So, the season ends, and I'm met with mixed emotions. I love the weekly excitement of each new episode, getting to know and illustrate all my favorite girls... but it can also be exhausting, especially since life likes to throw other things into my schedule besides illustrating drag queens. Regardless, I'm endlessly grateful that I've fallen into this crazy line of work, and that so many of you have responded with such enthusiasm about it. During the season, I pretty much structure my entire life around my weekly illustrations, but I can only maintain that momentum for so long before needing a break! If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have heard about my quick little trip out to LA last week--and yes, it was to attend the taping of the finale! What a crazy few weeks! First, my work was featured on last week's recap episode, then I got to see the actual filming of the show! I'm really appreciative of So Much Drama! Studios for arranging the whole adventure, and I'm SO excited that our game RuPaul's Drag Race: DRAGOPOLIS is finally out! I did nearly all the art and animation in the game, so if you like my Drag Race work, you should definitely check it out!
In any case, I was fascinated to see how the televised version of the finale matched up to my memories of the taping. Obviously, I can't divulge any juicy secrets, but let's dive into it, shall we?
If you're invested enough in the Drag Race to follow the blog of some random fan art fanatic like me, you've probably heard how the finale was structured--three alternate endings were shot, with each queen winning the crown, and the real winner was revealed at a live event in NYC, where each queen performed in person. I'm a little jealous of everyone at the party in New York, because I'm sure the performances were a hell of a lot more rousing than the opening number of the reunion--my boyfriend (who never watches the show) said it best: "They all look bored."
But given my own experience the day of the shoot, I can understand why--those queens had been waiting around for hours and hours before the show began. They weren't bored, they were tired. One huge lesson learned from the taping was that good TV takes time! All the lighting, the cameras, the sound equipment--not to mention the make-up, choreography, and rehearsals--it made me realize what a miracle each episode of the show is, how many talented professionals behind the scenes work long, long hours to make it all happen.
So I can't blame the girls for such a subdued opening act. Even from out in the audience, it was clear that some of the queens just didn't want to be there. I'm sure some are still bitter about being booted off the show too soon, or being turned into a punchline. But one of the welcome surprises was from Penny Tration, who maintained a buoyant sense of good-natured goofiness throughout the shoot. (Maybe it helps that she was dressed like a deranged clown!)
Given how much time we've spent with the final three queens in the last few weeks, I was most excited to revisit some of the queens we hadn't seen in a while. Monica looked gorgeous in her flowing pink gown, and Lineysha was serving up a striking avian headpiece, even if, as usual, her personality wasn't as compelling as her fashion choices.
Ivy Winters looked more sleek and glamorous than she had all season, and she projected a sense of fun, quirky charm that I hadn't seen during the competition. Although she struggled to stand out amid the over-sized personalities of the other contestants, she's obviously gorgeous and talented, and it was great to see her win the title of Miss Congeniality. The best part (which sadly didn't make it to TV) was seeing Latrice try to fit the sash over Ivy's colossal feather headpiece. (It took a while.)
After the season's endless drama between Coco and Alyssa, it was a relief to finally see them acting nicely with each other, despite some playful sparring. As many others have pointed out, Alyssa is clearly a breakout star of the season, and it's no wonder!--her infectious zeal for performance, her over-sized expressions, the way she cracks herself up with her own jokes? You can't take your eyes off her!
And yet, she always leaves you scratching your head--from the audience, it looked like her white dress was speckled with blood, which was an odd choice. I debated it with others in the audience, and we just couldn't figure out why Alyssa would be wearing that. Maybe Alaska, maybe Sharon, but Alussa? We struggled to come up with a reason, like, maybe she's referencing all the tussles she got into throughout the season? As I was looking at red carpet photos of the dress, I realized it was actually patterned with red roses, but that's only apparent upon close examination. Is it supposed to work on multiple levels? Like so much of what Alyssa does, it's hard to tell if she's in on the joke or not.
But hey, at least we finally learned what "Alyssa's secret" is!
Detox pretty much stole the show with both her attitude and her show-stopping film noir look. This finale reaffirmed her fierceness, and it's easy to understand her bitterness at not making it into the final three. Not that she needs the crown, or not yet. (Future winner of ALL STARS, Season 2?)
The crazy dance break that interrupted Detox's interview was just as abrupt and bizarre in person as it was on the screen. But it was a little dirtier, since they edited out some of the, uh, floppier bits. Shawn and Jason, the Pit Crew, were onstage with all those Andrew Christian models, but a lot of what they were doing wasn't quite appropriate for television. (Let's just say that Andrew Christian underwear leaves a lot of, uh, wiggle room.)
Whew! Finally! We've made it to the top three! Geez, this reunion episode was long, wasn't it? It was heartening to hear Roxxxy's apologies, and I was swayed by her sincerity. I think she's gone a long way toward rehabilitating her image, and you couldn't help but feel her pain as she talked about losing her drag mother, Erica Andrews.
But you can always count on Alaska to break up the sentimental moments with a bracing jolt of wit. Although I didn't love her final look--so much pink!--I love that queen so much.
Picking between her and Jinkx must have been tough. Although Jinkx was the clear frontrunner, she peaked a little too early in the season--she delivered some highlights with her Day of the Dead look, her outrageous lip sync, and her veteran's makeover, but nothing could quite match her transcendental channeling of Little Edie during the Snatch Game. And Alaska started gaining momentum too late in the game--because of Rolaskatox, and the Sharon comparisons--and it took a while for viewers to really get her.
And so Jinkx took home the crown, which will hopefully serve as a springboard for innumerable other fabulous accomplishments. Besides the usual club tours, I'm so excited to see that Jinkx has already booked a number of performances in NYC for her show, The Vaudevillians, a fabulous duo act with Major Scales. I'm jealous of all you New Yorkers who get to see the show, though I'm optimistic that she's a star that will keep shining for a long, long time. Here's to MONSOON SEASON!
Thanks for following all this season's work! It means a lot to get such great encouragement, and all your support has really taken me tremendously far this past year. The attention I've gotten from my Drag Race work is largely what has allowed me to make a living doing what I love to do, and that's pretty much all a guy can ask for. How cool is it that my "day job" is drawing drag queens for posters, comics, and video games?
Speaking of all that, I've updated The Sellout Store to feature this week's latest Drag Race art, and I've made50 QUEENS, the book collection of my favorite Season 5 art, available for pre-order! I'm still working on the final cover design and layout, but I'm planning to have the book printed and mailed out by the end of the month!
If that's still not enough Drag Race art for you, I've also got another FAB.COM sale scheduled to start May 21st! They'll be featuring exclusive 18" x 24" prints of my Season 5 queens!
If you've enjoyed my work this season, check out my crazy comics and see a whole other side of how my brain works!