Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life covers a wide range of subjects in shallow depth. The introduction is open about this, and the authors suggest you go ask Youtube and Google about further details. On the one hand, this is a good goal, to encourage people to further explore things of interest. On the other hand, it can also be a problem such as when a queen named Michelle is important but not discussed much in detail until about 5 pages later. There isn’t enough information about who this is at first to ask the general interwebs and figure out which links are the right ones.
As the title suggests, the general subject matter is how the tv show mentioned in the title reflects queer culture and history, both in it how it is now and how it has evolved. You learn a good bit about the show; thing is, I’ve only ever watched part of an episode that involved cis-women actors or artists of some sort going through the drag process of doing some of the challenges to create a drag persona and do some self-evaluation. This is obviously part of the general nature of the show (the self-personal growth), but it does not really contain the queer/queen part. If you don’t have cable or the right cable package, you’re kind of out of luck if you want a full episode which would be useful since the book does look at various elements of the structure of the show.
The general queer history is probably the more comprehensive part, given that it’s a bit more focused on the 20th century US. Sure, certain key events like the Stonewall Inn riots are reviewed but the main focus is actually on a wide-ranging group of individuals, nearly all transgender women or drag queens (or both) who had some role to play in both the history and the activism. Race is brought up quite frequently as well, which also helps focus the stories and history a bit more; race also has some clear links to tv show.
If you, like me, are a bit unfamiliar with drag history and culture, some of the vocabulary and spellings might take a little getting used to and figuring out; fundamental concepts like ‘werk’ and ‘shade’ are sometimes defined, sometimes not, but always demonstrated and used enough that context gives at least some idea of meaning. In a way, this is actually better for education purposes because, there is some understanding from figuring it out, not just from being told.
Overall, this is an interesting read, and a good way to honor Pride month. It’s also presented via excerpts, so it can be easily read in short bursts, but it’s conversational enough that you could also do it in longer segments.