Joining me to talk DRAG RACE this week is Lucy Stoole! She's a colorful, creative, and crazy queen in Chicago. I was dying to talk to her about this week's episode and how it did (or didn't) deal with the wonderful world of genderfuck drag. -----------------------------
Chad: This episode had A LOT. A goofy granny mini-challenge, a Shakespearean acting challenge, and then a legendary runway. But obviously, I want to talk about beards.
Lucy: One of my favorite subjects!
Chad: You have a wondrous beard yourself, Lucy. I assume it is grown naturally and lovingly.
Lucy: Why thank you! It requires plenty of maintenance, but it's worth it.
Chad: How do you think the queens did with this week's challenge?
Lucy: You know, I think most of them did a great job! And even the ones who failed miserably still manged to look somewhat attractive. I was really surprised how so many of them just happened to have these perfect lacefronts for this challenge.
Chad: Who were your favorites?
Lucy: Max really infused her personal style into this challenge in a cool way. Baberham Lincoln was flawlessly executed, but I think my favorite was Violet. Second runner up, Trixie Mattel for looking like my long distant cousin.
Chad: I thought Max looked like a fabulous Batman villain, and I started drawing his look as soon as I saw it in the sneak previews!
Lucy: How could you not? It was one of the first looks I saw, and I definitely slow clapped.
Chad: What are your thoughts on Max overall?
Lucy: I'm really into her fantasy. I think she's also a sweet girl and a talented artist. I feel like she has a really complete vision of what she's going for and who she is as an artist. Accent and all.
Chad: Yeah, I think she's providing the most consistently excellent and artistic looks, so far. I feel like she got a bit more screen time this episode – it was great to see her take charge of her team and console Jaidynn during the acting challenge.
Lucy: That was another moment that made me like her even more.
Chad: But I feel like Max is fairly restrained and overly polite, which is holding her back from grabbing people's attention on the show.
Lucy: She's going to need to open up to the viewers and the other girls a bit more. As it stands, I feel like we don't know enough to really connect with her. She's this beautiful mannequin.
Chad: Ha! A very creative one.
Lucy: Speaking of mannequins, Pearl's beard was pretty badass, too.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely. I loved the crazy hair, the clever use of the devil's tail. The beard felt very...
Chad and Lucy at the same time: Ryan Burke!
Lucy: OMG HAHAH
Chad: You were thinking the same thing?
Lucy: First thing I thought of when I saw it!
Chad: Yeah, I love Pearl's inventiveness. It might not always work, and she might be half-asleep, but she's always such a vision.
Lucy: The thing I like most about Pearl is her polished looks and her emptiness. It just reminds me of those heroin chic models of the past. She's like this drugged-up-ex-model turned house wife you want to hang out with, even though she can barely stay awake.
Chad: I agree about Katya -- definitely an extremely clever look, probably one of the most memorable that will come out of this season! I loved how the short, curly hairdo blended perfectly with the signature Lincoln beard.
Lucy: And that suit jacket with the men's shirt and gown on the bottom?!?!? SO into it.
Chad: You said you liked Violet's the most – what about it?
Lucy: It just seemed so natural to me. It wasn't like the beard was an extra costume piece. She was just this beautiful vintage prom date who just so happened to have a beard. It felt similar to what I do in drag, or at least what I'm trying to put across.
Chad: Yeah, I was especially intrigued by Violet this week. It wasn't as immediately striking to me, but as I've looked at it more and drawn it, I've come to love it. It was such a lovely combination of virginal, vintage prom dress with this very elegant, adorable hairdo and beard. Just a very unexpected combination and sublime result.
Lucy: So perfect! This girl is really a force to be reckoned with.
Chad: Did you perform at the Drag Matinee she came up to Chicago for?
Lucy: No, but I was out in the crowd. One of my best friends moved to Atlanta and gogo dances at one of the bars she works at. She called me "Lucy Stooles," but I remember being so starstruck by her pink latex beauty that I was just like "HIIIIIII! YOU KNOW MY NAME?!?!?"
Chad: What do you think about her depiction on the show? It seems like she's having a hard time connecting with the other queens so far and always getting picked last!
Lucy: I don't think she's malicious in any way, just young and equipped with a bit of an ego. But I'd have a big head, too, if my waist was 4 inches and everything I ever wore was immaculate.
Chad: Yeah, I think Violet exemplifies the arrogance of youth that some of the older queens were bemoaning this episode.
Chad: Kasha, Ginger, Jasmine, and Kennedy came across as a little bitter while discussing the others. And I get that, especially regarding Violet! But there's something to be said about the glorious glamour and inventiveness that Pearl, Violet, Trixie, and Miss Fame bring to the show!
Lucy: Oh yeah! We all caught that bitterness during that discussion!
Chad: It must be so galling to see these queens who were probably inspired to do drag BY the show, and often for just a year or two!
Lucy: I'd be a bit bitter about that if I was in their shoes, for sure. But I'd also see that as my advantage and not be so threatened.
Chad: This generational issue was pretty prominent last season, too. I would guess as the show continues, the gap will widen – pre-RPDR queens versus those who were raised on it!
Lucy: I think some of the older girls really let that get into their heads and make them doubt themselves. And I can't blame them for it because this is definitely a youth driven society in all forms. But I'd feel pretty confident standing next to anybody on that stage once I got there. I'm also crazy, so...
Chad: So, that's something I wanted to ask you about. I think it's fair to say that you're a somewhat edgy queen who's interested in pushing some boundaries and challenging the expectations for typical drag performance. What are your thoughts on the Drag Race in general, and what it means for the show to have a challenge like this week's Bearded Beauties?
Lucy: Well, the one thing I was really surprised by was the lack of history and any other mention to bearded drag and its place in the community. It's awesome that we have people like Conchita Wurst and Mathu Anderson as popular spokespeople for genderfuck drag, but it would have been nice to give some sort of background info to the masses.I also thought it would be cool if the contestants had a chance to talk about gender and gender identity a bit more. I'm sure that all the girls had something to say on this subject and we never really heard anything from them, negative or not.
Chad: I agree 100%! I wanted to know who was comfortable with the idea of fucking with drag, who was into it, and who just wanted to pack her bags, paint on a chinstrap, and go home.
Chad: The show tends to focus on the personalities and conflicts among the cast, rather than the social context you're interested in. (Sadly)
Lucy: I know! It's the biggest of wishful thinking on my behalf. But it also brings up a lot of questions about what the show is really doing for the drag community and for the gay community.
Lucy: If you have a platform this huge that can reach audiences worldwide and even shape people's perceptions, why not use it for all the good you can?
Chad: The challenge felt more like a nod to the trend of bearded queens, like Milk, Mathu, and Conchita, rather than an earnest exploration of gender and beauty standards.
Lucy: EXACTLY! A trend! Just like what I was called when I first started doing drag – a trend, a gimmick or a crutch.
Chad: And then weirdly enough, with the show featuring a challenge like this, it renders it more mainstream and less subversive, for better or worse.
Lucy: Absolutely! If you really wanted to showcase bearded beauty, put one of us on your show, Ru!
Chad: Yeah, I do have to say that, given the success of Milk on the show, I really expected at least one truly genderfucking queen this season. And although I LOVE most of the season 7 cast, I was disappointed.
Lucy: It seems like they're edging closer to it, but it's still something they're just not so sure about. Which surprises the hell out of me! RuPaul has seen it all! Homegirl has been in the trenches for thirty years, and she can't tell me she herself hasn't been inspired by the cast of characters she grew up around.
Chad: That's a fair point!
Lucy: I want girls that embody the spirit of the Cockettes and the attitude of Divine with the art of Leigh Bowery.
Chad: Oh god, if anyone reading this hasn't watched The Cockettes documentary, they must go experience it now.
Chad: But see, this is the counterpoint --This isn't how I feel, but this is me speculating about the POV of Ru and of the Drag Race producers – I think it's very, very, very hard to make a TV show and to be culturally relevant. And one of the crucial things necessary to that is to be *entertaining.* And I think the concern is that some segments of the audience will immediately disengage as soon as they feel like they're being lectured to or challenged.
Lucy: Very true!
Chad: AND, weirdly, not everyone wants to fuck shit up like you and I might like to.
Lucy: Don't I know it!
Chad: I think it's entirely fair to question the choices of the show, and we saw that happen in a BIG way last year. Inevitably, whenever one figure becomes a prominent voice in an otherwise disenfranchised community, they'll shoulder some responsibility and scrutiny for that position.
Lucy: I just feel so strongly about the gender warriors in drag who are great talents and don't get the spotlight that they deserve.
Chad: Then give some Lucy Stoole shout outs, girl! School the children! And me!
Lucy: Grace Towers, who owns the San Fran and has the bushy sex princess on lock. Helvetika Black is one of the smartest and trash mouthed beauties I've never had the pleasure of meeting. Branden Hollywood is in Florida making that state better one lqqk at a time. Queens like Anna Bortionwho look like the gothic version of Trixie Mattel, and who also dons a beard when he/she feels like it.
Chad: I love Glitz Glam, too!
Lucy: OMFG! So epic!!! Him and Klitorika Browne really inspired me to go crazy with color. And they're just the tip of the furry iceberg. So many people are starting to question what the purpose of this art form is to society and themselves, and it's bringing about some really great work.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely! Did you have any other thoughts on the show/drag/beards that you wanted to share?
Lucy: Overall, I thought the show and the challenge were a great stepping stone in the Drag Race herstory. I think it showcased beautiful artists adapting to and positively showcasing their versatility (minus that pube bush on Kennedy's face). I also hope and dream that this challenge will end up inspiring producers and Ru herself to bust that box wide open and bring some more diverse drag/genderfuck/queer performers to the Ru-niverse. Especially me. Hahahahahah
Isn't Lucy great? She's busy, too! She hosts FABITATevery second and fourth Wednesday at Door No. 3 -- next week's headliner is "bear daddy supreme," Big Dipper! She's at Berlin Nightclub for LQQKSevery first Thursday and for GLO every second Sunday. She also hosts QUEEN! on Sundays at smartbar. And you can always find her on Facebook,Instagram,Twitter, or Tumblr!(The stunning photo on the right is by Kater Jane. Such a masterpiece.)
And as always, you can find a ton of this week's art on my Etsy store!