‘Drag Race’ returns & the 1st out is …

Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race revved up last night, with 14 new queens competing on what is, for my money, the best competition show on TV. And was it just me, or have the girls upped their game?

Think about it: On Project Runway, professional designers are given a decent budget and days to do nothing but design a gown for a fit model to walk in; on America’s Next Top Model, girls just have to walk and chew gum at the same time. Both skills are legit — but the girls on Drag Race do all those things, and they have to lip-sync and do their own makeup and … well, it takes talent, grrl.

And these 14 seem to have it. Among the contestants were Texan Alyssa Edwards, pictured, who made it to the middle-ground in the first outing (neither in the top nor bottom). Honestly, she was lucky not to be in the bottom, as her red carpet look seemed scattered. Still, with one of her nemeses also on the show (that’s a story that will surely develop), she made an impact.

Also making an impact: Alaska, the partner of last year’s winner, Sharon Needles. As with Sharon, the queens underestimated Alaska’s creativity because her style of drag is more shock than illusion. But her Saran Wrap mermaid gown was astounding.

Still, it was the wonderfully named Penny Tration who got booted first off the 90-minute extended season premiere. Penny Tration was already known to viewers — she was the queen voted onto the show through an online poll last summer … in other words, the fan favorite. But no one can say she didn’t deserve to go: During her lip sync for her life, Penny forgot the words and looked awkward and surprised to have to perform.

We’re hooked. Again.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Casting under way for Season 4 of ‘Drag Race’

The bodies that Raja walked over while clawing her way to the top of RuPaul’s Drag Race aren’t even cold, and already the team is looking for more contestants for Season 4, which will begin airing in early 2012.

World of Wonder and Logo have begun their nationwide search for America’s next drag superstar — a title that, this year, came with a $75,000 cash prize and a lifetime supply of cosmetics. And since only the returning Shangela was on deck to represent Texas in Season 3, it’s about time we added some Lone Star glam to the mix.

If you want to lip-sync for your life, send an email to DragRace4Casting@gmail.com. And don’t fuck it up.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best bets • 11.19.10

Friday 11.19

Girls, comas and dolls — oh my

The Dresden Dolls and Girl in a Coma are perhaps one of the better musical pairings this year. At least for the gay contingent. GIAC rocks out the lesbian in all of us and The Dresden Dolls’ dark cabaret act has been resurrected by Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, much to the delight of  the fans who thought their self-imposed hiatus would never end.

DEETS: Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave. 9 p.m. $29. GranadaTheater.com.

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Saturday 11.20

So they think they got talent

The Texas Gay Rodeo Association hosts Thanks for the Giving which shakes up your usual talent show. TGRA puts nonprofits to the test who have to put their best entertainer up to lip-sync, dance, drag or whatever for their life. Or at least for some fat cash. The winner of the contest takes it all for their agency.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 6 p.m.
DallasTGRA.org.

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Monday 11.22

How about a pirouette for lunch

The Dallas Black Dance Theatre is going to make your lunch plans a whole lot more interesting this week. Now an annual event, the mini-series called Behind the Scenes offers noontime performances. That is something totally to be thankful for. The first two shows will offer a sneak peek at their December Winter Series. The troupe performs A Rag, A Bone and a Hank of Hair to the music of Earth Wind and Fire on Wednesday.

DEETS: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, 2700 Flora St. Noon. Free. For reservations call 214-871-2390. DBDT.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens