Winter Is A Drag: A RuPaul’s Drag Race Playlist
Winter got you beat, hunties? One day, the leaves will unfurl, the sun will shine, and we’ll see the return of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8. But right now, I’m trapped in this frigid hellscape of midwestern winter–snow melting to slush, freezing to ice–with no season premiere in sight. Even my favorite faux fur coat can’t keep me warm. I’d much rather obsess over wigs and nails than the tread on my snow boots.
Studies have shown that drag queen music videos can slay those winter blues as effectively as an hour in front of a sun lamp. (Science!) Flop on your couch, watch this carefully curated playlist of drag videos, and tell your January gloom to sashay away. The next time I slip on the icy sidewalk, I’ll just pretend it’s a perfectly executed death drop.
This is my Hair by Alaska Thunderfuck
Best line: “I am naturally a platinum blonde.”
Cameos: LA queens Love Connie and Crystal Powers.
The cinematic intro opens with some soap opera camp: Alaska lounges on a bed, resplendent in a bejeweled gown, while her two dragged-up assistants nervously approach. When one slips and accuses Alaska of having “the crispiest wigs in Hollywood,” she lashes out with her six-inch press-on talons to deliver the song’s thesis statement: “This is my hair. I don’t wear wigs.”
Cue the music: a clubby, vaguely sinister beat overlaid with Alaska’s faux-Eastern European drawl. Somehow, Alaska has hung on to the punk rock edge of her early career while bringing her look and sound to a newly polished level. She wears a crop top with her own face as she dances between two dudes in fetishwear. She writhes and moans through the sexiest haircut in music video history. Her looks span from a sleek brown ponytail and unibrow to long pink locks and milked-out eyes—a mix of alien and cool a la Ziggy Stardust. Right now, she’s cornered the market on being drag’s most effortlessly cool weirdo.
Thick Thighs by Willam Belli
Best line: “Cute face, thick thighs, gonna make a dick rise.”
Cameo: Season 4’s Latrice Royale
On the continuum of songs celebrating big girls, “All About that Bass” sits in the garbage and “Fat Bottomed Girls” reigns supreme. “Thick Thighs” hovers somewhere in the middle–raunchy, hilarious, and weirdly empowering. Sure, you can complain that skinny blonde Willam has no business singing a #fatspo song. But the outrageous chorus is too good to waste on offense, and the decision to feature “chunky-yet-funky, large-and-in-charge” Latrice Royale makes this a must-watch.
The video’s strip club setting isn’t the most original, but it’s certainly effective. Willam carefully balances the stiletto heel between sex and shtick–seductively licking the stripper pole and immediately wincing in disgusted regret. She and Latrice park on a couch, sharing a joint while they watch nearly naked dudes twerk on stage. “It’s a meal, not a snack / let me hear you holla back,” Willam sings, shaking out her pastel rainbow wig and guaranteeing her spot on my Glorifying Obesity playlist.
I Look Fuckin’ Cool by Adore Delano (feat. Alaska Thunderfuck)
Best line: “I’m polish remover.”
Cameos: The previously mentioned Alaska Thunderfuck and Season 1’s Nina Flowers.
The convoluted plot of Adore Delano’s “I Look Fuckin’ Cool” requires a screen of exposition before it even begins. You only really need to know the basics: in a future dystopian state, Adore leads a band of drag rebels. They can only communicate using the gay dating app Jack’d. (You take your sponsors where you can.)
Pursued by totalitarian cops, Adore goes on the run with fellow queens Alaska Thunderfuck and Nina Flowers. The look of this video is pure mugshot chic: cracked phone screens, chain link fences and smeared lipstick.
Adore always makes up for her lack of polish with charm and grit. So often, confidence can be played off as nonchalance, a practiced shrug of the shoulder. Adore reminds me that confidence and can be aggressive, even combative. “I don’t need to try,” she boasts. “I don’t even care who gives a shit. Cause I look fucking cool.” Whisper it to yourself while you stream endless drag videos in your cheetah-print Snuggie.
Love Piñata by Tammie Brown
Best line: “I’m bursted open with sweet candy emotion.”
Cameos: Uhhh, there’s a Michael Jackson impersonator.
In “Love Piñata,” Tammie Brown gives us a fairytale for the ages: a man falls in love with a piñata, and for one magical night, that piñata comes to life. (The title’s a little on the nose.) Tammie calls herself an outsider artist, and her music videos exude a particular low-budget joy. Somehow, the home video quality makes everything even more delightful.
How do you sum up Tammie Brown? Her wacky humor reminds me of PeeWee Herman, The Talking Heads, and the masterfully messy lines of Lynda Barry comics. In Love Piñata she’s completely flat-chested, and her dramatic makeup looks like a boardwalk caricature–intriguing in its exaggerations. There’s nothing self-conscious about Tammie. “I’ll be your love piñata,” she sings as she shuffles around in a short dress and aggressive headband. “Hit me with your love stick, hit me with your love stick if you can.”
In the cold winter months, I take great warmth from the fact that somewhere out there, Tammie Brown is doing her weirdo thing.
Peanut Butter by Rupaul (feat. Big Freedia)
Best lyric: “Must be jelly ’cause jam don’t shake.”
Cameo: Hip-hop and Bounce Music star Big Freedia
Time to bask in the glow of the queen mother herself. How can you even describe RuPaul’s technicolor panic attack of a music video? Ru dances against a neon background, the lyrics flashing in block letters behind her. The enormous blonde afro, the violently pink-and-orange jumpsuit, the staccato burst of the song’s main two words (peanut peanut peanut butter)–it’s a beautiful sensual overload.
There’s something almost innocent about the video, like “Yo Gabba Gabba” plus go-go boys. It overstimulates like a theme park–blinking light and clashing colors and bursts of sound. How does Ru do it? How does she find the perfect mix of things to be so wildly cool? The video reaches its climax with the appearance of Big Freedia, queen diva, in white denim and gold chains. It’s like the Mount Everest of drag videos—once you reach that peak, you’re changed for good.
Megan Kirby writes all over the Internet. You can follow her at @megankirb.