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Drag Race UK queens: "There’s a classism issue with drag"


alsemanche

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alsemanche

River Medway:

River Medway, a season three queen who received critiques on the standard of her runways and openly discussed her working class background on the show, told me the following: “There is a real classist issue with drag, and it is such a taboo topic but I’m not sure why. We’re real people, and if you want to tell real stories then you have to show that warts and all. I think that sometimes they [Drag Race production] want to not speak about that. I definitely mentioned it on the show, but it never got aired.”

“It’s a grey area. If I had the money I’d have loved to have every outfit custom made, but I literally could not. I’m pretty sure I spent the least on the show out of everyone. I don’t know how much everybody spends, but you can tell who was able to afford it. And good for them, I’m not bitter about it. But imagine if I had a gorgeous fruit bowl made by a designer – it could have been amazing. I didn’t have the resources. I had two friends that helped me out sewing. I paid for two outfits from designers and that was it. All my jewellery was from eBay. It’s just a shame because you know that if some people had my budget and my resources that it would have been a different show.”

Veronica Green:

One queen who has felt the financial pressure more than most is Veronica Green, who competed on season two and season three of Drag Race UK within a very short space of time, with no time to tour and make more post-season coin due to pandemic restrictions.“It’s a big financial burden, and there was a lot of pressure to do better than I did previously. There’s an expectation from the fan base that you have this glow up transformation the second time around. A lot of people forget how fast the turn around was between season two and season three – in the midst of a global pandemic.

“People were saying ‘she’s had a year to sort herself out, and she comes back looking like this’. I only had a few weeks, trying to be Drag Race UK ready with no money. I was on the verge of bankruptcy. I couldn’t put food on the table and my fiancé was supporting me financially. My fashion is not my drag – but the fans make it so that I have to fit into a certain mould. I think sometimes the rest of us get left behind in the notion that you have to come out looking like a million dollars when some of us can’t even feed ourselves.”

Scarlett Harlett:

Scarlett Harlett also shared with me about her experience going on Drag Race UK with no money, and I asked her what she thought could change to make competing on the show more accessible. “That’s tough, because if I knew a way around that I don’t think I would have looked like I looked on season three! I’ve not been shy about saying that I’m a working class person and I had no money going into this show. My infamous wet lettuce outfit was an outfit that I hired. I don’t regret wearing it, because it became a funny moment, but would I have preferred to look stunning? Absolutely. But you have to pick and choose what you can do. People don’t understand that walking in I was so petrified about my outfits that I put immense pressure on myself to make RuPaul laugh just to try and compensate.

“It’s difficult getting ready for the show with no money, I’ll be honest with you, but you’re never going to turn Drag Race UK down.”

Salute Banks: (a London-based drag artist)

“It’s definitely unfair, and we see more POC queens affected by this. I read an article from Freida Slaves that said a lot of talented POC and Black queens from London just couldn’t even afford to apply. You can not afford to pay for expensive runways if you’re great at sewing and creating looks, but if you’re poor and can’t sew like me then you’re screwed. There are so many talented POC and Black queens in London, but we’ve seen, what? Tayce, Vanity and Asttina? In three seasons? And Tia Kofi – who was read for all of her runways. It’s unfair, classist and inaccessible for so many of us.”

Charity Kase:

Charity Kase, who created all of her looks that we saw on the show, was very passionate when speaking to me about the costs of getting ready for Drag Race UK. “You have to go into Drag Race with thousands and thousands of pounds to spend. You can’t do Drag Race on a couple of hundred pounds, it’s impossible. And if you’re lucky enough to be born into a family with money then that makes things a hell of a lot easier for you. I can tell you the difference between some of the people who spent the most compared to who spent the least and it is insane. I’m not going to say the numbers, because it’s not my place to say. But the difference is shocking.”

“If I had the money to order the gorgeous gown that inspired my koi fish look, rather than having to spend four days making it myself, I could have used them days to go and do a stand-up comedy workshop, or take choreo classes. I could only afford to make my costumes myself. You can go to a designer and buy other people’s style. You can buy other people’s taste. The harsh truth of it is that it does make a difference.”

Read more: https://thetab.com/uk/2021/11/23/theres-a-classism-issue-with-drag-drag-race-uk-queens-on-the-financial-burden-of-competing-228369

And please don't disrespect anyone if you want to discuss this. The points they're making are VERY valid and need to be addressed. 

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Ororo Munroe

i remember people discussing the possibility of producers giving queens budget so they can have decent runways, which I think is fair. pay less to RuPaul, he’s making enough money from fracking and give coins to queens so can they look as good as possible. 

Edited by Ororo Munroe
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alsemanche
Just now, Ororo Munroe said:

i remember people discussing the possibility of producers give queens budget so they can have decent runways, which I think is fair. pay less to RuPaul, he’s making enough money from fracking and give coins to queens so can look as good as possible. 

yup they discuss that in the article and all the queens agreed that it would make it fairer. Giving them budget or limiting the amount of money allowed to spend on look would even the playing field and make it more creative because they'd have to get smart with how they spend and how they construct their looks without paying a fortune for them. 

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This is a very valid criticism tbh. I feel they should be given a budget and get their outfits made within that budget. I think drag race US especially exacerbates this problem further, creating unrealistic expectations. S13 was literally like who can spend the most money.

What happened with Veronica, was downright pretty cruel. I think she didn't even want to return for S3, but she was under contract. And then with all the Awhora mess, that absolutely should have been avoided.

Even Tamisha had said, the producers take a look at all your garments before production starts. So using that, they already make a pre-judgement of how the season's gonna roll.

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Ororo Munroe
1 minute ago, alsemanche said:

yup they discuss that in the article and all the queens agreed that it would make it fairer. Giving them budget or limiting the amount of money allowed to spend on look would even the playing field and make it more creative because they'd have to get smart with how they spend and how they construct their looks without paying a fortune for them. 

tbh I always find weird that queen’s look can be a problem for them performing well on the show. like, I understand when they can’t make good looks on Ball challenge, but (no shade) when Gottmik has all the support from celebrities and money and Symone has Gigi’s mom working her ass off in a basement - of course Lala will be less acclaimed than them even if she’s a very talented drag queen. 

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ItWasntLaauv

After seeing... (AS6 spoiler)

Spoiler

Ra’Jah O’Hara schooling the season and making it to top four on AS6, while only spending 600 dollars on all her looks combined

...I have a hard time believing the sentiment that you need to have crazy sums of money to do awesome on Drag Race today. It can help of course, but I don’t love that people lean on that reason so hard. Sorry, I *mostly* disagree.

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iku iku iku

I have no interest in drag and have never seen a complete episode so I was always under the impression that they made and sewed those amazing costumes all by themselves. :selena:

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Ororo Munroe
14 minutes ago, ItWasntLaauv said:

After seeing... (AS6 spoiler)

  Reveal hidden contents

Ra’Jah O’Hara schooling the season and making it to top four on AS6, while only spending 600 dollars on all her looks combined

...I have a hard time believing the sentiment that you need to have crazy sums of money to do awesome on Drag Race today. It can help of course, but I don’t love that people lean on that reason so hard. Sorry, I *mostly* disagree.

i think it depends on what plans producers have for you. if you’re front runner in their eyes then your self made runways are highlights, but if they casted you as a filler then your runways are cheap and lazy. look at Yvie, producers loved her and wanted her to go far, but some of her looks would be dragged to filth if other “filler” queens wore them. 

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alsemanche
14 minutes ago, ItWasntLaauv said:

After seeing... (AS6 spoiler)

  Reveal hidden contents

Ra’Jah O’Hara schooling the season and making it to top four on AS6, while only spending 600 dollars on all her looks combined

...I have a hard time believing the sentiment that you need to have crazy sums of money to do awesome on Drag Race today. It can help of course, but I don’t love that people lean on that reason so hard. Sorry, I *mostly* disagree.

But the thing is, Rajah is a great seamstress and not everyone has that skill. You can learn to make a few silhouettes for a sewing challenge sure, but creating an entire wardrobe takes years of practice and skill refining. Rajah is a rare  type of contestant that can't be generalized. If you look at season 13 for example, as someone said above, it was literally  a show off competition of who spent more money on their outfits, especially towards the end. Even Bob pointed that out in their youtube series. Smaller queens who don't have a big budget can't even get their Visions to fully translate on a garment simply because they don't have the resources to execute that. You can't buy good fabric and good accessories and whatnot when you can barely afford to buy stuff off the rack. 

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bionic

A less wealthy queen will curate looks based on the given categories (they get told in advance + a few that go unused). 

A wealthy queen will commission looks based on the given categories, have second choices, back-ups, spares, etc.

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On 11/24/2021 at 9:49 AM, alsemanche said:

“If I had the money to order the gorgeous gown that inspired my koi fish look, rather than having to spend four days making it myself, I could have used them days to go and do a stand-up comedy workshop, or take choreo classes. I could only afford to make my costumes myself. You can go to a designer and buy other people’s style. You can buy other people’s taste. The harsh truth of it is that it does make a difference.”

This. To the tea. :applause:

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RahrahWitch

It's a huge issue with the show especially lately and it gets worse every season because there's the pressure to do better than previous casts. It's why I don't like having runways being a deciding factor for a win/loss. Anyone can be a look queen if they've got the money.

Majority of the queens don't make their looks and It comes down to who got the best and probably most expensive designer. The queens should all get a budget, it's only fair and would help the show too.

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Tia Kofi is the PERFECT example of this. Ru compared her to 'him' if she was dolled up properly. Literally the humour and charisma was unmatched, she just didnt have the coin to hit it as hard as US (mainly) queens. Still a fave of mine always!

Tia-Kofi.jpg

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bionic
Just now, Medusa said:

Tia Kofia is the PERFECT example of this. Ru compared her to 'him' if she was dolled up properly. Literally the humor and charisma was unmatched, she just didnt have the coin to hit is as hard as US (mainly) queens. Still a fave of mine always!

Tia-Kofi.jpg

Her post show glow up is unreal now she has Tv money

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