Above: Family photos
RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Logo channel’s popular drag queen competition, is Björn Flóki’s favorite reality television show. During his study breaks from the New School’s film program, he and his boyfriend, Pitur, would curl up on the couch and marvel at the physical as well as the emotional transformations of each contestant throughout an episode.
“The energy is so positive, beautiful, and real,” says the Icelandic documentarian. “These are men dressing up as women, but through this process, we get to know them more as people. There’s a lot more heart and soul and humanity than most other shows.”
For Flóki, the crème de la femme was Tyra Sanchez — known in plainclothes circles as James William Ross IV — the season 2 champion who, despite his young age of 21, dazzled the judges with old-school grit and glamour. In Drag Race history, he is the youngest winner. He is also the only contestant to have a biological child.
His coup, however, was controversial. In the memorable and — literally — breathtaking season finale, the diademed Tyra hyperventilated onstage while the runner-up, Raven, scrawled a lipstick curse on the workroom mirror: “Keep reaching for the stars, because you’ll never be one.”
“I thought James was the most interesting and most complex character on Drag Race,” says Flóki, dismissing Raven’s assessment. “For some reason, people don’t respond to him as much as the other winners. I think it’s because he can seem abrasive on the surface, and that’s kind of what I want to dig underneath. I was intrigued that he was a parent. I wanted to know more about him.”
Enthused, Flóki visited Ross’s Facebook page and submitted a proposal for a potential documentary on gay parenting. Ross called him back. He was in.