New York Times MagazineJanuary 24, 2018
On a soundstage deep in the hills of Los Angeles one morning last August, RuPaul Charles and several drag queens made their way to a set that had been transformed into a simulacrum of the reality-TV show “The Bachelor.” Lacy strands of lights dripped down plastic boxwood hedges, and a row of white fluted columns framed a velvety red strip of carpet. A hot tub bubbled quietly in a corner. The contestants arranged themselves onto a set of bleachers to be appraised by the dashing bachelor, who in this scene was played by the actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, best known for his role on the Lifetime television drama “UnREAL.” They were filming the latest season of the reality competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the day’s challenge was meant to showcase the competitors’ acting abilities. The challenge, called “The Bitchelorette,” was a parody of the farcical dynamics that play out on “The Bachelor” each season. The goal was not to win Bowyer-Chapman’s heart but rather to see who could perform — satirize, really — stereotypes of femininity with enough humor to impress the judges.