Speakeasy TV is partnering with Intellect Books for the digital launch party for The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Why Are We All Gagging? Edited by Cameron Crookston, this brand new book explores the social, cultural, political, and commercial implications of Drag Race.
The event will feature presentations inspired by three of the book’s contributors, Lwando Scott, Ash Kinney d’Harcourt, and Aaron J. Stone. Each scholar will also be joined by a drag artist for a conversation followed by a performance.
Buy The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race here.
Queer Africa: Bebe Zahara Benet's "African" Aesthetics and Performance
Performance by Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie
Lwando Scott is a Next Generation Scholar at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. Lwando obtained his Sociology PhD from the University of Cape Town. Lwando’s current research called "queering the postcolony" focuses on gender, sexuality, and culture in post-1994 South Africa. In developing this concept of “queering the postcolony” Lwando stretches and further develops concepts such as decolonisation, African sexuality, gender, and culture within the post-colonial South African context. Lwando’s work is interested in expansive formulations of Africanness.
Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie is a South African drag queen known as The Mama Africa of Drag. She was named Miss Drag South Africa in 2019 and is the founder of #BlackDragMagic. She is an artist and an activist working on education and decolonising drag.
You can read Lwando's chapter from The Cultural Impact of RuPaul's Drag Race free from Intellect here.
How Drag Race Created a Monster: The Future of Drag and the Backward Temporality of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula
Performance by Saint
Aaron J. Stone is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan and the James A. Winn Graduate Student Fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. Their primary research interests span queer and trans studies, modernist studies, and narrative theory. Stone’s dissertation project, Desires for Form, investigates how gender, sexuality, and racialization influenced queer modernist literary forms in the first half of the American twentieth century. Stone’s work on Charles Chesnutt and American sexology is forthcoming in GLQ.
Saint is an Atlanta-based drag performer. After competing on season 3 of The Boulet Brothers' Dragula, Saint returned to the franchise and won The Boulet Brothers' Dragula Resurrection in 2020, earning a spot on the next season of the show.
Ash Kinney d’Harcourt is a PhD student in the department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas in Austin. They are passionate about media representation of identity and enjoy writing about the role of camp and comedy in media practices. In addition to their chapter exploring the negotiation between cultural visibility and preservation of drag ball identities in Why Are We All Gagging?, their work appears in Flow, the online media and culture journal, and in a forthcoming chapter on the queer reworking of the romantic comedy genre in the television rom-com, Take My Wife.
‘Change the Motherfucking World!’: The Possibilities and Limitations of Activism in RuPaul’s Drag Race
Performance by Marti G Cummings
Marti Allen-Cummings (They/Them) is an activist, community board member, gig worker and drag artist running for city council in uptown manhattan. Marti has been working in NYC for 13 years after moving to the city at age 17 to pursue a performing arts career. They know what it’s like to make it in New York living paycheck to paycheck and without insurance. For over a decade, Marti has been deeply involved in the community – advocating for LGBTQIA+ Young people through the Ali Forney Center and aiding New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.
Throughout the pandemic, Marti built upon that experience to plan PPE handouts, grocery deliveries, coat drives and mutual aid efforts. During the 2016 election Cycle, Marti started organizing and Their political activism energized the community and has brought people together who are seeking progressive change in the nation’s politics. Marti currently sits on community board 9 serving the people of Upper Manhattan, and is an advisor on the NYC Nightlife Advisory Board.
The Cultural Impact of Drag Race: Editor Cameron Crookston discusses this new book with Speakeasy channel moderator and researcher Russ Martin.
Cameron Crookston works at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. He has taught courses in history of sexuality, queer community engagement, and the history of drag and gender performance. His research focuses on drag, LGBTQ2+ history, and queer cultural memory. His work appears in Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. He has also co-edited a recent issue of Canadian Theatre Review on Drag in Canada.
Russ Martin is a recent graduate of Brock University’s Master of Arts in Popular Culture program. His writing on drag has been featured in Flare, Canadian Theatre Review, Xtra, Shameless, and The West End Phoenix. He is currently producing digital events for the Circus and Its Others research project and is researcher in residence for the queer Twitch channel Speakeasy TV.
This event also marks the launch of a new event series for Speakeasy TV called The Library Is Open, which fuses together drag performance and scholarship. Follow @SpeakeasyTwitch on Instagram for info on future events.
About The Cultural Impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race:
This edited volume is an exploration of the social, cultural, political, and commercial implications of the trailblazing reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race. Going beyond mere analysis of the show itself, the contributors interrogate the ways RuPaul’s Drag Race has affected queer representation in media, examining its audience, economics, branding, queer politics, and every point in between.
Since its groundbreaking and subversive entry into the reality television complex in 2009, the show has had profound effects on drag and the cultures that surround it. Bringing together scholarship across disciplines—including cultural anthropology, media studies, linguistics, sociology, marketing, and theater and performance studies—the collection offers rich academic analysis of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and its lasting influence on fan cultures, queer representation, and the very fabric of drag as an art form in popular cultural consciousness.
About Speakeasy TV:
Speakeasy TV is Toronto’s online drag bar. Since early 2020, the Twitch channel has produced hundreds of hours of content including viewing parties, trivia shows, and dance parties. In addition to spotlighting diverse talent from Toronto, the channel has hosted drag superstars from Coco Peru to Priyanka, Heklina, B.Ames, and Tammie Brown. Visit the channel at Speakeasy-TV.com.