Paul O’Grady can’t stand RuPaul’s Drag Race: ‘It’s not drag – it’s transvestism’
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a massive, massive success, but not everyone’s a fan.
Despite the Emmy nods over its nine (and counting) seasons, Paul O’Grady refuses to be won over.
Speaking to Ben Hunte for BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Gay Britannia series, the Lily Savage star explained why he just can’t get along with the hit US show.
“No, I can’t bear it. No really I can’t,” he said.
“That’s not drag! It’s all about shading and contouring your face now and being like supermodels.”
He continued: “In my day we had the likes of Phil Starr, who was a glorious comedian… we had Marc Fleming, Auntie Flo, Mrs Shufflewick. We had great comedians in drag.
“This new brigade who just parade around going, sashay, shantay – that’s not drag to me.”
O’Grady drew a distinction between the on-the-night performance that is drag, and the full-characterisation that typifies the Drag Race stars.
“Drag is doing an act. That’s dressing up. That [Drag Race] is transvestism,” O’Grady said.
“Drag is an act, where you get up, you do your act, you get changed and you go home – you don’t parade round the streets doing all this business.”
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“I’ve no interest in it whatsoever, none at all.”
When it was put to him that Drag Race had brought drag to a new generation and out in the open, O’Grady said: “I don’t like that.
“I always believed Lily Savage belonged in a pub, especially a gay bar, where you could rant and rave.”
After decades of stage and screen success as Lily Savage, the character has been seen less and less, with O’Grady a much more frequent presence as himself.
Listen to the full interview below: