A Starter Guide to RuPaul's Drag RaceDeanna Raphael

If you haven’t dipped into the fabulous world of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the time is now. The series eluded me until recently when I ferociously ingested every single episode Netflix and Logo had to offer.

I’ve learned so much.

The world of drag is magical and mysterious. It’s a wonderland of extensions, padding, eyeliner, heart, shade, sparkle and lingo. I LIVE for the lingo.

Last night I was planning on stalking Logotv.com for Season 5 teasers when I received a last minute invitation to a drag show featuring past and present queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show was hosted by Season 3 winner, Raja!

Raja wasn’t the only queen serving fierceness. I got to chit chat with the one of the new Season 5 contestants, Serena ChaCha. Serena and I talked about: drag families, RuPaul’s brains and Latin fish.

Before we dive into the interview, here are a few terms to get you primed and ready for Season 5:

Sickening: Contrary to what Webster’s might say, being called sickening is high praise. It means you look so amazing that it’s making me physically ill.

Gagging: If one drag queen has turned it out hard and looks sickening the result is the rest will gag. ex. “Did you see Latrice Royale in that silver off the shoulder gown? I’m gagging.”

Serving: If you are a drag queen worth your salt, you must serve-up something at all times; i.e. serving body. If you are serving body you’re either wearing nothing and leaving us wondering where in the hell you’ve tucked your nuts and berries or you are a big girl and you’re letting that fabric hug every curve.

Realness: As you will soon find out for yourself, realness knows no limits. You can serve anything from Joan Jet realness to Giraffe realness. At this very moment I’m serving: Sunday Morning realness.

Booger: A booger is a drag queen that hasn’t quite smoothed out the rough edges of her drag. Being called a booger means that you probably have a five o’clock shadow and your gown came to you way of a consignment shop.

Fishy: A queen so female we can smell it.

Clocked: For a myriad of reasons, most drag queens don’t come out until the nighttime. That being said, if a queen were to walk down the street in the daylight and you could tell she was a man, she’d be clocked.

T: Sweet babies, T is simply the truth.

Read: Reading (as previously mentioned in our Word of the Week) is fundamental in the world of drag. A read happens when one queen serves another queen with some T.  *see definition for T above.

Hunty: The word hunty is a slap and a kiss. It’s a fusion of the word “honey” and “See-You-Next-Tuesday”. RuPaul can deliver this word with grace and ease. I would caution novices to steer clear. Hunty is some next level ish.

Living: Living happens a lot at the judges table. If a judge lives for what you’re wearing, it means they would have off’ed themselves if you hadn’t walked down the runway. If you live for someone, their existence is as essential as air.

And now, my conversation with Serena ChaCha.

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Serena you are gorgeous

Thank you, thank you so much!

You must be so excited to be chosen for RuPaul’s Drag Race. How long have you been doing drag?

I’ve been doing drag for 3 years.

Not that long.

Yeah, I’m still a baby!

How did you get into drag? 

I got into it at eighteen. I was eighteen when I saw my first drag show and that’s when I decided I needed to go up there myself. I loved the idea of being able to stand alone and captivate a whole audience like real celebrities do. As a dancer, you’re in the background or in a group but as a Drag Queen, I’m appreciated from every angle.

Is there a learning curve to becoming a great drag queen?

Yes, but I think that for you to get on stage you need to feel ready. For your own eye, you need to look good. We know where we stand at times and we are always learning, but everyone is still learning. Even the most seasoned and experienced queens are still learning. Everyone starts somewhere and it’s the audience that’s going to make you. If you don’t put yourself out there you won’t grow.

It sounds a lot like stand-up. You can’t become a great stand-up comic by performing to your stuffed animals. You need to get in front of an audience. 

Exactly, I’ve actually compared drag to stand-up in that way.

What are you serving us tonight?

I am serving real Latin fish!

Yes. You. Are! What did you do for your audition tape?

I did everything they asked.

For instance.

Well, the audition needs to be about you in the most honest and truthful way, in and out of drag. It’s not as much about how your persona will impress them. They are seeing you in the most vulnerable way as you’re putting your bra and underwear and you just need to be real.

The transformation process is the most fascinating part of the show. 

Yes, that’s what is earning us our respect. Thanks to RuPaul, it’s given our art form credibility .

Is Ru as wonderful in person as he is on TV?

Let me tell you, those of us in his presence are blessed. This man built up his work from scratch. We are pursuing our dreams from his dream. He is a pioneer.

RuPaul seems like an extremely evolved human being.

He’s the most educated and evolved person I’ve ever encountered. He’s very knowledgeable and it’s empowering to hear him talk.

In addition to being evolved, he seems to get a childlike joy out of watching you girls. 

If you don’t smile like a child that means you’re not happy.  It’s a quality that shows your true happiness and he has that.

What was the biggest surprise being on the show?

I was never around queens on a competitive level so my biggest surprise was my reaction to them.

Was it a good reaction or a bad one? 

I didn’t know that I would ever get as close to these queens as I did. All the interaction was just such a big surprise. You were with each other till the last rhinestone goes on.

So you were just surprised by the level of community. 

That’s the perfect word, the community was amazing. I just jumped into a family. I never pursued a drag family and this one is true royalty.

Are you still shooting now?

I can’t say!

Before we finish up, can you share a little Season 5 gossip with us?

Well I will just say that a lot of these queens are very attractive boys out of drag.

Any love connections? 

Aye, aye, aye, you better come out with us and you can find out.

If Serena ChaCha is any indication of the queens we’re going to meet on RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s going to be an amazing season.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 starts Monday January 28th at 9/8c on Logo!

Image via LogoTV

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  1. Also if you find the drag world as fascinating as I do I highly reccomend the documentary Paris is burning! It’s on Netflix.

  2. I live for drag race!!!!!!!!!!!! Juju is my most favorite because of her fierce ability to read. I also loved tammie browne because there was no telling what would come out of her mouth at any given moment. And manilla! I could go on and on! Can’t wait to watch the new season!

  3. Serena is amazing! She was the top performer in my city during my college years. She doesn’t know it, but she gave me such a voice, such a sense of pride. And the ability to be fierce and fiery and not give a DAMN what anyone else thought! I brought that attitude with me to NYC and use it every single day of my life. Thank you Drag Queens worldwide. I am LIVING for all that you do.