RuPaul’s Drag Race Has Sort Of Killed Drag For Queens Who Are Not On The Show
It’s no secret that RuPaul’s Drag Race has seriously changed the drag scene since it premiered eight years ago. If you’re a drag queen today, or you know somebody who is, the pinnacle of success seems to be getting on the show, being put in front of a large drag-loving audience and then traveling the world to show them your act. But for the queens who haven’t yet made it on the show? The struggle is real.
**SPOILER ALERT** RuPaul‘s Drag Race season 8 fan favorite, Thorgy Thor, talked with us after her recent elimination and shared her take on how the show has changed the drag scene. As a queen who started doing drag before the show started, she has been around long enough to see how drag has changed.
There is so much to this interview that make it worth a full read, but Thorgy’s thoughts on how the show has changed the scene can be summed up with this quote: “The goal now is to get on TV so more people see you, and it just so happens to be RuPaul’s Drag Race has sort of killed drag for queens who are not on the show. I’ve heard this over and over, and felt it for seven years.”
Before you jump to conclusions, please read the full interview below. Thorgy breaks things down in a way that is easily digestible and is not meant to be an attack on RuPaul or the show. Enjoy!
Queerty: Hi Thorgy, how have you been since your elimination?
Thorgy: Good. Busy. I had been doing a viewing party in Brooklyn every single Monday and I knew I was getting eliminated this week, so I just had to have the balls to show up and watch it with everybody, and I did. I got received very well and everyone was screaming.
You were one of the fan favorites this season and I’ve seen some pretty angry responses online since you were eliminated. It’s sad to see fans redirect their anger at other queens still in the competition. How do you feel about fans getting angry at Chi Chi DeVayne and Derrick Barry over your elimination?
Oh, is that’s what’s happening? You’re literally the first person to mention it. I didn’t know fans are really hating on Derrick and Chi Chi. I wish they would stop. I wish they would stop hating and stop directing outward toward any of them.
Every character is like a Pokemon… we’re doing our own thing and then we’re pinned against each other in this really intense, horrible competition, which is just like RAAAA! [laughs] We’re just trying to show off our individuality and I think we’ve all done that, so stop hating everybody.
Everyone likes to find their favorite and then shit on everyone else. There’s nothing fun about that.
You were a fan favorite this season, so when you got eliminated, I was definitely shocked.
Yeah, it was a little crappy to watch. It was like UGH. Honestly, when I saw the episode, it was a weight off of my shoulders to be honest. I knew it the whole time when I got back. I didn’t win. Everyone the whole time was like, “You’re my favorite. You’re gonna win. You’re top three. I’m gonna jump off a bridge if you don’t win.” So I was just like, “Oh, thank you,” knowing how well I did. [laughs] I’m not upset. I don’t regret anything.
You are so talented and it showed during your time on the show. Why do you think you second guessed yourself so much, and has that changed since filming?
I have a lot of ideas, so it’s really hard for me to edit when I have so many ideas. The reason why I like this industry so much, and why I do it wholeheartedly, is that I’ve always felt that being a drag artist and an entertainer is the perfect career for people like me who can’t control their creative ideas.
I always thought it was an attribute that was kind of revered and celebrated, and something for people to be jealous of. I was always kind of proud that I was a crazy person and I was artistic and I can’t help it.
If I was a banker or anything else I would fail at it because I couldn’t keep my attention with very mundane things, so doing this is an outlet. It’s embraced me and worked very well for me.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has changed drag so much and has brought it more into the mainstream than ever before, so much so that some people are complaining that it has killed drag. Do you think drag is dead and, if not, what do you think is next for the artform?
No, I don’t think drag is dead. Drag is fun. [laughs] I just feel like the days of YouTube and all these television shows have made it so that people can sit at home and watch, rather than coming out. For me it was always about getting people to come out to the show. Support the queens. Tip the girls. It was that kind of industry. Come out. Come out to the live shows. Now that you can watch everything on TV, it’s kind of killed the going out of it all.
The goal now is to get on TV so more people see you, and it just so happens to be RuPaul’s Drag Race has sort of killed drag for queens who are not on the show. I’ve heard this over and over, and felt it for seven years. People would come to New York, and if Adore Delano was in town they would all flock to that show. Meanwhile, we’re begging and begging for bigger budgets for the clubs and trying to find more money to do better shows in New York. People will pay a $25 ticket and flock to go see one of the Drag Race girls, but they’ll never come out to see all the local girls.
See that and struggling for $50 a night in Brooklyn always pisses you off a little bit. So now it’s a goal to get on TV, that’s why I tell all my girlfriends to audition for the show. I did it, and I’m very happy, and now when I go do a show people come out again.
RuPaul’s Drag Race hasn’t killed drag, but it’s changed the game a whole bunch.
I was a pre-YouTube queen, pre-Drag Race, so I’m sure you could go out there and find some horrible, horrible pictures of me looking terrible with makeup on. Now girls come out who have quit their jobs to become a drag queen, and I’m like, “You’re a fool! What are you talking about?” When I started I was always playing music and running around like a crazy person. I was thinking about myself as a drag artist.
I started doing numbers where I painted my body red and walked in slow motion in the streets for two hours. Then there was this other piece where I did pocket-to-pocket where my whole outfit was made out of a bunch of pockets. I would encourage people that got near me to take something out of their pocket and trade it with something in one of my pockets, like pictures of them and their children that they took out of their wallet or one time I found keys in there. That’s the school that I come from, and now any girl who quits their job and watches Miss Fame’s makeup tutorial on YouTube comes out, looks gorgeous and wants to get paid.
So Drag Race has killed the excitement of being a little sloppy because now the expectations are so much higher. It seems to be really saturated with everyone looking like Miss Fame, and everyone wants to get paid. You laugh, but it’s true. We watched it over the years. It’s over-saturated, it’s too much, gurl.
You’ve auditioned for the show time after time, so first of all, congrats on finally making it! Other than the typical “be yourself” advice, what thoughts can you share with queens who are auditioning for future seasons?
Put all your heart and your soul into your audition video. Bring out those outfits in the back of your closet that you keep, you know? You’re like, “Not yet. Not yet.” I would say, if you want to get on the show, it’s more competitive than ever now, so whip out those looks in the video because nobody is going to see your audition video.
Also, just really show your personality. They’re booking you because of you because of something you think they want you to be. Really be true to yourself. Be honest. Be yourself and really go for it.
Who are you rooting for to win?
My opinion has changed a lot, even being on the show. I was kind of intuitive that certain girls were being treated and set up a little different than other girls during the show. I think Bob the Drag Queen and Kim Chi are absolutely going to be in the top two and I think one of them is going to win, but I’m secretly rooting for Naomi Smalls. I just fell in love with her.
Now that you have a worldwide fan base and a very strong brand, what are your future plans for yourself and for continuing to build your brand?
Cool. Good question. Well, I don’t have some big master plan. I’m a very artistic person and I’m also a Gemini, so I pick everyone else’s brains around me. I try to surround myself with really intelligent people and that’s who I’m asking. Like, “What do I do now? What would you do?” So, I’m learning as I go. One step at a time.
Right when I got off the show it got very, very saturated really quick. Everybody wants to see Thorgy and I’m like, “Relax! We don’t have to do everything all at once.” So, it would be one show and another show. I want to pour my heart into things that I really care about, so I can create great works.
I want to do a stage adaptation of Shel Silverstein poems with multimedia things, and I want to change costumes with every poem he wrote and turn into the characters. I want it to be a children’s show and I’d love to tour with that. That’s just one idea. Another idea is doing 80-piece orchestra called the “Thorchestra.” I want to do it at Carnegie Hall, why not? And tour with it.
I want them all to be these big projects where I actually do want people to buy a stupid ticket. Come! Dress up for the red carpet of the Thorchestra at Lincoln Center. It’s a reason for people to go out and dress up and feel special, like, “I got a ticket. I saw that.”
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