Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent

Anyone who has known me for a long time will attest that reality television is… not my favorite. Most of it is just cameras rolling on attention-seekers hoping to be famous for nothing, and I’ve never been one to believe in easy rewards. So I actually surprised myself when I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo. It may be reality television, but these ladyboys deserve the spotlight as well as demand it. This post will assume you’re up-to-date on the current season and know a bit about previous seasons, so if you’re still catching up, maybe turn away now.

I didn’t really get into Drag Race until recently though. I caught snippets of Season Two at the bars I went to (I’d rather go out on a Monday evening than a Friday night, but that’s another post all together). Then I started watching Season Four when there were only 4 or 5 queens remaining, then caught myself up on Seasons Two, Three, Four and All Stars via Netflix,, and iTunes. Season Five is the first one I’ve seen as it’s aired from the beginning, and until they announce the winner in two weeks, I will be an emotional wreck. I have very strong feelings about the outcome, not only because I want the girl I like most to win, but the three queens remaining represent three very different aspects of not only drag culture, but American society as a whole. I’ll be scoring them on my own terms, using Ru’s own four defining criteria: Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. Please note the below are just my observations and opinions. No one paid me to write this, and I certainly mean no offense to any of the contestants mentioned, or not mentioned, below for my opinions as a viewer.

Roxxxy Andrews: Representing the big girls, Roxxxy is a force to be reckoned with (and alongside Ivy Winters, one of the most attractive as a boy this season, in my humble opinion). As early as the second or third episode, I knew Roxxxy would make it to the top three. She tackles it all head on and doesn’t give up despite her frustration. Her frustration, though, has led to some very controversial (and, let’s face it, unnecessarily mean) comments directed towards fellow top-threeer Jinkx Monsoon. As soon as I saw Roxxxy as a bully, I lost any and all interest in seeing her win, even when she did an amazing job on the challenges and the runway. Bullies like her think that putting down and undermining those that in some way threaten them and their social standing is the way to win, and it’s underhanded and cruel. I mean, there are national campaigns to end the kind of attitude and behavior Roxxxy throws out there every week because of the damage it can cause to the recipients of her insults and berating. Luckily for her, Jinkx has the amazingly compassionate ability to forgive, no matter how nasty Roxxxy is to her, which on one hand is admirable for taking the high road, but at the same time, bullies continue to exist because they think they can get away with it. Watching the show it seems like Roxxxy is taking everything out on Jinkx not only because she’s strong competition that she wants to cut down, but because she knows that at the end of the day, Jinkx will forgive and forget, and her bullying can continue to live another day. I don’t want Roxxxy to win because I don’t want the bully mentality to win in a competition that is supposed to be about skill and creativity, that’s not the message we should be sending to our children.

Score: Roxxxy has got Nerve all right (not always in the best way), and a lowercase charisma because she owns the stage, but off stage she is—or at least is presented as by those editing the footage—the most vile competitor. However, her pageantry is not what I would consider terribly Unique and there has to be more to Talent than just being pretty and fierce on the runway. Basically, there are times when she could be exuding Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent, but instead chooses simply to be the acronym those words make up. I’m hoping Roxxxy gets third runner up.

Alaska Thunderfuck: I love her, with her dry humor and monotone delivery as well as her quirky and macabre-meets-heiress aesthetic. She deserves to win, I just hope if she does, it’s for the right reasons. All throughout the season, she fought to get out of Sharon’s shadow, divorce herself from the Rolaskatox clique (both of which I think she did flawlessly), and be her own queen. Because her boyfriend won the crown last season, part of me feels like the only reason they brought her on the show was to see how that played out, instead of casting her based on her own merit. Every time she was declared safe in a competition she didn’t do that well in, I couldn’t help but wonder if they kept her on just so the possibility of a Royal Couple could stay alive. On her own convictions, she has every right to the crown, but if she takes it, I won’t be able to shake the feeling it was granted on a novelty factor instead on being granted for her amazing talent. She deserves her own spotlight, and after 4 years of auditioning but not making the cast, she gets on the show immediately after Sharon won. Coincidence? Producers may claim that no, they added Alaska to the cast because she was finally ready, but I’d have a hard time believing them. Alaska as an archetype is not fair to Alaska as a performer, and I just find the whole thing suspect.

Score: She certainly has Charisma, albeit a subtle and dry Charisma, and her Unique style is reminiscent of Sharon’s (they share closet space, after all) but is still her own. Her Talent is obvious, especially noticeable in her perfume ad a few episodes ago, but she could do with a bit more Nerve to really push herself ahead of the other girls. Alaska for runner up.

Jinkx Monsoon: I really only have three words: Jinkx is drag. She has her own style that she adapts to fit the situation but never compromises on what make her who she is, is hilariously funny, and exhibits a foxy cleverness darting out of the corners of her eyes that brings her from being quirky and cute to a cunning and calculated competitor, without stooping to Roxxxy’s level. I loved watching her grow throughout the competition, taking her critiques from judges and contestants alike and finding ways to make any negative comment directed her way into a positive change in her outlook, character, and style. When it comes to the work room drama, Jinkx is not afraid to stand up for herself and her style of drag even when cornered by Rolaskatox, while maintaining composure and class and never losing her head. Her motto “water off a duck’s back” are definitely words to live by, especially in a culture that can be as cruel and back-stabbing as drag, and she is proof that conviction of one’s own self-identiy can prevail over a mainstream ideal of what someone should be. Jinkx, to me, is not only the epitome of what drag is, and should be, but also teaches us how to be the best human being we can possibly be.

Score: Jinkx has Charisma up the wazoo (I mean, did you see her lip sync last week?) and no one can argue that Jinkx isn’t Unique. Her Nerve comes through her risky choices, sacrificing a positive review if she feels it will come at the expense of who she is. And if you’ve ever heard Jinkx sing, you will know there is no questioning her level of Talent. Jinkx should be taking that crown home.

As a bonus, let’s talk Ms. Congeniality. In past seasons, the winner of this title have made it to the Top Five. This year, I’d really like to see the title go to Honey Mahogany, not just for representing the San Francisco Bay Area, but because I felt like we just didn’t get to see enough of what she had to offer. I’ll admit, despite both living in San Francisco, I didn’t know who she was before she went on Drag Race (sorry Honey) but I’ve seen her since when I can tolerate being out late enough on a Monday night to catch her hosting the airing, and she is simply amazing: gorgeous, funny, has enough of an ego to stand up in the drag community but enough humility to remain relatable. I honestly believe she could have brought a lot more to the competition (if you saw her outfit at the New Now Next awards, you’d know what I mean) and really would like to see that sash around her elegant shoulders.

So folks, that’s it. In two weeks we’ll find out who takes the crown home. Please vote for your favorites through whatever social media platforms you prefer. Team Jinx for the win!

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  1. You are right on! I am like you: not into reality TV, love RPDR, and this is the first season I have seen as it aired and the suspense is KILLING me. I am also a Jinkx lover and have had the pleasure of seeing her perform both as “Angel” in RENT and as “Hedwig.” She’s amazing.

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