Earlier this week I found myself at the Eagle in Silver Lake. I'd heard that on Monday nights they screened RuPaul’s Drag Race, my favorite show on TV. (By "TV" I mean my laptop, since I don't have an actual television.) Fed up with watching Season 5 alone while eating a mug of Grape Nuts, I decided to head down to the gay bar.
When I say I love RuPaul’s Drag Race, I mean that un-ironically. I love watching these gay men become fabulous women, more fabulous than I could ever be. (I once heard a contestant say that he loved his petite arms because he never lifted anything over five pounds.) I love seeing the infamous GIFs happen in real time. I love the drama and the heart. I love listening to RuPaul’s words of wisdom. And, let’s be honest, I love looking at the pit crew’s perfect bodies just as much as the gay guy sitting on the barstool next to me.
When I arrived at the bar, a large poster with the words CUB SCOUTS greeted me. In the corner of the patio, a couple was making out. The place was mostly empty but the handful of men who were there displayed an impressive array of biceps and chest hair. I hadn’t seen so much leather since my mom and I took a detour through Sturgis, South Dakota. I was the only girl in the bar and the only person sporting a swingy lace dress and cowboy boots purchased from the Iowa State Fair. I ordered a double Irish Mule (Bulleit rye, ginger beer, and lime for the uninitiated) and, thankfully, the bartender poured a stiff one.
Soon, he adjusted the projector… to Dancing with the Stars.
“What?” I nearly shouted. “I thought we were watching RuPaul’s Drag Race!”
The bears sitting closest to me began to take an interest. Why did I want to watch the show so badly? Why didn’t I want to see B-list actors fly across the stage in skimpy lifeguard-themed outfits? The bartender must have sensed my desperation and he flipped the channel to Logo. With that, one patron got up from his seat and sauntered over. We ended up chatting the whole night.
No one really watched the episode. It was a repeat. Alyssa Edwards and Ivy Winters make perfumes better suited for my cat-hoarding grandma than a modern woman. Then Jinx Monsoon and Alaska struggle to lip synch “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent," and the episode goes from painful to deadly. It didn't matter. Pretty soon we were all giving RuPaul and our favorite queens (go Alaska!) our "amens." As I sipped whiskey from my frosty beer mug, I felt like one of the boys.
Not long after segueing from Drag Race to Untucked, the bonus 23-minute show that delivers all the drag drama that happens in the infamous Interior Illusions Lounge with the help of free-flowing vodka (yeah, I watch every episode), I tucked into my second mule. A fiery half-Peruvian, landscape designer struck up a conversation, telling me I looked like Jackie Kennedy before she married JFK. It turns out we work a block away from each other, a fact I learned as we chatted about global warming, where we grew up, the stock market, potholes, the cost of farmer’s market produce, and the general state of things. You know, the usual stuff.
By the time I left the Eagle, I knew I’d be returning to my usual mug of cereal with new cheer. Spending your Monday night in a bear bar watching a reality show about aspiring drag queens might not be an obvious choice, but if I've learned one thing from RuPaul: "If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"