With the long-standing success of RuPaul’s Drag Race (13 seasons, a slew of spin-offs and 26 Emmy Awards) it was surely only a matter of time before we got the sung version….
“NO. Lip. Sync!” host Graham Norton declares to enter Queen of the Universe, sort of a cross between Drag race AND Eurovision.
Drag queens from around the world have gathered in London for this RuPaul produced series where they will perform Idol-style for 4 judges: Vanessa Williams, Michelle Visage, Leona Lewis and the American drag act Trixie Mattel.
The socially distanced setting is a huge showroom with guests seated at cabaret tables and with Norton as a kind of beauty quest emcee.
These divas come from the United States, China, France, Brazil, Denmark and yes, Australia. Representing us is Sydney’s towering bearded drag queen, Gingzilla. Ok, honestly I’ve never heard of her. She’ll take the stage in a Ned Kelly mask (I kid you not), but you’ll notice some cultural stereotypes, Rio feathers, the French flag, and more. None of that really matters, we’re here to have fun, not Covent Garden.
The prize is a whopping $250,000, I assume that means $US, which is way more Drag raceThat’s $100,000.
Cue the casting department, these performers can actually sing. Running condensed versions of Rehab, Material Girl, Wrecking Ball and even dancing monkey, it’s flashy and on key. That’s better.
Gingzilla impresses with a baritone voice, which contrasts with most acts showing their feminine side.
But it’s the video packages that tell the real story of how to find one’s identity, sometimes in societies where being LGBTQI is repressed, that looks beyond the costume.
Proceedings are judged on WAP which isn’t “wet a** p***y,” Norton insists, but 1) What are you wearing. 2) Star Attitude and 3) Performance.
You could go into the details of the reality competition or you could just enjoy the show in the lounge and order another cocktail. Either way, I suspect there are plenty of other talented drag queens out there who will want to prove they can do so much more than lip-sync to Gaga (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I’m already wondering who will Australia send next? Sure, Courtney Act would eat him alive, but so would Dolly Diamond, who recently moved to the UK.
Queen of the Universe debuts today on Paramount+.