Joining me to talk Drag Race this week is Shea Couleé, one of my absolute favorite queens in Chicago!
Chad: I've been hearing a lot of complaints about this season. And while I do think there have been issues with the pacing, with Ru's decisions, and with the constant group challenges, this episode was a real turning point for me. What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Shea: The jury is still out on this season. I want to like it, really I do. I feel like having known Trixie and Pearl beforehand really made me wanna be invested in the show. But as of right now, I feel like I am having a hard time staying invested on the journey of Season 7.
Chad: Fair enough. Did this episode stand out to you, or not? I got really engaged in Jaidynn's storyline and performance. The runway slayed me. And for once, Ru made a decision I agreed with.
Shea: I really liked hearing more about Jaidynn. I struggle with the same lack of support from my family due to a strict Christian upbringing, and it allowed me to identify with her more. I really do like Jaidynn. I find her quite lovable, and her humility and passion are very endearing.
Shea: The group challenges thus far, I feel, have made it difficult for the queens to stand out on their own. I feel like they're not getting the chance to shine and do what they really feel represents themselves because they are confined to group challenges.
Chad: Yeah, agreed. It can make for good drama when the queens butt heads and are forced to work together, but I think it's been a bit overdone. Even Violet said so!
Shea: Oh yeah! But all of the conflicts the producers are highlighting seem snatched from thin air. They open up a storyline of conflict between queens each episode, and they never see it through. There's not conclusion, they never really address it the next episode, and then start something new. It's all just so trivial and transparent.
Chad: Yeah, I guess that's why this episode felt like a breath of fresh air. Kind of. Jaidynn has her very real struggles. Miss Fame is her own worst enemy. Max had his issues with the other queen's raunchiness.
Shea: Yeah? Like why was max's disinterest in talking about sex with the other queens even a storyline?
Chad: Well, I think it's kind of interesting, because Max's relationship to the other queens has been an ongoing issue. Whether they get her or not, whether they think she's uptight.
Shea: What are the producers trying to show us with Max? I don't get the direction Max's storyline is going. Frankly, I'm bored.
Chad: Well, here's my take on Max: He's an artist. Of a different kind than we usually see on this show. I really live for most of his runway looks. Just really different, lovely stuff. A very refined and unusual aesthetic.
Shea: I have really liked them. I have.
Chad: The issue of Max's relationship to the other queens and to their raunchy conversations is intriguing to me because that sort of thing has been on my mind: Queens tend to favor raunchy humor, they can get up to sexual hijinks onstage, and even with the audience. By hijinks, I just mean flirtation, touching, etc. Mostly.
Chad: And where do you draw the line as a performer? What if that's not your bag?
Shea: Like for me, though my character is very sexy, I'm careful about how raunchy my interactions are with people because they can easily take it overboard. I think for Drag, no comedy should really be off limits. It's all about the approach and having a good understanding of your audience. A good performer knows when to draw the line. I may touch a patron, but it's nothing more than a face caress, a hand on the shoulder, or a kiss on the cheek. It's all very innocent – I don't have to try to be raunchy, because when you see me, you just get it.
Chad: Ha! I do.
Shea: And people also get that I am not the type of girl who will tolerate someone getting fresh with her. I'll put you in your place really quick if I feel you're being disrespectful.
Chad: Good to hear! But to sum up: you're not into Max and whatever story is being told about her this season?
Shea: I'm not. I wish I was. I wish that we were given more insight to the artist Max is. But her edit is just not doing her any favors. I feel like I'm not going to get anything more out of Max, and I'm bored...
Chad: Do you think it's fair to criticize her for the consistency of her runway looks and gray hair?
Shea: No. Pearl is always blonde? So is RUPAUL. Michele just likes to critique queens who don't fit her aesthetic for drag
Chad: I guess that the gray hair is more distinctive than a typical blond wig, so it sticks out more.
Chad: So, you mentioned that a lot of the conflicts and storylines so far have lacked teeth. However, it does seem like a recurring issue is Pearl's attitude and efforts to open up more. What do you make of her time on the show?
Shea: That's just Pearl. I think the same thing happened to her in Chicago – Girls are rattled by her confidence. And when that happens, people put a target on your back, so that they can highlight any weaknesses there are. Pearl's attitude is obviously a defense mechanism. She puts up a wall and looks down her nose so as to not appear weak or vulnerable. But we saw that wall break after her lip sync against Trixie.
Chad: Yeah, good point. She's SUCH a divisive queen. She has a ton of vocal fans, a lot of people who are over her, and a whole lot more people who like to Photoshop her face anywhere and everywhere
Shea:She is definitely the meme queen for season 7.
Chad: I think it's her irreverence, the fact that she doesn't seem to take things seriously. Some people love it that she talks back to Mama Ru, whereas others see that as a cardinal sin.
Shea: But being polarizing keeps people talking, and that's what you want, so that you can continue getting booked after your season is over...
Chad: Yeah, and I don't think she has anything to worry about in that regard.
Shea: Nah. She'll be fine.
Chad: Another figure I've been fascinated by this season has been Miss Fame.
Shea: OMG YEAH!
Chad: I had assumed we wouldn't see much personality from her, but man! She's such a character!
Shea: Not what I expected her to be like. She's a whackadoodle, and I find it endearing.
Chad: I can totally understand the other queens' frustration with her, but I find her really endearing, too.
Shea: I don't know what planet she's from, but I'm glad she picked Earth to visit.
Chad: Ross's reply to her emotional explosion was priceless: "I feel like I'm dating you."
Shea: I KNOW! I died! I love that we get more Ross this season. I love him...
Chad: The other main queens that I drew this week and want to talk about are Violet and Katya. And Kennedy's RIDICULOUS runway look.
Shea: Kennedy was a hot mess.
Chad: She kept explaining the story behind her runway outfit, and I JUST DIDN'T GET IT. She was a dead rooster? She was a dead rooster. She died of cock.
Shea: She was a mess. She died of bad taste.
Shea: These challenges have been very acting heavy this season. I know one of the challenge producers, and literally ALL of them are writers, actors, and comedians with theatre and film backgrounds. So naturally, they think about writing scripts and creating stories before they think about making looks out of garbage and hand-me-downs.
Chad: You know what we HAVEN'T seen at all this season? A photo challenge.
Chad: Or even a good design challenge.
Shea: I don't know if we really will.
Chad: Is that why the runway looks usually seem like an afterthought?
Shea: Yeah, but I was into the runway this week, though some girls clearly missed the point. I get that the theme is death. But some of them forgot completely about GLAMOUR!
Chad: I thought the runway looks were REALLY strong!
Shea: Same, same.
Chad: Yeah, Kennedy's was some crazy roadkill catastrophe. Kandy's was sleek, but too simple.
Shea: It looked so cheap. My mom used the fabric from Kandy's dress to make throw pillows in the guest bedroom at our house. NO JOKE.
Chad: Ginger's was a little weird. Was she eaten by a bear? Because it looks more like she had killed a bear and was wearing its hide.
Shea: Agreed! That coat is from fucking URBAN OUTFITTER.
Chad: But Katya, Max, Violet, Pearl, and Fame. They all got it! Katya wasn't necessarily GLAMOROUS, but come on.
Shea: Agreed. I LAUGHED out loud when I saw her.
Chad: I really liked Jaidynn's, though it didn't deliver on the glamour as much.
Shea: I guess it's not ALL about the glamour. But you have to SELL IT.
Chad: Right. Pearl's outfit was apparently thrown together at the last minute (as discussed in Untucked) but her crazy runway walk sold it.
Shea: Totally. You HAVE to, or no one will care.
Shea Couleé hosts #FACE every Wednesday at Hydrate in Chicago! She's in The Naughty Little Cabaret this Saturday at Mother's Bar. You can catch her on Tony Soto Show, out every Wednesday. And you can find her on Facebook and Twitter!
My Drag Race art is available on posters, prints, and postcards! Find them at my Etsy Store!