By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com May 19 2014 5:00 AM ET
Tonight on RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul will crown either Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, or Courtney Act as America’s Next Drag Superstar. As fans know, these three drag queens are very different performers: the 24-year-old Delano is youthful and hip; Del Rio is seasoned and sharp-witted; and Act is a glamorous entertainer who has consistently dazzled the judges with his drag transformation.
But as different as these candidates for the crown are, they have one thing in common: they are all gay men. While the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been historically diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, the show remains primarily a gay man’s competition, with the notable exception of Monica Beverly Hillz, who was the first to come out as a transgender woman while a contestant.
At the reunion show’s taping earlier this month, The Advocate asked contestants of both present and past seasons if Drag Race was ready to have a drag king, a woman who dresses to resemble a man. Unanimously, the answer among those asked was yes.
“God, I’d say anytime!” said Bianca Del Rio, whom many consider the likely champion of season 6. “They didn’t plan to have old girls, and they had a bunch of us this year. So I think anything is possible. With Ru and them, they’re always changing things up, which I think is great. Just when you think you know the formula, something switches. You never know!”
Chad Michaels, the winner of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race, agreed with Del Rio, saying, “I’m ready right now. In fact, I’ve got a couple names: Landon Cider, right here from L.A. He does this Pitbull impersonation that will just blow you away. It looks like Pitbull, but it’s a woman doing it! And that’s illusion. That’s what gets me off.”
Since Michaels and other drag queens on the red carpet suggested drag king Landon Cider, a Los-Angeles based performer whose real name is Kristine Carr, as a possible breakthrough candidate, The Advocate reached out to Carr, who was not only enthusiastic about the idea of drag kings competing on the show but also revealed she had sent an audition reel to Logo TV for this and the previous season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. So far she has not received a response.
“I think Drag Race is ready, but I’m not sure if the people are ready,” Carr says with a laugh.
Carr has heard several objections to including female drag performers in Drag Race, namely that it would be confusing for the judges and the audiences to evaluate drag kings alongside drag queens. But other reality competitions similar to RuPaul’s Drag Race, including clear forebears like America’s Next Top Model, have opened the doors to contestants of both genders. And Carr is determined to prove to RuPaul that she could “make every challenge work.”
“I would use every creative juice in my body to make every challenge work for the masculine side, because I’m a strong believer that gender is fluid, and it shouldn’t matter what gender you’re impersonating,” Carr says.
A Drag Race contestant she pointed to who represented this fluidity was Milk, a season 6 drag queen who incorporated masculine elements, such as a beard, into his drag. In one runway challenge, which tasked the contestants to wear a RuPaul-inspired ensemble, Milk impressed judges and many viewers by dressing as RuPaul the man instead of RuPaul the drag queen. His style of drag could potentially open the Drag Race doors to more androgynous drag queens, says Carr, or even drag kings such as herself.
“There’s lots of blurred lines. There’s lots of gray areas,” Carr says of drag. “I love the freedom of drag — the freedom it gives me to do whatever I want as an artist.”
Carr stresses that, for the sake of equality, drag kings should be placed on the same stage as drag queens, as opposed to having a separate season.
“I have worked hard enough to be seen as an equal,” Carr says. “Most of the shows I perform in are with queens, and most of them have been in Drag Race or are renowned across the world as drag entertainers. I just feel like I should be seen with the same level of respect and paid at the same level.”
“I feel it’s the same, what I do,” she adds. “The ton of work, and the ton of makeup, the ton of costuming, and the story that I tell in my drag is the same as queens. It’s the same level. It’s the same hard work.”
Another issue raised was lip-synching. For example, how could a drag king emerge victorious in a “lip-synch for your life,” in which a Drag Race contestant must best a competitor in a lip-synch to avoid elimination, if the chosen song is by a female artist like Aretha Franklin?
“I have no problem lip-synching to female songs and making it work for me,” Carr counters. “Because it’s not about the gender behind the song, it’s the story of the voice, the lyrics being told, the passion, and the effort put in behind the song.”
She also points to the added bonus of having female-bodied competitors on the show: lesbian viewers.
“Lots of lesbians sit at home with their cats and watch Netflix, and watch TV, and watch Logo,” Carr says. “And I’m sure if we had a lesbian on the show and a female-bodied person as a contestant, you’ll bring a demographic of viewers as well.”
And what would it mean to Carr personally if she were to one day be crowned America's Next Drag Superstar?
“It would be a dream come true,” she says. “Drag is the perfect blend of every passion that I have in artistic expression. ... And to be respected and acknowledged as among the best in the world... it would fulfill every goal of mine as an entertainer, as a human being with a passion for performance art.”
“[Moreover], it would inspire all drag kings, that they can push themselves and be whoever they want,” she concludes. “You don’t have to stay under this little box of, ‘You can’t do it. You’re just a drag king.’ No, you can do anything you want. Just make it happen.”
RuPaul's Drag Race: Reunited airs tonight at 10/9 Central on Logo TV. And see more photos of Landon Cider after the jump, or at landoncider.com.
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