Seven years ago today, my son Corvin was born. A few hours later, he died.
I think about him a lot.
Seven years ago today, my son Corvin was born. A few hours later, he died.
I think about him a lot.
My therapist asked me to do something creative about the ‘little hurt” we all keep inside. So, in the grand tradition of so many queer and trans cartoonists, I decided to have a talk with my younger self.
PROJECT: STARDUST has moved another glacial step toward completion. I mentioned how I couldn’t talk about it last time, and spoke briefly about it in August, and before that, last January, because being a Professional Creative Person probably contains about as much waiting as it does creating. And now, after a brief moment of contract-related excitement, the waiting begins again. So time spent waiting. There will be come a point very soon where STARDUST will be in my hands instead of someone else’s, and then it will feel like there is will be no time at all. Which will be followed by even more waiting. But eventually, after all that waiting, STARDUST will be something you can hold in your hands, which is all that I want.
Until then, here’s some other things for you to read. There’s a new FRANKENSTEIN’S SUPPORT GROUP I’m quite pleased with, as well as articles about Gordon Ramsay swearing at books, the horror of brushing your teeth, and Disney properties that wouldn’t make good Kingdom Hearts levels, over at Quirk Books.
My wife has started reading Timothy Zahn’s THRAWN book, and there’s a bit in there that is so brilliant I’m going to have to steal it. Being alien even by STAR WARS standards, Zahn has Thrawn accompanied through his travels by a translator, who lets him in on the details and history of each culture and noteworthy individual they encounter. This means that Zahn has a plot-relevant reason for info-dumping a bunch of world-building. More than that, Zahn has turned info-dumping into a story element itself, based on what Thrawn is ignorant of, what his translator chooses to reveal, what the translator keeps to himself, and what the translator himself misses due to his own limited POV.
I’ve always been fascinated by guide books, of the narrative implied by the way you talk about a place. By making your guide book an actual person, that narrative stops being implied. And to have it be a translator, to have someone literally have to interpret the designs of one character for another, is ripe with potential. I’ve got a fantasy story in mind that would benefit from such thing.
Fortunately, translators have existed since people started talking to another. None of us have to credit Timothy Zahn if we use this idea. I myself am foreswearing reading THRAWN myself, despite my love of the blue-skinned schemer, just to maintain plausible deniability.
February 1st was Hourly Comic Day, which I have participated in before. This year added Wednesday into the mix, which offered a much different day than the past. If you’re curious about how my day goes–in comic form!–you can read this year’s hourlies here.
The nice thing about Hourly Comic Day is it forces you to pay attention to your life in ways you normally don’t. It’s easy to get caught up in the broad strokes, and miss the details. Thinking about how you might illustrate any particular experience makes you realize how wonderful those details are. My life is pretty great right now. I hope yours is, too.
Good luck with the dragon.
6:27am – Family Breakfast
7:12am – Wednesday Selects Quality Literature
8:44am – Cane Walkin’
9:29am – Watching Sesame Street/Drawing Comics
10:40am – Unexpected Naptime Means Unexpected Worktime
11:27am – Pickle Break
12:12pm – Checking On Wednesday
1:42pm – Storytime
2:01pm – Innovative Song Lyrics
3:29pm – Important Conversations
4:57pm – Wednesday Learns A New Word
5:23pm – Shoveling The Sidewalk To Cameron Esposito
6:39pm – Have Cane, Will Travel
7:21pm – Marvel Strike Force Blues
8:33pm – The Negotiations Begin
9:09pm – All My Lullabies Are By The Mountain Goats
Happy New Year! I have new pajamas. One should always start the new year with new pajamas.
2019’s pajamas are purple, with little hedgehogs on them. The hedgehogs’ bodies are made up of flowers, implying either a conjoining of animal and vegetable that no god ever intended, or simply a group of critters unusually taken with self-decoration. Either way, I approve. There’s a story in both.
Forgive me, reader, it has been months since my last newsletter. There is, obviously, a lot to unpack that happened between now and the end of August. A non-exhaustive list: I made Halloween costumes for my family, I met with the people who will eventually be publishing STARDUST (remember, not its actual title), things got bad for trans people, my mother passed away, I had my computer break–the repair of which was so costly, there was a moment right before Christmas where were seriously wondering if we could afford food. Oh, and I’ve been testing out a new name.
Hello, I’m Jadzia. We’ve met.
Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it (in the case of STARDUST, I can’t talk about it). Let’s leave the past in the past. It’s a new year, with new pajamas. Let’s move on.
But, I will say this: I don’t think I was recognized at my mother’s memorial.
As a trans person, this is, of course, the dream. One wants to go through life unencumbered by the baggage of a gender presentation that never quite fit. We had very nice family portraits made years ago when my father was still alive, and I said it was okay to put one of them up in the memorial. There is a odd measure of comfort that folks did not connect me the slump-postured bearded boy with a smiling mouth but painfully hurt eyes, even if that was no doubt the expression I was making for most of the evening. I wore red and black, like I did in the portrait, a bit of children’s TV-show costuming continuity. Connection through broad shapes and colors.
One person asked my relationship to the deceased. When I told them I was her daughter, they said “Oh! You must be Kate!”
Must I? Is too much to ask that my sister not be my mother’s only daughter? She held that title for almost 40 years. Surely she care share it. Surely.
If there ever was a time to for people to look at the woman I’ve become and see the boy I was, it was then, at that memorial. But that may have indeed been too much.
While my brother and sister, recognizable despite years of fluctuating weights and various hair experiments, were who everyone flocked to and offered condolences, I was left aimless. I floated around the room like a ghost hostess, thanking extended family members for coming. Why was I the butler at my mother’s memorial? Something to do, I suppose. A middle child to the end, I held my grieving in, and made sure everyone else was comfortable.
But even this has it’s limits. We had put a display of the quilts Mama had made in a corner, and I was sitting there as everyone was starting to pack up. When it came time to fold up the quilts, I dutifully handed the one next to me over. And then, holding this quilt that she meticulously sewed with her own two hands, I lost it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. Mama would never make another quilt. This was the last of them, the last of her. I could feel her echo when held that quilt, the remains of her touch. I was not holding her, only the part of the world that wouldn’t exist without her. And now there would be no more of those.
My mother’s friend June, who once put up my drawings on her refrigerator, sat there with me, letting me pour it all out. How fitting that I get my cathartic memorial moment after everyone is gone. The chairs are being put away, the tablecloths are being folded, and I finally have no other responsibility but to weep into a crumpled quilt.
We didn’t hold this memorial at our home, as we did when my father died. Cancer ate him alive in tiny bites, like a swarm of ants, giving us plenty of time to plan. Mama mailed my daughter an envelope of stickers one morning and was gone that afternoon. Thanks to theater-friends in the area, I found a place that would let us hold the memorial for free. I found a caterer. I wrote her obituary. I did all of this. It may be crass to bring this up, but I’m doing it anyway. I bring this up because I want credit. Because I want acknowledgement. Because I want to be recognized as my mother’s daughter, mourning for her loss.
I signed enough documents identifying me as her son in the days before to have this distinction. I think I earned it.
My New Year Resolutions are nothing special, this year. I want to meet all my deadlines. I want to take all my medications when I’m supposed to. I want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. I want to be the person I plan myself to be, the woman with hedgehogs on her pajamas who answers to Jadzia.
Let’s see if I can make it.
I have such news, folks! SUCH NEWS! News that I CANNOT TELL YOU ABOUT. But know now that it is wonderful news, involving STARDUST.
If you will recall, STARDUST, is the queer-in-every-sense project that I last spoke about in…January it turns out (being a Professional Creative Person is such a Long Game, innit?). I can’t talk about it because that’s how it goes when you’re working with a major publishing company. But! Know that it is wonderful news that brings the project ever closer to being a Real Thing That You Can Read, which is honestly the best thing a writer can hope for.
It’s still not a sure thing yet–there are so many possible bumps in the road that might derail this queer little buggy, you have no idea–but we did pop some champagne. You gotta take your celebrations where you can.
There’s been two Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters comics since the last newsletter. The first is an examination of modern monster-dating conventions and some personal history of FSG’s resident mummy, Imhotep. The second involves Emi helping Ginger spruce up her image.
I decided to do some microfictions on my Twitter yesterday, telling anyone who asked how they got their superpowers. I may do more of this in future, as it was very fun and people seemed to dig it. Here’s all of them, ’cause I wanted ’em all in one place:
They said it was a rock. A cold, dead rock from outer space.
But it couldn’t be. Not to you. Rocks don’t sing. And you had never heard a more inviting song in your entire life.
The sword had been your mother’s, your grandmother’s, all the way down the line to the one who stood by the lake & took it back after King Arthur showed how he was the one man in human history worthy enough to wield it, by returning it.
Now Excalibur is yours.
The aliens were sorry. They didn’t mean to hurt you, but human bodies are so fragile. They didn’t know.
They made it up to you, though. They remade you better. Though “better” to an alien doesn’t quite line up here on Earth…
The jacket was woven with silver thread, like strands of frost. It was cold to touch to everyone. Everyone but you. To you, it was warm as the breath of a old friend.
It was, naturally, a perfect fit.
A version of yourself from an alternate reality gave them to you, just as another had given them to him.
“It’s just the way it’s always done,” he said. “When you don’t need these anymore, you’ll pass them along to the next one.”
Everyone else said the experiment was disaster. A failure. Science ran amok.
But not you. Not when such an “accident” opened up such new and exciting possibilities.
It was shaped like a ring. It’s wasn’t–rings are jewelry, cold gems and gleaming metal. This was something else. Something that pulsed on your finger with an energy you couldn’t begin to comprehend.
It does so much. You can’t imagine taking it off.
A manifestation of the Infinite collapsed in your arms, dying. You held it close as it’s countless eyes darkened, one by one, singing it songs of endless love and boundless hope. It died reassured that some things still go on forever.
And now so do you.
Your long-forgotten imaginary friend returned, panicked and stricken, with key that unlocked the untold power in your heart.
They had hoped this day would never come.
It was, the scientists admitted later, a procedure they never expected you to survive. No one else had.
You were stronger than they gave you credit for. And now you’re stronger than they ever considered.
They said it was a lightning strike, but it couldn’t have been. After all, there was no storm. And it didn’t hurt when it hit you. Quite the opposite.
It was as if you finally felt alive for the first time.
The tattoo just appeared there one morning, after a night of drunken revelry. It was an odd, rune-esque design, but you always felt you could have ended up with worse…
…until the tattoo spoke.
A glowing ball of energy appeared one night when you were 5, hanging in the middle of your bedroom. It spoke to you in a voice full of static, something about how time travel was inexact…better to overshoot…too early…
Overwhelmed with curiosity, you reached out to touch it.
The gloves were metal, but moved like fabric when you put them on, their unyielding surface rippling like liquid over your fingers.
Sometimes you forget you have them on. Sometimes, when you don’t have them on, it feels like something is missing.
Technically, your dog has superpowers, but he lends them to you when danger arises, and you take him with you on adventures.
He’s a good dog.
Each universe chooses a particular place that suits its needs to be born. Some choose the churning, burning middle of a star, others, the freezing emptiness of a black hole.
This one found everything it needed in the middle of your heart.
Some discomfort is to be expected.
It was a book. Left on your doorstep, wrapped in paper that managed somehow be plain and brown while also being shiny and shimmery. Your name was written on the wrapper–misspelled, but definitely your name–and there was no return address.
Of course you read it. Of course.
Once, when you closed you eyes and focused, you could feel yourself reaching out, down, down, through the Earth, grabbing the molten center of the planet in a loving, powerful embrace.
You’ve not let go since.
The weapon was never supposed to be yours. A champion had been chosen, after all.
But when he cast it aside and ran in terror at the coming danger, well, it was just lying there.
SOMEONE had to pick it up and fight.
They say the dead tell no tales, but one did. When you leaned down to kiss your grandmother goodbye one last time in her coffin, she whispered to you secrets about the walls between this life and the next.
She told you how to bend those walls. And how to break them.
Demonic possession gone wrong. At least, that’s according to the cultists.
From your point of view, it turned out very right, indeed.
A lot of kids tied towels around their neck attempting to fly.
Yours just happened to work.
An older you appeared, having traveled back in time, and gave you the powers that they had received when they were your age.
When you ask them where the powers came from originally, they just smiled wryly and said “I didn’t get a satisfying answer to that, either.”
You’ve always had them. You just forgot.
Because sometimes forgetting is easier than remembering.
The strange woman who everyone said was your aunt gave you a wooden box carved to look like a sleeping bat when you were 6, as a thank you for drawing the whole family & making her the tallest.
You couldn’t get it open then. You just found it again yesterday & it opened right up
It was strange bug in the cornfield–something like a caterpillar but neon pink and yellow and covered in spines.
You didn’t want to touch it, but somehow, for some reason, you knew that IT wanted you to.
And when it crawled onto your hand, you understood.
It wasn’t really government property, no matter what your lousy supervisor said. You built it, it’s yours.
And damn if you aren’t going to be the first person to try it out.
It was always going to be you. There were countless prophecies, many foretoldings, and quite a few precognition. It was you. It was always going to be you.
Thing was, nobody bothered to tell you until the last minute.
They told you could do anything if you set your mind to it.
They just never realized how far a mind like yours could go.
Some of these are going have to be real stories at some point. But some of them I quite like just as they are.
Good luck with the dragon.
This summer, right? This summer.
(My desk is right next to the AC unit, so sometimes I get to put on my flannel and pretend that its fall)
Wednesday is walking and moving from two naps to one, which means that I am exhausted and have even less time. And yet, I am taking on two more projects. Because that is what I do.
The first is, naturally, an overly elaborate Halloween costume. Yes, I’m starting in August. I meant to start in July. You don’t get awesome results by waiting until October 1, people. Next year, Wednesday is probably going to want to choose her own costume, so I intend on enjoying dressing her up according to my own design as much as possible. Having achieved Addams Family, this year we’re making Wednesday our own little Frankenstein’s Monster, with the two of us as mad scientists. That way, if next year she wants to be a strawberry or whatever (and let me tell you, I would make the best possible strawberry costume for my baby girl), JR and I will have gotten our Must-Do costumes out of our system.
She really enjoys playing with Batgirl, Harley and Poison Ivy dolls, so I’m crossing my fingers for Halloween 2019.
The second project…shall remain under wraps for now. There’s a lot of moving parts, and I have to rely on other people’s corporation for some of it. It’s rapidly coming together, though, with a speed that’s surprising even eternally impatient me. I’ve clearly found a hole that needed to be filled. Like the Halloween costumes, I’m pushing for an October release, but this also may be something that doesn’t see light until next year. More on that as it comes together.
The Voice of Free Planet X live show at Amalgam comics went off without a hitch. Give it a listen if, you haven’t already. The cast–Russell Collins, CJ Higgins of My Gay Agenda, Phil Thomas and Andy Hunter of West Phillians, Jennifer Rodgers, J.R. Blackwell–really gave their all. Especially Russell, who delivers just an utterly heartbreaking monologue about the nature of evil near the end.
II was a little worried about this episodes, because centering the whole show around Lucifer, Who Is The Morningstar means he can’t be the one who just steps in, says a few delightfully cryptic things, and then leaves when he likes. It works for this episode, though, because Lucifer isn’t too comfortable being an interview subject, either. And CJ’s chipper Agent Seven is there to remind us how much everything has changed now that the Deiator is in charge.
The first time the whole cast came together to rehearse was the morning of the show. We ran it through three times, I think? That was all the time we had, what with the demon makeup Sara Gates did, and all. Did I mention the demon makeup? There was demon makeup.
It was great show, folks. A really great show. Seriously, y’all should listen.
WINNIE THE POOH: I am certain, if I thought about it, I could figure out where are. Think. Think. Think.
PADDINGTON: Does tapping your head like that help?
WINNIE THE POOH: Not really. It is hard to think over the rumblings of my tummy.
PADDINGTON: Oh! I might be able to help, then. I have some marmalade.
WINNIE THE POOH: Is that like honey?
PADDINGTON: Yes. But also no.
WINNIE THE POOH: I see.
PADDINGTON: You do?
WINNIE THE POOH: No.
Also for Quirk, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of Too Many Adaptations, where Holmes and Watson imagine what future adaptations of their lives would be like.
WATSON: Well, I imagine that a motion picture version would not be out of the question, given sufficient advances in technology. Say, 100 years from now.
HOLMES: I dare say there will be much quicker advances in motion pictures far quicker than that. But as I do not have a case at the moment, I will indulge your intellectual exercise. I posit that in 50 years, there will be a series of motion pictures that will cement our identities in the public imagination. They will begin as historical pieces, but will eventually change to take place in the time they were photographed, with villains of the current era.
WATSON: Oh, I like that. Re-invention to keep the stories fresh.
HOLMES: You won’t like these, I’m afraid. You’ll be interpreted as a dunderhead.
Let’s see…classic children’s literature, classic mystery fiction…obviously, the only other places to go is ABBA-based musicals and zombie stories. So I did both at once.
DONNA: (sings to the tune of “Mamma Mia”)
I’ve been dead for while, since I don’t know when
So I thought we were through, but death is not the endLook at me now, a walking corpse.
I don’t know how, but I since I crawled
From that hole
I’m a body without a soul…
I’m undead, just some shambling remains
I’m undead and I’m craving your brains, woah-oh oh-oh
Mamma mia, here I live again
My my, how can you resist me?
Mamma mia, the dead walk again
My my, your bullets all have missed me
Mamma mia, now I really know
My my, I will never let you go
On the slightly more serious front, I recently wrote for Bustle about how great Amy Poehler’s Making It is.
While judges Dayna Isom Johnson and Simon Doonan greet the denim-aproned contestants like alien ambassadors from a delightfully glam planet, they are crafters in their own right. They understand the difference between unpolished and purposeful. The crafters are rewarded not for being perfect, but for expressing who they are. One contestant is routinely criticized for making things that are “too chic” without any personality. Another’s cartoony aesthetic is only given poor marks when his pieces don’t come together to support a larger vision.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I still have a Patreon and that backers get all sorts of fun stuff. For example, just yesterday, I posted a video of my Importance of Queer Characters In Comics presentation at Balticon 52. So, if you are interested in that, think about becoming a backer.
Summer’s heat still surrounds us, but I can see the glint of Autumn just around the corner. We’ll make it there yet.
Good luck with the dragon.
Been a busy summer, already. A little exhausting. How are you?
Before I talk about what has happened, let me go into some detail about what WILL happen. Namely, . I will be a guest at Science Fiction Association of Bergen County’s meeting on July 14th at 7:30pm. It will be at the Barnes & Noble in Paramus, New Jersey, there will be copies of my book, The Battle of Blood & Ink, for sale and I’ll have some freebies to give away, too. I’ll be reading some stuff, talking about myself, basically having a great time. So if you’re in the area, you should come.
I will also have the great honor of inducting Dr. Pamela Gay of the Astronomy Cast into the Podcast Hall of Fame on July 24th. Pamela is an old friend from back in the early days of podcasting when most of us were still trying to figure this whole thing out. Not Pamela, of course. She knew what she was doing from the get-go. I’ve always been a huge admirer of Pamela’s intelligence and compassion, and the way she makes often-opaque ideas beautifully clear. She absolutely deserves this, and I am thrilled to pieces that I get to be a part of it.
But that’s enough of the future. Let’s talk about the past.
What We Talk About When We Talk About was a live episode recorded at Balticon, the first since Rap Battle Beyond The Stars. It was an attempt to distill the meta-narrative of the past 26 episodes of VFPX, to put everything important in one place, for easy reference, and set the stage for Season 3. Which was a crazy idea, honestly. Just look at all these plot touchstones in the fiction of the show:
The joy of Balticon shows is being in the same room with old friends that I normally have to record remotely. I went a little nutgalls giving people roles this time, which is why the episode has the largest cast yet. Christiana Ellis does most of the heavy lifting, but she’s amazing, so she handled it with aplomb. And if you’re going to stack a crowd, how can you not include Jason Gregory Banks, Dave Robison, A. F. Grappin, Erin Kazmark, John Walker, Tee Morris, J.R. Blackwell, and Allie Press? We had literally no time to rehearse, and everyone still knocked it out of the park.
There’s a rather nice Q&A session at the end of the recording, too, where I talk a little about my process writing the show and the future of VFPX. There’s people at Balticon who have been following VFPX since the beging–in 2005! Podcasting often feels like tossing out messages in bottles, so it’s nice to be in place were so many people uncorked them for nice read.
Speaking of nice reads, I’ve got a few of them for you. First off, there’s “The ‘Sense8′ Finale Movie Is A Desperately Needed Trans Fairy Tale & A Fitting Ending For The Show”which I wrote for Bustle. It’s a very personal essay about how powerful representation in media truly is.
While Sense8 is not without its flaws, even those flaws help create the glorious, wildly entertaining, utterly human celebration that is the show. It’s a superhero show where the main power on display is pure empathy, where problems are solved not by destruction, but connection. It is not for everyone. But for those it is for, it is for them very much indeed. It’s a fairy tale disguised as a television show.
We, collectively, do not deserve Sense8.
Bustle asked for a take on the Queer Eye show, so I wrote ‘Queer Eye’ Season 2 Exposes The Fab Five’s Flaws — But That’s The Point, about, well, Queer Eye‘s flaws. And how that’s a good thing.
The original Fab Five were nearly identical Ken dolls who left their identities at the door of whatever pigsty apartment they were tasked with fixing. Only the tamest of sexual innuendos were allowed; no talk of boyfriends, of politics, of how the men they are helping sometimes represented the very people that kept queer people unmarried, unemployed, and fearing for their lives was included.For context, 2003 was the year the body of Richie Phillips was found in a suitcase in Rough River Lake. It was the year Glen Kopitske was stabbed to death by an Eagle Scout. It was the year Gwen Araujo was brutally beaten and strangled by three men because she was transgender. It was the year 15-year-old Sakia Gunn was murdered at a bus stop when she said she was a lesbian. Given that, it can almost be forgiven how intent the original
Queer Eye was on showing how harmless its gay men are.
I also wanted to point your attention to the Anthony Bourdain obituary I wrote for Legacy. He was one of the good ‘uns, and there’s a tremendous void left by his passing.
There’s a scene in the 2015 Miami episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown where, having tucked into barbecued shrimp and roast pork with Iggy Pop, these two older men who first epitomized and then somehow survived the rock-and-roll lifestyle size each other up on the beach. It’s an oddly moving moment, and very strange to watch now. Bourdain drops his ever-present smirk to try to understand how man who wrestled with so many similar demons has found a strange sort of peace.“You seem like a curious person,” Iggy Pop tells Bourdain, with a weight that reveals how much a compliment this is.
“It’s my only virtue,” Bourdain snaps back, suddenly uncomfortable, a self-depreciating smile on his face.
It is incumbent on every dead person to choose the style of haunting they are most comfortable with. While the more imaginative practitioners of the poltergeist arts may look down their rotting noses upon those prefer to emulate how they looked in life, it should be noted that there is no “best” way to be a ghost. There are merely those who find comfort in mediocrity, and those who wish to push themselves. All you have to do is find out who you are, and be that.
Continuing this humorously morbid streak, feast your eyes on Kill Your Darlings, 101 Pieces of Advice for Writers and Serial Killers. It’s the only guide to writing/murdering you’ll ever need!
54. Get to the juicy parts quickly.
55. It’s good to struggle.
56. Eliminate all interruptions.
57. Detach yourself from the outcome. It’s about the doing, not the result.
58. Let your imagination go wild.
59. Flaws are sexy.
60. Remember, everyone has a reason to live.
For some reason, I did a Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters that was mainly crowd scenes. I thought it came out quite well.
There’s a lot of cool stuff coming down the pike: at least one more VFPX episode, more articles, more comics. Busy summer. But then, I suppose that’s better than the alternative.
I wrote this as part of an application to a pop-culture website to be their television writer. The brief was to write” a reaction, not a recap” of a recent TV show episode.
I, naturally, chose to talk about RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
With BenDelaChrist’s Sacrifice, The All Stars Are Left Wanting More
What does it mean to be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race? The hit reality show has had an undeniable effect on drag culture, becoming less a fun stage to strut one’s stuff than a necessary career move. To be on Drag Race is now a right of passage for queens who do drag professionally, a promise of, if not fortune, almost certainly fame.
What does it mean to be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, then? In the wake of BenDelaCreme’s self-sacrificial exit last episode (which has already earned her the nickname “BenDelaChrist”), that question hung heavy in the workroom. The remaining queens are shook. What does mean when the front-runner decides the race isn’t worth it? BenDelaCreme left saying that she had proven everything she needed to prove, and was leaving happy. If not winning was good enough for the presumptive winner, why is everyone else still here?
At first, no one seems to have any good answers. BeBe Zahara Benet and Morgan McMichaels just don’t want to be made fools of (y’all picked the wrong show for that). Shangela and Trixie Mattel have no problem making fools of themselves, but then, that’s always been their brand.
In the middle of all of this, no one was expecting to Kennedy Davenport to throw down the most honest moment this reality show literally built around artifice has ever had.
Perhaps we should have. Kennedy has made a name for herself as a speaker of wisdom and truth—no matter how bad it may make her look on camera. Her make-up half-applied, Kennedy admits that she’s there because she wants more fans. She doesn’t have the following of some of the other queens, and was hoping a victory lap of Drag Race would give her the audience she feels she deserves.
The narrative of Drag Race All Stars has always been one of a coronation, whether that’s the reality or not. Chad Michaels and Alaska were talented performers who happened to have the bad luck to be in seasons with Sharon Needles and Jinx Monsoon, queens with singular senses of style that overwhelmed the competition. It was clear many of the contestants in this current season of Drag Race All Stars came with this in mind, expecting to finally be recognized for their genius that previous seasons have denied them.
This was possibly the most true with Kennedy, who made it to 4th place in Season 7. Looking at a workroom filled with contestants who had been told to sashay away in the middle of their seasons, can we blame Kennedy for believing that her time had come? Any more than we can blame Morgan, praying to that Biscuit Jesus in the sky that maybe—MAYBE—this would be the one time that she didn’t look like a jerk on camera?
Morgan’s dreams are for naught, and possibly Kennedy’s too, as she seems to be languishing in the end of the competition. Like it or not, BenDelaCreme set the bar for this season of All Stars, and then promptly took it with her when she left. The remaining queens have little to measure up against beyond their own desperation. Perhaps no contestant exemplified that as much as Shangela at the end of the episode, sweating and heaving in her fat suit after lip-syncing for her legacy (was there ever a truer expression in all of Drag Race herstory?), hoping against hope that the third time is indeed the charm.
If Drag Raceoriginal flavor has mutated into a job interview for future drag gigs, then All Starshas become the last bastion of a strange, poisoned dream. A dream of just desserts. And its not just this season—who could forget Alaska’s petulant meltdown that she might once again lose to a “lovable weirdo” last season? Uneasy lies the head that almost wears the crown.
But, let’s give props to Kennedy and the girls of Season 3 for finally death-dropping into the truth. Drag has always subscribed to the credo that too much is never enough, but now we see how much—and how little—more everyone wants.
Please, RuPaul. They want some more. More fans, more fame, more crowns, more screentime. Please.
They ultimately decided my style of television commentary was not what they were looking for, but at least I can say they did not make this decision without understanding what I would do.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the genre “soft apocalypse.” Society, as we know it, has ended. Infrastructure that we have come to rely on is no more, electricity and running water are quirks rather than givens. How do you rebuild? And not even how do you rebuild society, because that’s at least three or four or five hierarchies above where you are. How do you rebuild your life? How do you live among the ruins of everything you took for granted?
Soft apocalypse takes the tact that instead of the very 80’s notion of cannibal biker gangs raiding innocents (quick tangent: remember when Frank Miller got mugged and changed who superheroes fought throughout the comics industry? Tegan O’Neil does. Worth a read), we would, in fact, get by with a little help from our friends. Isolated pockets of community, where everyone works together because do otherwise is to sign up for extinction. You can see this in action in Hitoshi Ashinano’s manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, but there’s seeds of this kind of idea in the hyper-rural anime Non Non Biyori and in the urban laboratory Arcosanti. If everything collapses, we’ll get by. It will just be at much slower pace than we’re used to.
I suppose, when the news is full of towns unpaving roads and closing schools on Mondays so that teachers can work other jobs, I need some reassurance that the end of the world is something that can be survived. That may be unrealistic, but honestly, so are cannibal biker gangs.