In this article:
- RuPaul made history with the debut of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a competition reality show that would bring drag into the mainstream for the first time in American history.
- But its decision to exclude trans men and women as well as cis women has become a point of criticism for the iconic show.
- Fortunately for those who want their fix of the glamor and drama of drag without the exclusionary restrictions, there’s another drag competition show out there: Dragula.
- Now streaming on Shudder, Dragula challenges its contestants to blend drag with horror and glamor with filth in each of its competitions.
RuPaul is one of the most successful entertainers in the U.S., making waves in the 1990s as an acclaimed drag queen. Working the New York City LGBTQ+ club scene, RuPaul established a persona that exuded style, poise, and class, and girl — you know she brought it.
All the way to the bank.
From a hit VH1 talk show to the revered RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul created a space for underdog drag queens to build a career and livelihood from their glamorous alter egos.
Queens that have appeared in previous seasons have gone on to become entrepreneurs, with countless contestants launching makeup lines, wig apparel, and making it big in the entertainment industry as musical icons, actors, and comedians.
While RuPaul’s Drag Race may have ignited the popularity of drag in mainstream U.S. media, the show has been ridiculed by former contestants, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ communities for RuPaul’s limitations that exclude trans or CIS women, including drag kings, from competing.
In an interview with The Guardian, RuPaul admitted Season 9 runner-up Peppermint, a trans woman, would likely not have been invited to compete on the show if she was transitioning prior to the season’s taping.
While RuPaul claims the decision to omit certain individuals is based purely on maintaining the integrity of a male-centric drag show, the hidden subtext behind the show’s playful antics, such as receiving a “She Mail” from RuPaul; a play on words for contestants receiving the upcoming episode’s challenge, takes on another form.
While “She Mail” has been removed in recent seasons, the lingering painful words from RuPaul have not, with a tweet that has since been deleted: “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.”
RuPaul undoubtedly built a legacy, but the harsh realization is that legacy is not as inclusive as it could be. For everyone else, however, there is an alternative: Dragula.
Dragula Is a Horror-Themed Drag Competition Open to Everyone
The Boulet Brothers, Dracmorda and Swanthula, are horror-themed drag queens with an extensive background in hosting and promoting drag shows with an edge. The dynamic duo created Dragula, a once-live drag competition turned reality TV show.
Dragula asks its contestants to encompass four pillars in each challenge: drag, filth, horror, and glamour.
The format is similar to RuPaul’s Drag Race, with each episode highlighting a specific theme or topic. Past challenges have included Nosferatu Beach Party, Monsters of Rock, and Scream Queens, all designed to highlight the eccentricity of the horror genre.
However, the most memorable component of Dragula is the eliminations. While RuPaul’s queens lip sync for their life, Dracmorda, and Swanthula tap into their queens’ anxieties, tasking those who fail the week’s challenge to embark on fear-fueled obstacles.
Past exterminations have ranged from mild forms of torture such as taking a lie detector test to extreme acts such as being buried alive, electrocuted, and consuming a feast of cow organs and blood.
Albeit a bit shocking at times, Dragula gives viewers all they could want and more when it comes to entertainment and cliffhangers, as well as competitors who are filled with grit and heart, coming from all walks of life.
And by all walks of life, I mean all walks of life. Unlike its fellow drag reality show, Dragula has only one stipulation for admittance: a passion for drag.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Dragula Seasons 2-4
Season 3 of Dragula welcomed quite the diverse cast, with representation from the trans and nonbinary communities. And for the first time in drag reality TV history: the show crowned a drag king: Landon Cider.
In Dragula’s latest season, Sigourney Beaver, a cis woman, landed a prime spot in the top four, and Dahli, a nonbinary contestant who was shockingly exterminated from season two, was resurrected for season four and came back with a vengeance, fighting their way to the top and becoming Dragula’s season four Super Monster.
Dragula perpetually amplifies the art of drag and gives each contestant the opportunity to create their own masterpiece every week. The foundation of drag was built on channeling our alter egos in hopes of creating a world where both our physical and mental forms collapse into one.
Representation matters, in drag, in society, and in life. And when it comes to creating an inclusive world, welcomed with (blood-soaked) open arms, all we can say is, “Dragula, shantay, you stay.”