12 February 2013

XuPaul's Drag Race*

The queens connect with their inner child when they star in a fun-filled kids TV show.

After the Elimination
With all the hullabaloo caused by
Chacha’s criticism on the drag queen’s way of speaking (Untucked! past week) – the Drag Queen’s English, as I labelled it –, it’s when Coco explains the issue between her and Alyssa that the audience have a glimpse that Coco is perfectly able to speak a very clear Standard English, without the usual oddness from their drag moments.

“I want to know the t on what happened between you and Alyssa.” Mahogani asks Coco. T, as everyone must know by now, means ‘true’.

Coco explains: “They crowned her that night, and things happened, and… obligations weren’t fulfilled. And it put us in a situation where our friendship was on the line. (…) Legally I had to do that. (…) With all the controversy at Miss Gay America, this is a personal vendetta for myself.

“…And America’s next drag superstar needs to really embrace her inner child, if she’s gonna become one fierce mother-tucker.” Mother-tucker is used instead of the usual ‘mother-f*cker’; the allusion made here regards the act of tucking, or disguising the males privates for drag performance.


You need to turn these boy toys into cutey patooties.” RuPaul explains as the pit crew men enter carrying small dummies. Boy toy is an allusion to the pit crew since they basically pose as hot dummy men in RPDRace. Cutey pattoties, is a kind sound repetition, similar to echo –  something like Frisky McBrisky.

“Ready, set, drag the children.” RuPaul joins the meaning of drag ‘dress up in drag’, and drag ‘get the dummies by dragging.’

You know, we’re all considered kai kai. Now we have daughters with another queen.” Roxxxy says. ‘kai kai’ sex between two queens.

“… because it’s never too young to start upholding the Amurrican ideal of femininititity.” Jynx exaggerates the pronunciation of American and adds an odd syllable to the long word ‘femininity’ tuning it even longer; he highlights the formality of his speech by making it over the top.

“Now that’s a modern family…” RuPaul says, making allusion to the sitcom Modern Family which is about a gay couple and an adopted daughter.

“So your programme should be both entertaining and edumacational.” RuPaul says, using a word that he used in season 3, ‘edumacate’, used to mock the meaning of educate.

The Workroom
“Our challenge today is to put together a children’s television show, which is full of sneaky little dirty double-entendre.” There’s nothing odd here. Alaska’s explanation of the challenge is highlighted here, because it incidentally highlights a remarking feature of the Drag Queen's English.

“The word of the day is box.” Alaska says. Box is a word for ‘vagina’.

“You could be just Uncle Dick the cross-dresser.” Alaska says. Dick is vulgar slang for ‘penis’.

“…Of course. It’s just now coming to me.” RuPaul says when he hears about the word of the day BOX. Then, Detox replies, “A lot of things come in my box.” Obvious double-entendre with the other sense of the word come ‘ejaculate’.

The Show

“Look everybody. It’s Clucky the cock.” Cock is a vulgar term for ‘penis’.

So many things fit inside my box. This is a petite box. I don’t think it Michelle’s.” Box is used often along double-entendres.

“I’m ready to toss your salad, Anita.” Toss alludes do the vulgar sense of toss off ‘masturbate’.

“It’s real sunny up in here. But I’d really like a bit of shade.” Shade is an allusion to throwing shade.

“The word of the day is blow.” Blow is an allusion to blow job, which is vulgar slang for ‘fellatio’.

“She’s a sex pistol.” Ru makes a reference to English punk rock band Sex Pistols.
“She’s very Singapore Airlines.” Santino says to Bervely Hillz, alluding to the flight attendants - Singapore Girls - who became an icon of the airline.

“Hold me closer, tiny dancer.” Santino makes a reference to the words of Elton John’s song Tiny Dancer.

She is a hot mesh.” Ru says hot mesh, when we’d normally hear hot mess, referring to the fabric that Detox is wearing.

“Pink panther on the runway.” Ru makes a reference to the words of his song Glamazon, adding the word ‘pink’.

“It’s a mullet dress.” Guess judge Coco Austine says. Mullet dress is a dress that reminds a mullet hairdo: short and clean cut in the front, and long in the back.

“Oh, dangerous liaisons.” Ru makes a reference to the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons because Jynx’s costume design reminds the style used in the film.

“Very bed, bath, and Beyoncé.” Ru plays with the name of the retail store BedBath& Beyond.

“I didn’t know she was into bears.” Ru says during the presentation of Coco, who is holding a teddy bear. Ru evokes the meaning of bear as a ‘strong hairy top man’

“Life in plastic, it’s fantastic.” They make reference to the words of the song by Aqua.

A few more play on words and double-entendre can be noticed in the kids’ show. The name Anita Bum, reminds “I need a bum”. Anita use of the words cut and uncut with carrots is an allusion to male circumcision.

The Magic Bush, name of the 2o kid’s programme, plays with the vulgar meaning of the word bush ‘woman’s pubic hair’. Lola the exploda is a reference to animated character Dora the Explorer. And when Lineysha says, “Miss Lola favourite part is the cream,” she alludes to vulgar slang cream.

The queens of RPDRace didn’t put together a children’s show; they actually created show of language subversion, something like English Freak Show.

*XuPaul: a blend name which mixes RuPaul and XuXa - most successful and enterprising children's tv show host in Latin America.

6 February 2013

Something that you’ve seen before…

…like you’ve never seen before.

RuPaul’s Drag Race, in this 2nd episode of season 5, didn’t repeat a formula – like...

Snatch Game - s2e4;
Jocks in Frocks - s3e12,
n' RuPocalypse Now - s4e1.

This episode proposed a rather new challenge: the queens had to re-enact scenes from the spin-off Untucked!

…lip-synching to the    spoken word.
This episode seemed to be tailor-made to this very blog so that it would correspond to the concept of Linguistic Strangeness.

The essence of linguistic strangeness, as I understand, is the utterance of a word, phrase, or sentence that's been used and repeated time after time b'for but...

...in an altered (deviated) way that makes it somewhat all new and personal.

All t all shade is a perfect example. Uttered by Roxxxy in the Untucked! last week, it takes from the no t no shade that we’ve been familiarised with, and grown used to, during previous seasons of RPDRace. Now it’s all new, but reminding us of the meaning of the no t no shade that we’ve listened to before.

Besides standing for the concept of linguistic strangeness, this episode brought plenty evidence of strangeness in English. Let’s get to business.

Ro-Laska-Tox is in the house! -  “Ro-Laska-Tox is Roxxxy, Alaska, and Detox. Ro-Laska-Tox! It’s the new prescription drug for people who are gagging,” Detox explains the blend.

“My queens, for the first time in Drag Race history I’m not going to say for the first time in Drag Race history,” Ru says. This is a rather humorous structure, used to make an ironic statement; this pattern is often used. In American Dad (s5e18), Steve uses a rather similar odd structure based on the classic “yo mama” jokes:  “Mom, you are not smart. I don’t tell ‘yo mama’s so dumb’ jokes. I tell ‘my mama’s so dumb’ jokes. Example: my mama’s so dumb, I don’t tell ‘yo mama’s so dumb’ jokes. I tell ‘my mama’s so dumb’ jokes.”

“For today’s mini-challenge, you’ll need to pucker up and impress me… with the power of your pie-hole.” RuPaul says. Here, not much is structurally remarkable, except that the choice of words seems to favour the consonance of the sound ‘p’. This pattern of strangeness is often used in British papers’ headlines, like in:

Lewis laps up last races at McLaren (Metro, 1 Nov. 2012).
Arshavin’s prayers are answered in Royals rout (Metro, 1 Nov. 2012).

The repetition of sounds – like alliteration, rhyming, echo, and others – is actually a common pattern of strangeness in English. Not often noticed though.

“Now, using just your mouths, I want to see winning lip-synch performances – of my songs, Tranny Chaser Lady Boy, and Peanut Butter.” RuPaul utters the song titles with an unusual blowy voice, in a slack-jawed manner; the ‘b’ in Lady Boy even sounds like the word initial ‘b’ in Spanish.

“So, put on some lipstick and let’s go for the glory.” RuPaul makes an allusion to glory hole (look up dictionary or go downtown) because in the mini-challenge, the queens have to lip-synch with their mouths showing only through a hole in a wooden wall.

“Nice lip-jobs ladies,” RuPaul says. Lip-job is used instead of lip-synch, in an obvious innuendo.


Well, shut my mouth, it’s Santino Rice.” RuPual uses a soft American Southern accent when she introduces Santino (see strange voices).
“Juliette Lewis, you look go-go-go-gorgeous.” Ru mimics a stutter to introduce Ms Lewis.

“Now Juliette, is she wearing a cape fear?” Ru asks Lewis, alluding to the cape in Mahogany’s costume - a reference to Cape Fear, film which Ms Lewis starred.

“I’m serving rodeo drag fishness.” Alyssa Edward on her own look; realness is already used by the queens as a suffix meaning ‘in a real way’; now, in a similar fashion to realness, Alyssa adapts fishness as a suffix meaning ‘in a fish way’ ‘in a real feminine way’.

“Pants off dance off.” Ru references tv show Pants-Off Dance-Off, alluding to ChaCha’s underpants which are showing.

“Screw the rainbows, give me leather.” Michelle Visage refers to the rainbow and colourful costume that Jade had on last week.

“I like to have the fringe going down my boobicles and booty.” Roxxy. Uncommon word boobicles, is a blend of booby and testicles, meaning ‘saggy breasts’.
“Tita Turter…” Ru odd way of saying Tina Turner, changing ‘n’ to ‘t’ as she does with words like hunty 'hunny' n' entertaintment 'entertainment.' 

“Tina Tatase…” Ms Lewis says tatas in a distorted way. 

“Very third rock from the sun.” RuPaul says, referring to outer space look of Jinx Monsoon and alluding to the sitcom Third Rock From the Sun which had guest judge Kristen Johnston in the cast.

“Natural born thriller. RuPaul again makes a reference to a film starring Ms Lewis Natural Born Killer.

“You better ass somebody.” Santino, alluding to Coco Montrese exposed bottom, using the same odd remark he used with Dida Ritz’s in season 4 episode RuPocalypse Now.

“Snow white and the hunty man” Ru, on Detox's all black costume; a deviation of the film title Snow White n' the Huntsman.

“How many black cocks had to die for that outfit?” RuPaul uses the funny question ‘how many birds’ in reference to a costume covered in plumage.

...The choice of words black cocks turns the utterance into a double-entendre.

“One of you really lipsmacked the competition…” RuPaul’s use of lipsmacked is perhaps commonly used; although I’m inclined to think that he plays with gobsmacked which is tagged in the Concise OED as ‘informal’ for astonished. Gob is mouth from the Scottish Gaelic; so lipsmacked is analogue to gobsmacked.
“Your Delta Work was… halehrah.” Michelle Visage pronounces the word hilarious in a quite distorted way – probably to convey the meaning that a normal hilarious cannot express.

The oddest and most subliminal thing I’ve heard so far in RuPaul’s strange English was his collocation of the word tight with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. “Ladies, I need your lip-syncs to be as tight and unforgettable as your charisma, uniqueness nerve and talent.” On hearing the word tight I immediately expected it to go with a double-entendre word. But I couldn’t see the end of it… 

...Until I realised that charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, form a an acronym: c.u.n.t. OMG!

What else lies beneath the witty and strange English of RPDRaceI can’t wait to see how this turns out…

1 February 2013

Here Comes RuPaul Boo Boo

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 had its première this Monday night – January 28. The fresh display of gaudy men in Drag was only matched by the fresh display of gaudy expressions in English – most of them uttered by the Queen mother RuPaul. But the freshness and gaudiness of RuPaul’s English goes beyond the unconventional choice of words and peculiar neologisms; the way RuPaul delivers certain lines illustrates well a type of what David Crystal calls Linguistic Strangeness.

That's all - RuPaul mimics Miranda Priestly
In the première of Season 4 RuPaul introduced his “that’s all” warning to the ‘safe’ girls. Here, RuPaul clearly mimics Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. The way RuPaul glances to the side, blocking the girls, matches the character’s depiction by author Lauren Weisberger.

One of the most common patterns of strangeness in language is the use “of abnormal voices”. As Crystal says, a common type of abnormal voice is when the speaker adopts a regional of social accent other than the speaker’s own, or the speaker uses an unnatural tone of voice which recalls perhaps a famous personality (1990. p. 19).
You Betta Sissy That Walk
Ru again used that’s all à la Miranda this Monday. But she also adopted a new odd linguistic behaviour as Penny Tration walked off the stage. 
You better sissy that walk, Ru said, assuming an atypical facial expression, head motion, and an un-RuPaul-like accent.

It doesn't seem clear if Ru is mimicking someone specifically. I’d place my bets on infant reality tv personality Honey Boo Boo.

The clue is in the fact that Ru used such odd linguistic behaviour during Penny Tration’s presentation. 

Penny and Honey Boo Boo share two things in common: they both take part in runway contests and are both big proportioned ladies. 
Penny Tration & Honey Boo Boo

But the allusion to Honey Boo Boo is not just due to matters of size. I believe RuPaul indentifies herself with Honey Boo Boo’s sassy style and social unconventionality.
RuPaul & Boo Boo
One aspect that surely brings Ru and Boo Boo together is their odd and inventive use of language. The reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo often focuses on Honey Boo Boo’s peculiar English. 

Here are some of the pearls by Honey Boo Boo.
A dolla make me holla, honey boo boo child!Honey boo boo are actually terms of endearment. Alana Thompson, Boo Boo’s real name, used honey boo boo child as an interjection. She rhymes dolla and holla (holler, shout).
Honey Boo Boo's family
I have three sisters. Pumpkin is the craziest. Anna is the pregnantest.” Pregnant is an adjective, so although Boo Boo actually follows a rule of English, the use of superlative with pregnant is unconventional because you cannot be more or less pregnant.
“No one can be proper and etiquettely all the time.” Boo Boo creates an adverb that derivates from the noun etiquette. It’s an unusual adverb.
"I'm sassified." Boo boo blends sassy and satisfied.
You better redneckognize!” Everyone from Boo Boo’s family uses the word redneckognize which is a blend of redneck and recognise.

“My gay uncle is poodle…” Boo Boo’s word for gay.

Shh! It’s a poodle.Boo Boo makes takes this expression from Shh! It’s a Wig store.

We put Glitzy on the table, and she ooo’d herself.” Boo Boo’s word for ‘pooped’.

“Baby Kaitlyn arrived on the Biscuit Express!” Biscuit is the word for ‘vagina’ used by Boo Boo’s family members. Biscuit Express thus is Boo Boo’s phrase to ‘birth’. 

Beautimous ‘some kind of beautiful’, s’mage ‘massage’, s’mexy  and sexmous ‘some kind of sexy’, are just some words used by Boo Boo’s mother – words that are sure to be part of Boo Boo’s vocabulary.

Like the English of RPDRace the English of Boo Boo’s family circle presents its share of odd words and phrases. And since Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a reality show that follows Boo Boo’s family with no scripted speech, it provides evidence that linguistic strangeness is an ordinary aspect of language – and not an exclusive feature of the Drag Queen’s English.