Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

Queerguru’s Andrew Hebden reviews LADY LIKE :the life of RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty, Lady Camden

While Ru Paul’s Drag Race may be its own particular cup of T there’s no escaping that it has created a unique, parallel world of creativity, shade, talent and lewks that its stans and fans would sharpen stilettos to defend. But what happens to the real people, even those who might seem to be its natural residents, when they ascend, descend or depend on the horizon filling Planet Drag Race?

Lady Camden was runner up to WIllow Pill on season 14 of Drag Race. That much is known by the fans in advance. The signature moves of a classically trained ballet dancer, 90s rave girl lewks and some top lipsync game got her close enough to the top despite not having some of the sharp elbows of her competitors. In this documentary, written and directed by Luke Willis, the makeup comes off, and Rex, the boy behind the weave gets to tell more of their own herstory.

Some of it is all too familiar. Bullying at school, a desperate desire to escape the teen years in the hope that adulthood would be better. The overwhelming exhaustion of being reminded on a daily basis that the particular shape that is you seems to be in the wrong jigsaw. It’s a tale as old as time for those crowned sissy fag queers by feral youth. Then there are the particulars that make everyone’s journey unique. For Lady Camden it was the suicide of their older brother. The guilt, anger and betrayal that goes with that. The grief and the demands of forgiveness. The separation from those who have no understanding of what that loss is. The child’s innocent attempts to make things right for the adults around them.

Then there is the special talent. Nobody accidentally becomes a ballet dancer. It’s grueling. It’s also beautiful, escapist and rarefied. Perhaps explaining  why the world of drag started to seem appealing. Planet Ru seemed like a fit.

The documentary flirts with elements of magical realism and probably could have gone for a full throated, gag on it, embrace. The material was all there. However it steers towards realism. Lady Camden’s story keeps focus on an authentic person navigating a veneered world. It keeps the spotlight directly on Lady Camden’s ambitions, disappointments and optimism against a backdrop of family tragedy, let downs and parental failures. For fans of the show it will probably be eaten up as another storyline about a show favorite. For others it will be a glimpse into a world that seems to require more sacrifice than its worth.

Posted by queerguru  at  07:18



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