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Cox Models and Drag Queens
March 14, 2013 3:53 PM   Subscribe

A survival analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Alex Hanna and colleagues at the social science statistics blog Bad Hessian have analyzed the past 4.3 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race using Cox proportional hazards regression to investigate what -- other than Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent -- predicts a Queen's survival. Complete with downloadable data, succinct explanations, and relevant R code, it's an eleganza extravaganza of survival analysis.
posted by Westringia F. (43 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the best post. The best post.

I fucking love statistics, yay for including the R scripts!
posted by Blasdelb at 4:08 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Internet allows me to fall in love with people in such interesting and unexpected ways.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:08 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


This season's distribution has sadly been a bit too normal, but with this link my hopes for Jinkx making it to the final three have been bolstered with a bigger p-value.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jinkx's Little Edie was SUBLIME. They should have handed her the crown and called it a season right then and there.
posted by scody at 4:12 PM on March 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Alex Hanna is awesome. #statsnerdsunite
posted by k8t at 4:14 PM on March 14, 2013


Well, I will have to install R under *nix later and look at pretty graphs.
posted by Samizdata at 4:14 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


A good friend is an epidemiologist and RuPaul afficionado. If only this post integrated pugs it would be his personal trifecta.
posted by docgonzo at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Awesome! Now I don't have to write this post.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:28 PM on March 14, 2013


As an involuntary watcher of this series by proxy, I'm simply looking for a guide on "how to suppress the urge to throw things" every time RuPaul says:

"Iveeeeeee Winterrrrrrrz!"
posted by ShutterBun at 4:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You forgot to say UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN PH.D. STUDENT Alex Hanna. We Badgers gotta stick together.
posted by escabeche at 4:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I could NOT sleep last night, and used my hours lying awake in bed cataloging all the celebrities the queens should impersonate during the Snatch Game and mysteriously never do. Like, when are these ladies going to realize you have to pick someone with a notorious offstage / offscreen personality, not just a recognizable performer? My list was Kathy Griffin, Ann Coulter, Joan Rivers, Jennifer Lawrence, Kristin Stewart, and someone else I can't remember.
posted by KathrynT at 4:32 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"someone else I can't remember" doesn't sound like a great choice
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:46 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


it was like three am ok?
posted by KathrynT at 4:48 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was Bjork, right? I mean, how can they be 5 seasons in and not have done the woman wearing a swan dress?
posted by bookwo3107 at 4:54 PM on March 14, 2013


I mean, how can they be 5 seasons in and not have done the woman wearing a swan dress?

DO NOT MOCK THE SWAN DRESS!

Seriously, that was the best outfit ever seen at the Oscars. And the bewilderment of the hosts when they were all like "where did this cme from?" And Bjork was all "a friend made it."

Yes, it was the best!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:00 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bjork would be HILARIOUS on Snatch Game. Show up in the swan dress, and just be completely incomprehensible the entire time.
posted by KathrynT at 5:06 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's it. I'm shaving my legs and going wig-shopping now.
posted by bookwo3107 at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Covariates schmovariates, there is no way Alyssa is winning this and Roxxxy is making top three.
While Alyssa has become the accidentally comedy doofus darling to some, both she and Box o' Rox exhibit the kind of dimness one laughs at, not with. I do not get the Roxappeal.

Bring on Rupaul's School for Girls!

All these bitches need to step it up, and I really need to stop watching it so much because my hair and makeup are out of control. Three shades of eyeliner is madness and it stops now.
posted by provoliminal at 6:06 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


1. Jinkx
2. Alaska
3. Detox

I don't care about the rest. Ivy, Roxxxy, and Alyssa are boring. And while I like Miss Coco, I want to see her gone because I am ssoooooo bored with the mysterious beef between her and Alyssa and I want them to shut the hell up about it already.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:35 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was glad to see the demise of RoLaskaTox and watch them pit it out against each other in the roast. I wish there was a full version of the roast available somewhere.
posted by msbutah at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2013


Ivy should be on Project Runway. That dress made of photographs was awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:40 PM on March 14, 2013


Logo has the full episodes online. That's how I have to watch them because I don't believe in cable TV and damn if nobody has RPDR torrents.

And Ivy totally should be on PR and not on RPDR because she's got no damn personality.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:43 PM on March 14, 2013


I wish I still taught Stats, because I would love to use "Big P-Value" as my rap name.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to see her gone because I am ssoooooo bored with the mysterious beef between her and Alyssa and I want them to shut the hell up about it already.

You can get an amen! I was so happy when Roxxy called them out about it on the last episode of Untucked. Just GET PAST IT already, we are all bored to tears.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:45 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I have to question the choice of model. Don't drag queens usually tuck their Cox?
posted by benito.strauss at 6:47 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


As someone who 1) left grad school a year ago 2) discovered a fascination with quantitative analysis in that short time and 3) watched Drag Race then because it both reminded me of home and was total escapism? Oh, this post stay. Flags, shasay away.

And now: to really read this post to see if I remember enough about constructing a survival analysis model to have an opinion beyond "geek win."

Once saw a moving van from a firm called "R-squared" outside the lecture hall on my way to class. Tried to figure out what possible variance they were claiming to have captured: moving van space? Failed, but my stats partner & I laughed.
posted by smirkette at 6:55 PM on March 14, 2013


I infinitely prefer "Ivyyyyy Wiiiiiinters" to Alaska's "Hiyeee".





Byeeee.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:56 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh lord, how has no one done Bjork on the Snatch Game?

Also why don't some of these girls realize that you need to pick a character, not someone that is just pretty or interesting to look at (Beyonce, Lady Gaga, JLo, etc).

I wanna see people get weird on the Snatch Game--go for crazy Sharon Stone, Dr. Ruth, Zsa Zsa Gabor. I wanna see someone pull out a medicated Liza.

Speaking of Liza, would she be the best guest judge ever, or what?
posted by inertia at 8:10 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Logo has the full episodes online. That's how I have to watch them because I don't believe in cable TV and damn if nobody has RPDR torrents.

Oh wow, I had no idea. And here I was skimming through the article to avoid season 5 spoilers. Yay I don't have to wait for it to show up on Netflix!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:21 PM on March 14, 2013



I was just all, "Oh, cool! I'm going to subscribe to this new [to me] blog on google reader!" and then I was all, :(

posted by latkes at 10:22 PM on March 14, 2013


I haven't been keeping up with this season because it's too tragic to watch alone. My queendom for screenings at a local gay bar!!

(No, I'm not making my boyfriend be my DD all the way to Palm Springs. There are limits.)
posted by Space Kitty at 11:23 PM on March 14, 2013


And here I thought Shawn and Jason were the Cox models.


(Yeah, let's just go ahead and assume those are NSFW, though they are technically not entirely nekkid.)


Here are links to the season so far on Logo, because I hate your free time so much:

1. RuPollywood or Bust - Untucked1

2. Lip Synch Extravaganza - Untucked2

3. Draggle Rock - Untucked 3

4. Black Swan (Why It Gotta Be Black?) - Untucked 4

5. The Snatch Game- Untucked 5

6. Can I Get An Amen? - Untucked 6

7. RuPaul Roast- Untucked 7

Excellent article from Ebony - Why RuPaul Matters

I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH. I have watched it since the very first episode (because a drag queen reality show hosted by RuPaul sounded like pretty much the pinnacle of the art form.) My expectations were met, exceeded, and subverted all at once.

So I have some thoughts on this. I like the idea of using models, but, unlike baseball, reality shows are scripted and edited in such a way that they aren't necessarily a good way to predict performance. Also bear in mind that the show has gone through a significant amount of evolution since the first season, and this season is already quite a bit different from Season 4. Five seasons doesn't exactly give us that much history to work with, either.



*THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS VERY SPOILERY IF YOU AREN'T CAUGHT UP* PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION*

I can make a few predictions based on the highly scripted nature of this season:

I predict that Alyssa and Coco will have to lip synch against each other at some point because D.R.A.M.A. but I cannot predict the victor. To advance the narrative, I would say it would have to be Alyssa, but CoCo is a ferocious beast, and if Alyssa underperforms in any way I can easily see Coco breaking the model and prevailing in a third LSFYL. My guess is that it will be set up with a song that is more Alyssa's style (we have already seen that set-up - no way was Penny Tration going to prevail with a Hannah Montana song, and nobody was going to beat Monica at Rhianna - this is one of those "changes" that I mentioned upthread.)

I also predict that Detox and Roxxxy (who are falling in LUV) will have to lip-synch. I easily give that one to Roxxxy - Detox has been coasting all season, and has underperformed in three challenges (The Snatch Game, Can I Get an Amen, and the roast) that she should have aced. Also, she has an idiosyncratic lip-synch style, a "signature walk" if you will, that she has already used, and nobody is going to put up with that a second time. Detox walked in a favorite to win, and just assumed it would be handed to her ("Eat it up and crown it, you're welcome") and it seems she's kind of just stopped trying and gotten really sloppy, flaling and flopping around like a silicone muppet from the Uncanny Valley, effenheimers dribbling from her flubbery maw. The runway breakdown last episode all but guaranteed that Roxxxy will make it to the final 3.

Thirdly, it pains me to say that I predict that either Alaska or Jinkx is facing an appallingly premature elimination. This is terrible and pains my heart, because they are easily the funniest and most complex queens on the show. I will cry for real.

Alaska's confessionals are amazing ("Chaz Bono came out of Cher's vagina!") but the unfair negative comparison to Sharon has cast a long, dark shadow over her. She walked in that door without a chance in Hell of winning, and that's a shame, because, though her character isn't as easy to immediately grasp as Sharon's, it is far more developed and nuanced than she is getting credit for. She really should have won the roast challenge.

Jinkx is incredibly gifted as an entertainer, but she isn't a glamour queen at all, and one of the most infuriating things about the show is that it places a wildly disproportionate value on fashion. There is an art to the illusion, to be certain, but it doesn't charm me. Add to that the fact that the people judging these queens are Michelle "Boobs4Queens" Visage and Santino"I want them to look like deers in the face" Rice who...uh, yeah. She is further hamstrung by the fact that the show seems to have a severe allergy to camp and character queens, and that means we might have us an awful, awful sad.

My ideal final three would be

3. Alyssa
2. Alaska
1. Jinkx


My guess at the real final three?

Alyssa, Jinkx (or Alaska, most likely Jinkx) and Roxxxy. I don't want to extrapolate the winner from those three.


I am not using any mathematical model, just basing this on watching the whole series several times. Though really:

I have consulted with our judges, my lawyer, and my housekeeper, but the final decision is mine alone.

- RuPaul Charles

posted by louche mustachio at 12:24 AM on March 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


louche mustachio, the real question is why have I not found you and married you yet?
posted by xingcat at 7:28 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


For those with an aversion to the phrase "Ivyyyyyyyy Winterrrrrrrs" I think the solution will come along soon enough when she sashays away, as she should have done around Episode 2. Stilts? A dress made of photocopies? Really? Get me my pocketbook, I'm leaving.
posted by creeky at 9:25 AM on March 15, 2013


For those with an aversion to the phrase "Ivyyyyyyyy Winterrrrrrrs" I think the solution will come along soon enough when she sashays away, as she should have done around Episode 2. Stilts? A dress made of photocopies? Really? Get me my pocketbook, I'm leaving.
posted by creeky at 9:25 AM on March 15 [+] [!]


A pineapple dress? A GODDAMNED PINEAPPLE DRESS?!?!?
posted by xingcat at 11:53 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


xingcat, I don't know what you are talking about. THE PINEAPPLE DRESS WAS AMAZING.

ALL HAIL THE PINEAPPLE DRESS
posted by inertia at 12:14 PM on March 15, 2013


You wish you were as good as Manila Luzon. NOBODY ELSE COULD PULL THAT OFF.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:34 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Manila Luzon was robbed in All-Stars, I say. ROBBED.
posted by scody at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's so true. I don't think I have ever seen a queen who can walk the line between camp and glamour like Manila.

I saw an episode of Drag U with Manila, she had a big red wig, white and red striped stockings, and burger earrings. It took me a good three minutes to realize she was dressed as a glamorous Ronald McDonald.
posted by inertia at 12:45 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]



xingcat, I don't know what you are talking about. THE PINEAPPLE DRESS WAS AMAZING.

You don't... he's quoting Mariah's epic "goddamn pineapple dress" rant. SHE WAS SO MAD.


It's hard to say anyone was really robbed on All-Stars, since, like any other All-Stars season, it was set up to give the prize to a previous favorite- in this case Chad Michaels.

At least Manila got to sashay in the most incredible drag ; I was dying for her Seventh Seal realness. That was beautiful. When she entered in this hat, though, I thought there might be a chance the whole thing wasn't a set-up to toss Chad a crown (and Absolut the winner I am pretty sure they wanted for Season 4)

Ivy Winters is very talented, but she's also, well NICE, which is a four letter word if you want a good story arc on reality TV. Her performance record is slightly better than Alaska's- four highs, one win, two lows. That her low scores come so recently indicate that if the next challenge isn't something in her wheelhouse, it might be her time.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:13 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


xingcat, I don't know what you are talking about. THE PINEAPPLE DRESS WAS AMAZING.

You don't... he's quoting Mariah's epic "goddamn pineapple dress" rant. SHE WAS SO MAD.
Indeed!

And once again, louche mustachio proves that we're meant for...something. Perhaps mutual RPDR snark via Twitter.
posted by xingcat at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2013


louche mustachio, the real question is why have I not found you and married you yet?

Oh honey, I'm a mustachio, not a beard.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh damn, I DID totally miss that...

Brb, hanging my head in shame, I'll check my wig at the door.
posted by inertia at 4:37 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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