UCI Week 7 Queer of Color Disidentifications in the Reality Realm Discussion

Question Description

I’m trying to learn for my Film class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

Please follow the guideline very carefully and write correctlyIf you have any question please ask meThank you!

4 attachmentsSlide 1 of 4attachment_1attachment_1attachment_2attachment_2attachment_3attachment_3attachment_4attachment_4

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Week 7 Discussion – Queer-of-Color Disidentifications in the Reality Realm
Please engage at least one of this week’s articles (Muñoz’s “Pedro Zamora’s Real World of Counterpublicity” AND/OR Strings’ and Bui’s “She Is Not Acting,
She Is”) and at least one of the week’s “suggested screenings” (The Real World: San Francisco, “Together and Apart” AND/OR RuPaul’s Drag Race, “Ru
Ha-Ha”) to craft an organized and coherent 300-500 word response to the week’s material. You may choose to address any one or multiple of the below
prompts and/or pose your own questions, critiques, and assessments. Please address specific and relevant aesthetic/thematic/narrative details about the
episode(s), though, and use direct quotes or substantive paraphrases of the readings. You may start with some summary but synopsis should not comprise the
bulk of your post. Please note that you will NOT be able to view your classmates’ writings until after you have submitted. I encourage you, though, to
interact with/respond to your classmates’ posts – this discussion could factor into your class participation assessment! Some questions you might choose
to consider (you do not need to answer all of them):

How do Muñoz and/or Strings & Bui consider performers’ social goals/dispositions as distinct from or intertwined with the industrial contexts of the
programs on which they appear?

What methodologies do these scholars employ to assess the possibilities and limitations of reality TV programming? Do they determine reality
shows as unique platforms for queer/camp display and, if so, how?

How do The Real World: San Francisco and/or RuPaul’s Drag Race frame gender, sexual, ethnic, racial, and/or class identities as fluid or static?
To what political/social effect(s)?

How do the modes of performance/celebrity/stardom in this week’s programs diverge from or align with the scripted shows we have engaged
with in past weeks?

In what ways do these authors engage or neglect the reception of/audience interaction with programs like The Real World and RuPaul’s Drag
I upload readings but for the video please find by yourself. Thank you!
Please follow the guideline very carefully and write correctly
If you have any question please ask me
Thank you!
Feminist Media Studies
ISSN: 1468-0777 (Print) 1471-5902 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfms20
“She Is Not Acting, She Is”
The conflict between gender and racial realness on RuPaul’s Drag Race
Sabrina Strings & Long T. Bui
To cite this article: Sabrina Strings & Long T. Bui (2014) “She Is Not Acting, She Is”, Feminist
Media Studies, 14:5, 822-836, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2013.829861
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2013.829861
Published online: 27 Aug 2013.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 6172
View related articles
View Crossmark data
Citing articles: 14 View citing articles
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Feminist Media Studies, 2014
Vol. 14, No. 5, 822–836, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2013.829861
The conflict between gender and racial
realness on RuPaul’s Drag Race
Sabrina Strings and Long T. Bui
This essay examines the popular television show RuPaul’s Drag Race to reveal the ways drag
performance provides an ambivalent, contradictory space for wrestling with contentious issues
surrounding cultural identity and authenticity in reality TV. Focusing on the show’s controversial
season three, the authors demonstrate how drag queens subvert and play with ideas of gender
“realness” but find an impasse in open discussions of race. The racial minstrelsy of some
contestants we observe created antagonisms between black/brown characters and their white/
Asian counterparts, exposing a rift in ideas about racial play despite the general acceptance of
flexibility in gender bending. Recognizing that reality TV exploits and uncovers these tensions, we
demonstrate that while drag performance enacts a subversive mode of queer performance, it
provides a contested site and complex semiotic space for dealing with sensitive matters of race/
ethnicity, especially when certain forms of stereotyping are rewarded over others.
drag queen; race; RuPaul; reality television; queer
Second wave feminists have long interrogated the issue of gender, suggesting it is
not real or natural. Feminists of color have argued, however, that gender and race (among
other identity markers) intersect to inform the experiences of “women” and “men” and that
we cannot successfully problematize one while leaving the other(s) intact (Patricia Hill
Collins 2000; Chandra Talpade Mohanty 1988; Chela Sandoval 1991). In feminist media
scholarship, there continues to be a great deal of commentary about women’s
marginalization and male privilege that fails to mention race. As Amanda Lotz notes,
generally missing from discussions of the contradictory “televisual representations of
gender politics” is the “subtext of race” (2001, 106, 108). Indeed, critical academic
interventions on the racialized representations of femininity and masculinity in the media
have been few and far between. To the extent that gender is problematized while race is
either rendered invisible or naturalized, gender appears to be mutable, but race is made to
look “real” or natural (K. S. Jewell 2012).
This essay examines the problematization, or lack thereof, of the intersecting identity
markers of gender and race in televisual media. We use the popular television show RuPaul’s
Drag Race as our case study. RuPaul’s Drag Race is an ideal arena of investigation into
q 2013 Taylor & Francis
representations of race and gender. The show relies on drag’s self-conscious positioning as
an art form—traditionally involving men dressing up as women—which contests the fixity
of identity through the appropriation or subversion of gender/sexual norms by way of
cross-dressing, transvestitism, or female impersonation. While many scholars rightly
observed that drag too has the ability to reproduce traditional understandings of “men’s”
and “women’s” essential natures (Jill Dolan 1985; Marilyn Frye 1983; Steven Schacht 1998;
Richard Tewksbury 1993), other scholars have noted that it can simultaneously replicate and
disrupt sexual stereotypes (Judith Halberstam 1998; José Esteban Muñoz 1999; Leila Rupp &
Verta Taylor 2003; Eve Shapiro 2007; Verta Taylor, Leila Rupp, & Joshua Gamson 2004).
In this paper, we argue that amid the gender play on RuPaul’s Drag Race there is an
adherence to racial “authenticity.” That is, while gender can be subverted, inverted, or
reified, race must follow a protocol of “realness.” Moreover, for the black and brown
characters on the show, racial realness means staying “true” to one’s off-stage ethnic/racial
identity, a requirement not enforced for the white and Asian characters on the show. This
policing of racial identity for certain minority characters re-inscribes them as fundamentally
“Other” (F. Fanon 1967; Stuart Hall 1997), re-instating race as “natural” or “real” at the same
moment as it undermines gender’s “realness.”
Drag as a Contested Space of “Real” Meanings
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a highly rated reality television show that airs once a week on
the gay-friendly LOGO network. Its host, RuPaul (born Andre Charles), holds the distinction
of being the first drag queen with a successful recording career. “Her”1 popularity as a drag
queen (and her status as one of the few recognizable black queer figures in US mainstream
society) has contributed to the growth and popularity of the show.
Each week, contestants participate in a runway show as well as a mini and a main
“challenge.” The challenges, or competitions, are calculated to test the contestants’
knowledge of, and skills relevant to, drag. As such, the challenges typically involve acting or
playing a kind of game that requires a form of female improvisation, attesting to the
scripted nature of gender (Marlon M. Bailey 2011, Judith Butler 1993, Dolan 1985).
One of the unspoken realities about the show is that these challenges draw heavily
on elements of the drag ball subculture. At drag balls, female impersonators perform a type
of femininity (or in some cases masculinity) that falls into a specific gender category (e.g.,
“butch queen” or “femme queen”). The participants are judged on their “realness” or their
ability to convince the judges that they look and act the part of a typical woman (or man)
who would inhabit said category. There are no competitions for racial realness at ballrooms,
which are often populated by low-income people of color.2 Nevertheless, performances of
a particular type of “femme” or “butch” necessarily evoke a specific type of racialized and
classed subject. Therefore, while there are no categories for “Black realness” or “Latino
realness,” the performance of a “Thug” might call on understandings or stereotypes of
blackness, while that of an “Executive” might draw on similar understandings of whiteness.
Significantly, season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race makes explicit the understandings of
race and class contained within ball-esque costume performances, fashioning racialized
caricatures that helped expand its brand recognition. Leaping from its Logo launching pad,
Drag Race began marketing elements of a minority subculture for mass consumption and
mainstream titillation. In so doing, RuPaul and the other judges were compelled to call out
the (formerly implicit) racialized (and classed) aspects of categorical performances of
gender. Such efforts were not for naught; while during the first two seasons, the show grew
in popularity and captivated audiences with its zaniness, it was during the third season that
the show began to generate a great deal of media attention and controversy, due in part to
its race-based antics (Bradford Nordeen 2012).
The result of this “outing” of race was the investment on the part of RuPaul, and
many of the other queens, in performances of gender that were treated as racially
essentialist. This overt raceing became problematic for the contestants in two ways.
First, coming from marginalized groups in society, the queens were sensitive to ethnic
(mis)appropriation. Thus, they became defensive when cast members donned racial
personas, viewing these performances as offensive forms of mockery or minstrelsy.
Second, black and brown cast members were more often required to perform stereotypical
racial identities. RuPaul would refer to such performances as giving “personality.”
Drag Race is not unique in its stereotypical deployment and objectification of
race. The reality TV apparatus itself bears great responsibility for re-essentializing race
(Jay Clarkson 2005). As a genre of programming that purports to represent that which
is “real,” reality TV has been known to contribute to the naturalization of stereotypes,
often done in an effort to create gossip-worthy moments on a show.
Indeed, other reality TV shows, including notably, America’s Next Top Model (ANTM)
have also been taken to task for employing stereotypes of race to “spice up” its content. As
Amy Adele Hasinoff (2008) writes of ANTM,
The increased visibility of racial identities is deployed to commodify race and maintain its
political invisibility. The show produces race as a superficial highly visible aspect of
identity while erasing racisms and structural inequalities by glamorizing the process of
moving from one racialized identity to another and promoting it as a key narrative arc on
the show for a number of models. (326).
Drag Race, we assert, could be critiqued for a similar form of racial
commodification. What makes Drag Race unique, however, is the emphasis on
performativity and masquerade (inherent in drag) that purportedly makes stepping
outside the bounds of normativity the requirement for a show-stopping routine.
Instead, we find that by the third season of the show, performances that achieved a
“genderfuck” (June L. Reich 1992) by emphasizing the fluidity of sex(uality), while
maintaining racial “realness” were deemed avant-garde. This had the unfortunate effect
not only of commodifying or stereotyping race, but also of reifying its presumed
The reality TV genre of “reality” follows an economy of personhood where “certain
figures and bodies are loaded with more invective than others” (Beverley Skeggs & Helen
Wood 2012, 9). While audiences can decode the “meaningful discourse” between content
and form of the televisual message, reality TV participants too must negotiate their own
meaningful discourse at the immediacy and very moment of their personal interactions
with other participants. Although drag has always been staged and spectacularized with
over-the-top behavior, the histrionics of reality TV retools and amplifies the art of drag,
creating a multilayered fantasy of reality.
Boogers vs Heathers: When “Keepin’ It Real” Goes Wrong
For Eir-Anne Edgar (2011) in her study of the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, “queer
legitimacy” and “successful drag” are terms often used to describe those queens who
messily cross boundaries. Those drag performances viewed as successful (and ironically
most subversive) are those where stereotypes are deployed. Edgar, however, does not
discuss the politics of race, which are evident even on the first season. That is, Edgar fails to
see that in drag—as it is presented on RuPaul’s Drag Race—it was not just any stereotypes
that offered queer legitimacy, but the stereotypes that effectively troubled gender
ideologies, while reifying racial ideologies. This was especially true for the black/brown
characters on the show inhabiting bodies historically deemed inherently non-fungible or
inassimilable to whiteness (Fanon 1967; Hall 1997).
Season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race provides a compelling space for examining this
phenomenon due to the unspoken racial divide on the show that coalesces into two rival
camps: the Heathers and the Boogers. The Heathers are the white (fair-skinned Latinos) and
Asian characters on the show. The term “Heathers” derives from a 1988 movie of the same
name in which three of the most “beautiful” and popular white girls (all named Heather) in a
suburban high school create an exclusive clique, intimidating their peers with their looks
and tenacity. Four queens—Carmen, Delta, Raja, and Manila—christened themselves
“Heathers” because they believed that their talent stems from their beauty and audacity.
The black and brown characters on the show derogatorily were labeled “Boogers” by
the Heathers. The Boogers were Alexis Mateo, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, Yara Sofia, and
Stacy Layne Matthews. They were given this moniker because, in Manila’s words, they were
“a busted, unpolished mess.” If the term “Heather” evokes whiteness and refinement,
“Boogers” recalls the dirty, unrefined, and grotesque, that which should be purged or
expunged from the (social) body (Mary Douglas 2002). In this case, the Heathers often
banded together in the hopes of eliminating the Boogers one by one.
Even if we reject Manila’s assessment of the Boogers’ looks and talent, it is undeniable
that they were more constrained in their drag performances. Comfortable with flipping
gender, the Boogers nevertheless remained “true” to their race or ethnic heritage. Shangela
Laquifa Wadley, for instance, is an African American cast member who originally hails from
the south, but now lives in Los Angeles. Shangela would thus effectuate a kind of racialized
“genderfuck,” playing an urban or southern black gender-ambiguous character. For
example, in the stand-up comedy challenge Shangela plays “Laquifa the PMP,” or
postmodern pimp/ho, wherein s/he appropriates both the masculine and feminine roles of
this dyad. Donning long, fake nails, s/he leans into the camera, rolling her neck and saying
“grrrrlllllll,” in the manner of a stereotypical black woman. But, as Shangela reminds the
audience, she was more than a woman, as she calls out, “Yes, I’m still a pimp.” S/he shouts to
a live crowd:
[Folks on the block] always saying “Laquifa . . . where yo hoes at?”
I say, “Bitch, don’t you see I’m wearing four pair of hose right here holding back
my d#%k?”
Wadley’s comedic chops enabled her to win this challenge, but so too did her new
archetype of queer sex(uality) that mixed supposedly “authentic” elements of black
masculinity and femininity. Shangela makes it clear throughout that the postmodern pimp/
ho, while both man and woman, is nevertheless not “post-racial”; s/he is a clearly racialized
(read: black) subject. The continuous references to “folks on the block” and ostentatious
gesticulations are reminiscent of another black female drag character, Sheneneh from the
popular TV series Martin. The racially coded language speaks to identities that fall firmly
within the archetype of The Black pimp/ho, wherein gender drifts and drags, but blackness
is held constant (Rusty Barrett 1998; Stephen L. Mann 2011; T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
If Shangela regularly worked within the bounds of blackness, the resident Latinas,
Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo, stuck to characters that underscored their pride for their
Puerto Rican/Latin roots. Yara Sofia was born in Puerto Rico, and her stage name pays
homage to a fierce Puerto Rican woman of the same name she knew from her hometown.
S/he had a heavy Spanish accent, and often excelled in challenges in which she relied on
her Spanish language skills or enacted a stereotypically “Latin” femininity.
During the first episode, Yara walks into the workroom and introduces herself to her
fellow queens by saying “I’m the Puerto Rican one.” The response to this statement of
ethnic identification was immediate:
“I’m Asian” responds Manila.
“I’m from L.A. I’m Italian,” replies Venus D-Lite.
“I’m from L.A. also, I’m black.” Delta Work retorts.
Note that Manila replies with her racial affiliation, but neither of the white characters
identify as “white.” While Venus3 skirts the question of race and avows an ethnic
identification instead, Delta Work (a light-skinned Mexican) undermines the entire
enterprise by claiming an obviously false racial status. All the queens find this latest
revelation funny, and the ethno-racial sounding off comes to a brief end.
This exchange happened during the first six minutes of the first episode, and spoke
volumes about the centrality of racial/ethnic identifications for the Boogers vs. Heathers.
Ethnic identity is one of the first things we learn about Yara Sofia, as she walks into the
workroom and begins a conversation that pulled a similar form of self-marking out of the
others present. Delta, on the other hand, felt no pressure to remain ethnically or racially
authentic. (Even though Manila here identifies herself as “Asian,” we find in subsequent
episodes that she appropriates a variety of Asian stereotypes, including those that have
nothing to with her own background.) This light-hearted interaction was but a prelude to
the racial tensions to come; illuminating the relative comfort of the Heathers in escaping
their racial affiliations.
Neither Yara nor the other so-called “Boogers” had much discretion to engage in
racial free-play. The black and brown actors were continuously encouraged to “race it up”
by the judges. On episode four, for instance, Yara plays an exercise guru. Advised by judge
Susan Powter to use the sexiness of her ethnic background, she decides to do her routine
entirely in Spanish. This performance received rave reviews, showing the circumscribed
nature of acceptable types of drag for darker cast members. On the very next episode,
RuPaul reminds the viewers of the centrality of race/ethnicity to Yara’s identity on and off
stage, as he walks up to Yara during a preparation session and says “Hey Shakira,” likening
her to a Latina superstar (who she never played in any of the challenges). Ru then starts
counting in Spanish, “uno, dos, tres . . . escandalo.”
Yara did not usually object to these ethnically-based identifications. Like Shangela’s
comfort within the black box, Yara often willingly works her “Latina thing.” But, Yara does
find herself frustrated in her inability to move past her ethnicity on episode six, when she
decides to perform as white soul-singer, Amy Winehouse. Ru, instantly skeptical of this
choice, doubts her abilities to take on this drag racial identity: “You’re from Puerto Rico.
She’s from England. How’re you going to do that?” Ru’s incredulity is heightened when he
hears Yara Sofia practice her faux-British accent and cranes forward with laughter at its
execution. The performance, in the end, falls flat because as one judge put it, no one could
understand Yara given her thick Puerto Rican accent. This is peculiar, since not being able to
understand Yara was seemingly not a problem when she spoke in Spanish for other
challenges, even though there were very few Spanish speakers on the judges’ panel. For
them, Yara was at her drag best when she sounded sexy, exotic and most importantly
authentic. This revealed the importance for Yara, of being both convincingly feminine and
“Race It Up”: Successfully Exploiting Race to Win the Race
While clearly racialized performances of femininity were those that received the most
accolades, not all of the contestants on the show stepped into character with such ease.
Unlike Yara, fellow “Booger” Alexis Mateo expressed disdain for the identity politics of the
show. Identified by Manila during their first meeting as “another Puerto Rican one,” Alexis
expresses resentment at being pigeonholed. In the interview room, she voiced her concern,
suggesting that she did not want to be pushed into a racial archetype by the other
contestants or the judges, and stating that she did not want to be pegged a “Latin Queen.”
But, Alexis too, on subsequent episodes, relents and decides to “race it up.” By the
infamous QNN episode, Alexis has taken on her persona as a “Latin Queen.” Finding that
stereotypes work for her as much as they do for others, Alexis explains her presentation on
the catwalk as such: “I’m just giving RuPaul a lot of personality and being very ‘cha cha’ very
Latina.” The term “personality” was often a code word on the show for race. In her
assessments, RuPaul often told contestants that they didn’t give enough “personality” but
the form of personality preferred on this campy show for drag queens often meant
stereotypically “race-y” self-expression. Alexis’ presentation of the racially authentic self
pleases the judges, as is evident when judge Debbie Matenopoulos, says “Go ‘head Charo.’
Alexis Mateo makes it further in the competition than any of the other “Boogers,”
arguably because of her effective ability to appropriate the markers of femininity without
attempting to transgress her racial/ethnic identity. She, like Yara, was often praised for
being a beautiful and sexy “woman” who nevertheless kept it “true” to her cultural
background. This was nowhere more evident that in the “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Style”
challenge, which required contestants to make a short public service announcement for US
troops stationed abroad. Effectively recasting her sexual identity, Alexis plays a carefree
Latina. Flirtatious and giggly, she tickles the judges’ fancy with her feminine wiles; all the
while her colorful costume and outrageous dancing were calculated to read
(stereotypically) “Puerto Rican.” Juxtaposed to her somber Marine soldier garb on that
same episode, Alexis appears to be the sincere patriotic Latin(a). S/he is convincingly
reserved when playing the role of the man, and expressive when playing that of the
woman. She, like a good drag queen must, effectively shuttles between “butch” and
“femme” realness, in a fashion that both replicates and disrupts traditional notions of
gender (Halberstam 1998; Muñoz 1999; Rupp & Taylor 2003; Shapiro 2007; Taylor, Rupp, &
Gamson 2004). But, Alexis achieves this gender drift in a way that is in tune with what the
judges already project on her as a racialized cast member. Alexis wins this challenge.
For the Boogers, one’s drag persona is thus very much over-determined by their nondrag racial identity. The one seeming exception to this rule is Stacy Layne Matthews. Also
derogatorily labeled a Booger, Stacy is a voluptuous queen hailing from Back Swamp, North
Carolina. She reveals after several episodes that she is Native American, but curiously
enough, her southern credentials, skin color, and weight mark her black by association.
Therefore, Stacy manages to excel when she performs two prominent stereotypes of black
femininity: The Mammy and Sapphire.
Evidence of this is seen as early as the first few episodes, as RuPaul constantly
criticizes Stacy for not giving enough “personality” in her drag performances and costumes.
She redeems herself in Ru’s eyes during episode four, entitled “Totally Leotarded.” On this
episode, Stacy drags-up as a heavy-set black woman doing an exercise video. Introducing
herself with a bit of black vernacular: “well, how you doin?” Stacy begins the scene seated,
holding a shake-weight in one hand and a plate of food in another. While shaking her
weight, she encourages other girls to get into the routine by exclaiming “Come on girls!”
letting her whole body shake while simultaneously leaning over to take a bite of a chicken
Stacy in this challenge not only uses black vernacular, she utilizes well-known and
invidious stereotypes of black people having a poultry fixation. She further draws on tropes
of black women in particular being large because they love to eat and encouraging others
to do the same (Nargis Fontaine 2011). In these ways, Stacy’s performance readily recalls the
archetypal Mammy (Fontaine 2011; Andrea Shaw 2006). In enlisting these tropes for
comedic effect, Stacy thoroughly entertains and wins over the judges.
This is not the only time Stacy uses stereotypes of black femininity to give Ru the
requisite “personality.” For a challenge called the “Snatch” game, in which contestants have
to drag-up as a celebrity and offer humorous if somewhat realistic impersonations of a
character, Stacy Layne’s original plan was to perform as white model-cum-socialite Anna
Nicole Smith. But Ru expresses reservations about Stacy’s ability to pull off the role of a
white blonde former Playboy bunny:
“How are you going to portray Anna Nicole Smith?”
“With the fabulous shoes with the pink on ‘em . . . ”
“So you’re going to rely on your purse and your shoes? Listen, I got to tell you I’m not
Experiencing the sting of racial typecasting that also kept Yara hemmed in, Stacy is
dissuaded from performing her original choice of Anna Nicole Smith. She chooses instead
to reprise the character played by Oscar-winning actress Mo’nique in the movie Precious.
Taking on a movie persona that some critics deemed “too close to minstrelsy for comfort”
(Michael Phillips 2009), Stacy scores big in this role. She embodied the archetype of the
Sapphire—for which Mo’nique had already been critiqued—with her eye and neck rolling,
and the implicit threat of violence typical of a “baaad” black woman. Stacy pleases the
judges with her outrageous antics. This is the only challenge that Stacy Layne wins.
For the Boogers, “successful drag” is predicated on the curious mixture of gender play
and racial authenticity. They were called upon to be compellingly accurate embodiments of
racialized male and female archetypes. When they succeed in this racially authentic
gendering, they had given Ru and the other judges the “personality” they were looking for.
While issues of race (or racism) could be analyzed in all seasons of the show, season three
was optimal for observing race in all its controversy. By this time, the show had transformed
from a curious addition to the already crowded reality TV landscape to a bonafide pop
phenomenon. Since controversy sells on reality TV, and the question of what’s “real” is
subject to interpretation, the outrageous and carnivalesque gets the airtime. The
fetishization of “Otherness” certainly falls into this category, and Drag Race made extensive
use of this strategy in its third season. But again, the call for racial authenticity dogged the
contestants who were brown, black, and black by association. The white and Asian
“Heathers” could transcend their racial/ethnic affiliations, and be rewarded.
Thus, on this show, what we hear is not necessarily concrete or permanent. The
linguistic analyses by scholars like Rusty Barrett (1998) on the style-switching language of
African American drag queens suggests the usage of racially-coded language (white girl
speech, black talk) does not directly correspond to actual identity (Mann 2011). Reality TV
may act like a fishbowl where social meanings appear enclosed, but the production of drag
is a polymorphous, concentric process where meanings drag across discrepant points of
understanding, which do not always intersect. Contestants seem to misunderstand each
other frequently on the show but the question is always if their expressed confusion is
genuine or purely for show. A national TV program like Drag Race brings together
individuals from different regions and communities into a shared space of mass mediated
competition where they might otherwise not meet in real-life (hence, RuPaul’s accusation
of Alexis Mateo as a “regional” drag queen rather than a cosmopolitan, national one). This
type of broad-based social “mediation” can open up a host of problems.
Throwin’ Some Shade: On the Performance of Authentic “Otherness”
Embodying stereotypes of racial/ethnic minorities could help the show’s queens
strike comedic gold in the competition. But, whereas the Boogers needed to remain racially
“authentic” with their stereotypes, the Heathers fared well when they took on the tropes of
the racial “Other.” Fair-skinned Latinas, Heathers Carmen Carrera and Delta Work, typically
chose to play white or racially unmarked female characters. Their routines typically came off
as flat with the judges. Illustrative of this is the feedback often given to Delta Work. Delta,
whose drag name is a play on the name of white actress Delta Burke, commonly put on a
blonde wig in the approximation of mainstream aesthetic ideals. At other times Delta went
for the brunette drag icon, Cher. As a critique of her performance of Cher, like most of
Delta’s other performances, Ru and the other judges expressed concern that she did not
give enough “personality.” Despite her proximity to whiteness, her seeming “authenticity”
in playing whiteness did her little good in the challenges.
Carmen Carrera, a half Puerto-Rican, half white Heather fared similarly when she took
on racially-unmarked female characters. Choosing to sex it up rather than race it up,
Carmen routinely played up her curvaceous physique in body-hugging or barely-there
costumes. While her sexiness (read: “feminine wiles”) was commended by the judges, she
was often criticized for not giving enough “personality.” Because she would not to play up
her “Latina side,” Carmen ultimately dissatisfied not just the judges, but also Puerto Rican
“Boogers” Yara and Alexis. In a confrontation that took place in the workroom, Yara and
Alexis encouraged Carmen to start speaking Spanish in her acts. Carmen responds, “I don’t
speak Spanish.” Yara and Alexis protest that she’s only pretending. In the interview room,
Carmen Carrera reveals that she doesn’t appreciate the other girls treating her like she’s
“not Puerto-Rican enough.”
Carmen’s racially-unmarked vamp is arguably a product of her biraciality. As the
literature on biraciality indicates, she may feel she has feet in both racial groups, and
therefore does not necessarily need to choose one over the other (Kristen Renn 2000).
Moreover, her light skin and lack of Spanish accent give her access to whiteness (via racial
ambiguity) that Yara and Alexis do not have. Still, while her dual racial identity and access to
whiteness may

Reviews, comments, and love from our customers and community:

This page is having a slideshow that uses Javascript. Your browser either doesn't support Javascript or you have it turned off. To see this page as it is meant to appear please use a Javascript enabled browser.

Peter M.
Peter M.
So far so good! It's safe and legit. My paper was finished on time...very excited!
Sean O.N.
Sean O.N.
Experience was easy, prompt and timely. Awesome first experience with a site like this. Worked out well.Thank you.
Angela M.J.
Angela M.J.
Good easy. I like the bidding because you can choose the writer and read reviews from other students
Lee Y.
Lee Y.
My writer had to change some ideas that she misunderstood. She was really nice and kind.
Kelvin J.
Kelvin J.
I have used other writing websites and this by far as been way better thus far! =)
Antony B.
Antony B.
I received an, "A". Definitely will reach out to her again and I highly recommend her. Thank you very much.
Khadija P.
Khadija P.
I have been searching for a custom book report help services for a while, and finally, I found the best of the best.
Regina Smith
Regina Smith
So amazed at how quickly they did my work!! very happy♥.