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Speaking Like a Queen in RuPaul’s Drag Race: Towards a Speech Code of American Drag Queens

Abstract

Employing Speech Codes Theory (Philipsen et al. in Theorizing about intercultural communication. Sage, Thousand Oaks, 2005) as my theoretical framework, I examine communicative practices and beliefs as to what it means to speak like a drag queen as portrayed within the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR): Season Four. Examining this particular population increases knowledge on how marginalized populations use talk to construct rules of conduct for a coherent identity. Members uphold drag queen speech codes by revealing what it means to speak like a queen. Such items include to look like a “fish,” don’t be “hungry,” be humble, resist negativity, don’t complain, and exude professionalism. These are qualities and characteristics of communication that a drag queen must perform, uphold, and repeat in order to uphold drag family values, thus fulfilling the code of sisterhood that comes with the performance of drag. These are evident within beliefs and everyday talk as portrayed within RPDR.

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Correspondence to Nathaniel Simmons.

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Simmons, N. Speaking Like a Queen in RuPaul’s Drag Race: Towards a Speech Code of American Drag Queens. Sexuality & Culture 18, 630–648 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-013-9213-2

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Keywords

  • Drag queens
  • Speech codes theory
  • Identity
  • Group communication
  • Reality TV
  • Social interaction