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

Why Are We All Gagging?

This volume examines the social, cultural, political and commercial implications of RuPaul’s Drag Race at a key juncture in the program’s run, from its unprecedented, groundbreaking, subversive entry into the reality television complex, to its now mainstream, increasingly non-LGBTQ+, all-encompassing thematic and audience reach.


The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Why are we all Gagging? goes beyond the mere analysis of the show itself 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 had far reaching impacts on drag as both an art form and a career.

The editor invited submissions from scholars in theatre and performance studies, English literature, and cultural anthropology. From media studies, linguistics, sociology and marketing. 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. 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.

Cameron Crookston is a 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 PhD 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.

Part I: Audiences and Fan Culture

  1. Twerk It & Werk It: The Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Local Underground Drag Cultures - Joshua Rivers
  2. “Change the Motherfucking World!”: The (Re)Emergence of Activism in RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag Communities - Ashlynn d’Harcourt
  3. Queering Africa: Reading BeBe Zahara Benet - 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 Backwards 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 Towards 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
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