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You Had Me at “Hallelu”: On Sequins and Sexuality

By Adrienne Saia Isaac | TV | February 8, 2011 |

By Adrienne Saia Isaac | TV | February 8, 2011 |

I discovered season two of RuPaul’s “Drag Race” while convalescing on the couch during a New Year’s bout of food poisoning. Thirteen episodes later and seven pounds lighter (best diet ever!), I had developed a new obsession: Raven .

OK, his name is David Petruschin, but most people know him as the season two runner-up and a totally fierce West Hollywood drag queen. I wouldn’t call my infatuation with him/her a bad thing, but I’m not sure it’s healthy for a (98 percent) straight girl to lust after an (entirely) gay man in heels.

Is it?

I spent three insomnia-riddled nights watching clips of Raven (and those of my other favorites like Pandora Boxx) from the show, marveling at her beauty and versatility. The transformation these men go through is absolutely amazing. They go from beards and balls to perfectly contoured foundation and the fiercest tuck games in town. But when out of drag, these performers are all so clearly men (with the exception of Sonique, who revealed on the reunion show that she was transitioning from male to female). If I had been attracted to them in their natural state, it would make sense to me. However, watching them as women was what revved up my proverbial engine. Where was this all coming from?

To some extent, I think the infatuation comes from projection: Raven is everything I wish I could be on a daily basis. She’s tall, tattooed, has the mouth of a sailor (as she explained on an episode of “Drag U”: “You are what you eat.”), and she carries herself with an extraordinary amount of confidence. I’m already tall, tattooed and curse entirely too much, but I’m not in five-inch heels and fake lashes, feeling awesome with my bad self on the daily. These men seem to find power in femininity (albeit, a contrived femininity) and I think that this is something women should do more. We’re taught that femininity is weak, and that we should “man up,” throw on a pantsuit and take life like a champ. But why should we conform to any social standard of gender other than the one that best expresses who we are? If dressing ultra-femme works to create a sense of power (sexual or otherwise) for these men, why doesn’t it work for more women?

The support of the gay community is also something I admire. There’s a feeling of acceptance and camaraderie in the work room, despite the bitchiness that inevitably comes with competition. It’s refreshing to see a relatively fringe element of popular culture receiving it’s time in the spotlight. To me, this is all normal; I grew up around people of all orientations, and my best friend’s brother was a Miss Gay Pennsylvania. I was fascinated by androgyny from a young age: Annie Lennox, David Bowie (please, was anyone else turned on by his Jareth? Fierce!), Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria … don’t hate). Maybe because this isn’t new to me, I’m more open to the feelings aroused by these queens. Maybe it’s because I’m tall and athletic, my mom never wore makeup and my dad taught me to spit and desperately wished I was a boy. Or maybe I’m just naturally attracted to men dressed as women and as a result will be alone with my pit bull forever.

Meanwhile, me and my confused little heart pine for Mondays and the new batch of queens who are teaching me the power of femininity (and of duct tape and a good pair of pantyhose). This season, I’m cheering for Raja , who is Raven-esque and her friend in real life, and Manila Luzon, whose costuming is spot on. And maybe while it’s just a phase, I’m hanging on to hopes that someday David eschews his god-given orientation and fall in love with me. Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore, bitch please!”

New episodes of RuPaul’s “Drag Race” season three premiere Monday nights at 10/9c on Logo.

Adrienne Saia is a journalist and Philly expat living in Colorado with two pair of skis, seven Phillies hats and her pit bull, Juno. Her main goal (besides finding gainful employment) is to drink whiskey out of Lord Stanley’s cup with Chris Pronger. You can read her rants and rambling at Ex-Pat’s and Geno’s.

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