May 13, 2013

TV Talk: Rupaul’s Drag Race Declares “It’s Monsoon Season”

Rupaul's Drag Race season 5 "Reunited" jiveinthe415.com

Why Jerick Hoffer’s “Jinkx Monsoon” is destined to be a star!


When season 1 of Rupaul’s Drag Race premiered on the fledgling “gay” network  Logo in February 2009, there were 9 drag queens and a $25,000 prize for the winner. Season 5 of Rupaul’s Drag Race debuted in January 2013, with 14 drag queens, which is the largest cast to date, and a $100,000 cash prize for the winner.

Rupaul is the host of Rupaul's Drag Race jiveinthe415.com

Before Rupaul’s Drag Race existed, Rupaul Charles was arguably the most famous and successful drag performer in the country. His dance anthem Supermodel (You Better Work) reached # 2 on the Billboard Dance Charts, and he’s had a successful career through the years as an actor, model, female impersonator, writer, and recording artist. Because of his success, and high profile in the gay community, hosting his own television show was a natural progression.

Rupaul's Drag Race Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon is crowned jiveinthe415.com

In the United States, female impersonators haven’t found success in front of mainstream audiences, and Rupaul’s Drag Race is the first television show starring drag queens with crossover appeal. While the LGBT community largely embraces our drag queens, there’s a vocal minority who feel that drag queens are the black sheep in the family.

I love Rupaul’s Drag Race, and wish that it was on CBS each week. With the rapidly changing mood of the country, it isn’t far fetched to believe that we’ll see a great female impersonator regularly on network television, in the near future.

Rupaul's Drag Race Season 5 finalis Alaska jiveinthe415.com

In the UK, they’ve had camp actors and comedians, and great drag queens, in films and on television for decades. The late great camp comic actor Kenneth Williams, and Frankie Howerd, were revered by British audiences, and I can’t think of any American actors who would be their equivalent.

Graham Norton has been hosting his popular chat show on BBC One since 2010, which is the flagship television station in the UK. Graham’s wikipedia entry describes him as being known “for his camp demeanour, innuendo-laden dialogue and flamboyant presentation style.”

Alan Carr is one of the most talented and funny comedians on the planet, and is more flamboyant than anyone on television, and his show Alan Carr Chatty Man on Channel Four, is in it’s tenth season.

Rupaul's Drag Race Season 5 finalist Jinkx Monsoon jiveinthe415.com

I was lucky enough to work with the legendary Barry Humphries, better known as his alter-ego Dame Edna Everage, in a musical in London’s west end. He’s been a fixture on British television since the 1960’s. The most popular drag queen in all of Britain is Lily Savage. She hosted quiz shows, and had her own television shows and specials, for a long time. Paul O’Grady came to fame playing Lily Savage, and when he got tired of putting on wigs and heels, he announced that she’d "seen the light, taken the veil and packed herself off to a convent in France."

Are straight men in the UK more comfortable in their skin than their American counterparts? I don’t think so. I often think that it’s the suits who make decisions at American television networks, and their inner discomfort with campy drag queens, that keeps them off network television, consigned to the shadows.  It’s pure homophobia, because I can’t think of one plausible reason to explain why Rupaul’s Drag Race is on Logo, when there’s so much sub-standard fare (crap!) on network television.

The last episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 5 aired last week. It was almost anticlimactic, because anyone I spoke to that watched the show agreed, Jinkx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer) was the winner. I was glad that Rupaul agreed too, and Jinkx Monsoon was crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar.”

The three finalists were Alaska (Justin Andrew Honard), Jinkx, and Roxxxy Andrews (Michael Feliciano).

Rupaul's Drag Race Season 5 finalist Roxxxy Andrews jiveinthe415.com

Alaska was a worthy competitor, and very talented and funny. I’m sure that Alaska will find much success. Roxxxy was a bully, who resented that she was outclassed by two more talented performers. She complained about going on social networks because  people hurt her feelings. She’s the oldest of the three, and  failed to take responsibility for her bad behavior and bullying. Is it any wonder that the public hasn’t embraced her?

Jinkx Monsoon was the most talented all around performer on Rupaul’s Drag Race by a long shot, and there’s no question in my mind that she has crossover appeal, and will find success with mainstream audiences. She can act and she can sing, and she has extensive acting experience in the theater. Her comedic skills and her comic instinct set her apart, and it’s those skills that will be the key to achieving mainstream success.  

Jinkx/Jerick said his “goal as a drag queen is to be known as an artist, not just a female impersonator. I want to use the attention I'm given to change some minds about some things.”

There’s no question that Jerick is an artist. If any drag queen is going to have mainstream success, it’s going to be Jerick Hoffer as Jinkx Monsoon, and she’s going to do it with comedy. She makes people laugh, and that’s why she’s a winner.

Bravo Jinkx Monsoon!

Rupaul's Drag Race Season 5 Miss Congeniality Ivy WInters jiveinthe415.com

Rupaul’s Drag Race airs on LOGOTV and VH1 each week.  Check your local listings for the time in your area.

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