It was time for the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 to strike a pose and express themselves Friday, when they starred in an homage to the Queen of Pop herself called Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical. And also representing was “queen from Queens” and “ray of light in the U.S. Congress,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who served as a fierce guest judge — giving good face and good advice.
AOC is well-known for her Drag Race fandom. Last year, she gave several shoutouts on social media to Season 11’s Miss Congeniality/social activist Nina West, quoted All Stars 4 winner Monique Hart on Twitter, and expressed a desire to be a Drag Race judge. Friday, while having a kiki with the current contestants on the aftershow Untucked, she said it was a “dream come true” to finally appear on the program, telling them: “Last year, I was bartending in a restaurant — that was my life, last February. Every night I would come home, and the only thing that would help me disconnect and unplug was watching Drag Race.”
The queens were equally excited to spent time with Ocasio-Cortez — especially Jackie Cox, who on the runway tearfully gushed, “I do have to say, it is crazy to meet you. Seeing you working in Congress in solidarity with Congresswoman Tlaib and Congresswoman Omar gives me so much hope for our country. My mom immigrated from Iran, and people would tell her to go home and go back to where she came from. And when I was young, I hid this part of my heritage for so long. She is an American citizen now, and seeing you standing up for people like my mom gives me so much hope.”
“I’m so thankful that your mother is here and part of our country,” replied a visibly moved Ocasio-Cortez.
Later on Untucked, Jackie opened her heart even more, telling AOC, “You standing up to that man every day… how can we all complain about anything, when you literally stand in the face of what I think is the worst part of our nature as humans? You stand up against him, and you say, ‘No.’”
“But we all do it, in our own way,” Ocasio-Cortez pointed out. “People think Congress and government is all about leading people, but ultimately, a lot of our politics is about following the public will. And the people who change what people think are artists — and drag queens! And let’s not forget who threw that first brick at Stonewall. … It starts with you. I mean, you are patriots. I’m so proud of you all.”
Ocasio-Cortez is obviously not just a Drag Race fan, but also a Madonna fan. She and her fellow guest judge, supermodel Winnie Harlow, were totally getting into the groove during Madonna: The Unuthorized Rusical, and AOC was even lipping along herself during bottom two contestants Heidi N Closet and Brita’s lip-sync to the old-school Madonna club jam “Burnin’ Up.” (She said her favorite Madonna song, however, is “True Blue.” Get it? Blue? Incidentally, this wasn’t the first time a “true blue” politician had appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made a Werk Room cameo with RuPaul on All-Stars 3 in 2018.)
As for the best Rusical performances, the queens, who worked with Madonna choreographer Jamal Sims, were repping various eras of Madonna’s decade-straddling, shape-shifting career. Brita and Heidi apparently failed to justify their Madonna love with their respective pale imitations of the cone-brassiered “Blonde Ambition” Madonna and modern-day Madonna, but the kooky Crystal Methyd was a hippie-dippie delight as the pre-Raphaelite-curled “Ray of Light” Madonna; Jaida Essence Hall brought the Sex-appeal as a whip-brandishing, garter-stocking’d “Erotica” Madonna; and the maxi-challenge’s ultimate winner, ice-blond glamour goddess Gigi Goode, gave good body, face, and everything else as the Marilyn-esque makeover-Madonna of 1986.
Ironically, none of these young queens actually wanted to portray “old-school” Danceteria-dolly Madonna. But contestant Jan, who ultimately got stuck with the role, ended up being a true lucky star in her jelly bracelets and layered lace, and her recreation of that iconic 1984 American Bandstand “I wanna rule the world” moment felt full-circle as she uttered those words in front of AOC. Take a bow, ladies, indeed. Herstory was made this week.
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