Paul O’Grady can’t stand RuPaul’s Drag Race: ‘It’s not drag – it’s transvestism’

Mayer Nissim August 2, 2017
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Paul O'Grady and RuPaul (Getty Images/David Shankbone)

Paul O'Grady and RuPaul (Getty Images/David Shankbone)

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.

The RuPaul's Drag Race Show comes to London (Getty Images)
The RuPaul’s Drag Race Show comes to London (Getty Images)

Related: Paul O’Grady: Strictly Come Dancing will ‘never’ feature gay couples because the BBC are too scared

“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.”

“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.”

The RuPaul's Drag Race Show comes to London (Getty Images)
The RuPaul’s Drag Race Show comes to London (Getty Images)

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:

More: BBC, black cap, drag, Gay Britannia, lily savage, Paul O'Grady, rupaul, RuPaul's Drag Race, transvestism, transvestite

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