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…

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