For better or worse, the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise has dominated the drag industry since its humble beginning in 2009, with RuPaul Andre Charles credited with making drag mainstream. So much so that nowadays being a successful drag queen almost means getting onto the show. This isn’t always the case but with franchises across the world including the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, Canada, UK and many more in the pipeline, the path to becoming a successful queen has never been so linear. For fans of the show like myself this is great. The show has just recently passed its 13th season and with its many spin-offs has gone from being on once a year to there now almost not being a period where some form of drag race isn’t on our screens.
With almost complete domination of the drag industry RuPaul’s DragCons have been happening in LA, New York and the UK, with popular queens from the show hosting booths for fans to visit and, most importantly, buy merchandise. In 2018 DragCon NYC sold $8 million in merchandise alone. From enamel pins and t-shirts to the more wacky like Gummy Bear and Brown Cow Stunning-related items of Ginger Minj and Monique Heart respectively, the nature of drag has allowed for some very imaginative collectables for fans to obsess over - and if there’s one thing fans love to collect, it’s trading cards.
The LGBTQ+ positive representation and over-the-top gay fabulousness of Drag Race is something that seems made for shiny trading cards.
With the undeniable devotion from fans and willingness to throw their cash at queens (sometimes literally) a trading card game is something that wouldn’t only please fans but also the big wigs at the top of Drag Race production company World of Wonder. The LGBTQ+ positive representation and over-the-top gay fabulousness of the Drag Race branding is something that seems made for shiny trading cards - and with over 200 contestants and counting, the possibilities are endless.
Off the bat, Drag Race lends itself well to spell or item cards, similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!’s equip spells or Magic: The Gathering’s artifacts. Fans of the show are often quick to pinpoint and make memes about iconic moments queens may have on the show, like Shangela’s surprise appearance out of her box or Monet X Change’s infamous sponge dress. I would love to see concepts like this be brought to a trading card game. Imagine a Shangela’s Box card that resurrects her from the graveyard Monster Reborn-style or a Monet’s Sponge Dress card which increases her defence stat - due to the thick skin she had to have for everyone’s opinion on said dress. Maybe even a Roxxxy Andrews Buss Pass card that automatically takes her to the end of the match.
Regular character cards would be based on queens from the show and like any other card game would have values and points. These stats would ideally be based on things they have to do on the show: lip syncing, sewing, acting, dancing, comedy and so on. The only problem with this being the problematic nature of judging queens on statistical values. However, there are a few ways around this.
The show itself has challenges per episode and ranks queens at the end such as bottom two, safe, top and winner. Statistical values on the cards could be dependent on how well queens did on their actual run on the show. For example, a queen who won many sewing challenges might have a higher sewing rating.
Games could simulate the formula of a standard episode or even a battle between queens in a duel (or maybe a lip sync battle).
Out of all the different values that might appear on a Drag Race trading card that could be calculated by a queen’s run on the show, the only stat that would be difficult to determine is lip syncing ability. Lip syncing is a staple of Drag Race and happens at the end of each episode between the bottom two contestants and decides which one goes home, which makes calculating lip sync ability difficult. Maybe this value could be determined as a fraction or percentage of how many lip syncs a queen has survived, showing how many queens they’ve taken down. For example, a queen like Jujubee has been on the show three times and lip synced a total of seven times, winning five of them, so her lip sync stat may look like ‘5/7’ or ‘71%’.
Obviously there’s much more to a TCG’s battle system than just stats on a card. Putting two decks of queens against each other could either simulate the formula of a standard episode, with a starting cast of queens who get progressively knocked out during the course of a duel like Pokémon, or even a battle between queens where they go head-to-head in a duel (or maybe a lip sync battle) like MTG’s planeswalkers.
An actual game may not even be needed. Collecting our favourite drag queens in card form may be good enough to satisfy the masses - during the ‘90s height of Pokémon card collecting there were only ever a handful of people who knew the true power that energy cards held.
I see a trading card game as the next step in RuPaul’s Drag Race merchandise. With the popularity of the show sky rocketing to new heights and the fan base becoming more dedicated and diehard than ever, Drag Race trading cards seem like a no-brainer and a secure way to drain my wallet dry. Hunties and squirrel friends better beware as I slay the competition with death drops and shade galore in the Drag Race TCG. Yes mama! Boots the house down for your nerves, okurrr!