Somehow I missed the first three seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” during their television run. But the show found its way to me thanks to the magic of Netflix live streaming. Now that I’ve watched all three seasons consecutively, I think this reality TV diamond in the rough may be my most favoritest of all time. Why? Well, obviously because drag queens are fabulous. They are talented, creative, and courageous lady boys who can turn feathers into gold. And that RuPaul Charles! Dammit! I knew she was a Cover Girl, but I didn’t know she was the most inspiring human being to ever host a television show. She’s everything Tyra Banks wishes she could be on “ANTM.” Yes, I walk away from every episode having learned how to properly contour a jaw line or bedazzle a butt cheek, but I also leave with glittering hunks of wisdom. After the jump, important life lessons I’ve learned from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” You’d better work, bitch!
1. If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen up in here? Yes, you can, Ru. Every episode of “Drag Race” ends with Ru reciting this line, a not-so-subtle reminder that self-love is the foundation upon which all other love blooms. AMEN! It seems simple, but that s**t is deep. Think about it …
2. Being a Queen is all about class. It doesn’t matter who you were or where you came from, what matters is how you wear that gown, honey. Any old Joe can slap on a wig and become Jane, but you need class to be a Queen. You don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need a credit card to ride this train. But you do need to carry yourself with poise and conduct yourself with dignity.
3. Pop culture knowledge is important and valuable. You may have noticed my subtle reference to Huey Lewis & the News’ song “Power of Love” in my last bullet point. Gold star if you knew that it was the theme song for “Back to the Future.” I did! I also know every lyric from the movie “Annie.” “Useless!” you may say. But this kind of pop culture knowledge is invaluable to a Queen. Not to mention it makes you one hell of a “reader.”
4. Throwing shade can be a form of affection. Throwing shade, or “reading,” as it’s known in the drag world, is basically an advanced form of trash-talking, which requires great wit if you intend not to get your wig ripped off by an angry Queen. It sounds mean, but it’s actually kind of a catty-cool way of releasing tension between bitches. You find a Queen’s weakness and publicly call her out on it in a funny way. Yay for being passive-aggressive to someone’s face. Biological women take note. This may be a more fun and effective way of airing grievances.
5. When you’re down and out, there’s nothing a good lip synch can’t fix. Lip synching is good for the soul. As is dancing. If you’re feeling like crap, the fastest way to turn your mood around is to put on a Cher song and belt that bitch out in front of your mirror. Do you believe in life after love? Yes, yes I do.
6. Charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent are all you need to be a success. RuPaul reminds us that these are the most important qualities a Queen can have. WORD.
7. When you say goodbye, always do it with lipstick on a mirror. Whenever a girl “sashays away” from the show, she leaves an inspirational goodbye message on a mirror in her signature shade of lipstick. Something like, “Live, laugh, love! XO Ami” (written in Poppy King). Such a dramatic way to make an exit and ensure that no one forgets your ass. You’d better believe I am going to start doing this when I leave a dude’s place.
8. A dark night of the soul adds depth of character. Many a Queen has suffered through a tough time. But these dark nights of the soul only make a Queen stronger. A couple of my favorite girls, Pandora Boxx and Ongina, were brave enough to open up about their “dark nights” on the show. Yes, I needed an entire box of tissues because I related to the struggle. I have had my own dark night of the soul and I consider it my defining moment as a woman. It only makes you a deeper Queen in the end.
9. It’s easy to open up over Tic Tacs. Lunch is overrated. When you want to get real, do it over Tic Tacs, the one and half calorie breath mint. Before each finale, Ru invites the three remaining Queens to sit down over Tic Tacs. This is when they share any painful stories from their past that we might not have heard about, Ru comforts with platitudes, and nobody emotionally eats. Wonderful!
10. Your mother can be chosen. Not all of us are born with supportive mothers or mothers who can meet our unique needs. Drag Queens are taught all the tricks of the trade (like peen tucking) by a more experienced Queen known as their Drag Mother. Sometimes a Drag Mother can be more present than a biological mother, as many young Queens are disowned when they come out as lady boys. I like this concept of choosing mothers to fill the gaps that your own mother can’t. Mentorship is important in the making of a Queen.
11. Expectations lead to resentment; when you let people be themselves they can blossom in relationships. Ru said this over Tic Tacs with one of her Queens and it got me thinking about how my expectations have an effect on other people in my life. Everyone wants to feel like they can be themselves in any given situation. I know that is exceedingly important to me when I’m opening up to a new person or getting closer with a person I already know. Everyone wants to be seen for who they really are without feeling like they should be doing something else to fulfill another person’s expectations. This pressure to live up to some idea or ideal makes us feel less ourselves. I am going to attempt to be mindful of this concept in my romantic relationships, friendships, and with family.
12. Every lady needs a good Pit Crew sometimes. Perhaps the most stimulating part of “Drag Race” are the bits with the Pit Crew — two hot, greased up male models in their undies. They act as living props for the Queens in photo shoots and other challenges. Pit boys never say anything, they just dance and serve as eye candy. Their sole purpose on the show is to make the Queens feel sexy and adored. We all need that sometimes … just some men to make us feel sexy.