Hyphen TV: Dragalicious

February 1, 2011

Manila Luzon looks hot in the cold on Drag Race

I love reality television. I love drag queens. RuPaul's Drag Race? Uh, yeah. Love that show. LOVE. It was with much eager anticipation that I awaited the third season, which premiered with three glorious, fabulous hours last week. Welcoming us back to the party is Manila Luzon, a 25-year-old queen whose creativity was "too big" for Minnesota, so she relocated to New York City. She points out that she show has not yet featured an Asian taller than 5'2", and she's here to do the job. Proud of her half Filipino heritage, Manila demonstrated the prison Thriller video and infamous first lady of his mother's homeland with, of course, some outrageous costuming. And did I mention that her boyfriend is season 2's Sahara Davenport? Manila is kind of TOTALLY AMAZING.

But wait a second, there's also Raja, whom you might recognize as the alter ego of Sutan, long-time makeup artist on America's Next Top Model and current head of makeup for Adam Lambert and other celebs. Raja is stick thin, avant garde, and totally cleaned up BOTH challenges in the first episode. How good can you look on a trampoline? This good:

Hey, girl.

As you may have ascertained, I am way excited about this season. These ladies are already bringin' it hardcore.

As one door opens, another closes. Our pal Calvin Tran pulled out all the stops with his finale collection on The Fashion Show. He explained that he was born in "the year of water" (not quite sure exactly what this means -- anyone know?), and since he is superstitious, he only wears black and never works with red, the representation of water-unfriendly fire. But for this finale, Calvin decided to step way out of his comfort zone and add a bright red piece to his black and white collection, dedicating the fiery dress to his ailing lover. Yes, he said "lover" here and many other times, making me a little uncomfortable.

Aww, Calvin looks so sweet here. I'll miss that v-neck.

I need to pause for a second here to mention makeup consultant Mally Roncal and "TRESemmé lead stylist" Jeanie Syfu, who have both been helping the Fashion Show models look great (and both have done work on Project Runway in the past as well). Jeanie is especially adorable, and I found myself actually watching her hair tip commercials instead of fast forwarding straight through, which is a pretty impressive feat. Nice job, you guys! I also note that there were several Asian models walking the finale collections. Awesome!

The contestants' families attended the runway show, including Calvin's super cute, tiny mother. This was happy but slightly awkward for him, as she's never seen her son's work and "thinks fashion is a joke." I'm guessing it was also uncomfortable for her to see her youngest son strutting around with his shirt half unbuttoned.

The deepest V of them all.

In the end, Calvin's competitor Jeffrey won with his Buddhism-themed show, but Calvin was surprisingly gracious as a second place finisher. "I learned how to listen and work with people," he said at the end when asked about his experience on the show. "I came here an angry person." He even turned to third place finalist Dominique and hugged her, saying "Thank you for putting up with me." So...was it all an act? Because it was SO convincing if it was. If the bitchitude was real, did the tactless designer actually learn a lesson? I just don't know what's reality anymore. It's like in its final moments, the show turned into gay Asian Black Swan of the fashion world. At any rate, congratulations to Calvin; may he and his partner do well, and we will miss your crazy ways!

More bad news: Pint-sized breakdancer Jalen didn't get voted by America into the finals of Live to Dance. Aww. But as stated previously, the kid's a professional, so he'll be a-okay. Sorry you don't get to hang out with Paula anymore, buddy!

American Idol, on the other hand, brought some happy moments at its Milwaukee auditions. Cute-as-a-button Thia Megia is 15 years old, from Mountain House, CA, has parents that you just want to hug, and seems as fun as her rhyming name. She sang Adele's "Chasing Pavement" with a soulful sort of groove, pulling the syllables in a slightly odd but not unpleasant way. "Chayyyy-sing payyyyvement" is probably the closest approximation of her singing accent. J.Lo said that Thia's the whole package and seems very comfortable performing (again: she is FIFTEEN years old), and Steven Tyler said she has "smoke and heat." That...kinda means something, I guess? All that matters is that she got three yeses to Hollywood, so hopefully we'll be seeing more of her there.

Thia Megia appears to have biked to her Idol audition.

Kelly Kapoor had a nice moment on The Office, calling a business professor she clearly had some sort of relations with and putting him on the spot in front of Andy's seminar participants. It's little bizarre moments like those that make me fall in love with Mindy Kaling more and more. Señor Chang, on the other hand, had anything but a small moment on Community when he took over for Pierce as Marijuana in an anti-drug school assembly. He did an admirable job of using his manic energy to turn the kids away from using drugs for a long, long while.

This is your ex-Spanish professor as drugs.

As for Perfect Couples...ugh, you guys. This show is just not good. While it's not the lame, cheap race laugh that is Outsourced, the characters on Perfect Couples are clichéd and wooden. I don't doubt that these actors CAN be funny (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, for example, is terrific as the waitress on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), but their talents are mostly wasted here. Olivia Munn continues to play her already-annoying character so that she's intolerably irritating, which only leads me to wonder why on earth the other characters (her husband included) put up with her. I'm close to dropping this one from the ol' DVR, sorry to say.

There was a lot of Asian talk and Asian American guests in the late night world this week. Conan's lead(!) guest one night was Steven Ho, a stuntman (and stand-up comedian!) who's trained many actors and appeared several times on Conan's Tonight Show. He and his team helped Conan through some fight moves, cutting a watermelon on the host's stomach and saving an Asian baby (doll) in the process. I so enjoy seeing the long-limbed Conan flailing around next to the compact, efficient Ho. Check out the segment here.

Having disarmed the violent babynappers, Conan lunges for the infant as Steven Ho looks on.

Stephen Colbert was all about the Asian issues this week on the Colbert Report. He discussed the "Tiger Mother controversy" (watch here) before welcoming the author herself for an interview (here). Umm...I guess plenty has been said about Chua and the book already, so I'll leave it at that. Colbert also addressed Rush Limbaugh's racist rant about Chinese president Hu Jintao's incredibly mysterious speech, which was -- gasp -- in Chinese. Colbert skewered the ridiculousness of treating Mandarin like some sort of secret language that no one can understand, breaking out his own "Ching Chong Ding Dong" character. I admit that that elementary school childish blabbering does hit a bit of a nerve with me no matter what the context, but I certainly appreciate that Colbert is using his own faux-conservative, ignorant persona to mock the very people who think it's funny. Still, I can't help but wonder if people are laughing at his intelligent comedy, or the "funny" "Chinese." Hypersensitivity, thy name is Dianne!

Colbert also did a piece on Utah Representative Curtis Oda, who is trying to pass a law that would allow for the humane killing of animals that Utah residents believe are feral. A sort of bizarre piece of legislation for sure, and I'd just like to say that I'm glad that Colbert didn't go for the low-hanging fruit that is "Asians eating dogs."

And finally, Comedy Central aired a half hour special by Taiwanese Texan comedian Sheng Wang. He opened by addressing his name, sharing a story about how someone on the phone told him that his southern accent didn't match what someone with his name is "supposed" to sound like. From there he went into some observational/absurdist comedy similar to that of many current popular comedians (think Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K.). Check out clips from his special here. Also check out his website and Facebook page. Hope to hear more from y'all, Sheng!

Sheng Wang has a subtle way of reming you of his name.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.



I love Sheng Wang! Can you guys do something with Sheng? And great post, thanks!