Hi everyone! Joining me for this week's “Drag Race Dialogue” is the fabulous Trannika Rex! Trannika is a towering figure (literally) in the Chicago drag scene and hosts some of my favorite shows in the Windy City.
Chad: So you're known for a quick wit, and you've got some experience in comedy, right? What do you think of Season 6's heavy focus on performance so far?
Trannika: This is the best season so far because of it. There's more actual performance to look at than fake drama and awkward forced challenges.
Chad: I agree, but do you think it gives a chance for queens like Trinity and April to shine?
Trannika: The challenge was built aroundAdore and Courtney, so commit to being a good supporting actor. Don't worry about the singing, worry about the character.
Chad: So, this is my portrait of Laganja this week, after her video message from her parents. I really loved how sensitive she seemed in that moment.
Trannika: I feel sympathy for her, but not because of the reasons that I'm supposed to. She was thrown into this Drag Race machine and it's pulling some weird emotions out of her brain. She's Alyssa's daughter, but she's also a new queen.
Chad: Agreed. And she's a good one! I knew she was a great dancer, but I've also been impressed with her runway looks! They're diverse and quite elegant--I thought her runway look was one of the most distinctive and eye-catching this week.
Trannika: She's an incredibly amazing dancer and a sweet girl, and she's just uncomfortable on camera. As a viewer, I think she's just got some things to figure out, and I honestly just want to see her dance.
Trannika: Adore is kind of a mess, but she's so endearing, and she knows she's the butt of the joke. When the judges critique her, she's kind of like, “WELL DUH U KNEW WHEN U BROUGHT ME HERE.”
Chad: Yeah, I really like her, and I think her performance was gorgeous this week. Sultry, sexy, and a little self-deprecating. I've heard a lot of fans complaining that she's getting a free pass because of her charisma--do you think so?
Trannika: Charisma is a point of view thing. When I went out, I looked a mess for the first 2 years, but I could read a pretty girl down on the mic. And in my shows, I'd much rather cast a likable queen with charisma and questionable taste than a really pretty asshole. Some people have presence, and some people don't--and Adore has it.
Chad: Okay, so: Courtney. I think she's funny, smart, outrageously talented. Oh, right, and pretty.
Trannika: We all love Courtney because she's hot and foreign, so she's already on a pedestal. She's gracious, too. I loved last night's look, and the pink hair was brilliant.
Chad: Yeah, I think she knows exactly what she's getting into, so she'll have brought an incredible wardrobe along with her. I don't want to see the same fishy blonde each week, as flawless as she may be.
Trannika: I like her character. She can be minimal, but because she's working with such a pretty canvas, we're still just gagging at her beauty every week. If she wasn't so sweet, it wouldn't work so well.
Chad: What did you make of the "Battle of the Idols"?
Trannika: They tried so hard to push that storyline as drama when it was really just a great showcase of talent. It brought out the best in both of them.
Chad: What are your thoughts on Ben?
Trannika: I think she didn't yell loud enough in the pack of wolves this week, but she's no doubt one of the strongest competitors.
Chad: Yeah, I unabashedly love BenDeLa, and I was initially dismayed at how little screen time she got in the first few episodes... but it seems like they're almost giving her a "Jinkx" edit. Which is weird, since Ben was compared to Jinkx so often before the season started, given that they're close friends and work together. But they haven't made the connection on the show at all, at least not as far as I've noticed.
Trannika: But they aren't similar, really--let's be honest, she's a little more polished than Jinkx was on the show. I think they share a similar quirky charm and relatability.
Chad: Agreed! Yeah, Ben is savvy and talented. They've allowed her to surprise us in a few of these early episodes, giving us no clue about her quirky Rusical character until she appears onstage, stealing the scene!
Trannika: She's in the wings, and she shows up on the runway like BAM!
Chad: The same happened in the first episode, where they barely even showed her in the workroom, let alone talking with Ru.
Trannika: She's gonna be a breakout this season. She and Bianca can definitely be top three.
Chad: Do you think Bianca will suffer at all by being so dominant from the start?
Trannika: I think the Bianca Del Rio Variety Hour has been very successful so far--She's the queen we can all relate with.
Chad: Ha! I think you have more in common with Bianca than most queens.
Trannika: Bianca is a brilliant talent, so I agree with you. The show hasn't really had a character like her, and it's great. She calls the phony bullshit, the fake drama, and keeps the show earnest instead of overly sentimental.
Chad: Trannika, do you want to be Bianca Del Rio when you grow up?
Trannika: If I make it to forty-five, I hope I'm exactly like Bianca Del Rio. But really, Bianca is the reason this show exists. It's a parody of a real reality show, and she's the Greek chorus we need.
Chad: So, I brought up the focus on performance earlier, because I think it's tricky to construct challenges that make for good TV and test the skills a drag queen should have. I've always thought it would be hilarious to feature some challenges that cater to the actual club experience--like, well, a lot of the stuff you excel at: cracking up the audience, handling hecklers, getting people drunk.
Trannika: Try walking in heels through a goddamn mosh pit of drunk white people on St. Patrick's Day. Saving a failing room. Holding your drink in a certain way in pictures to hide a missing press-on nail.
Chad: Or getting dressed in a tiny basement dressing room with 5 foot ceilings. Yeah, I think for so many viewers of the show, they don't understand what the actual, day-to-day life of a drag queen is like. What shabby thrift store they get half their crap from, how many times you can wear a wig before cleaning it or throwing it away...
Trannika: If you just keep putting new wigs on top of old wigs, you can wear them for eternity. I call my biggest wig “King Rat”... She's seven wigs, and the underside looks like it was brushed with a garbage disposal. Drag is hard and sometimes is incredibly embarrassing, but it's also incredibly gratifying.
Thanks so much to Trannika Rex for taking the time to talk shit with me! Trannika's show Drag Matineeis held every Saturday at Berlin Nightclub in Chicago—this week's show features both Detox and Dida Ritz, as well as one of my absolute favorite Chicago queens, Shea Coulee!
Her monthly extravaganza Trannika's Most Wanted is the third Monday of every month at Scarlet, where she also hosts every Friday night. Her favorite shot is Fireball Whiskey.