Atlanta queens can’t get a break on ‘Drag Race’

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imageAs we wrap coverage of this season of our favorite Logo guilty pleasure and head into the local Dragnique finale, we’re left with one burning question: Why can’t Atlanta contestants do better on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’? Atlanta is the undisputed drag Mecca of the South and arguably one of the larger draws in the country for female illusionists. Love it or hate it--and even dare to declare that drag is dead--our fair city literally features more than one drag show every night of the week. And for years before “Drag Race” was a twinkle in Ru’s eye, our established girls have also presented elimination contests to help up-and-comers, most recently at Jungle where the Dragnique finale crowns its second winner on Friday. From glamour pusses and genderfucks to camp crazies and ballroom belles, our girls can represent. But local faves on “Drag Race” were summarily dismissed almost immediately in both Season 2 and Season 3, while other contestants seemed to routinely get seemingly prejudiced breaks for poor showings early on each season. imageYes, we said prejudice, and that falls squarely on hostess Ru herself. She constantly reminds us that the judges offer critiques, but she makes the final call on each week’s elimination. If you read our weekly recaps, it has been pretty clear each season which queens are Ru’s chosen ones from the first episode. And if you watch closely, she appears to love a deep man-voice most--with winners Tyra and Raja both serving more “Lou Rawls’ Drag Race” than “RuPaul’s.” If there’s a prejudice in RuPaul against the ATL, it’s an ironic one, given that Ru herself honed the fine craft of face and fashion here in Atlanta, even pimping the show via books and albums at local appearances to this day. She has to know how overcome in drag gay Atlanta is. imageAnd therein may lie the rub: Since Ru left Georgia before she perfected her Supermodel of the World persona—anyone remember her fro-fright cameo in the B52s “Love Shack” video?—she may be assuming that no one else doing the do in Atlanta is ready for, as Joan Crawford would say, “the respect they deserve!” We exalted the inclusion of Nicole Paige Brooks and Sonique as soon as we heard that they’d grace Season 2, and we just as enthusiastically rooted for Phoenix and Mariah in Season 3. But alas, none of them lasted very long. Two of our more high-profile faves, Nicole and Phoenix, each left on the second episode of their respective seasons. It certainly wasn’t enough time to show what they can do, and definitely way before some of the other contestants found their stride. Neither Sonique nor Mariah, who both gave fab face and lasted slightly longer, deserved to go when they did. Now, some may say—and we begrudgingly admit—that individual challenges got the best of Nicole, whose pole dancing wasn’t the T in Season 2’s stripper challenge, and Phoenix, whose acting wasn’t exactly Meryl Streep in Season 3’s “Queens in Outer Space.” But we submit that both were still better than the vast field of contestants still remaining at those points in the competition. imageWe’re looking at you Mimi Imfurst, the “Let’s get physical” crapfest who serves as celebrity guest judge at Friday’s Dragnique finale. And at you, too, Stacey Layne Bryant Matthews, who got two tons of breaks before she shone in the Snatch Game celebrity impersonation challenge. Can we get an “Amen” up in here? And so, dear readers, if there is an Atlanta queen who can impress Ru beyond the first few episodes next season, who do you think it would be? Let us know in the comments section below this post. Photos, top to bottom: Nicole Paige Brooks, Phoenix, Sonique, Mariah.


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