "Stuck On You" is pulsating with dance energy and the dizzying sensation of being in love.

Follow TRIXXIE Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

CULTURE

Vulture Dehumanizes Drag Queens with Random Ranking

Unfortunately, New York Magazine overlooked the depth of those underneath the makeup, even dwindling some down to a footnote.

Bianca Del Rio giving some much needed side-eye.

VH1

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.

TV

7 Films and TV Shows to Celebrate Pride Month

Queer representation means more than just a queer character plopped in a plot line.

Pride month is here and Drag Race is over, and unfortunately, it's hard to find many other shows for queer people by queer people. Supporting and celebrating pride month isn't just buying a rainbow shirt from Target; it's buying directly from queer artists and giving back to the culture. With representation more important than ever, these TV shows and films place queer characters right in the center where they belong. Here are some to look out for and catch up on.

Now Apocalypse (Starz)

Gregg Araki, known for his great contributions to the New Queer Cinema Movement, is at it again with this bizarre new show. Avan Jogia (of Victorious and Twisted fame) stars as Ulysses, a gay man who has disturbing, premonitory dreams that the world is ending. Ulysses's romantic and platonic relationships are explored with consideration for sexuality and fame in Los Angeles. Now Apocalypse takes LGBTQIA representation to the absurd and it couldn't be more fun. All episodes are now available for streaming on Starz.

Pose (FX)

Ryan Murphy's latest phenomenon is back for its second season on June 10th. The show centers on POC queer, cis and trans men and women as they navigate different NYC scenes and find purpose through the African American and Latinx ball culture. The show also investigates each character's place in society during the AIDs crisis, reclaiming the narrative and the hysteria of the era. If you're not caught up yet, the FX show is now on Netflix.

Rocketman

Executive produced by Elton John himself, Rocketman was released last weekend to a surprisingly solid first weekend. Bohemian Rhapsody's fill-in director, Dexter Fletcher, captures the life of a queer icon. Besides Rocketman being the first major Hollywood studio production to show a gay sex scene, the film does what Bohemian Rhapsody wanted to do but Queen would not allow: put a global icon's sexuality on display, explore the creative depths of a genius, and feature a lead actor that actually sings. Sing along and enjoy the breadth of great performances and direction.

Queer Eye (Netflix)

Ok, this is an obvious one, but season 3 only premiered in March! If you haven't already watched the fantastic makeovers and heart-warming stories that have come out of the reboot, you're missing out. Celebrate love and life by embracing those who are transformed by the Fab Five. While you're at it, preorder Tan France's book, Naturally Tan: A Memoir.


Euphoria (HBO)

Not many know what this show is actually about, but the trailer seems to center on the complicated lives of youth today. Sexual and gender identities are at the forefront of conversation today, especially from adolescents aware of their pertinence in a way previous generations were not. LGBTQ activist and trans woman, Hunter Shafer, will star as a trans girl who befriends Zendaya's character and their relationship potentially becomes something more. Down the rabbit hole viewers will go! Premiering on June 16th, Euphoria gives everyone a reason to keep their HBO subscription.


Booksmart

White feminism aside, Booksmart is an important film because of its lesbian representation. Beanie Feldstein, break-out star of Lady Bird, explained how important her co-star's character is to her and society, "For me in my life, it is a part of who I am but it is not at all my defining feature. It doesn't mean I don't love my girlfriend, it's just part of who I am. And [the character]'s the same way. To see that in Amy and how beautifully Kaitlyn plays her and how beautifully Katie [Silberman, screenwriter] and Olivia [Wilde, director] crafted her, it's gonna change a lot of people's lives." Booksmart is still in theaters nationwide.


One Day at A Time (Netflix, for now)

The 70s sitcom reboot came with reevaluations. The showrunners, Kellet and Royce, decided to change the two daughters to a daughter and son. One of the main characters, the daughter Elena, did not start off as a gay character. It wasn't until Royce's real-life daughter came out that he realized he needed to tell this story. His writer's room invested their own experiences to shape a character and an on-going storyline that provided insight into a coming-out story and its realities in a fresh, familial context. It's done beautifully and truthfully. While Netflix has canceled the show, the creators are fighting to revive it on another platform or channel. #SaveODAT!

TV News

Bow Down to your Season 4 Queens on "RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars"

This season will go down in Drag Race her-story. Facts are facts.

EW

Dear plebeians, get ready for some "goopery" and ShamWows from your newly-sequined royalty on season four of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars.

Your favorite queens who sashay'd away are back and ready to "shantay you stay" for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.

The next chapter in the reality competition series will pit former queens from RuPaul's Drag Race's ten seasons against each other. Beginning Friday, December 14th on VH1, these ladies will assemble divine outfits in the Werk Room and battle it out afterwards on the runway. Queen Mother, RuPaul herself, told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that, "The girls on All-Stars 4 are exciting and they have so much more to show."


Last time we left All-Stars, the fandom was sharply divided over the controversial season three finale, where the presumed frontrunner Shangela was given the boot by fellow contenders Kennedy Davenport, BeBe Zahara Benet, and ultimate victor Trixie Mattel. Angry diva-fans widely criticized the season as giving us weekly installments of "RuPaul's Best Friend Race," since the competing queens were bequeathed the power of eliminating their sisters through popular vote.

Ru hopes All-Stars 4 "will shock fans, although I don't think they'll be as disappointed. We always try to do something fresh and interesting, and sometimes it turns out in a way that you don't really expect. I love Trixie. She's a real superstar, but I really didn't count on the other girls who came back being so vindictive [and voting against Shangela]."

Facts are facts, however, and how the competition will shape up on All-Star 4 remains to be seen. What we do know is that we are here for the newest crop of our favorite returning divas. Her-story will be made. Bow down to your queens, bitches:

Monét X Change

Monét X Change (Season 10, 6th place): Sweeping into Drag Race on a quest to make sponges couture, our season 10 Miss Congeniality is ready to "[clean] up the motherfucking competition" with a new battery of cleaning products including "some ShamWows and some yellow gloves," she told EW.

Monique Heart

Monique Heart (Season 10, 8th place): Monique captured our hearts with her spirit and made us keel over with her legendary catchphrases. Whereas season 10's phrase was "facts are facts," All-Star 4 is all about "the goop." We don't know what it means, but we like it!

Trinity Taylor

Trinity Taylor (Season 9, 3rd place): The pageant queen famous for her capital-T tuck is ready to "finish what [she] started." She promises edgier looks than her usual showgirl fare and may even be getting a bit religious.

Valentina

Valentina (Season 9, 7th place): She's finally back. Widely considered a frontrunner in her season, Valentina was booted after her infamous lip sync when she covered her face from the judges. "If I lip sync again, I'm going to have to redeem myself," she says, adding that she's running on a "different maturity level" this season.

Farrah Moan

Farrah Moan (Season 9, 8th place): Known as more of a "whiny, obnoxious" queen, Farrah tells fans (and Valentina) to watch out: "Farrah Moan on All-Stars 4 is more of a force to be reckoned with."

Naomi Smalls

Naomi Smalls (Season 8, 2nd place): The queen who almost had it all is back, and one thing is for sure on the menu: LEGS.

Jasmine Masters

Jasmine Masters (Season 7, 12th place): Famous for her memes, Jasmine Masters says fans should expect the comedy gold to continue this season: "We get a lot of jush in there. There's a lot of jush going on, so you're going to get your jush!"

Gia Gunn

Gia Gunn (Season 6, 10th place): Remembered for her rebellious eyelash malfunction during her season 6 exit interview, Gia's return will be her first after coming out as a transgender woman. Some fans are wondering whether RuPaul's inclusion of Gia is the Queen Mother attempting to make up for her controversial anti-trans comments made earlier this year.

Latrice Royale

Latrice Royale (Season 4, 4th place): This is mother Latrice's fourth Drag Race appearance after sashaying away on Drag Race season four, All-Stars season one, and professor-ing on the third season of RuPaul's Drag U. She isn't taking no shit this round: "This whole new sisterly thing we got going on where everybody's like 'sis,' that's some bullshit. You ain't really my sister because my real sister would let me know the real tea," she said.

Manila Luzon

Manila Luzon (Season 3, 2nd place): And last but not least—welcome back to a queen whose last broadcast on Drag Race was in standard definition. "Drag has changed so much," Manila told EW. "It's nice to come back and show what I'm capable of after I've had the opportunity to become a drag superstar."

We don't know about you, but we're ready for some eleganza extravaganza, honey! Catch the premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season four at 8 p.m. ET Friday, December 14th on VH1.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.


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FILM & TV

INTERVIEW | Jonny McGovern of Hey Qween TV!

I got a chance to talk to one of the leaders in queer entertainment today.

There's nothing I love more than quality queer content.

Even with the influx of queer representation in Film/TV, there is still very few outlets that are garnered towards a queer audience. And while this is changing slowly, with RuPaul's Drag Race becoming more and more mainstream with each passing second - it's always good to remind everyone that quality queer content is out there and it's just fierce and amazing anything you can get on VH1.

Jonny McGovern is a talented queer comedian - he's worked tirelessly to bring Hey Qween!, both the show and the network - Hey Qween TV - to the spotlight. Now, they've garnered millions of views and had some amazing guests, including: Rupaul, the qween of queens; Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova; and All Stars 2 winner, Alaska Thunderfuck! Not to mention, Hew Qween TV, was the birthplace of internet drag sensation, Dragula - a spooky drag competition questing for the next drag supermonster!

I got a chance to sit down and talk Jonny about his astounding success.

First off, hello! How does it feel to have one of the most popular queer-based media companies around?

Haaaay Qween! Well... the Hey Qween team and I have had a lot of fun and worked super hard for the last 5 years to grow the company and the show and feels great to see the reach and impact we are having worldwide. I'm currently in Australia and I'm getting stopped in the street by Hey Qween fans everyday. Which is truly a gay delight.

What inspired you to start Hey Qween! ?

It was two fold. One, I was interested in telling stories of other LGBT artists especially drag queens and wanted a place where they could share their journeys in an in depth way. Secondly I wanted to make the most kick ass, fun, gayest talk show of all time.

As a queer man, I watch all the time Hey Qween! all the time. Do you think it's important to have shows that are specifically geared towards a queer audience?

Hey Qween can be enjoyed by anyone with an open mind and in fact can be mind opening for someone who has never experienced gay culture. BUT first and foremost we are a queer show celebrating the artistry and creativity of queer people. I think it's important to use this platform to speak to queer youth. Through the stories of our guests and through the pride and positivity in which we conduct our selves we hope to send the message that no matter how difficult the circumstances you can prevail and be a fabulous qween-whatever that means to you.

You've had some amazing guests on the show! Trixie and Katya are my personal faves - what are yours? What guest did you enjoy the most?

Trixie and Katya are great friends to the show. RuPaul was our 1st guest and that was a thrill as I have been a fan from her Starbooty days. We had my childhood comedy hero, Jackee Harry from 227 & Sister Sister who came and spilled major T and was just hilarious. Dita Von Teese came on last season and was so charming, candid and gorgeous and we hit it off so well that now I'm hosting her tours around the world. This season we just taped a two part episode with Detox and Vicky Vox which was one of the juiciest episodes we've ever done. They came to slay!

What has it been like, growing Hey Qween! the talk show to Hey Qween TV, the network?

Initially we started by spinning off aspects of the main show that people enjoyed. Look at Huh was originally a game in the main show which became so popular we spun it off. Fans love when we talked hot topics so we did a panel show called Hot T which allows me to showcase some of my fave LGBT comedians. The Gogo boys got our take on a fitness show called He's Fit, Lady Red got her own court show called Judge Lady Red. Hey Qween is the mothership and it started because the head of our studio believed in me and it's fun to create these other related projects that allow me to showcase talent and people I believe in.

On to Hey Qween TV's other amazing shows, it also helped birth one of the most new and exciting reality shows on the internet, Dragula, what was it like helping that show get off the ground?

Supporting queer talent is part of the Hey Qween mission. We happy to be able to share our platform in launching Dragula and proud of how successful the effort was. They found the right home with World of Wonder and we hope to bring that opportunity to other creators.

Finally, what does the future hold for Hey Qween TV? Is there anything new in the works?

We are going full steam ahead with the new season of Hey Qween which is now airing- not only on YouTube but on broadcast tv internationally. We are working with OUTTV in Canada to create original programming for them, we've started a podcasting network and we're working on a series of stand up comedy specials..... just to name a few things. In other words we're having a blast and everybody should come join in.

Shann Smith is a freelance writer, screenwriter, playwright, gamer, and film/TV lover. When he's not working on his columns for Popdust, he's doing his best to create and consume as much media as he can!


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