The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Book)

Why Are We All Gagging?

This book examines the social, cultural, political and commercial implications of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from its groundbreaking, subversive entry into the reality television arena, to a now mainstream, increasingly non-LGBTQ+ audience reach and relationship with fans. International contributors. 40 b/w illus.

Edition

The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a collection of original material that goes beyond simple analysis of the show and examines the profound effect that RuPaul’s Drag Race has had on the cultures that surround it: audience cultures, economics, branding, queer politics and all points in between. What was once a cult show marketed primarily to gay men, Drag Race has drawn both praise and criticism for its ability to market itself to broader, straighter and increasingly younger fans. The show’s depiction of drag as both a celebrated form of entertainment and as a potentially lucrative career path, has created an explosion of aspiring queens in unprecedented numbers and has had far-reaching impacts on drag as both an art form and a career.

Contributors include scholars based in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and South Africa.  The contributions are interdisciplinary, as well as international.  The editor invited submissions from scholars in theatre and performance studies, English literature, cultural anthropology, media studies, linguistics, sociology and marketing.  What he envisaged was an examination of the wider cultural impacts that RuPaul’s Drag Race has had.  What he received was a rich and diverse engagement with the question of how Drag Race has affected local, live cultures, fan cultures, queer representation and the very fabric of drag as an art form in popular cultural consciousness.

This original collection, with its variety of topics and approaches, is a critical appraisal of RuPaul’s Drag Race at an important point of the programme’s run, as well as of the growing industries around RPDR, including DragCon and drag queen’s post-show careers in the on- and offline world.

Primarily of interest to students, scholars and researchers in media and communication studies, gender and sexuality studies, popular culture, queer theory, LGBTQ history, media studies, and fan studies. Will also appeal to fans of the series.

Cameron Crookston is a Canadian scholar, writer and university lecturer. His research focuses on drag as a form of cultural memory and seeks to further discussions on elements of nostalgia, queer memory and historical performance within the art of drag. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies in collaboration with the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

  1. Twerk It & Werk It: The Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Local Underground Drag Scenes - Joshua Rivers
  2. 'Change the Motherfucking World!': The Possibilities and Limitations of Activism in RuPaul's Drag Race - Ash Kinney d’Harcourt
  3. Queering Africa: Bebe Zahara Benet's "African" Aesthetics and Performance - Lwando Scott
  4. 'Heather has Transitioned': Transgender and Non-Binary Contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race - K. Woodzick
  5. How Drag Race Created a Monster: The Future of Drag and the Backward Temporality of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula - Aaron J. Stone
  6. RuPaul’s Drag Race: Between Cultural Branding and Consumer Culture - Mario Campana and Katherine Duffy
  7. RuPaul’s Franchise: Moving Toward a Political Economy of Drag Queening - Ray LeBlanc
  8. Legend, Icon, Star: Cultural Production and Commodification in RuPaul’s Drag Race - Laura Friesen
  9. Repetition, Recitation and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo: Miss Vanjie and the Culture-Producing Power of Performative Speech in RuPaul's Drag Race - Allan S. Taylor
  10. It’s Too Late to Rupaulogize: The Lackluster Defense of an Occasional Unlistener - Timothy Oleksiak
  11. 'This is a Movement!': How RuPaul Markets Drag Through DragCon Keynote Addresses - Carl Schotmiller

This original and insightful volume examines the profound effect that RuPaul’s Drag Race has had on the cultures that surround it: audience cultures, economics, branding, queer politics and all points in between. What was once a cult show marketed primarily to gay men, Drag Race has drawn both praise and criticism for its ability to market itself to broader, straighter and increasingly younger fans. The show’s depiction of drag as both a celebrated form of entertainment and as a potentially lucrative career path has created an explosion of aspiring queens in unprecedented numbers and has had far-reaching impacts on drag as both an art form and a career.

As editor, Cameron Crookston has brought together contributions from scholars in theatre and performance studies, English literature, cultural anthropology, media studies, linguistics, sociology and marketing. In this collection scholars from Canada, The United States, The United Kingdom and South African discuss and analyse the global impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race on local and international drag communities.

The book is a rich and diverse engagement with the question of how Drag Race has affected local, live cultures, fan cultures, queer representation and the very fabric of drag as an art form in popular cultural consciousness.

Related Titles