Culture

Art Simone Low-Key Shaded ‘Drag Race Down Under’ For Switching Runway Themes At The Last Minute

"Instead of shutting down something you don’t understand -- perhaps use it as an opportunity to learn."

drag race down under art simone family resemblance

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This week’s Drag Race Down Under was a beautiful display of the joys of drag.

Six episodes into the series, one week after Scarlet Adams was finally pulled up on her questionable past, we finally got the much-anticipated makeover challenge — an episode that never fails to tug on heart strings.

Despite battling a pandemic with strict border restrictions, Down Under still managed to deliver a great “Family Resemblance” makeover episode with a minor tweak. Instead of bringing in family members to transform like we’ve seen in recent years, the remaining queens worked their magic on a bunch of (very hot) gay rugby players from the New Zealand Falcons.

Naturally, there were some very sweet conversations between the queens and rugby boys, as they were transformed into each contestant’s drag daughter. Elektra Shock and Sofara bonded over their shared experience of constantly feeling like they have to be masculine to fit in, while Maxi Shield managed to encourage her boy to shave and stop hiding behind his 12-year-old beard before she was — spoiler — sent packing.

But even though the episode was sweet, there was a disconnect when it came to the runway.

While people like challenge winner Kita Mean absolutely nailed the theme of “Family Resemblance” with Pheta Mean looking similar but not exactly the same as her, others like Karen From Finance just simply produced lazy carbon copies of themselves.

Strangely, however, the judges felt that Art Simone’s outfits didn’t quite nail the “drag mother and drag daughter” brief as she put herself and Craft Simone in two very different outfits that were based on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert instead of Art’s own specific style.

RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under S1E6

Credit: Stan

After getting slammed by the judges for the lack of “Art” in the outfits, Art Simone has now shed some light on why everyone’s runway presentations had such difference vibes in a series of tweets low-key shading Drag Race Down Under. 

“Fun fact: When we got the runway list, this category said ‘House of…: bring two coordinated wigs and costumes that represent your drag family’,” Art wrote on Twitter following the episode. “It wasn’t ’til we were on set that they renamed the runway to ‘Family Resemblance’.”

“So that’s why I decided to bring the two complimentary looks that represent my chosen drag family. We have been doing our Priscilla tribute show for over seven years — it’s such a big part of how I know all my drag sisters,” she continued.

“I thought it was only fitting to pass down the role to my drag daughter and create a reinvented version of the costume for her.”

Art’s frustrations aren’t misplaced. The outfits Art picked were very clearly in reference to Mitzi and Felicia from Priscilla, which is something that Art performs at Broken Heel drag festival every year with her own drag sister, Philmah Bocks.

Plus, Priscilla is all about chosen family and is a huge part of Australian drag culture. So for the American judges to entirely overlook and not bother to understand the significance of the film for Australian queens would be pretty disheartening to experience.

To follow up her initial tweets, Art Simon noted that she simply refuses to “present an American version of an Australian drag queen” and hopes that the judges use their confusion as “an opportunity to learn”.

“My entire goal has been to showcase my love and adoration for Australian drag to the world. I refused to present an American version of an Australian drag queen,” Art concluded.

“Instead of shutting down something you don’t understand — perhaps use it as an opportunity to learn.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under is exclusively streaming on Stan. A new episode streams every week from 4pm AEST.