Legendary nightlife promoters and drag personalities The Boulet Brothers are hosting an All Stars season of their critically-acclaimed drag-horror reality competition series Dragula. The show was originally uploaded on YouTube, before gaining cult popularity and getting picked up by premium horror streaming service Shudder. Combining elements of queer performance art and “dare”-based game shows, Dragula is widely considered to be an ambitious crossover between Rupaul’s Drag Race and Fear Factor. This fall’s Dragula: Titans sees ten of the most memorable contestants from the show’s first four seasons vie for a second chance at the title of “America’s Next Drag Supermonster,” along with $100,000. Throughout the season, the stars use their expert prosthetic makeup, acting, and costume designing skills to make horrific fantasies a reality.
While incorporating a new group voting mechanism to occasionally determine the bottom contestants, the rules of the competition remain largely the same: craft a jaw-dropping drag look and perform a floor show reflecting the competition’s elements of filth, horror, and glamor. The competitors then face the wrath of the Boulet Brothers and various special guest judges, who determine which contestants performed the poorest and must participate in a dreaded “Extermination Challenge.” These Extermination Challenges range anywhere from receiving an embarrassing tattoo and going skydiving to being electrocuted and having to eat raw animal organs, each aiming to push the contestants' limits and see how they fare under pressure. Being able to put on a killer show in a corset and wig while, say, having to staple as many dollar bills to your body as you can is the kind of skill the artists of Dragula showcase.
Celebrating the intersection of queer arts and horror aesthetics has always been the goal of Dragula. The series highlights the raunchier and more disturbing aspects of performance art that aren’t so appropriate for cable television. Some of the looks the competitors produce are genuinely terrifying, with stage performances that will have you anywhere from moderately shocked to outright queasy. The creativity and endurance of these artists is impressive, and paired with an intoxicating level of drama among the strong and eccentric personalities backstage, Dragula: Titans makes catching up on the franchise beyond worth it.
Everett Bonner III is a current senior in the SFS studying International Politics and minoring in International Development and Japanese. He is the INDY's Commentary Editor.