Photo: Magnus Hastings
Like several other winning contestants before here—namely Jinkx Monsoon, Raja, and Sharon Needles—Milk pushed the limits of what drag queens can do on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sadly, unlike the three previous winners, Milk’s time was cut short on the series when she failed to showcase her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent and was the latest queen to sashay away on last night's episode of RPDR. Thanks to his tall frame, cartoonish big red lips, and a gap-toothed grin, 26-year-old Milk (whose real name is Dan Donigan) became a standout contestant for an aesthetic that wasn’t all about fish.
“I was very happy with the show and the outcome of it,” says Donigan, who says he knew he was going to be seen as a zanier contestant. Given his runway choices, it was hard not to see him that way. In the first episode, Donigan wore a long gray wizardy beard. He followed that with a nose longer than Pinocchio and an elegant gown that included a pregnancy bump.
The most shocking of his runway choices may have been the man's suit and bald cap, which he wore during the "A Night of a Thousand Rus" runway.
“I’ve seen the way the judges react to boy drag,” says Donigan. “But in this instance, boy drag elevated what the runway theme was.”
“I knew every single girl was going to be in a beautiful dress and big hair,” he explains. With so many of this season’s contestants trying to portray Beyoncé, it may explain why he went the other direction.
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Donigan’s drag look, while shocking at times, is certainly one that is all his own. He combines elements of thrift store fashions, ice dancing (a sport he competed in until he was 22), and clowning. His style is about pushing the art of what drag can be by not taking it too seriously. “It’s also about being remembered,” Donigan explains.
While Donigan is off the show, he won’t be forgotten. He’s following in the footsteps of previous queens and taking his look on the road. Milk can also be seen in music videos for the musician/ballet dancer, JbDubs, who also happens to be his boyfriend of six years. And he has his troupe of Dairy Queens in New York City.
As for the future, it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities the show has given him. Maybe he’ll combine the world of drag with ice dancing. “That’s something I would love to push!”
It certainly would be a new breed of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent that only Milk could pull off.