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Photography by JUCO
No one throws a zinger like a drag queen. Generally gay males who attain fabulosity in a dress and heels, they face a return to oppression when unruly audience members act up and try to usurp their power. So the drag queens have learned to fight back. Using every verbal weapon and psychological manipulation in the book, they decimate their hecklers with delicious wisecracks that we can all learn from, as long we're not afraid to dip into incorrect waters for the sake of utter hilarity. In order to soak in their vengeful wisdom, I asked a selection of the country's most appealing drag performers for the best putdowns they ever lobbied at rude seat fillers (or other unsuspecting assholes). Here's what they said:
"I sometimes tell them, 'The 15 dollars you spent at the door was not an audition fee. Shut the fuck up!' "
"I used to say, 'When a black game show host in a blonde wig hands you a check you can't pay the taxes on, I'll hand you the mic.' But now Isay, 'Opinions are like assholes. Mine's bleached'."
"My fave is, 'I don't know what they call this a tea dance. There's not a T-cell in here!' But a more personal one that happened on a stage is when [fellow drag performer] Linda Simpson read me at [the Bunny-hosted drag festival] Wigstock when it was part of the Howl Festival. She said something about it looking like rats getting at my wig. She was wearing a dress with a shredded hemline, so I said, 'It looks like rats got at your dress...and your face!' "
"I was performing in London and some guy threw a beer can at me. I didn't see who threw it. So I picked up the can, inspected it, and said, 'Since you didn't throw like a girl and you are drinking beer, I'm gonna assume you're a lesbian. Will security please see that Xena gets another beer?' "
"I snapped once and said, 'Ma'am, you need to leave now before I request that the over a thousand other people here spit on you. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5....' She left."
"I was hosting a pageant at Voyeur nightclub here in Philly, and a very large and unpopular Drag Race queen happened to be one of the judges. When this foul-tempered megalith of a queen came to the stage for our banter, she thought she would get the chance to try me and say something shady, so I immediately cut her off from the mic and said, 'Thank you, sir. Have a FEW SEATS." The crowd was howling for quite a while. As she sat down and tried to scream back at me, I announced on the mic that I could not understand her sonar calls when she is out of her salt water tank."
"I said to one queen, 'You need to go to a dentist. Your teeth look like pebbles on the bottom of a fish tank'. Think about it. You'll know who it was." [Hmmm....]
Marti Gould Cummings
"Some basic white girl said, 'You are just stereotyping people,' and I replied with, 'I am a chorus boy from a farm who didn't make it on Broadway, so I am telling dick jokes in a bar at 1 A.M. for you until the Forever 21 opens up again--that is a stereotype. Now buy a drink and give me a tip.' She got a drink and she tipped me $20."
Monet X Change
"Last June, a drunk dude waltzed into the bar being loud and obnoxious, interrupting the show. I tried to nicely tell him to shut up or get the fuck out, and he said something to the effect of, 'You drag queens in your fucking high heels,' to which I responded, 'Bitch, I'm willing to bet my entire tip bucket that I wear high heels bigger than your fucking dick'. The entire bar was LIVING."
"I have a line I use on obnoxious hecklers, although I can't take credit for it, lol. I say, 'Do I stand next to your bed and talk while you're working?' Then I will order a shot of tequila for both of us and say, 'Let's be friends'. It always shuts them up and the audience applauds. But of course, that's after I embarrass them!"
"I like the classic ones. 'Do I go to your job and slap a dick out of your mouth?' 'Do I go the drive-through and harass you?' "
"I say, 'Oh, look, another witty homosexual. Why don't you leave the jokes to me and I'll leave the servicing job to you?' Or 'Oh, hunny, that's definitely not gonna get you laid tonight. Remember, everyone is on my side. Don't be the ass.' Or my favorite was when I had been making jokes about me being Hispanic, and I made one black joke and this guy had a moment, so I said, 'I'm sorry, sir. Did you not laugh when I was making fun of myself? Yeah, you did, so calm down, Ms. Parks. I'm including everyone tonight. Choose your battles. This is not one'."
"The best zinger I ever gave to another performer is, 'Girl, you look FEARS'."
"On the set of RuPaul's Drag U, Lady Bunny walked in to meet us for the first time and said hello to Jujubee and Shannel, but when she got to me, she jumped back like she was scared. Everyone laughed and then I said, 'Oh, no, did you see your reflection in the mirror?' I think that made her like me. Also, on RuPaul's Drag Race, Tyra Sanchez had proclaimed herself 'America's sweetheart,' and in the reading challenge, I said, 'If you are America's sweetheart, America needs a heart transplant'."
THE REAL SLIM SHADY
I got a shitload more of these ribald retorts when I went to see Bianca Del Rio do one of her sold-out Rolodex of Hate performances at NYC's Gramercy Theatre this weekend--a riotously funny show that had ears (and genitals) burning all across America. The girl was on fire, especially when interacting with ballsy fans in the crowd. Here are some of Bianca's interactive nuggets:
(To a guy who was texting) "This is not TV. I can see you!"
(To someone else who seemed distant) "You're probably the one fag that voted for Courtney Act!"
(To some other weirdie) "You're sitting alone? Another piece of the puzzle. Shocking!"
(To a woman in the crowd) "I know her! She has one tittie bigger than the other, so when she wears a Bianca shirt, I look like I have a lazy eye, like Gia Gunn!"
(To a man who asked a question) "You're from Colombia? Stand up. People need to know where to get their drugs. Oh, it's in your burro parked out front?"
But being the mouth that roared, Bianca didn't stop at reading audience members. In between telling hilarious tales of her unconventional childhood, she'd deliver zingers like:
"Kirk Cameron's values are loose--like his asshole."
"I won't do an album. There are enough fucking drag queens singing and dancing who shouldn't be doing it because they suck. Rihanna, Britney Spears..."
"Laganja Estranja looks like a dirty Q-tip."
And when an audience member asked her a "Fuck, Marry, Kill" question in the Q&A part of the evening: "I wouldn't fuck Darienne Lake because she wouldn't feel it. 'Is it in?' 'Who knows?' I'd marry Adore--her mother has real estate in East L.A. But I wouldn't kill Courtney. Drag Race already killed her career!"
"But wait! There's a whole new season of delicious putdowns to look forward to. Logo announced that they'll reveal the Season 7 cast of RuPaul's Drag Race live during the 2014 New Now Next Awards in Miami on December 7. So get ready for some more zingers.