Finger-snaps. Tongue-pops. Beer glasses clink together. Loud Yas and whistles: another queen has sashayed down the runway. Every Thursday, the Old Soul Brewery (Cleveland St., Fort Myers) screens the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-stars. The fiercest queens from the previous eight seasons return to compete for the All-Star title and a chance to win $100,000.
Most nights at Old Soul Brewery feature live music, family events or even business networking events. Thursday nights are Drag Night. This is our sport. The brewery becomes our safe-haven for the night. Gathered together are long-term couples. First dates. Friends. Drag queens and people who stop by Old Soul for a drink and a wonderful surprise. As the episode draws to a close, the crowd hushes. It’s time now for the top two queens to lip-sync and woo the judges—chiefly, Mama Ru. The winner of the lip-sync will pick the queen who must leave the competition.
Since its 2009 premiere, RuPaul’s Drag Race has grown bigger than Katy Perry. Speaking to Vulture, RuPaul conceded that drag will never be mainstream. “It’s the antithesis of mainstream…completely opposed to fitting in.”
Would Ru want to be mainstream? Not on your life: “Anytime I’ve had yearnings to go, Aw, gee, I wish I could be invited to the Emmys, I say, Ru Ru, remember the pact you made. You never wanted to be a part of that bullshit. … I’d rather have an enema than have an Emmy.” Seven months after that Vulture interview, Drag Race captured its first Emmy. Celebrities, Queens from the show, and his global fandom sent RuPaul their love and praise: I’m happy that he was given an Emmy instead of Plan A.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, RuPaul after receiving the award said, “I think about all the kids who watch this show all over the world who finally have an emotional navigation system… The hundreds of girls who have come through our show have told their stories so graciously and have really helped young people….”
RuPaul inspires me. One of these days, I may sashay into Sally’s Beauty Supply and buy myself a new lace-front wig for Thursday night at Old Soul Brewery. Who knows? I may even audition for Drag Race someday.