May 10, 2015

[Pink Culture] Katya is My Spirit Animal

So when the contestants for Season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race were announced, I wasn't immediately sold on most of them, which is sort of typical for me. It's hard to tell what the queens will be like based on still images after all.

Well into Season 7, I can firmly state that I absolutely love Katya, as crazy as that may seem. She's such an interesting and entertaining character that it's hard not to love her. Sure, her brand of comedy is often vulgar and crass, but that's all part of the fun, really.

Katya is my spirit animal and so today we're going to celebrate her.

Katya's "full name" is actually Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova - a name derived from a combination of three different Russian gymansts, apparently. Katya may also be a man named Brian McCook, but that may just be an illusion.

What I love the most about a number of the queens that we see on RuPaul's Drag Race is how they don't just dress up as women - they take on entire characters with complete personas as well. Whether this means donning a second head named Ornacia, or in this case being a "average run-of-the-mill Russian bisexual transvestite hooker,"  as Katya once referred to herself. Sure, it feels like a gimmick, but you gotta have a gimmick in the entertainment world. And as far as gimmicks go, this strange Russian character is a campy one.

Around the same time Season 7 began, Katya launched two sets of videos positioned as unusual web shows that complement the show to some extent. Her RuFLECTIONS videos are a brilliant exploration of the quirkiness of her Russian persona in a series of potentially artistic videos with dialog that is either poetic or just crazy. But I love them because they're actually rather brilliant - you have to check'em out to see what I'm talking about. Words fail me.

And now that we've all had a chance to actually watch the show, I much better understand Katya's unsual cover of the Drag U theme that had been released just before the start of the season. Again it felt strange and like a weird way to get away from actually singing, but now I'm totally sold on the whole Katya concept. So much to love!

But beyond her drag persona, I'm loving what Katya is like out of drag and among other queens. She has a bit of dark past that involves alcohol and substance abuse that has clearly marked her in pretty deep ways. But getting past that has helped her become a stronger individual and I totally respect that. Thus we repeatedly see Katya dealing with significant insecurities and just being pretty human, which comes across as pretty sincere to me (and not like, um, feeling attacked all the time or something). She's such a darling.

We see a bit more of that in her RuGRETS videos, which are still a little crazy given her tendency to divert into random, almost nonsensical asides. But that's classic deflection through humor that we see in a lot of "sad clown" type personalities.

Do I want Katya to win? Of course I do! She's amazing and would totally deserve it! But do I think she'll win? Probably not, admittedly. Katya has this quality of being rather rough around the edges and while this is charming for me but may not see her all the way through to the end to win the crown. But I'm definitely rooting for her to at least get to the final three and see how things go.

We love you Katya! Don't ever change!

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