Although marketed as a companion read to Ru Paul’s Drag Race, fans of the TV show may be disappointed to get little insight into the show itself. Instead the book gives an overview of LGBT+ history as it relates to modern drag. Fans of Tom & Lorenzo’s fashion focussed website will be familiar with both the writing style and the authors’ ability to dig deep into the subject matter.
The book is a great starting point for those wanting to understand how Drag Race developed into what it is today. With chapters focused on some of the key elements of the show, including shade, Snatch Game, and lip-synching, the authors provide the accepted origins of each as well as some of the key players and pioneers. Tom and Lorenzo also try to provide some of the social context for each drag performer, and the challenges they would have overcome just to express themselves in the art of drag.
I enjoyed the book, but mostly for the other media it has pointed me towards. One example is the youtube video of Tandi Iman Dupree making one of the most epic entrances to a drag performance ever. This was well timed as Tandi’s drag mother is currently appearing on the 13th season of Drag Race and had mentioned her in discussion with the younger queens. As a fan of the show, my drag knowledge is pretty narrow, basically just Paris is Burning and Ru Paul. The last few pages of the book provide a number of recommendations for those who want to learn more.