REVIEW: ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 6 premiere

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For devotees of RuPaul’s Drag Race, one of the joys of each new season is discovering the hot new term of the year: “Eleganza extravaganza” and “hunty” are memorable one that played out for a season then wafted into the ether. But in addition to “fishy,” which has lingered (the way fish do), the word for the 6th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which kicks off tonight, is “sickening.” And for fans, that’s just what it is.

Ru is back, of course, as are judges Michelle Visage and Santino Rice, but there are some shakeups: New members of the Pit Crew for one (brought to you by Scruff, no less!) and a “divided” season premiere that may become the standard for future reality competition shows. Divided how, you ask? Well, only half of the 14 queens on this season compete in the season opener; the remaining half-dozen-plus won’t show up until Episode 2 next week. Which means your chances of being cut — and the focus on you — are twice what they usually are. No coasting, girls … you gotta work it from out the gates.

For fans (including yours truly), it’s a boon to spend more quality time with each queen early in the season and establish favorites, whether it Adore (bitchy but delightful) or Ben DeLaCreme, and the competitions are just as intense as ever. Best yet is guest judge Adam Lambert (sporting some sexy whiskers).

The season premiere conflicts with the premiere tonight also of Dallas, but that’s the great thing about cable — you can always DVR one or catch the replay a few hours later. Whichever you do, figure out a way to watch both … and as Ru would say, don’t f*** it up.

And read about former contestant Alyssa Edwards in this week’s issue of Dallas Voice.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

RuPaul voted ‘Best Reality Host’ in TV.Com poll

RuPaulAfter an intense week of voting, the world has finally declared what we all already knew: RuPaul really is the best host of a reality television show there is.

The Supermodel of The World beat out the likes of Adam Levine, Demi Lovato, Blake Shelton and Howard Stern to take the crown for “Best Reality Show Judge Or Host 2013” in this year’s annual TV.com poll, The Huffington Post reported.

In fact, RuPaul didn’t just win — he slayed the competition with over 30,000 more votes than Shelton, who nabbed second place, topping the charts with 104,871.

As if that wasn’t enough, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” also snatched the wig title of “Best Reality Competition Series 2013” from big names such as “Face Off,” “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

ConDRAGulations, Mama Ru!

—  Steve Ramos

College offering course on RuPaul’s Drag Race

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You won’t find a class that analyzes RuPaul’s influence on culture at Bob Jones University, but head over to Occidental College, and you will.

The liberal arts institution in Los Angeles is offering a new course in the spring called “Reading RuPaul: Camp Culture, Gender Insubordination, and the Politics of Performance.” The class will study the LOGO television series from a gay and feminist perspective.

The course description notes:

While RuPaul’s show brings the art of drag performance and gay subculture issues to a wide audience, the course will consider how it addresses the history of drag and U.S. gay culture, as well as a broad range of issues such as transgender identity, HIV/AIDS, bullying and violence, racial identity, gender identity, body size, and LGBT political activism.

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 is months away, but you can see a short trailer here:

 

 

 

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: RuPaul on DOMA, with ‘Love!’

America’s most famous drag queen, known for throwing her share of shade, gets serious for a minute, gathering the cast and crew of the upcoming Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race to make a statement about the repeal of DOMA. Everybody say “Love!”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘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

Former Dallas Drag Racer Sahara Davenport reported dead

The Twitterverse is abuzz with reports that Sahara Davenport, the dancer and female impersonator who was a favorite on Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has died.

Reports are non-specific; one blogger, in a piece calling the reports “erroneous,” offered as his sole “proof” that is sounded like a hoax to him — and that Sahara’s death was not reported on her Wikipedia page (a crowd source site anyone can edit — yeah, strong evidence). Another commenter noted that now her death is on the Wiki page, so it must be true.

So far, though, despite hard facts, it appears to be true. Jujubee, a fellow Drag Racer, posted an “RIP” notice on her own Facebook page late last night, and, in response to questions of “what happened” said merely, “It’s not important what happened. Just send prayers.” Avoidance of the cause of death, of course, only fuels suspicions of a hoax, although it is not uncommon not to announce a cause of death immediately, especially if the reason was something considered “shameful” (suicide, a drug overdose), though at this point there is no evidence of that.

Jujubee isn’t the only colleague of Sahara’s to note the passing; the official RuPaul Facebook page also offers condolences for her passing. (Oddly, there is no mention of it yet on any official Logo channel websites.) It has also not been refuted on the many offers of sadness of Sahara’s own page and that of her partner, fellow contestant Manila Luzon. Within the past few minutes, People magazine online and the gay blog Towleroad have also reported the death.

When we know more, we’ll report it.

On a personal note, Sahara and I were friendly. She got her start in Dallas, and she would often message me when she was coming to town; I also interviewed her on a few occasions (most recently here). It’s very sad in any event.

Davenport was born Antoine Ashley. He was 27.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Emmy noms: Some of the gay stuff

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and the details of them can be hashed over in the coming month, but I wanted to point out a few gay interest items on the list:

• Modern Family continues to dominate the comedy category, with the entire adult cast again snagging nominations, as well as for directing, writing, comedy series and guest actor/comedy Greg Kinnear.

• Once again, officially out actor Jim Parsons looks like the sure thing for actor/comedy for The Big Bang Theory, unless 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin makes a comeback. His co-star Mayim Bialik was also nominated, but not Johnny Galecki. The show is also up for best comedy series.

• American Horror Story, created by Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy, was nominated in the miniseries category, including nods for miniseries, actress/mini Connie Britton, supporting actor/mini for gay thesp Denis O’Hare and two for supporting actress/mini — Frances Conroy and shoo-in winner Jessica Lange.

• Game of Thrones is again in contention, though only last year’s winner — Peter Dinklage for supporting actor/drama — is nominated for acting. The show has lots of nudity (including men!) and this last season a great gay storyline.

• One of the most welcome nominations was for Kathryn Joosten, who died just days after her touchingly hard-scrabble performance on Desperate Housewives ended with her death, was nominated for supporting actress/comedy. She’d won twice before in the guest actress category. Not in the supporting category? Previous winner Jane Lynch of Glee; Chris Colfer of Glee was also overlooked.

• The reality competition program continues to play it safe — in the history of the category, The Amazing Race has won every year except one, when Top Chef sneaked in. When will RuPaul — the show and the host — get the credit she deserves?!?!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pride Power Hour & Sharon Needles fill up the night

Double header of Pride

Resource Center Dallas gets Pride off the ground — way off —with its Pride Power Hour on the Wet Deck of the W Hotel (that’s the 16th floor, folks) tonight. An open deck looks over Dallas providing a grand backdrop and DJ Avenger as your music guide. You will also be automatically entered in the prize drawing of a free night’s stay at the hotel. Fun for sure.

DEETS: W Dallas Victory Hotel, 2440 Victory Park Lane. June 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door.

In the most recent season of Drag Race, Sharon Needles immediately stood out as an early favorite for her shocking, Elvira-like makeup and equally bizarre behavior and dark humor. Even her name proved divisive among the viewers.

So when she made it to the final three, almost every fan of the show was rooting for her to win. And she did.

Now you can see her do that shock-drag in person tonight.

DEETS: The Rose Room at Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 9 p.m. $5. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

GIAC scores an Independent Music Award

In March, I posted the LGBT nominees for this year’s Independent Music Awards which included RuPaul, Melissa Ferrick and San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma. But GIAC was the only queer act to walk away with an award. At last week’s winners announcement, GIAC tied with Company of Thieves for top indie/alt-rock album for Exits & All the Rest. And deservedly so. Exits is really their best work to date.

The band returns to Dallas later this month as part of this year’s Homegrown Music and Art Festival lineup at Main St. Garden Park in Downtown. Only this time, they come to town as award winners.

 

—  Rich Lopez