No matter what you think of RuPaul or Drag Race or any of its numerous spin-offs, there’s no denying Ru and his corporation have provided a platform to many deserving performers. With their newfound fame, these incredible talents have gone on to have live shows, release albums, host ten thousand podcasts, and even appear on Broadway.
But outside the occasional bit part for Shangela and a pair of forgettable titles from Bianca, these stars have largely been absent from movies. And that’s why it was so exciting RuPaul was finally changing that with his very own Christmas movie! So, ummm, why does it star a random cis woman??
The Bitch Who Stole Christmas has all the makings of a campy good time with a joke-filled script parodying Hallmark tropes and a cast with some of the best Drag Race alums. (Most prominently featured are Peppermint, Jan, Ginger, Brooke Lynn, Jaymes, and Ru herself.) But at the center of the movie, playing the undercover workaholic tasked with ruining a happy Christmas town is Krysta Rodriguez, a cis, supposedly straight actress best known for playing Liza Minelli in Netflix’s Halston.
While some of the queens with minor cameos feel like they’re going to find themselves in the bottom of this week’s acting challenge, our main cast queens all make a compelling case for their stardom. Peppermint is the queen who, as aforementioned, was a lead on Broadway, so why not build a Christmas movie parody script around her? Hell, this script could’ve stayed the exact same and plopped Jan in as the lead.
It’s not that Krysta Rodriguez isn’t good — her banter with love interest Andy Ridings provides some of the movie’s best moments — but centering her results in a movie that feels about as gay as a drag brunch. The performers I hoped this movie would finally celebrate end up seeming closer to well-dressed props.
Look, if you’re a fan of Drag Race, you’ll still find this to be an enjoyable 85 minutes. Peppermint, Ginger, and Jan are especially good with what they’re given, there are a couple fun musical numbers, and more than a handful of jokes made me laugh out loud. It’s just frustrating that it felt even more sanitized than Ru’s regular programming. It’s kind of gross when drag queens are there to make crass jokes but we can’t even see them kiss boys on-screen. Brooke Lynn provides a plethora of Russian sex worker jokes — in a part Katya clearly decided she was too good for — but if we’re not actually seeing her suck a dick, I don’t see much of a point.
Nearly 50 years after Pink Flamingos, John Waters movies are still the pinnacle of drag cinema. And while I’m excited that Charles Busch is back next year with festival favorite The Sixth Reel, I can’t help but see all the squandered talent.
If RuPaul isn’t going to make Peppermint the lead of a movie, I hope somebody else will. She deserves it. So many “Ru girls” do. I thought The Bitch Who Stole Christmas might be a start, but instead it’s another example of the limits of the RuPaul Project.
Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to keep celebrating Christmas with The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special and the Cha Cha Heels scene from Female Trouble.