‘Real Trainwreck of New Jersey’ starts tonight

I am an openly gay man who proudly admits: I do a lot of kinda gay stuff (watch the Oscars, shop at Barneys) and a lot of very gay stuff (you know, the sex part), but even I have never been gay enough to get into The Real Housewives. I have caught random episodes, and I know who NeNe is (and that she is insane), but actually paying attention, week after week, to pampered ladies obsessed with clothing bitching about each other? If I want to see that, I’ll go to JR.’s during happy hour.

Still, I do get the appeal — I really do. Everyone on the shows is so into herself, apparently ignorant of how unsympathetic and interesting she must seem to everyone who doesn’t have a chemical dependency to the botulinum toxin, that it can be perverse fun, like the circus freak show. But only in small doses.

I do watch enough of the series as part of my job to recognize that each city represents a different Bravo demographic: Orange County is rich white folks; New York is rich Jewish folks; Atlanta is rich black folks; Miami is rich Hispanic folks. And New Jersey? Well, the Italians, of course.

Of course, we already got to see this series, when it was called The Sopranos. Or Jersey Shore. The characters are the same: Blowsy women in overteased hair. Joi-see accents thick enough to hold a chunky marinara. Goombah men with shady businesses who are either fat and balding or short, muscular and balding. (Apparently, all that extra hair on the women has to come from someplace.) OK, granted, some of those goombahs are pretty hot in that drunk-guy-crashing-a-frat-party-”You think you’re better than me?” dangerous way. But how do you put up with it? (I’ve never watched soap operas, either.)

Season 3 of New Jersey begins tonight with the disappearance of one wife (Danielle), the additional of another, Melissa (sister-in-law of Teresa; Teresa’s brother, Joe — one of the hotties), and unaccountably nasty feelings among them. It’s violent, trashy, foul-mouthed and ugly. But I did enjoy it.

But every week? Well, with Joe doing drag and getting a bathing suit in future episodes, maybe. I don’t wanna have to give back the toaster oven.

Premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on Bravo

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Raja

Raja
SHANTAY, SHE STAYED | Raja Gemini was announced this week as winner of Season 3 of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’

‘Drag Race’ winner Raja had to keep a poker face for 8 months, but now she welcomes the papa, paparazzi

RuPaul’s Drag Race crossed the finish line this week, and the best woman won. Sutan Amrull, better known as Raja Gemini, kept her eye on the prize since the first episode and ended up being crowned the next drag superstar.

This 6-foot-3 Los Angelo, who is part Dutch and part Indonesian, is no stranger to reality television, having appeared on America’s Next Top Model as the show’s principal make-up artist and serving as Adam Lambert’s face painter for his tour. In short, Raja knows glam and glitter on the road.

After winning a close race, Raj was crowned the winner and rose early the day after to chat about his experience on the show.
— Jerry Nunn

Dallas Voice: How do you feel now that the experience is over? Raja Gemini: I don’t think it has really hit me. I have been keeping the secret since August, even from my parents. I didn’t even talk to my mom about it. She seems to have known, though. She said, “A mother always knows…”

Do you think the judges were fair? I think for the most part the judges were fair. I think Delta Work should have stayed longer. I don’t think they really understood her humor.

Did you have a favorite celebrity judge? There were a few of them. I couldn’t believe that my season had two of my greatest idols: Vanessa Williams and Jody Watley. Jody Watley was a style icon for me since I was a boy in junior high. I wanted to wear giant earrings when I saw her. For her to be there as one of the judges, and Vanessa Williams as well, was a really huge deal for me.

How old were you when you first did drag? Experimenting with it, probably about 15. I have been doing drag all of my life. I was that kid that played dress up all the time, wearing different sheets and dishtowels. I made costumes. I was really getting into it by 16 years old.

People are saying you were friends with RuPaul before the show. People have made a lot more [out of it] than it really is. I have been a makeup artist for a very long time and have crossed paths with a lot of people. Ru at one point lived in L.A. and was a big fan of the L.A. drag scene. She went to all of the shows and I would see her quite often. We weren’t friends where we would call each other up and talk about boy, financial or family problems — we were just aware of each other’s presence. That’s inevitable when you work within an industry. I wouldn’t even say that Ru and I were acquaintances.

Where did you learn makeup? I was actually an art student and went to University of Orange County in California. I tried to be a student and hated it. I decided to be a makeup artist and then a female impersonator!
What are your plans for the prize money?  Actually, I am going to spend it wisely. I am going to pay off all of my bills No. 1, and clean my plate. I will be able to focus on working now. I will be elaborating and creating a brand, if you will.

Some of the money must go back into your act and the latest outfit. You know, it really does. It is very true when they say, “You have to spend money to make money.” Drag is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. I am a pretty frugal drag queen and I love a bargain. I am definitely a thrift shopper. I love going to flea markets. It doesn’t always have to be that expensive.

Do you regret fighting with Shangela on the show? No, I love it. I love watching Drag Race and love, love, love watching Untucked as well. That’s my favorite thing! I watch it with all of my friends. We totally laugh and cackled at everything Shangela says. She is brilliant and super smart. She is a really great person. She has a bright future ahead of her.

So you don’t have beef with anyone on the show then? Not at all, not that I can think of…

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 3 finale tonight on Logo

The last lip-synch

Three queens stand before us before one goes on to become the next drag superstar. And wins $75,000 to pay of them bills because you know they’ve been piling up for these ladies. The winner will also headline the Absolut tour which has come this way before. This season’s crop may have been the most interesting and any of the three tonight could actually go on to become superstars…not fade away like the, um, last two, whatever their names were. Will it be Raja, Alexis or Manila sashaying away with the title — or going home untucked.

DEETS: RuPaul’s Drag Race airs at 9 p.m. on Logo. LogoTV.com.

—  Rich Lopez