An American reality TV program RuPaul’s Drag Race, in which drag queens compete with each other to be “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” has earned tremendous hit since it was first broadcast in 2009. Although Drag Race started as a niche program featuring drag queens and targeted only at the LGBTQ community, it is becoming a world-wide phenomenon in mainstream popular culture. Especially, straight female audiences have become a large percentage of the audience. However, why are straight women, who have not necessarily had a connection with drag culture, enthusiastic about Drag Race? Previous research on Drag Race are mainly textual analysis addressing particular issues such as race and ethnicity, social class, body shape and femininity (Darnell and Tabatabai, 2017; Edgar, 2011; Goldmark, 2015; LeMaster, 2015; Strings & Bui, 2014; Vesey, 2017). However, they lack the perspective of actual audience. And therefore, they do not explain the popularity among straight female audience. Since the audience of Drag Race has become increasingly diverse, different audiences interpret the contents differently. As Alasuutari (1999) explains using Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model, intended message from producers is not always received “correctly” by audiences. Therefore, it is significant to take into account the perspective of the audience. Furthermore, as Bird (2003) suggests audiences critically and actively interpret the message and put them in the context of everyday experience, we should closely examine the process of meaning-making. Thus, this research aims at examining straight female audience’s perception of Drag Race. To achieve this, I conducted the interviews with straight female audiences. As a result, it is indicated that the straight female audiences show emotional intimacy with drag queens. Also, femininity performed by drag queens is interpreted as empowering whereas audiences consider drag queen’s behavior stereotypically feminine. Furthermore, audiences reflect their own everyday experience, especially insecurity and pressure caused by confronting with the social norm of femininity. As a conclusion, I suggest audience’s active engagement in Drag Race could be a chance to reinterpret and represent gender, sexuality and femininity.

Additional Metadata
Keywords kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, RuPaul’s Drag Race, female audience, emotion, femininity, everyday, experience
Thesis Advisor B. Boross
Persistent URL
Series Master Arts, Culture & Society
Y. Akizuki. (2019, June 14). Emotion, Femininity and Everyday Experience. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from