Mother Has Arrived: A Review of Hurricane Bianca

For most Drag Race divas, their winnings are quickly spent on a dance single, a garish video, and a clusterfuck with a gaggle of rent boys. Thankfully Bianca Del Rio is not your typical queen.  Vying for legendary status, Bianca has ditched the usual disco orgies and taken a completely different tack to post-Drag Race success.  Enter Hurricane Bianca, her cinematic debut.

Most gays know Bianca Del Rio from her dominating win on Drag Race season 6, but Bianca was a star long before she set foot in the Interior Illusions Lounge.  Bianca had begun crowdfunding for Hurricane Bianca years ago, even before she ever auditioned for the great race.  After a plethora of fundraising campaigns, and a hefty paycheck from Mother Ru, Hurricane Bianca has finally arrived and it’s every bit the campy spectacle we hoped it to be.  Equal parts To Wong Foo,Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, Hurricane Bianca is an ultra-campy, feather light satire of employment discrimination and small town homophobia.

Del Rio plays the deliciously nerdy Richard Martinez, a NYC school teacher who moves to Texas for a teaching gig, only to be promptly fired when he’s outed as a homo. Enraged, Martinez teams up with a local trans woman to exact revenge on the town who wronged him.  Martinez returns to school disguised as Bianca and naturally hilarity ensues and hijinks commence.  There are gags, satire, drama, intrigue, and even a bit of skin via co-star Denton Blane Everett’s smooth twunk body.

In short, it’s good.

While there’s no doubt that Bianca is hilarious, I wondered, is she glamorous enough to be a movie star? Visually Bianca is best known for serving Mrs. Potato Head realness in a 90’s ball gown, so when I heard that she was going to star in a gay version of Mrs. Doubtfire, I had doubts that she could ever be that passable.  I’m glad to say I was wrong.  Though I didn’t think it possible, through the magic of dedicated hair, make up and wardrobe, Bianca looks the best she ever has.  She almost looks good!

Speaking of fashion disasters, Rachel Dratch is a sight to behold as the Kim Davis-esque tyrant Deborah Ward.  Dratch’s constipated, authoritarian pearl-clutching is one of the best parts of the movie. She is the perfect overdrawn villain and she has a wardrobe to match.   It’s astonishing that the filmmakers ever managed to find such a thorough collection of tacky, dated selections of Sears’s formalwear.  They must have raided Lady Bunny’s closet.  The costumers deserve an Oscar, or at least a Grabby, for Dratch’s incredible ensembles.

Del Rio is joined by Drag Race alums Willam, Shangela, Joslyn Fox, and Alyssa Edwards in the film.  I have to say, Bianca put these queens to work: Willam plays a slutty himbo, Shangela plays a sassy drag queen, Joslyn plays a bar queen named Joslyn, and Alyssa Edwards plays a drawling southern chanteuse.  Astonishing.  I’ve never seen such range.  Fuck Meryl Streep; these queens are redefining versatility.  Someone better get a Golden Globe out of this or I’m rioting.

Look, this isn’t Annie Hall or The Royal Tenebaums, but it is better than White Chicks, and that’s the standard by which I judge drag queen comedies.  The film doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know about homophobia or employment discrimination, but it’s funny and hopefully it will reignite a conversation about ENDA in the complacent, post-marriage equality gay community.

It’s good to see a queen broaden the scope of what Drag Race girls can do.  Hopefully her example will encourage other Drag Race winners to create their own productions.  While I won’t hold my breath for Tyra Sanchez’ film debut (sorry, a webcam show doesn’t count as a movie), it’ll be interesting to see how other Drag Race winners up their game following Bianca’s success.  Hurricane Bianca was almost entirely crowdfunded and it shows what can be accomplished when the drag community comes together to support a project.  This is only the beginning.  Picture it: Bob the Drag Queen in B.A.P.S. 2, Sharon Needles in Bathhouse of Horror, Kim Chi in The Joy Fuck Club.  Get those Kickstarter drives going ladies and make it happen!

7 Times a Charm

After 14 glamorous weeks, the seventh season of Drag Race has come to a close.  Though this was perhaps not the most astonishing season, it was not without its highlights.  Granted there were elimination shenanigans, a bizarre new Untucked format, several baffling “acting” challenges and more than a few runway disasters, but it is to the show’s credit that their core audience is still clamoring for more.  In the words of the immortal sage Laganja Estranja, “C’mon Season 8!”

This year’s top three was especially eclectic.  Glamorous hobgoblin Ginger Minj rose from the depths of the Florida swamps to stake her claim in the Drag Queefdom.  Meanwhile sassy somnambulist Pearl crab walked down the runway and into our hearts but in the end it was the beautiful, if somewhat empty, Violet Chachki who ran away with the crown.  Ginger fought valiantly for the title and for a while it seemed like she was most equipped to carry the crown.  It’s a pity that she caved into pageant drama backbiting towards the end, as it wound up turning the audience against her.  Having decidedly lost in online opinion polls, and with Pearl’s complete and total dearth of personality (or as others call it, charisma) rendering her incapable of carrying the title, the final prize ultimately had to go to Violet Chachki.  I realize that Violet isn’t the most exciting winner but I think she might be good for the audience.  Throughout the entire competition Violet’s saving grace was her unwavering confidence. Here is someone completely in control of herself, her emotions, her fate, and her destiny.  She didn’t ride to the crown off of a tragic backstory nor did she ever dwell on trauma.  It was refreshing to see someone eschew the tried and true Reality TV staples of victimhood and sympathy in favor of their own natural power.  The gay community far too often dwells on suffering and trauma. Violet had no time for that; she was too busy kicking ass.  This is the sort of attitude that is the future of the gay community, even if her art isn’t.  Besides, it was time for a porn star to finally win RuPaul’s Drag Race.

There’s been a lot of hemming and hawing in the blogosphere about this being the weakest season, but I think that there were still plenty of artistic high notes.  Katya was a particular delight and her Zdravstvuyte Kitty doll is destined to generate millions for Sanrio.  John Waters finally made an appearance on Drag Race (that blazer alone made it all worthwhile) with the Dreamlander musical challenge inspiring 14-year-olds everywhere to google Pink Flamingos.  Despite all the shit talking about season 7 not being funny, this year’s Snatch Game was first time anal tight.  I needed an entire tube of KY just to get through it.  And above all, let us never forget that it was season 7 that gave us the gift of Trixie Mattel.  Bless you, RuPaul.

Last year I was perhaps a bit harsh in my contestant rundown.  Rather than dwelling on negativity (I would be loath to be in anyway pessimistic or cynical on The Embittered Queen) I’m going to take a different tack this year.  Following the example set in the DESPY Awards challenge, instead of reading the queens I shall instead award them for their outstanding contributions to the art of cross dressing.  I present to you The Dildy Awards: Honoring Excellence in the Field of Transvestism.

And the award goes to…

Tempest DuJour: Most Outstanding DILF

Sasha Belle: Best Kim Zolciak Illusion

Jasmine Masters: Most Impractical Earrings

Mrs. Kasha Davis: Most Inventive Use of a Depends Undergarment

Kandy Ho: Filler Queen Par Excellence

Max: Most Inventive Color Scheme

Jaidynn Diore Fierce: Best Pec-Titties (This award brought to you by Burger King, in collaboration with White Castle and Long John Silvers.)

Miss Fame: Best Nude Spread

Trixie Mattel: Tastiest Nuggets in All the Land (Seriously, who knew Ronald McDonald looked so good as a blonde?)

Katya: Best Cultural Hijacking

Kennedy: Best Pube Beard

Pearl: Most Likely to Star in a Breeding Porn

Ginger: Most Prodigious Use of Black Spray Paint

Violet: Best Erotic Massage

Congratulations, Ladies!

Jackie Beat: America’s Perennial Drag Superstar

I have spoken at great length about my love of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but as gay America prepares to crown its next drag superstar, I thought it would be sporting to take a moment to honor America’s perennial drag superstar. No, I’m not talking about RuPaul, treasure that she is. I am referring to the foremost aesthetic auteur in the drag community that has left an indelible mark on the hearts, minds and mugs of nearly every drag queen that has walked the glittering runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I refer to none other than the world’s biggest bitch, Miss Jackie Beat.

For 25 years strong Jackie Beat has reigned as the most hilarious, most outrageous and arguably most influential drag queen on Earth. She is well known for her twisted humor, having set the standard for nearly every comedy queen that has come after her, but I would argue that Jackie Beat deserves far more credit than she receives. Aside from being one of the greatest drag comedians ever, I believe that Jackie Beat has done just as much to cultivate the cultural palettes of gay America as RuPaul has. Like RuPaul, Jackie Beat is a direct aesthetic descendent of Divine and, also like RuPaul, Jackie Beat formulated her character within the now nearly extinct gay underground. But while RuPaul has risen out of the underground, Jackie Beat has retained a connection to it. Though she will never be as sheerly iconic as RuPaul is, she is still just as influential, and her ability to remain just under the cultural radar has allowed her to reach artistic heights that RuPaul couldn’t.

There are those who will disagree with me, but to them I must point out that nearly everything that has been done on Drag Race was either pioneered or perfected by Jackie Beat. Before Sharon Needles was hailing Satan, Jackie Beat was channeling her. Before Willam Belli was haughtily waiving her SAG card, Jackie Beat was acting on Sex and the City and sharing the stage with Roseanne Barr. Before Mimi Imfurst was belting out song parodies, Jackie had mastered the art. Before there was an entire half-drag challenge on Drag Race, Jackie had perfected the look. Hell, even Bianca Del Rio owes Jackie a debt of gratitude, as Jackie Beat was cultivating and refining insult drag while Bianca was just a little Cajun faggette. This isn’t to take anything away from the contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The new queens from Drag Race are extending and extrapolating on the example set for them by elder queens like Jackie Beat. I aim to take nothing away from them, as they are all deserving of their accolades, however it’s difficult to discuss their art without in some way mentioning Jackie Beat. That’s the thing. Jackie Beat is simply that influential and far too few people realize it.

Those that know Jackie Beat know her for her incredible song parodies. No other performer of any comedic genre has demonstrated the absolute mastery of musical parody that Jackie Beat has. She has simply conquered the genre and no one will ever match her. For the benefit of the uninitiated, start with Baby Got Front, move on to Filthy Whore and Beaver, then proceed to her impeccable Christmas material. Jackie Beat tours nationally with her Christmas show every year and her performances regularly sell out. Her sick and twisted version of Santa Baby is a timeless tasteless epic that has come to be played regularly as a Christmas time classic amongst irreverent queers. What’s even more astonishing is that Beat can reliably entertain with even the most absurd scenarios. Take her Katy Perry parody I Kissed a Squirrel. Beat’s ability to draw magic out of such a paper thin premise is unmatched. Her creativity shows seemingly limitless depths and it’s truly astonishing.

From her artistic foremother Divine, Jackie Beat inherited a deep appreciation for that which is generally considered to be crude and tasteless. Case in point, her epic 18-minute 80’s melody that takes the already classless song parody genre to stunning new lows. If I had to pick a favorite Jackie Beat song parody, I’d have to go with her deeply inspired take on Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama. Everything about this is art. Beat is quick to note that comedy is above all hard work, and this performance shows that perfectly. She’s one hundred percent committed from beginning to end, collapsing to the ground in the finale. A lot of queens do parodies, but Jackie Beat is no mere Sherry Vine or Hedda Lettuce. Beat’s the real deal. Why else would throngs of regional drag queens regularly lip sync to her material? There are many small time queens who exclusively perform to her parodies. Some even lip sync her stand-up and onstage banter. Many queens have admirers, a few have imitators, but no other queen can boast the same impressive roster of Regional Krustys that Beat can. The bitch should start a clown college.

What makes Beat’s humor particularly satisfying is that she uses her platform to actually say something. Beat doesn’t just entertain her audiences, she provokes them and never hesitates to challenge her predominantly gay audience. On the topic of gay assimilation, Beat famously opined, “Mainstream acceptance is the worst thing to ever happen to the gay community. Congratulations, faggot. Now you’re boring!” Gays these days are, like the rest of drab society, chained to their smart phones and are conditioning to think of drag as background bar entertainment. Jackie Beat does not suffer texters gladly. Do not let her catch you texting during her show. Regarding this she has memorably quipped, “I hate it when people text during the show. I was performing the other night and I was like, ‘Please stop texting while I’m performing!’ and the girl in the audience was like, ‘For your information, I’m texting my friend about how fabulous you are.’ I was like, ‘Great, that’s like telling a kid I’m only molesting you because you’re adorable.’ ”

More than any other drag queen working today, Jackie Beat represents the power of voice. That can be taken literally, as Beat is a phenomenal vocalist. (Take her parody of Diamonds Are Forever where Beat matches every formidable note of the Shirley Bassey original as proof of this.) But Beat goes beyond that. Jackie Beat has been very open about her distaste for the ubiquitous lip synching that dominates present day drag and she has set an example to inspire her contemporaries to rock the mic as well as the catwalk. Furthermore Beat has used her platform to convey a message with her trademark filth. Throughout her career Jackie Beat has challenged complacency within the gay community. Most drag queens live in slavish devotion to divas like Madonna and Lady Gaga, but Beat has encouraged the gay community to support themselves and not pander for external accolades. She has spoken out against the legacy of gay bullying long before it became the sloppy saccharine cliché that it is today and she has encouraged drag queens to conduct themselves as legitimate entertainers and not just fashion models pantomiming pop hits. Drag Race has injected a bit of this rebellious spirit into the mainstream via queens like Mimi Imfurst and Sharon Needles, but the genesis of this spirit came straight from the overdrawn lips of Miss Jackie Beat.

Creating original music has become the latest craze within the drag community. This trend is largely attributable to RuPaul’s extraordinary legacy as a purveyor of incredible dance jams, but Jackie Beat’s original music is equally inspired. Too few people know about Beat’s electroclash band Dirty Sanchez. Performing alongside nightclub impresario Mario Diaz with beats by DJ Barbeau, Dirty Sanchez is an electrosexual homage to the type of glorious hedonism that pervaded the gay community before its tidy marriage equality reinvention. Tracks like Dig It, Give Head & Be Beautiful and Fucking on the Dance Floor are classic electroclash jams that will live on in the playlists of discerning DJs for years to come. There have been a few quality cuts from the new breed of drag queens, but enterprising queens would be better off turning to Dirty Sanchez (see also: Toilet Boys, Pansy Division and Jobriath) for inspiration rather than providing yet another reiteration of Supermodel.

If there is ever a Metropolitan Museum of Faggotry, it should prominently feature the work of Jackie Beat. While keen viewers will be able to decipher hints of RuPaul’s punk roots in her current work, Jackie Beat is perhaps the most punk queen of all time. Herein lies her enduring relevancy. If I was curating an exhibit of Jackie Beat’s work, I would name the exhibit The Resistance. How did we get from Divine’s punk rabblerousing in the 70’s to the mainstream penetration by drag today? Drag can still be plenty rebellious, but there seems to be a missing link from drag’s punk conception to the firm niche it presently enjoys in the mainstream today. Jackie Beat’s work is the essential missing aesthetic link between Divine’s seminal early art and current mainstream gay acceptance. Beat’s work embodies the rock and roll rebel spirit of the gay underground in all its filthy glory. This is why it needs to be preserved, however it can. Beyond that, Jackie Beat presents a yet unmatched standard of professionalism, creativity and excellence. She is our George Carlin. She is our Joan Rivers. Hell, she even wrote for Joan Rivers, that’s how extraordinary she is. Jackie Beat’s work is proof that gay themes by gay comedians can be the artistic equivalents in quality of their much more famous straight peers.

As someone who appreciates contemporary drag, I would like to thank Jackie Beat for doing so much to influence it. Every single comedy queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and a great many of them who don’t do comedy, are direct artistic descendants of Jackie Beat. They crawled out of her cavernous pussy, swathed in rhinestones and mucus, and grew into the fierce queens that they are today. Of course RuPaul deserves a great deal of credit for giving today’s young queens a platform, but may we never forget that today’s legendary children share an essential artistic link with both Mother Ru and Miss Jackie Beat.

While Beat is still actively gigging, recent years have seen Beat concentrating her talents on comedy writing. A proud member of the Writers Guild, she has written for Joan Rivers on Fashion Police and Ross Matthews on Hello Ross in addition to writing for other acclaimed comedians like Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell. It’s only a matter of time before her writing talents are snatched up and she spends less time touring. Jackie Beat may be a goddess, but even goddesses don’t gig forever. If you’re a student of drag or a student of comedy, do yourself a huge favor and catch Jackie Beat live before she retires from the stage, leaving it forever empty in her wake.

Tears of a Clown: The Trixie Mattel Story

RuPaul’s Drag Race is perhaps the most convincing argument for owning a television.  Drag Race is a reliably entertaining program but its greatest service to humanity is its yearly introduction of fabulous new entertainers who would otherwise be ignored by the mainstream media.   Each year Drag Race presents us with an intriguing mix of the extremely glamorous and the mentally ill.  The illustrious lineup of RuPaul’s Drag Race is generally comprised of a steady stream of washed up reality stars and amateur porn stars, but this season they gave us sometime truly special.  I refer to none other than the supreme ingénue of The Cream City, Miss Trixie Mattel.  Behold:

For those who don’t know, Trixie Mattel is a drag vixen, a comic, a supermodel and the world’s whitest Indian.  Trixie is acclaimed for all her talents, but she is perhaps most revered for her masterful visual artistry.  Trixie Mattel is essentially the aborted aesthetic lovechild of Lisa Frank and Bozo the Clown.  We’ll never know if Bozo ever discovered the erotic allure of cross dressing, but if he ever did, chances are he would sport a very close resemblance to Trixie Mattel.

The artistry of Trixie Mattel is so great that it defies classification.  It’s hard to pin her down.  I could say that Trixie resembles a partially deflated heat damaged blow up doll, but that doesn’t quite encapsulate her powdered, pulpy essence.  I could say the she resembles a My Size Barbie doll that’s been weathered by the elements, but I’m still not quite there.  I could even go so far as to proclaim that she is the realization of Tim Curry in It as styled by Betsey Johnson, but that still doesn’t quite nail it.  Words can’t do Trixie justice.  You simply have to experience Trixie Mattel firsthand.  It’s a terrifying spectacle but one that you’ll never forget.

I thank RuPaul for finding it in her infinite wisdom to introduce Miss Mattel to the masses.  The world needs Trixie Mattel.  Not since Monique Alan have I witnessed someone so completely devoted to the pursuit of glamor.  We live in a world soaked past saturation in pretty and it’s nauseating.  Our culture is drowning in Kardashian cute, Katy Perry pretty, Taylor Swift fluff… and it’s totally gross.  The tropes of contemporary fashion do nothing to move my spirit, although they regularly move my bowels.

Trixie Mattel represents pure, unbridled glamor and we should revere her for all that she does.  What’s more, Trixie doesn’t merely titillate, she teaches.  Her coloring book, available for free at www.TrixieMattel.com, is an invaluable tool in educating small children about the glories of transvestism.  Furthermore the stylistic sample set by Miss Mattel can elevate anyone’s fashion game.  Trixie shows us that one’s lips can never be too big, nor their ass too padded, and her fearless use of fascinators is the most inspired use of a headpiece since Aretha Franklin’s iconic headpiece at Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

It would seem that Trixie Mattel has lead us to a new stylistic golden age yet suddenly, a mere four weeks after discovering her, tragedy struck.  Somehow, someway, in some terrifying alternate reality, RuPaul saw fit to send Trixie Mattel home after her 4th week on Drag Race.  This is incomprehensible given her awe inspiring artistry.  We can only imagine how Trixie feels about being defeating in a lipsync battle by a partially sedated woman in a shapeless onesie, but the sting of rejection will not be soon forgotten by her legions of fans.  The twittersphere was quick to declare its outrage, with the hashtag #JusticeForTrixie blowing up the twitter feeds of homosexuals the world over.  I fear that this outrage will burn out and fade away all too quickly.  We must hang on to our anger and never let it go.  I believe it was Edmund Burke who said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of busted drag is for good queens to do nothing.  If you are a true student of glamor, I implore you, grab your pitchfork and flaming torch and storm the offices of Logo TV.  Let them know that we demand vengeance.  We demand justice.  We demand Trixie.

If you’ve ever been scorned for your fashion principles, Trixie knows your pain.  For those that have been mocked for wearing that extra coat of lip gloss, that extra set of falsies, or half a couch worth of padding, Trixie is your redemption.  She represents victory over a sad, drab society.  Following Miss Mattel’s example, we will be lead not into trendy temptation, and delivered from busted evil.  Trixie, show us the way.