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from an underground ballroom to a new age culture- impact of rupaul’s drag race on today’s world

America superstar

A show with bunch of guys dressed as girls competing to be the next America’s superstar. When the show started back in 2009, it received lukewarm welcome as “just another show promoting LGBTQ in mainstream media”. As the show progressed, within next 4 seasons it became huge cultural phenomenon launching the careers of many drag queens like Trixie Mattel, Katya, Aquaria, Ginger Minj and many more.

The man behind this masterpiece is none another than RuPaul Charles- America’s most famous drag queen from the 90’s ballroom scene. Another trope in America’s talent hunt shows like Next Top Model, Project Runway etc. In drag race, contestants have to compete with each other through lip synching, sewing competition and runway outfits. Fast forward to 2020, drag race has come a very long way with making 10 seasons, 4 all stars and introducing UK and Canada drag race as well as opening door to queer culture and bending gender stereotypes in the media.


Trixie Mattel and her makeup line
Trixie Mattel and her makeup line

Every makeup technique you could think of like cut crease, baking, contouring, nose dots are part of drag makeup. Even Jaclyn Hill credited drag queen for introducing baking to today’s women in one of her videos. Makeup or beauty industry and drag world goes hand in hand. Both have the power to inspire each other. Brands know the impact of drag queens on today’s culture. This is the reason many makeup brands started collaborating with drag personalities to boost up their sales and online presence. Anastasia Beverly Hills partnered with Alyssa Edwards for an eye shadow palette in 2019. Drag race season 10 winner Aquaria collaborated with NYX Cosmetics to launch her own makeup line. Trixie Mattel from season 7 and winner of All Stars season 3 is known for her heavy lashes and over the top Barbie inspired makeup recently launched her own makeup line  Trixie Cosmetics containing lipsticks, eye shadow and glitters. Kim Chi from season 8 collaborated with Toni KO (NYX Cosmetics) for her own makeup line Kim Chi Chic Beauty. Kim Chi has also her own face make line inspired by her iconic looks on the runway during her stint in drag race. Miss Fame from season 7 became the first drag queen in history to officially walk on the red carpet during Cannes film festival in 2016. He also became the spokesperson for L’Oreal’s Paris. Besides this, many fashion YouTube channels like Vogue, Allure, Cosmopolitan often partners with drag race contestant regarding their how-to makeup videos or re-making their iconic drag race looks.


Drag queens are not just limited to drag race. There have been numerous instances where drag personalities are often featured in mainstream movies and public appearances. Willam and Shangela had a small appearance in A star is born. Aquaria and Milk have become high fashion models, featuring in the campaigns of Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier. Miss Fame, Milk, Violet Chachki are front row attendees during major Fashion weeks. Violet and aquaria became the first drag queens to be invited at Met Gala 2019. Bianca Del Rio has sold out many of her comedy gigs. Shea Coulee and Miss Vanjie and Mayhem Miller have appeared in pop star Iggy Azlea music videos. Netflix has launched TV careers of many drag artists. Alyssa Edwards starred in Dancing Queen featuring her life as a drag queen and life out of drag as a dance teacher. Bianca Del Rio was starred in a movie called Hurricane Bianca, receiving lot of praise from audience. AJ and the Queen featuring most of drag race alumnae become a huge hit on Netflix. Featuring drag queens in mainstream TV shows and movies to normalize them among upcoming generation are quite commendable. Even drag characters have now being introduced in kid’s cartoons too.  Super Drags, Netflix original animated series features drag queens as superheroes. Shangela, Willam, Ginger Minj and Trixie Mattel were cast as voice actors.


Yasss, Yasss queen, No tea no shade are some of slangs that you been seeing everywhere. Well, actually it came from drag culture. Earlier people used to encourage drag performers while shouting Yasss queen. So it’s helped drag artist to perform well in front of audience.  What’s the tea sis? It actually means what the new hot gossip. Drag race has given many famous catchphrases in the past years. Miss Vanjie miss Vanjie miss Vanjie became instant hit since it aired. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo who was the first contestant to be sashayed away in season 10 left the stage while walking back saying the iconic catchphrase.  The internet went wild right after that, giving birth to numerous memes and GIF.  Eleganza, Partyy, Realness, C.U.N.T (Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent) are some more slangs that are dominating the current internet scenario.  During the LGBTQ rally for legalizing the same sex marriage, there was plethora of boards with drag race catchphrases such as – I’ve had it officially (Detox Season 4), It’s not personal its drag (Alyssa Edwards season 4). It shows how much people love watching drag queens that were once considered as an embarrassing to society. Even Saturday Night Live acknowledged the work of drag race and Rupaul and featured him in one of their skit made on ‘what it takes to be a drag queen’. Due to the rise of drag culture, people are now over with the labels (Gay, Bi etc) themselves. Now people just want to live they want to live, dress the way they like not wear the clothes their assigned gender supposed to wear.


To add more personal touch between fans and their favorite drag queen. World of Wonder Entertainment (production company for drag race) came up with DragCon. It started in Los Angeles in 2015. An annual expo to celebrate the drag and queer culture where fans can meet their favorite drag queen, click pictures with them, lot of great performances, discussion panel on clothes, makeup, LGBTQ community and the future of drag. Besides this DragCon is a hub for selling drag accessories and merchandise. In 2016 2.3 $ million of merchandise were sold during the event. By 2018 DragCon generated 8$ million in total revenue. DragCon became like a Hollywood glamour event for drag queen where every drag queen has to set up her own booth, design it as well as her costume and makeup. It helped them to be creative and promote what they aspire to be. After achieving so much success from the public and press, DragCon NYC was started in 2017.In order to encourage the drag artist and to give the taste of drag performances to fans around the world, Werq the World was announced. A world tour with drag shows all over the world. Known for its elaborate, over the top, cirque de soleil inspired musical performances. Since it started in 2017, it has completed 11 legs in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. As of late 2020, their Europe tour is rescheduled for spring 2021. Drags queens were also featured in Super Bowl commercials as well as in Pepsi “Pass the Pride” commercial during pride month.

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