Drag Race has moved on from tucking being important, so why hasn’t RuPaul?
When Drag Race is casting all genders, why is RuPaul still commenting on queens’ tucks?
In the early days of RuPaul’s Drag Race, tucking was arguably a focus. For the longest time, every queen that competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race was a cis man, and the criteria of a tight tuck was one that seemed to be of the upmost importance to both the queens and the judging panel. For the uninitiated, tucking is where owners of a penis tape it back up behind them to give themselves no bulge in drag. Back in season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race, competing queen Jade Sotomayor was constantly under fire from Ru over her “meaty tuck”, comments that she openly said embarrassed her when filming. Drag Race has always had a tunnel visioned expectation on its drag, but has over the years evolved and embraced more alternative approaches and has cast women (both trans and cis) to the point where it doesn’t feel like tucking is of the upmost importance to fans or queens. So why did RuPaul feel the need to single out Choriza May for her tuck on episode five of season three?
Why is it important?
Choriza May took the comments seemingly in her stride. She’s an iconic and good humoured queen, and didn’t seem particularly bothered by the critique. But what is RuPaul actually looking for in her queens competing? In early seasons of Drag Race, you can hear Ru critique the runways with comments like “very real”. Very real, what? Are we looking for someone who looks like a woman? Is that the criteria? We are surely here to celebrate the art and craft of drag. It doesn’t matter how hard or tight someone pulls their penis up behind them, all that matters is they slay the challenges and the runway.
The queens are more and more diverse – so why aren’t the critiques?
This season, queens like Victoria Scone and Charity Kase broke down both Drag Race UK and the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise expectation boundaries. Victoria, as we know, changed the game by being the first AFAB queen to be cast on the show – clearly tucking is a non-factor here. Charity Kase’s drag is her own definition of glamour, horror and beauty standard. She doesn’t shave her legs and doesn’t tuck for a lot of looks. So why was Choriza singled out? It’s a strange request. Perhaps I just wasn’t looking out for it, but I didn’t clock Choriza having a visible bulge in any of her runway looks. The whole critique felt completely off and although Choriza handled it well on camera, fan reaction has been a different matter. One said: “Didn’t they just allow a cis female to compete on the show? To me, that rule change immediately shield bad tucks from legitimate critiques.”
Queens have to adjust for Drag Race compared to the outside world, but tucking comments aren’t needed
By this point, it’s quite accepted that there is a versatility requirement to succeed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and to be honest, I do think fair enough. You can do your brand and shtick forever before and after the show, and use the platform and financial gain you will get from going onto the show in the form of tours, club appearances and other media work to forward your art and craft in whatever way you want. But for RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag Race UK runways and challenges, you make changes. You meet the criteria, and show you can do things other than what you’re known for. It’s the key to Drag Race success, and even if queens don’t love what they’ve done at least it shows they can rise to different occasions when called for.
But tucking is different, and a queen who doesn’t tuck tightly and isn’t striving for indistinguishable female illusion shouldn’t be feeling like they have to change that. If the runway is a serve and meets the brief, who cares?
Going forward, keep casting diversely
Perhaps the issue here is that the queens who don’t tuck outweigh the ones that do put a lot of focus on it. All franchises of RuPaul’s Drag Race, including Drag Race UK, need to continue casting alternate types of drag like what Charity does, and continue to cast more trans and cis women so that there isn’t just one or two people diversifying the cast and so that it represents a wider spectrum of drag. If everyone’s doing something different, it makes comments about tucking irrelevant when they’re currently just bad taste. Shows like The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula critiques its queens way more fairly, and Drag Race should take a leaf out of their book in the future
See all these Drag Race UK season three reactions in action now on BBC iPlayer. For all the latest Drag Race memes and Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.
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