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Queen of the Universe

Drag queens with genuine talent show that they can do much more than lip sync to Gaga in this new talent quest.

With the long-running success of RuPaul’s Drag Race (13 seasons, a slew of spin-offs and 26 Emmy Awards) it was surely only a matter of time before we got the singing version….

“No. Lip. Syncing!” host Graham Norton declares in Queen of the Universe, a sort of cross-breed between Drag Race and Eurovision.

Drag queens from across the globe have gathered in London for this RuPaul-produced series where they will perform Idol-style for 4 judges: Vanessa Williams, Michelle Visage, Leona Lewis and American drag act Trixie Mattel.

The socially-distanced setting is a huge showroom with guests seated at cabaret tables, and with Norton as a kind of beauty quest compere.

These divas come from the USA, China, France, Brazil, Denmark and yes, Australia. Representing us is towering 7 foot bearded Sydney drag queen, Gingzilla. Ok, hand on heart I’d never heard of her. She will take to the stage with a Ned Kelly mask (I kid you not), but you’ll spot quite a few cultural stereotypes, Rio feathers, French flag, and more. None of it really matters, we’re here for a good time, not for Covent Garden.

The prize is a cool $250,000, I presume they mean $US dollars, which is considerably more than Drag Race‘s $100,000.

Points to the casting department, these artistes can actually sing. Performing condensed versions of Rehab, Material Girl, Wrecking Ball and even Dance Monkey, it’s showy and on key. Thank god.

Gingzilla impresses with a baritone voice, which contrasts with most of the acts showing their feminine side.

But it’s the video packages that tell the real story of how finding their identity, sometimes in societies where being LGBTQI is repressed, that looks beyond the costumery.

Acts are judged on W.A.P. which is not “wet a** p***y”, insists Norton, but 1) What You’re Wearing. 2) All star Attitude and 3) Performance.

You could get into the nuts and bolts of reality competition or you could just enjoy the floorshow and order another cocktail. Either way I suspect there are plenty more talented drag queens who will be keen to show they can do way more than lip sync to Gaga (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I’m already wondering who Australia sends next? Sure, Courtney Act would eat this alive, but so would Dolly Diamond, who has recently located to the UK.

You go girl.

Queen of the Universe premieres today on Paramount+.

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