Drag Race legend Alaska has declared that it’s “absurd there are so many rules” around who can perform in drag.
The All Stars 2 winner spoke to Entertainment Weekly (EW)ahead of her Drag Queen of the Year pageant, explaining why it was so important to her and co-founder Lola LeCroix to highlight drag inclusivity and create a space that was open to all drag performers – regardless of their gender identity or experience level.
The 2021 edition of the pageant included eight contestants – including trans artists to bearded burlesque performers – vying for the title and a $10,000 prize.
Alaska told EW it was “natural and made sense” for the pageant to be inclusive because of the nature of performing with other drag artists from a variety of backgrounds.
She said: “I don’t know about other drag queens, but I’ve always shared a dressing room with a drag king over there, this girl does burlesque, this girl is trans, but she does drag…
“It wasn’t whacko in the culture of drag to see people who have a different drag perspective or history working together.
“To me, it was natural… isn’t it absurd that there are so many rules?”
The 2021 socially-distanced Drag Queen of the Year, which was held on Sunday (7 March), mixed live segments filmed from a studio in Los Angeles with pre-recorded vignettes.
Alaska said the pageant is “about inspiration”, and she said it was “especially inspiring” to see the performers’ work “considering the state of the world and the state of drag, nightlife and entertainment”.
“Seeing what these performers are doing, pulling together, and making happen, that’s really what it’s about,” Alaska said. “The gift of that inspiration is something that everyone who’s seeing the pageants gets to enjoy, and it reverberates out into the world.”
It was Chicago-based drag king Tenderoni who took home the title of Drag Queen of the Year 2021. Tenderoni shared the joy of winning DQOY on Twitter, declaring the win is for “Chicago” and “drag kings”.
Alaska ‘wouldn’t be where she is’ were it not for trans drag performers
Alaska has long been a champion of inclusivity in drag.
In January 2020, she urged RuPaul’s Drag Race to “start putting your money where your mouth is” and become more inclusive of trans drag artists. Since then, the franchise has welcomed its first trans man – season 13 favourite Gottmik.
At the time, Alaska wrote: “It’s not about political correctness, it’s about the conscious exclusion of an integral part of the drag community.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the trans performers that took me under their wings, and they deserve the same kinds of opportunities.”
Just a month later, during the Queerty awards, Alaska and fellow star Willam read out the names of the trans people – including Carmen Carrera, Monica Beverly-Hillz and Gia Gunn – who have competed on Drag Race over the years.
At the event, Alaska said: “We see you, we love you, we f**king value you so much.
“And anyone who has done drag a day in their life knows that we would not be f**king here without the contributions of trans drag artists.
“It is my grown-up Christmas wish with this award that hopefully, we can review one day an episode with some more trans girls who are f**king amazing.”
In January this year, RuPaul opened up about how casting Drag Race’s first openly trans contestant Gottmik changed his own idea of what drag is. During an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he said he learned that he needs to “keep an open mind”.
RuPaul said: “I walked into this thing with an idea of what drag is and the kids have a different idea. They keep changing it.
“This season we have a trans man who is on our show who is competing with the other drag queens, and this man is fantastic.”