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YAAS, RuPaul's Drag Race Mainstreams Gay Slang

YAAS, RuPaul's Drag Race Mainstreams Gay Slang


Google Analytics reports show phrases like 'throwing shade' and 'sashay, away' have spiked on social media since the Logo show's debut.

The credits rolled on the seventh season of the all lip-syncing, all men-dancing-in-dresses RuPaul's Drag Race on Monday, but the television series has inspired a host of words and catch phrases that will keep people talking. The phrases "kai kai," "throwing shade" and "sashay, away" have surged in popularity after being mentioned in the series, a Vocativ analysis of Google Trends has found.

The show is an irreverent America's Next Top Model for drag queens, and ticks all the boxes of a cult hit: It trended worldwide on Twitter during Monday night's closing episode, was recently renewed for an eighth season on LGBT-leaning cable network Logo TV, and has made creator RuPaul Andre Charles, better known as RuPaul, a household name in certain circles. But the seventh season premiere drew just 348,000 viewers. And unless you fall into its target demographic, there's a good chance you've never heard of it.

However, the show's unique phraseology has become a big hit in the mainstream, with Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and others compiling "dragtionaries" and glossaries of the most popular drag slang to emerge from the show for others to mimic. Internet searches for "kai kai" (rhymes with "eye eye"), which is when two drag queens engage in sexual activity, surged in March 2009 after the first season premiere. The term has remained popular, and experienced an even greater spike in February 2013, when it was rumored two of the show contestants were engaging in kai kai.

As the show gained popularity, it amplified searches for the phrase "throwing shade", which means "to talk trash about a friend or acquaintance," even if the term dates back to at least the 1980s, where it appeared in the ball culture documentary Paris is Burning. Searches for RuPaul's catchphrase "sashay, away," Drag Race's answer to The Apprentice's "you're fired" also rose considerably during its last three seasons.

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