“I’m sure if they had rung him a year ago…he would have said yes so: shut up!”
British drag legend, Paul O’Grady has thrown some serious shade at Rupaul’s Drag Race in an interview on BBC Radio 4.
“No, I can’t bear it.” He said. “No really I can’t.
“That’s not drag! It’s all about shading and contouring your face now and being like supermodels.
“Drag is doing an act. That’s dressing up. That [Drag Race] is transvestism.” O’Grady said.
The library, boys and girls, is open.
So what does Rupaul finalist and vocal LGBT+ campaigner, Peppermint have to say about it? She became the first contestant to go into the show as a trans woman last year and spoke movingly about how drag helped her find her true self.
Out News Global spoke exclusively to Miss P at her home in New York.
She said: “I was surprised by what Paul O’grady said. But then again a lot of these drag legends from the day of Lily Savage and Dame Edna reached a certain platform on the theatrical side of drag and they made a great contribution but to me they’re not really part of the queer community.
“I think it’s ironic. On one hand there’s someone who’s criticizing us for doing many of the same things that made Lily’s career back in the day.
“I’d say, Paul O’Grady put yourself in our shoes. I mean, come on, it’s tough out here, he knows that, the bitch has been there before.”
“I guess when someone reaches a level of success it’s hard for them to see the light. He should understand that a lot of drag performers now are queer and part of the LGBT+ community they entertain.
“To throw shade at Drag Race and drag us for being part of it is misguided. Or…” Peppermint pauses. Is she trying to avoid adding fuel to the fire? A breath…
“I mean…is what he said an attempt to attach yourself to the juggernaut because nobody’s talking about Lily anymore?”
“The phenomenon of Rupaul is in the process of mainstreaming drag at the moment and Lily’s was mostly underground with people who were oppressed and now that’s changed. It belongs to everyone who loves it.
“Maybe the older drag queens remember how hard they struggled and now here we are flying all over the world. Maybe they’re a bit envious of that?”
“I think it’s a bit of snobbery and bitterness from a senior in the field of drag who doesn’t really see the new way of things and I think there’s perhaps a little jealousy and snobbery.
“I’m sure if they had rung him a year ago to honour him and done something in a monumental way he would have said yes so…shut up!”
Peppermint laughs. You’ll know her laugh. It fills the room, the screen, the phoneline with warmth and sunshine.
“I don’t think with the tranvestism comment Paul was throwing a stone at where drag has gone and the art form of drag. I mean…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice that recently ‘fishiness’ as a drag queen and trying to look like what people think of as a real woman has become the goal for many of the younger queens.
“As a trans woman I understand that passing can be a life-or-death issue to avoid being spooked or attacked. And while all Queens don’t identify as trans I think they still may feel pressure to look ‘believable’ as a woman.
“Maybe that’s the point he’s trying to make, although I don’t give him that much credit. When he and Benny Hill were dressing up back in the day they didn’t have all the fabulous designers and amazing make-up. It was slap on a wig and make some hardy-ha-ha jokes, now there’s a lot more to it than that.
“Let’s talk about the investment – financial and emotional – that drag queens spend on their performances, Paul! Anyone who demeans it isn’t looking at what they’re doing and respecting it.
“Look at Sasha Velour (winner of Peppermint’s own Drag Race season 9) she certainly doesn’t fit into what he’s trying to paint with a broad brush.
“I just feel like Paul’s not being genuine in his analysis and it’s a shame because he has clout, and we respect his opinion.