|With RuPaul looming overhead on the giant promotional billboard above The Castro, columnist Pollo Del Mar hosted the RuPaulâ€™s Drag Race Season 2 kick-off party at Lookout, Mon., Feb. 1. She returns every Monday during the showâ€™s run. PHOTO BY MARQUIS
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
With its greatly increased budget, that horrific blurred effect on RuPaulâ€™s face noticeably absent, a cast expanded from nine contestants to 12 and bigger-name celebrity judges â€“ not to mention more drama than even the one-hour episodes can contain â€“ RuPaulâ€™s Drag Race, Season 2, is off and running! All that aside, though, itâ€™s still hard to watch the popular LOGO reality series without wondering how our own, home-grown talent would have held up against this latest crop of girls.
Secretly I was a bit crushed last summer when, after weeks of intense internet voting, I was not chosen as a contestant. Obviously, I was not alone. None of the other local aspirants made the cut either, unfortunately. I took it particularly hard, though, as it was one of the rare occasions where I set my mind on a goal and didnâ€™t achieve it.
Of course, whether or not I made the cut was something well beyond my control and was strictly in the hands of LOGO casting agents. However, what I left that cyber-competition feeling proud of, as I chronicled in this column, was the tremendous outpouring of love and support from our community, which cast more than 30,000 votes cast in my favor. It was enough to place me in the nationâ€™s Top 30 â€“ ahead of literally thousands of other performers from across the country â€” and rank me at the top of San Franciscooâ€™s hopefuls.
With that in mind, watching the girls LOGO did select is proving to be a very interesting experience indeed! As the cast paraded onto the screen during the opening moments of the Season 2 premiere, which I watched enthusiastically with a packed house at Lookout, where I hosted (and will continue to host throughout the showâ€™s run) the LOGO-sponsored official San Francisco viewing party, I couldnâ€™t help but judge each.
Most are fairly pretty, and as we saw in the â€śLip Synch for Your Lifeâ€ť finale, even the first episodeâ€™s bottom two are extremely good performers. Some certainly seem to have a bit more Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent than others, but overall Iâ€™d say itâ€™s a strong batch of contenders vying to be named â€śAmericaâ€™s Next Top Drag Superstar.â€ť Still, would it have killed the show to cast some girls a bit more out-of-the-box?
Generally speaking, I found it hard to tell half the queens apart. Aside from wig colors â€“ â€śWhoâ€™s that one with the red hair again?â€ť I found myself asking over and over â€“ the majority seemed to be chiseled from the same mold. I hesitate to say â€ścookie cutter,â€ť but the term certainly did come to mind. (Many also looked â€śmannish,â€ť in my opinion, but I wonâ€™t hold that against themâ€¦especially since I struggle all-too-often with that myself in the wrong lighting!)
Still, with the exception of Bedford, TX, native Mystique Summers Madison and Raven from Riverside, CA, who aside from being plus-sized and pierced respectively still fit the showâ€™s visual precedent, most of these manorexic beauties look to be cut from the same cloth! Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it does nothing to accentuate the full spectrum of drag that Iâ€™ve come to know and love so intimately here in the Bay Area.
From glamour queens Ginger Snap and Mercedez Munro, camp connoisseurs Diva Dan and Landa Lakes, and more activism-oriented personalities like Anna Conda and myself, San Francisco more than any other city Iâ€™ve ever known in the U.S. has an incredible array of insanely talented entertainers. Why none of these performers, most of whom auditioned through the showâ€™s website, werenâ€™t chosen is beyond me. Perhaps itâ€™s because we also tend to be low-drama?
Last season, RuPaul said the showâ€™s goal was reintroducing drag to the world. As a result, casting agents gravitated toward more â€śtraditionalâ€ť types of performers (think Las Vegas showgirl Shannel and ultimate winner Bebe â€śZaharaâ€ť Benet). However, during a telephone interview last month, RuPaul told me this year the emphasis was on casting a show that would be entertaining to watch â€“ translation: filled with over-the-top antics, tantrums and juicy behind-the-scenes bitchfights.
The casting crew certainly got their wish. During the Untucked special which followed the season premiere, the overly-aggressive Morgan McMichaels and Mystique went toe-to-toe, stopping just short of a sure-to-be-talked-about catfight. And thatâ€™s just the first episode! RuPaul promises the drama only gets more intense as the competition gets tougher, the stakes get higher and queensâ€™ true personalities come to the surface.
My biggest hope is that these girls do start to show some personality, because that is what seemed most lacking among the contestants so far. While some are unquestionably gorgeous, and others are wildly talented, I want to root for someone who is on the show with a purpose other than to simply be the most ruthless competitor or to get her name in lights. Those are both among the worst stereotypes of what drag queens are, and Iâ€™d absolutely hate to see either trait rewarded on a show intended to â€śreintroduce dragâ€ť to audiences worldwide.
Is it so wrong to think â€śAmericaâ€™s Next Top Drag Superstarâ€ť should be a girl who can hold an audience during performances, wants to make a difference in her community, raise money for those in need and still looks good doing it â€“ all while being a nice person? These are collectively things my friends here in San Francisco accomplish with ease.
In fairness to those competing, itâ€™s only been one episode. As this season of Drag Race unfolds, perhaps one â€“ or more â€“ of the remaining eleven contestants will display a similar flair. Should they do so, and it proves successful for them, itâ€™s entirely possible to think one of our own might do very well indeed if cast on the show.
And maybe in Season 3, we finally wonâ€™t have to wonder at all.
Follow â€śThe Glamazonâ€ť at Facebook.com/PolloDelMar or Twitter.com/TheGlamazonPDM. Email her direct at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.