Everything You Need to Know About RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

Start your engines for Drag Race Down Under: here’s everything you need to know

Everything You Need to Know About RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

When RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered in 2009, with all the budget of your local drag night and a filter so blurry you could be watching on from the smoker’s section, it hardly seemed destined for greatness.

But with 13 seasons under its belt, 19 Emmy awards, a whole batch of spin-offs and legions of fans, it’s become a legitimate media empire.

And with this week’s premiere of local iteration, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, it’s now Australia and New Zealand’s turn.

How Drag Race works

Each season, a crop of drag artists compete in a variety of challenges to be crowned the “next drag superstar”. They have to be able to act, strut the runway, paint their faces beautifully, lip-sync, improvise, perform standup and sew – although there’s guaranteed to be one queen who has never touched a sewing machine and has to do their best with a hot-glue gun.

One of the most popular challenges is Snatch Game – a spoof of Match Game (known in Australia as Blankety Blanks) – in which contestants have to impersonate celebrities or characters. (Surprisingly, Tayce from season two of Drag Race UK beat Australian queens to a Kath & Kim moment.)

There are also scripted acting challenges spoofing different TV shows, runway challenges where glamorous outfits must be created everyday materials, makeover challenges, and challenges in the art of “reading”.

Each week, two contestants wind up in the bottom and have to fight for their place in the competition. How do you survive a Drag Race elimination? You have to lip-sync for your life.

The lip-syncs can be deeply moving, absurdly funny, acrobatic AF, heartwarming, or just plain fierce.

Down Under is the latest edition of a global phenomenon

In addition to the original series and an All Stars edition, there are several international spin-offs of Drag Race, including in Thailand, Canada, Holland, Chile, and a forthcoming Spanish version.

American drag veteran (and now Emmy award-winning host) RuPaul has so far only hosted the original series and the UK series, but will head up the local version, filmed earlier this year in New Zealand. RuPaul is joined on the judging panel by sidekick Michelle Visage (a charismatic tough-love judge with a heart of gold) and Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson.

For this edition, the 10 contestants were drawn from across Australia and New Zealand, and range from rising star Etcetera Etcetera to drag veterans including Kita Mean and Maxi Shield.

Drag Race has launched a thousand memes

Chances are you’re already familiar with some of Drag Race’s queens. Their cultural reach extends well beyond the series: former contestants have performed alongside mainstream popstars such as Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. (Cyrus is one of Drag Race’s many high profile devotees – last year she had the perfect clapback to Joe Rogan when he criticised the show’s queens.)

And countless memes have been made. We have season seven contestant Jasmine Masters to thank for the world’s most used gif of 2019, “and I oop”. And if you’ve ever heard your gay friends forlornly repeating “Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie” upon exiting a room, that’s season 10’s Vanessa Vanjie Matteo.

Drag Race Down Under will have a truly local flavour

Every international edition of Drag Race has embraced the culture – both high and low – of its host nations. The Drag Race Down Under trailer already reveals glimpses of road signs featuring local fauna, a “Perth-onality” pun, and RuPaul’s famous workroom greeting has switched from “hello, hello, hello” to “g’day, g’day, g’day”.

Nicholson will be on hand every episode to translate local references for his fellow judges – although RuPaul, married to an Australian, already has a strong affection for our culture – and you can pretty much guarantee a Neighbours or Home & Away spoof.

The first guest judges for the series have also been revealed: Taika Waititi and both Minogue sisters. After the US version did Night of a Thousand Madonnas as a runway challenge, a Night of a Thousand Kylies seems inevitable.

Down Under has already attracted controversy

Perth contestant Scarlet Adams came under fire in March after images emerged of her performing in blackface in 2012 (she has apologised), while it was revealed online that Melbourne contestant Karen from Finance once had a tattoo of golliwog dolls (she has also apologised).

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It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the show deals with these issues. It’s not the first time a contestant has faced accusations related to past behaviour.

And political questions about racism, transphobia and other forms of bigotry frequently come up on the show, which has been criticised for excluding trans performers and using transphobic language.

Some progress appears to have been made with the just-aired season 13, which featured contestant Gottmik: a trans man and a fan favourite.

It pays to know your herstory

Drag Race is packed with inside jokes from former seasons; catchphrases, gags, memorable characters. There’s still plenty to enjoy if you don’t know why “Porkchop” comes up over and over again, the significance of entering purse first, or why “drag is not a contact sport”, but there’s a lot that will go straight over your head.

If you want a quick schooling in Drag Race herstory, seasons four through seven are probably the most influential. If you have time for just one, season five is where it really hit its stride.

But Drag Race Down Under will probably stand on its own two feet, and develop its own mythology and characters. So you can confidently jump straight in.

  • Drag Race Down Under premieres Saturday 1 May on Stan

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Источник: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/apr/30/start-your-engines-for-drag-race-down-under-heres-everything-you-need-to-know

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