Abstract

In 2019, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula became the first drag competition show in the American mainstream media to feature assigned-female-at-birth drag performers: drag king Landon Cider and performance artist Hollow Eve. Although popular queer media heralded their inclusion (and Landon’s eventual crowning) as a categorical win for queer progress and contrasted the show with RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is known for its past exclusionary emphasis on cisgender gay male drag queens, this article demonstrates that the Boulet Brothers may have unintentionally undermined their own radically queer ethos by facilitating a televised drag competition show in the first place. Although critiques of drag competitions tend to center on the highly visible Drag Race, in particular analyzing neoliberal homonormativity in the context of cisgender gay male gender performance, Dragula provides us with an alternate lens for seeing how gender, neoliberal economics, and homonormative “realness” collide when the “monstrous” queer assignedfemale-at-birth body becomes visible. This article grapples with a queer “reading” of Landon Cider’s win and Hollow Eve’s spectacular failure on season 3 of Dragula to ask: What do we do with a show that drags queer monsters out of the closet and into the light? How should we react when our vampires “give us life?” Is the queer art of winning really queer?

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