Adam Guerino joins me this week to discuss the history and future of the Drag Race! Adam is a friend, a comedian, and the founder of ALL GEEKS, a Chicago group at the intersection of geek and queer culture.
Chad: Adam, you produce a wide variety of shows for ALL GEEKS. How would you rate the All Stars Herstorical Pageant?
Adam: I’ve seen and produced a lot of group performances, and I thought the level of effort and coordination was excellent. The characters and lyrics were OK, but what I was impressed by was the characterization and choreography shown by the queens. What did you think?
Chad: Anyone who has ever heard me rant about the Drag Race (yourself included) knows that I rarely enjoy the group performance challenges — I prefer when the queens have more freedom to bring their own humor and talents to a challenge, as we saw in the first two episodes this season. That being said, I can agree that it was… okay. I was left feeling like some of the queens really lucked out with particularly fun choreography, and others got stuck with more mundane numbers. Would you agree?
Adam: Absolutely. I think Alyssa was a favorite from this challenge by most, including the judges, but who is surprised that her Annie-Get-Your-Lap-Dance choreography was… killer? She was given a great hand. Conversely, I think Ginger did so much with what she was given, but wasn’t given much. She has real camp appeal and used it to propel her performance, but she wasn’t given the same steps to shine.
Chad: Right, there are only so many bestiality jokes you can fit into a number. I felt like Katya also got stuck with a fairly static performance — whereas others galloped around or danced upon the Pit Crew, she was fairly stationary.
Adam: Katya is one of my favorites, but I think she coasted on charm this time around like a Matthew McConaughey rom com. It was interesting to watch, but you walk away wondering what you saw.
Chad: What historical figure would you have loved to see in this challenge? Frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t see a Cleopatra!
Adam: I think Hillary Clinton would have been such a crowd pleaser. She is as much “herstory” as princess Di, but is still relevant. Imagine what Ginger or Katya could have done with that!
Chad: UGHHHH you’re right! I was all worried that there wouldn’t be time for a runway after the historical pageant, but lo and behold! A fun sci-fi nerdy one!!! I was excited to talk with you about these looks, since we’re both ridiculous comic nerds. Who was your favorite on the runway this week?
Adam: Phi Phi was my favorite. She reminded me of a beautiful Moebius character.
Chad: I agree, Phi Phi knocked it out of the park this week! Honestly, I haven’t found myself very interested in her fashion when she goes for beauty and glamour, but she’s incredibly inventive when she embraces her geekier side. You know what name I came up for her runway character? Thanus.
Adam: Yes! She definitely has a female space pirate thing going for her. In fact, Nebula fulfills that role nicely in the comic books and movie as Thanos’ daughter. She is a blue character that even goes bald with cybernetic parts.
Chad: So many of the other queens went for a similar fembot look, I was worried we would have another kimono-gate on our hands!!!
Adam: I think we did, it was silver-gate this runway.
Chad: Roxxxy didn’t get a lot of attention, but I did think her look was particularly polished and interesting. And Detox’s sleek, minimal look definitely stood apart. What did you think of hers?
Adam: I was confused by Detox’s look. It looked like The Fifth Element, but it was stuck somewhere between an homage and an interpretation.
Chad: Yeah, that confused me, too. I also think, with that wig she snatched off, she was channeling some Blade Runner, too, but of course, the Replicants didn’t have silver skin like that. (god, we’re such nerds)
Adam: I think it was Silver Surfer meets Leeloo meets Pris meets headache meets Advil.
Chad: I thought it was sleek and sexy, even if its references weren’t clear. However, I do think the silver makeup put her at a disadvantage in the lip sync — whereas Alyssa’s makeup gives her huge, expressive eyes and lips, Detox’s were obscured by her Tin Man mug.
Adam: I totally agree. And also with no wig, you can’t whip your hair back and forth.
Chad: Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if Alyssa had performed in her runway look, with the crazy silver horns and moon boots?? What a lost opportunity!
Adam: I’d watch it.
Chad: What do you make of Alyssa? Both as a drag performer and as a reality TV personality?
Adam: She had a terrific lip sync. She’s a hilarious character that doesn’t know how ridiculous she is, which makes it even better. It’s my introduction to her, so it has been interesting hearing her say she was dismissed as a pageant personality in her season, because I don’t get that from her at all.
Chad: Yeah, I think Alyssa has been sheer comedic GOLD this season. Girl is KILLING IT, and I’m just loving every second. I love hearing people’s reactions to the All Stars when they haven’t seen the queens’ original seasons. My boyfriend hasn’t seen Season 5, and he just DOES. NOT. GET. ALASKA. Or maybe he gets her, he just doesn’t like her.
Adam: I hadn’t seen it either, and I love Alaska. I think she’s in the lead at this point.
Chad: I think she’s been in the lead since… the end of Season 5.
Adam: She is this gratifying mix of bizarre and glamour. Her looks are interesting, and her characterizations are so deliberate, yet seem effortless.
Chad: Right, she completely embodies this bizarre alien character to the point where you’re not sure if it’s even an act.
Adam: Her futuristic look was interesting, but it looked like it belonged in a Mac commercial more than sci-fi. She was smart enough to add a twist with the alien-like scream on the runway, though.
Chad: I didn’t think her runway was anything especially exciting, but I always love an off-kilter painted face. Hers reminded me of 70’s Dave Cockrum character designs. Her crazy nail apparatus was cool, but it was REALLY difficult to make out against the busy background of the set.
Adam: It was a great look, but it seemed to me she was compensating for not knowing a lot of about sci-fi aesthetics.
Chad: Right, like Michelle said, I would have liked to see her take it further. At the start of the season, most of the queens seemed to agree that they should kick off whichever queen gets the worst critiques from the judges, but Alyssa seems to have bucked that trend. Do you think there will be any fallout from her decision?
Adam: Undoubtedly. But it was only a matter of time that someone contradicted the critiques. The fallout will be back-stage anxiety for whoever is at the bottom next time, because there’s seemingly less rationale for who goes home.
Chad: I’m wondering if the other queens will give Alyssa shit in the workroom! Here’s my take: the queens should send home whomever they want. Maybe they don’t agree with the judges, maybe they just think one queen is a more interesting performer than the other. They win the right to choose! I am firmly pro choice.
Adam: I am also in favor of a queen’s right to choose. And that is the entire point of the competition.
Chad: Yeah, I mean, in that kind of competition, you might WANT some system based on merit and objectivity, but… that’s just not going to happen. Especially with some of the difficult decisions that the queens will face in subsequent episodes. Do you have any other thoughts on the episode?
Adam: I think Phi Phi is scared and resorting to survival instincts by becoming the villain.
Chad: Honestly, I don’t really think she’s done anything nefarious so far this season. Especially not anything nearly so aggressive as in her original season!
Adam: To me, it seems like basic insecurity. Instead of becoming a better performer, she is trying to bring others down. The only reason someone resorts to that is when they don’t believe they can compete.
Chad: I do think she’s probably wrestling with her confidence amid such a stellar cast of queens, but…. I don’t know — at this point, I’m blaming the editing more than her.
Adam: Really? Two episodes in a row she has literally whispered doubts into competitors’ ears. Even if that’s editing, it’s still conniving.
Chad: But don’t you think they’re *all* talking shit while watching each other rehearse?
Adam: I think there is a lot of it, for sure. But it seems like Phi Phi is trying to get into someone’s head, not just shit talk.
Chad: That certainly may be! I’m just sufficiently skeptical of all reality TV to the point that I try not to think too negatively of anyone based on what I see on the show.
Adam: That’s a great policy, I think you’re right. We shouldn’t judge people for what they do or how they’re perceived on the Hunger Games.
Follow Adam Guerino on Twitter and Instagram, and find out more about ALL GEEKS on Twitter, Instagram, and at AllGeeksHQ.com! ALL GEEKS will be hosting American Horror Story viewing parties every Wednesday at Minibar, and on Saturday, September 24th, they’re doing a Pokemon Bar Crawl in Andersonville at 2pm!