‘Assume the position: two queens stand before me’: RuPaul as Ultimate Queen

Collie, H and Commane, G (2020) ‘Assume the position: two queens stand before me’: RuPaul as Ultimate Queen. Celebrity Studies. ISSN 1939-2397

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Season 10 marked a decade of Drag Race, with RuPaul and other celebrities framing the show as a worldwide phenomenon promoting love, inclusivity, acceptance and Drag. This aspect of RuPaul’s Drag Race is foregrounded in much of the existing scholarship on the reality show which considers the inclusivity and visibility that it offers (Edgar, 2011; Goldmark, 2015). Although Drag Race brings an area of gay culture and history into the mainstream (i.e. RuPaul seasons and Werk the World Tour), we argue that the only Queen and Herstory that is promoted and unquestionably validated is RuPaul Herself. Within the show, contestants often refer to RuPaul as ‘Mama Ru’, in direct reference to historical drag family relationships. In this article, we argue that RuPaul is positioned as the Ultimate Queen rather than Drag Mother, reflecting the more transactional relationship between head judge and contestants that we argue is constructed in the show. RuPaul as Ultimate Queen is achieved through strategically using the themes of history and authenticity to support a commodification of RuPaul which reinforces celebrity, cultural capital and authority. From Queens lip-syncing to RuPaul’s back catalogue to the central place RuPaul places herself as drag pioneer; we explore ‘RuPaul as commodity’ and the possible implications on the presentation and marketability of gay / drag culture through the format of Drag Race and RuPaul as ultimate Queen. All queens assume the position behind her. The paper draws upon data collected through textual analysis of seasons 1 to 11, focusing primarily on themes that arose throughout the seasons, but particularly focusing on the following episodes: season opening, snatch game, makeover, finale. We will be exploring the themes history and self-commemoration, and authenticity, and commodification.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/19392397.2020.1765081
7 March 2020Accepted
20 May 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Reality Television, celebrity, RuPaul’s Drag Race, authenticity, history, commodification, drag Culture
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Hazel Stevenson
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 16:17
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9166

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