"Liberal, Pretty, and Pro-Titty"
January 6, 2012 2:23 PM   Subscribe

GOOGLE RUPAUL. Drag superstar RuPaul (whose reality show "RuPaul's Drag Race" returns later this month) has enjoyed piles of free publicity thanks to name association with presidential canditate Ron Paul (NY Times).

The drag artist has dabbled in politics before, posing as both Obamas for a 2008 Christmas card. According to RuPaul (as explained to Arsenio Hall in 1993), the most powerful thing a citizen can do is "become the image of your own imagination."

Some background on drag as an art form: The 1990 documentary "Paris is Burning," presented it as a natural byproduct of marginalization and oppression, enabling poor black people to explore both male and female roles of a culture which invited them to observe but never truly participate.

An incredibly diverse art form in its own right, drag reminds us that gender is a performance, and identity an illusion. These performances may comment or play on sex and gender stereotypes, or pay sincere tribute to female icons. Some are purely creatures of sexual fantasy. Some are raunchy clowns. Some are performance artists, dancers, spokespersons, activitsts, you name it. There are many drag kings and faux queens as well; everyone is welcome to the table.
posted by hermitosis (35 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
RuPaul was on NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me a few months back, and summed it up pretty well:

...every time I bat my false eyelashes, it's a political statement, you know. I started out in rock bands, and this is during the reggae 80s and we were trying to be just outrageous. So drag became this thing, the last taboo in our culture, so we started doing it.
posted by dismas at 2:32 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should have mentioned that the title of the post is taken from a mock-up campaign bumper sticker that has been making the rounds on Tumblr etc.
posted by hermitosis at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow that NYTimes link is old. How did I know it was old? It compared RuPaul's and Ron Paul's MYSPACE FRIENDS.
posted by tittergrrl at 2:41 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The drag artist has dabbled in politics before, posing as both Obamas for a 2008 Christmas card.

He does a much better Michelle.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ru's take on Sarah Palin, Going Vogue, is still a fave.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:46 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow that NYTimes link is old. How did I know it was old?

It contained accurate information?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:54 PM on January 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I just love RuPaul.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:03 PM on January 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Support the only candidate that will take us back to the diamond standard!
posted by daniel striped tiger at 3:11 PM on January 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would so vote for RuPaul.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:20 PM on January 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


As an aside, I would kill for a drag queen to teach me how to glam myself up. Glam is not a skill set I possess.
posted by dejah420 at 3:20 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


RuPaul/Hermitosis in 2012!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:26 PM on January 6, 2012


What, no links to photo manipulations of Ron Paul in drag?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:26 PM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Missing RuPaul and Larry Tee's yard sale, when they moved to New York: what the hell was I thinking? Youth is wasted on the young. I was probably in bed, hungover.
posted by thelonius at 3:28 PM on January 6, 2012


As an aside, I would kill for a drag queen to teach me how to glam myself up. Glam is not a skill set I possess.

That's exactly what RuPaul's show RuPaul's Drag U is all about. Taking women who need a glamazon style boost and getting fabulous queens to show them how to become their inner divas. It's hilarious fun, but I'm unsure of the application process.
posted by xingcat at 3:32 PM on January 6, 2012


There are a bunch of tutorials on YouTube, but in those cases the queens are showing how they put their makeup on themselves, and considering how different people's facial features can be, you probably wouldn't want to just copy them.
posted by hermitosis at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2012


Whoever owns the empty lot around the corner from my house is a huge Ron Paul fan*, and in 2008 I spent the whole primary season, every time I walked past the 4 foot tall Ron Paul sign, daydreaming about coming back in the middle of the night and repainting it to say "RuPaul 2008"....

This year I'd need a ladder to get to the (hand-made!) sign, alas.

* Or generally right-wing; they had a big sign in 2004 for GWB, and have had signs for WA state governor candidates. Their McCain sign was pretty lackluster, though, which seemed indicative of something or other.
posted by epersonae at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2012


So - for me to get popular, I just need to change my stage name to something like... Ru Santorum?
posted by symbioid at 3:46 PM on January 6, 2012


What, no links to photo manipulations of Ron Paul in drag?

I so did not need to see that.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:10 PM on January 6, 2012


So - for me to get popular, I just need to change my stage name to something like... Ru Santorum?

Oh, you'll rue it alright.

I'll see myself out...
posted by joe lisboa at 4:57 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


One day, I will not be in drag. Most of my clothes are drag, a costume I put on to play a part. At least I go for comfort most of the time, so it's not corsets and tucking, and I find my Republican voting outfit a hoot, but i hope to love and express myself through my clothes again, someday, when I have the money and the freedom.
posted by provoliminal at 5:00 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, I spent a not insignificant portion of the wee hours of this morning in that fabulous part of Youtube again, and Tranny Chaser (featured in the second episode of Season 2 of Drag Race) has been stuck in my head all day.

I LOVE Drag Race, and yes, spend not insignificant portions the wee hours of many mornings (when I am not watching videos of old school hip-hop, Humbolt squid, or cartoons) watching videos of former contestants(some links NSFW):
Tammie Brown

Manila Luzon
Pandora Boxx
Ongina

Bebe Zahara Benet
Sahara Davenport
Raja

And of course:
Nina Flowers


There are more, but you get the idea.

Oh, and I want to be a drag queen when I grow up. My drag name is Christina Christopher Dammit.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:33 PM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Brown
posted by louche mustachio at 6:35 PM on January 6, 2012


I suspect this is what I was going to say anyways.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:41 PM on January 6, 2012


Sometimes I think I am the only person that thinks that drag performance, in general, gets in the way of the ability of MTF transgenders to be perceived as ... well, as anything other than drag performers.

Slight derail, I guess.
posted by andreaazure at 7:41 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


andreaazure, have you ever heard a MTF person express this view?
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 8:02 PM on January 6, 2012


Actually, I hear clueless homophobes logic that homosexuals are just transgendered, because this makes sense to them and their clearly gender roled world view.
Meanwhile, I suspect most all homophobes of being in fierce denial.
posted by provoliminal at 8:50 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amusing, RuPaul pulled off Sarah Palin fairly well, better than either Obama, but Palin gets spoofed lots.

"They made a porn movie about Sarah Palin and the same actress, Lisa Ann, played me in the porn version of 30 Rock. Weirdly, of the three of us, Lisa Ann knows the most about foreign policy." -Tina Fey
posted by jeffburdges at 9:32 PM on January 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have more than once had to break it down, usually in rantier fashion:

Drag - Drag is when one presents as a different gender for the sake of performance or entertainment. Usually, it refers to a man dressing as a woman, but can also refer to drag kings (women who dress as men) or genderfuck (those who purposefully blur the lines between genders.) RuPaul is a drag queen, and generally lives his day-to-day life as a man. He only dresses as a woman when he performs.

Transvestite - A man who dresses in women's clothing or, more rarely, entirely as a woman for the purpose of sexual fulfillment, or simply because he enjoys dressing as a woman for personal reasons unrelated to gender dysphoria. Contrary to popular belief, transvestites are usually heterosexual males. Though this preference may sometimes be displayed in public (a la Eddie Izzard) it is not for the sake of performance.

Transsexual - A person who genuinely identifies as a gender that is not their biological sex. A MTF transsexual, for instance, would be someone that truly feels "born in the wrong body" and might seek hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery in order to correct this. A transperson truly needs to live as a different gender - it is not a performance, like drag, or a temporary thing, like tranvestism.

As to whether drag keeps transwomen from being perceived as people living their day-to-day lives as their proper gender: It might, but only because people are misinformed and tend to be fearful of anything that falls outside gender norms, so it all kind of blurs together for them. (These are the folks that call transpeople "it." So rude and hateful.) I would not place the blame at the fabulously-shod feet of drag.

Actually, I hear clueless homophobes logic that homosexuals are just transgendered, because this makes sense to them and their clearly gender roled world view.



Nowhere have I seen this view more vividly realized than in a 1988 shot directly on Super-8 low budget film called Curse of the Queerwolf I honestly couldn't tell if it was a wry lampoon of straight men's misperceptions of gay men, or if it was just insanely homophobic. (Either way, it was pretty bad.)
posted by louche mustachio at 9:42 PM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I think I am the only person that thinks that drag performance, in general, gets in the way of the ability of MTF transgenders to be perceived as ... well, as anything other than drag performers.

Slight derail, I guess.

posted by andreaazure at 7:41 PM on January 6 [+] [!]

It can make it harder to come out and explain just what it is you're coming out as and how it's different. However, faulty preconceptions can help keep you safe if you have the luxury of keeping a low profile.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here's a rather tongue-in-cheek and NSFW take on the question (alas, performed by a straight male actor, but sometimes you take what you can get)
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:14 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly couldn't tell if it was a wry lampoon of straight men's misperceptions of gay men, or if it was just insanely homophobic. (Either way, it was pretty bad.)

So much lost potential...
posted by mikelieman at 1:52 AM on January 7, 2012


Nowhere have I seen this view more vividly realized than in a 1988 shot directly on Super-8 low budget film called Curse of the Queerwolf

holy crap what is that
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 AM on January 7, 2012


RuPaul's newsletters—now those I can get behind.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 12:38 PM on January 7, 2012


One of my neighbors has RonPaul2012 as their wifi network name; we have changed ours to RuPaul2012 in response. Thanks, metafilter!
posted by NoraReed at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ok, if someone knows the answer, fill me in: what do you call a trans performer? I'm from back in the day when Lady Bunny was hugging me while dancing on a cube at MK's. Meanwhile, I caught a show last Saturday where at least a third of the girls had breasts and were working for tips like strippers. Is this what drag is now, or is it a Midwestern thing? Color me confused. Is this men so into performing they will have surgery or trans performance? No one gay in the crowd seemed to know beyond random guessing that made no sense, and for some reason, it was unusually swamped with straight identified people. (Identified, I say, but oh how I could go on.)
posted by provoliminal at 12:00 PM on January 9, 2012


What if RuPaul moderated a Republican debate?
posted by hermitosis at 2:22 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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