This week FusionTV kicked off their new series Shade: Queens of NYC. This high energy docu-series profiles eight New York City queens: Jasmine Rice LaBeija, Chelsea Piers, Brita Filter, Marti Gould Cummings, Holly Box-Springs, Jada Valenciaga, Tina Burner, and Paige Turner. While the first episode gave us some fun shade and a little drama, it also highlighted the political impact drag queens have in society, especially in today’s political climate.
Episode one (If you don’t get FusionTV, check out the episode HERE) focused on the political and social aspects of drag. We first meet Marti as she was on the phone with her mom talking about protesting against Donald Trump. Marti is the creator of the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats; a group fighting for equality and political safety in the community in the midst of a Trump presidency. Throughout the episode, we get a first-hand look at her activism. Whether it was holding a Hell’s Kitchen Democrats meeting, passing out safe space posters to local businesses, or protesting with Jasmine and Brita at Trump Tower, she proves that drag is political. Marti’s activism is admirable.
Tina Burner’s show Gurlesque is another prominent storyline throughout the episode. Gurlesque is drag meets burlesque-inspired show. The girls must perform three solo numbers and a group number. Each number must have its own look. Oh and get this, it’s a themed show! This week’s theme is Hollywood. Brita opens up to Chelsea about how nervous she is to perform in such a high stakes show, especially since most of her gigs only require a single look. Instead of allowing Brita’s nerves to get the best of her, Chelsea provides her with help and support, reminding us again that drag is a sisterhood! (Somewhere Bianca Del Rio is rolling her eyes at that statement).
Cut to Brita, Jada, Chelsea, and Tina discussing Gurlesque. Y’all really thought this episode was going to be strictly rainbows and sisterhood? Que the Drag Race shade noise. Tina and Brita are discussing Brita’s looks for the show when the claws come out. Tina tells Brita her aesthetic is a bit sloppy. Okay so maybe I was a bit dramatic with the build-up to the shady moment. It was all in good fun. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to see a bit more drama next week.
Towards the end of the episode, we got to learn more of Jasmine’s story. An immigrant from Korea, she shares her emotional struggle in Trump’s America. The episode ends with a moving performance of the National Anthem by Jasmine over footage of the girls protesting at Trump Tower. It was both inspiring and heartbreaking. A perfect wrap up to the episode.
What did you guys think of episode one? Personally, I loved it. I hope that next week we get to see more of Holly and Paige since they were lacking in airtime this week. I loved the clips of lip-synching numbers throughout the show. It allowed us as viewers who may not have been familiar with the queens prior to the show to get to know their performance style. I can’t wait for next week’s episode!
Be sure to tune into Shade: Queens of NYC Thursday’s at 10:30pm on FusionTV or fusion.net.