What a reunion! Remember the good ol’ days, when we got some real drama and closure at the end of each Drag Race season? Well, actually, I hadn’t remembered how good they were, so watching this week’s was a very pleasant surprise.
Tammie is a legend, and I’m so glad she was on this first season… even if she isn’t. She admitted that she was relieved to go home so early in the season, and I don’t blame her. The crazy interchange she had with Ru at the end of the reunion got clouded by weird metaphors and tangents, but I think she was basically saying: Why does there have to be judging, why do we have to compete?
You get a bunch of talented queens together, they get to know each other, and then you pit them against each other for a moderate amount of money and fame. It can be brutal, which wasn’t for Tammie. And I’ve sometimes felt the same way–particularly during the toxic drama of Season 5. I’d much prefer to see the queens hanging out and getting along.
But that doesn’t make for compelling TV. There’s just something so tantalizing about the classic reality show competition format. Despite how arbitrary, maddening, and convoluted the structure of the show, it hooks you.
Ru’s rant in response was also a little hard to follow. I think the gist of it was something to the effect of: You’ve gotta be tough and strong, bitches, ’cause the world’s a rough place for all of us. And something about Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.
In any case, it was fabulous to visit with each of the season’s queens. All of them looked good, too. Ongina’s headpiece was pretty terrifying (was that alligator head real??) but her attitude was sunny as ever.
Nina’s sleek hair and spooky eyes accented one of her more distinctive looks, and they inspired my favorite portrait of her!
Throughout the season, Bebe has inspired some of the most detailed, elaborate, and realistic Drag Race portraits I’ve ever done, but for my final piece, I tried to scale it back a bit, sticking with a simpler style. And I’m glad I did! When people talk about my “Drag Race style,” they’re usually thinking about the more minimal, “flat” look that they see more often in my earlier work. …But it’s nice to trot it back out every once in a while!
Thanks so much for checking out my weekly updates for Season 1! I plan to collect the work into another art book, so keep an eye out for updates!
I’ve recently learned how to make silkscreen prints, and I’ve had a ton of fun! I’ve posted a lot of my prints in my Etsy store, though I’ll be posting the occasional screenprinted T shirts here.
Printing by hand on shirts is hard, and I’m not terribly good at it. I think these shirts look really great, and I’m proud to sell them, but please be forgiving of some minor printing mistakes and quirks if you purchase any of them!
I had the best luck with this crazy design, based on a Japanese demon, or Oni. I have a few shirts available in small, medium, and large sizes. I think it’s a really fun, striking design, though some of the printing came out a little crooked.
The design was printed on pretty basic Gildan cotton shirts. They were all washed after printing to test for fading, and they came out well!
Shipping is $5 for all these shirts, and I will only be shipping them within the US.
I really love the design of this Pretty Purple Lady, but it was one of my attempts at printing on shirts, so I only had a few good ones turn out!
In any case, these are also printed on Gildan cotton shirts and have been pre-washed to test for fading.
Okay, some quick thoughts on the “finale” episode of this first season:
Cazwell was hilarious. His reactions to the queens’ rapping were flawless. His utter disdain for Rebecca? Jaw-dropping.
Wait, rapping queens? Sure, okay.
Lunch with Ru: Bebe and Nina both had lovely Tic Tac lunches with Ru, opening up about all sorts of emotional stuff. Ru was clearly grateful to both of them for giving her crazy new TV show a try. Throughout her stagnant, limp lunch with Rebecca, Ru’s internal monologue went something like, “HOLY GOD SERIOUSLY WHAT WAS I THINKING” and “Can we edit Shannel back into this show?”
Crowning a winner in reality TV is always tricky. For RPDR Seasons 1-3, they featured the winner being crowned, collapsing in a fit of joy and bewilderment, but then there’s not much else. Roll credits! You want some sort of pay-off, some grander celebration. Like, maybe Ru and the winner run off and become best friends. And maybe they rob some banks, I dunno.
For Seasons 4 and 5, the show went to extreme lengths to prevent spoilers, filming sequences in which all three final queens are crowned. And then they only really find out who won during a live event in NYC that coincides with the airing of the show. So unless you’re there in New York, you can’t see the queen’s actual reaction to her win. So, for everyone at home, it feels like you didn’t see the “real” finale to the show.
Why not broadcast the NYC crowning live? It would be messy, loud, and chaotic, but that would give a much better sense of what a real drag show is like. Queens might have to deal with wardrobe malfunctions, broken heels, or snatched wigs, but all the better! It would be utterly riveting. And don’t you think those queens would really work their asses off performing in front of those live cameras? It would separate the girls from the queens.
Anyway, I know it will never happen. I’m sure broadcasting live television is a total nightmare. For Season 6, I’m just praying for a more satisfying conclusion than the limp “reunion” episodes we’ve gotten the past two years.
Oh, right! Back to the beginning: Season 1.
Nina and Bebe are both great, agreed.
Nina stole our hearts in the workroom with her infectious energy and optimism…
…but Bebe really ruled the runway. She’s arguably the most elegant and regal queen this show has ever seen.
So… LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!
The clip show! Traditionally, on the week of each season’s clip show, I like to go back and draw any queens or outfits I missed the first time through.
The one queen I regretted not drawing earlier is Jade! I really enjoyed Jade’s contribution to the show, and she’s gorgeous as hell! So I tried to capture her most elegant runway outfit:
I also wanted to go back and draw the gorgeous gown and headdress Bebe wore for the MAC challenge–especially because I’ve been thinking of using the illustration for the cover of this season’s book collection! What do you think?
I don’t know whether the book collection should be called The Lost Season or The Lost Queens. Would the latter sound too… grim?
For the sixth season of the Drag Race next year, can they just repeat all the first season’s challenges? Like, everything? I want to see another vogue-off, please, please. Do another Oprah challenge–maybe this time you can get the Queen of All Media herself to show up. Hose off some of the queens on the hood of a fancy car. Seriously, this season has had a lot of magnificent, funny, crazy challenges. More voguing. What is a drag show without voguing? (And yes, that’s how you spell it. Wikipedia says so.)
Even this Absolut challenge was pretty good. I always love this point in the season–The “Ball” episodes serve up a ton of gorgeous runway looks. The Absolut theme gave each queen a distinct color palette, which was surely a huge challenge for some of them, but I was impressed with the vivid looks they came up with. (Which made it hard choosing which ones to draw!)
Also, I want to see more random celebrity appearances in the workroom. Did they even explain why Charo showed up? She was magnificent. It was fun. More of that!
I took this episode as an opportunity to finally draw Rebecca, because she was pretty stunning. Maybe some of the detailing of the dress was overdone and a little corn-y, but I can conveniently leave those elements out of my illustration! Art is magic.
There’s been a lot of orange this season. When I think Lost Season, I think orange. But Shannel pulled off the color smashingly–I especially loved her Executive Realness and Swimwear looks. They had a youthfulness and lightness that sometimes gets lost in Shannel’s more theatrical, overwrought outfits. The long, dark hair and whimsical headdress/hat/hair poof she sported for the swimwear ensemble were just too striking to ignore, so I had to draw ‘em.
I’ll reiterate that Shannel is the greatest character of Season 1–everything you’d want in a reality TV star. Ego, looks, talent, and a flair for the theatrical.
In re-watching this episode, I was blindsided by Shannel’s choice to kick herself off–a twist I had totally forgotten from my first viewing years ago. She seemed to have a change of heart and gave a good lip sync, but I can’t help but dwell on the fact that two of the nine contestants this season, Tammie and Shannel, burned out and expressed interest in leaving the competition.
Maybe it’s nothing, but I’d speculate that they just didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. It was the first season of this crazy show, so it was an unknown quantity. Each queen has their own scene, their own clubs, their own audience. Most of them had been doing their own thing for years prior to the show, and so they were most likely shocked at how unfamiliar the Drag Race set was, how different it was from their past experiences. I can only imagine that the shooting process of this show was grueling and surreal, with an unclear pay-off. Who knew if anyone would ever watch or care about this show?
Obviously, after running for so many seasons, I like to think that queens know what they’re getting themselves into when applying for the show. But… I’m not so sure.
In any case, I should get around to my final piece for this episode: Bebe!
I was just struck speechless by Bebe’s raspberry-themed looks. The sleek, simple dress with that severe, Japanese-inspired hair. She had, by far, the most imposing challenge with those fickle little raspberries, but her use of them was smart and elegant.
This queen is good.