Watch: "Drag and The Simpsons" Panel from RuPaul's DragCon

The special panel was moderated by Raja and featured Simpsons writer Carolyn Omine and actors Tress MacNeille & Yeardley Smith.



Did you hear? RuPaul will guest star on The Simpsons this fall! The episode, tentatively scheduled to air November 2018, will feature Ru helping Marge Simpson unleash her inner drag queen. 

Simpsons royalty Yeardley Smith, Tress MacNeille and Caroline Omine sat down with literal Drag Race Season 3 royalty Raja to discuss the episode. They also talked about The Simpsons' history embracing drag and LGBT culture.

Watch the full 31-minute panel below. I was in the front row of the audience, so read on for my top 10 favorite moments from the experience!

  1. Yeardley Smith performed her iconic Lisa Simpson voice live.
  2. Tress MacNeille voiced Crazy Cat Lady from The Simpsons and Mom from Futurama live.
  3. The RuPaul character unveiling! The audience was gagged.
  4. The panelists talked about what separates The Simpsons from fellow FOX animated sitcoms like Family Guy.
  5. They played a video reel of drag moments from The Simpsons series, which ended with a hilarious Miss Vanjie crossover meme. 
  6. Hardcore fans brought merchandise, including DVDs and Lisa Simpson plush toys, for the panelists to sign after the session.
  7. Carolyn Omine gave Simpsons merch to audience members who asked questions.
  8. Plenty tea was spilled on next season - Season 30. Yes, three-zero!
  9. Moderator Raja professed her love for the show since the beginning, and dressed up as Patty Bouvier for the occasion. 
  10. The audience was so excited, more people raised their hands to ask questions than time could allow. This is the true sign of a hot panel! 

Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.

What's your favorite episode of The Simpsons? Let me know! @DerekPlease across all platforms.

Troye Sivan's "Bloom" is the "Love, Simon" Moment Pop Music Was Waiting For

Exactly like "Love, Simon," "Bloom" is a watershed moment in mainstream pop culture - even if that historical significance doesn't immediately dawn upon its target audience. 

"Bloom" is the new single from Troye Sivan's upcoming sophomore album with Capitol Records. It follows the lead single "My My My!" and buzz track "The Good Side."

"Bloom" is the new single from Troye Sivan's upcoming sophomore album with Capitol Records. It follows the lead single "My My My!" and buzz track "The Good Side."

Adam Lambert ’s 2009 debut single “ For Your Entertainment ” was an icy synth-pop breakthrough that alluded to bottoming. Albeit with no lyrics as overt as in “Bloom.”

Adam Lambert’s 2009 debut single “For Your Entertainment” was an icy synth-pop breakthrough that alluded to bottoming. Albeit with no lyrics as overt as in “Bloom.”

Metaphorical lyrics describing the experience of receptive sex have been commonplace in female pop music for decades. Radio still plays such songs for all to hear - some were even hits. Artists like Britney Spears ("Over To You Now"), Rihanna ("Shut Up and Drive"), Christina Aguilera ("Woo Hoo (feat. Nicki Minaj)") and Katy Perry ("Bon Appetit (feat. Migos)") aren’t alone anymore, though. 

Tons of unsigned LGBTQIA+ artists are entering "the sacred garden," with lyrics describing their own receptive sexual experiences. Although none are doing it in the mainstream like 22-year-old South African pop star Troye Sivan, with his new single “Bloom." Produced by Oscar Holter, the subtly groundbreaking release begs the question: will radio play this?

Hopefully. Possibly. Despite the album's lead single "My My My!" peaking at #80 on the Billboard Hot 100, Troye Sivan's label Capitol Records has done a great job getting LGBTQIA+ artists like Sam Smith and Halsey substantial radio traction.

The dream-pop "Bloom" debuted on YouTube with gorgeous Lyric Video animated by 3D artist & visual designer Jason Ebeyer. It's so good, it's hard to imagine why it's not the actual music video:

14 years after Britney Spears “Over to You Now" - a clever electro-pop banger with lyrics comparing anal intercourse to visiting a trendy underground club in the city - Troye takes a more direct route in "Bloom." With lyrics like...

Promise me you'll
Hold my hand if I get scared now
Might tell you to
Take a second, baby, slow it down

...there's no question what Sivan is singing about. If there was any doubt left, he confirmed the song was about bottoming via hashtag:

Troye Sivan tweeted this shortly after "Bloom" dropped, but later deleted it.

Troye Sivan tweeted this shortly after "Bloom" dropped, but later deleted it.

It was a bold tweet that shouldn't have been deleted. Bottom shaming is omnipresent in the gay community - oddly so - despite the fact that gay sex requires one partner to take that role. Therefore it is refreshing to see a mainstream gay artist like Troye Sivan express his sexual preference proudly. 

Sivan also spoke to the song's sexual subject matter in an interview with Popjustice in late February, and his hopes for its success outside his usual fanbase:

Lyrically it’s a bit more cheeky. It’s just a really fun song. I wrote it with Leland and we were dying laughing and just having the best time writing it. Lyrically I think it’s the most subversively queer song on the album. That’s kind of what makes me like it so much — it’s almost like a little inside joke. It’s [sonically] very consumable pop music so I can imagine the masses understanding it a little bit more, and that’s funny to me. I don’t even think it’s necessarily the big single or anything like that, but I really hope the song ends up spreading its wings way further than the people who wouldn’t normally listen to my music.
Marina and the Diamonds is an avant garde pop artist in the same vein as Sivan; they both have mainstream label backing but enjoy the artistic freedom of an indie act.

Marina and the Diamonds is an avant garde pop artist in the same vein as Sivan; they both have mainstream label backing but enjoy the artistic freedom of an indie act.

Even without Sivan's confirmations, any flower metaphors in the lyrics are petal-thin; "Bloom" plays like a step-by-step guide through the lows and highs of the bottoming experience. 

Another interesting lyrical moment is the song's refrain: 

And it's true, baby
I've been saving this for you, baby

This refrain seems directly inspired by the hook of "Froot" Marina and the Diamonds:

Yeah, you know that it's true
I've been saving all my summers for you

Like "Bloom," Marina's song takes place in a lush garden and has themes of youth and receptive sex. It shows that while a song like "Bloom" is unique to a gay artist, it's not lyrically unique to pop in general; just like how critics celebrated "Love, Simon" as essentially a standard high school rom com, with the gay twist being the groundbreaking part.

"Love, Simon" was a success for 20th Century Fox, earning $54 million against a $17 million budget.

"Love, Simon" was a success for 20th Century Fox, earning $54 million against a $17 million budget.

Millennials simply expect content like this to exist with mainstream backing, and therefore aren't surprised when it comes to fruition. It's a weird time to live in where the historical significance of milestones of inclusion like "Love, Simon" and "Bloom" doesn't immediately dawn upon everyone. 

Critics of "Love, Simon" saw it as groundbreaking for the sake of groundbreaking - but it was unprecedented nontheless. The same is true with Troye Sivan's "Bloom." 

Both works are overt, sweet by nature, and commercial as hell. They are the generic representation gay men are just now getting to enjoy. "Simon" and "Bloom" stand in contrast to the less glossy mainstream representation of the past, which largely equated the gay experience to death.

Final Thoughts

I'll admit, I didn't understand or like "Bloom" at first listen. It first felt like an intentional grab for controversy, a lot like early Lady Gaga works. However, once I had time to think about the full weight of Sivan's history-making lyrics, I was hooked. 

There's no doubt a song like "Bloom" will come across as shocking and radical to conservative audiences in Trump's America and the world beyond. It will be interesting to hear reactions to morning show or late night TV performances of this song. 

Like "Love, Simon," Troye Sivan's "Bloom" is garnering nearly universal critical acclaim; hopefully it can enjoy similar commercial success, too. 

Blogger's Note: At the time of publishing, #BLOOM was the #1 Trending Topic worldwide on Twitter.


Photo provided by The Karpel Group

Photo provided by The Karpel Group

Details regarding Sivan's new album and upcoming headlining tour will be announced soon.

The official Troye Sivan app is now available on the App Store and Google Play. Fans who download the app will have access to exclusive content, merchandise, pre-sales and more.

"My My My!" Official Music Video
"The Good Side" Audio

Thoughts about "Bloom"? Feedback on this article? I can take it! Tweet me: @DerekPlease 

Exclusive: Todrick Hall Talks New Album, "Drag Race," and Fans "Cancelling" Artists

Todrick Hall and I recently had a phone conversation for the cover story of the new issue of Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine, out now.

Source: Todrick Hall

Source: Todrick Hall

Issue 111 of Twin Cities Gay Scene, 4/8/2018

Issue 111 of Twin Cities Gay Scene, 4/8/2018

Derek: I just wanted to say that as a big fan that is it an honor to interview you because I have been a fan since you did your original McDonalds drive thru video.

Todrick: Oh my God. That’s the first video that I ever uploaded. So, thank you, I really appreciate that.

D: Your new album “Forbidden” features other artists singing full songs alone like on “Straight Outta Oz.” what inspired you to popularize this approach?

T: Well I’m a musical theatre person and I’m normally am trying to tell a story with my projects. And so, if it doesn’t make sense for my character to sing a song, I won’t sing it just because it is my album. When I’m writing my shows I also imagine everything as an album that is cohesive for someone to listen to. I am a person who typically enjoys female voices more and so if people are similar to me then I think they would love it. Some of these people are just my favorite. It is like bucket list people that I would live to work with, they are my favorite vocalists, and they’re on my album. I have Brandy singing a song that I created. It is like something that I would never as a child fathomed could ever be possible. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. It feels like such a huge bucket list thing. She is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a performer; seeing her, as an African-American woman, be the lead in “Cinderella” - the Rodgers & Hammerstein version that I grew up loving so much. It was really inspiring and it was one of the things that made me initially want to get into theatre and to start performing. And so to have her sing one of my songs, it is just like I said, a bucket list thing, and I feel every time I see it can’t believe that it happened.

Source: Wolfe

Source: Wolfe

D: I was just watching your “Behind the Curtain” documentary again the other night. In it you mentioned that Brandy and that specific role of her as Cinderella inspired you. Having her sing a song on your album must have been such a huge moment for you. 

T: Yeah, it really was. When she told me that she was going to do it, I thought it was too good to be true. I didn’t tell anybody because I know that she is very busy she is an R&B legend and icon. And the fact that she even considered doing it is enough for me to be excited, but if she actually does record it, and then goes even a step further to show up to set and films it, I’ll be the happiest person on earth. And when she did, it was so much fun and she was everything I would of dreamed she would be. She stayed longer than any celebrity who has ever come and donated their time, she stayed longer than they all did. She wanted to rehearse and wanted it to be perfect for me. It was just really, really awesome. When I work with people like her, or Taylor Swift, they are divas at the top of their game. Or when I choreograph for Beyoncé, you see why these people are who they are, and where they are in their careers. Beyoncé was very adamant about making sure that she knew all of the choreography and it was perfect; the angles and that the weight was on the right leg that it needed to be. It’s the people who take the time to really perfect the finite details that it show in their product and in their brand and in their image every time they present it to their audience, and that is why they are the legendary icon stars that they are.

D: Your new visual album is even more ambitious than the last one. What was your favorite part of filming it?

T: I think my favorite part was planning, writing the songs and watching them come to life. Seeing the playback on the camera and seeing the vision was being executed properly. Often times when artists with limited budgets and limited resources come up with these crazy ideas, we learn how to settle with the 2nd or 3rd best version of the idea. With this project, I was looking at the playback and everything down to the wigs, the shoes, dresses, and the costumes. The details. The name on the tags, the scenery, the props and everything. It was coming out exactly how I imaged it in my mind when I was writing the music. That doesn’t happen often, so that was a really great feeling. And I think that was one of my favorite things. Also, just to see my friends come and to donate their time; I have so many friends that are talented actors and Broadway performers who I have learned so much from. To see it come full circle and for them to learn choreography from me, coming out at 6am, 5am to donate their time. My cousin had never danced on a music video before she came out. It was really a family affair, my LA family of performers, my real family, all my friends and fans coming together to make this. The people willing to stay up to 4, 5, 6, 7 in the morning to make this project happen in a very limited amount of time. What we did here was something that should have taken someone 3 to 6 months - to a year - to write. Another 6 months to a year to execute, and another 3 to 6 months to a year to do the post production and to post it. We did all that in 7 weeks, and it was an unfathomable thing. The fact that we have a team of people that were so persistent, so focused on the goal, was really awesome. I am really proud and blessed to have been surround by people that care enough about my work.

Photo: iTunes

Photo: iTunes

D: My favorite track is either “2003” or “T.H.U.G (Trade).” What is yours?

T: My favorite song switches from day to day. When I first started writing it, “Type” was my favorite. Lately before we were filming the project, “Apple Pie” was my favorite. I would listen to it every morning. “Painting in the Rain” is my favorite song to perform. I think it is a really cool metaphor. It paints a really cool picture, pun intended, when just listening to the lyrical content of the song and to watch it come to life on stage. I think it is a really cool image. I’ve always loved “Lose My Breath“ by Destiny Child since I was fresh out of high school; I have always loved things with drum cadences in them. So I picked that song for a number of reasons, as one of my favorites at the moment.

D: What it was like to choreograph the instantly viral “Kitty Girl” video for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” All Stars 3?

T: It was really, really cool. I think that the producers thought it was going to be an unfathomable concept. Like, “yeah, in the perfect world, we would have a one-take performance, but we don’t know if our girls and our crew, in the time we have, can do it.” I had so much faith in the girls and realized what a cool concept it could be. 

D: My next question is about Twitter and social media. Today’s fans are quick to “cancel” their favorite performers for a misstep. It feels like entertainers are held to a higher standard despite the fact you are all human and we all make mistakes. How do you fell about this shift?

T: I feel that it is one of the things culturally right now, where people are just so used to doing things like that. I think that it is really sad that people can jump on the bandwagon and “cancel” someone that they were a huge fan of, as if they themselves don’t make mistakes. I think if we shined a light on every single person in the world, we would see moments from even our favorite people. I’m sure that there are things about Beyoncé that I would not like if I saw everything about her. If we were all perfect then we wouldn’t be human, we would be robots. So, I think those imperfect things are awesome. It affected me in [Season Two] of “All Stars Drag Race” when Alaska had a weak moment at the end, and some people online didn’t want her to win anymore. I was like, this person has really fought a great fight this whole season, has really stepped up their game, and killed so many challenges. The fact that those people would even consider not letting her get the crown because she had a breakdown in the middle of an intense process in which she has been secluded for months… It’s insane to me, but it also has taught me that no one is immune to it. I am prepared for whatever might come up, who knows what it’s going to be. I also have learned that people have very short attention spans and eventually they are going to forget what they were upset about, as long you don’t feed into it. When negativity comes my way, I try to send out positive messages if I feel like it is something that warrants a response. Then I move on, because I realize that tomorrow they will be upset with someone else. 

Todrick with close friend Taylor Swift after his "Kinky Boots" show on Broadway. Photo: Todrick Hall

Todrick with close friend Taylor Swift after his "Kinky Boots" show on Broadway.
Photo: Todrick Hall

D: I love that answer. That is very true. I noticed that your album was not released on streaming services initially, like how Taylor Swift had not put “Reputation” on streaming services at first. And it worked - myself and thousands of others bought your album on iTunes. I would love to hear your thoughts behind this release process.

T: Well, the plan is very simple. I am an unsigned artist; an independent. I don’t have management, or a record label. I spent almost half a million dollars of my own money on this project. So, that’s why with a label, I would have chosen something different. I know the popular roll out plan would be to put it on every platform individually, but unfortunately I have to find a way to make my money back for these projects, because it is not affordable for me to put it out for free. I’m already releasing the entire visual movie for free. I felt like, for me, at this time, until my situation changes where I have people helping me and funding my projects, I have to do whatever I can do to sell a product. I think it was worth it. Not to knock at what anybody else is doing, but not a lot of artists write their own music; they have so many collaborators. I write every lyric, every melody, to every song. The only part I didn’t fully write was Shangela’s rap in “Doll Hairs.” I wrote almost 45 songs for this album, and it was dwindled down to 30 songs. I choreographed every number, picked out almost every single costume. I was in charge of guiding the hair, wig and make-up department to the area they needed to be in, and picked out the lighting. I had my hands on every single aspect of this show. Most performers don’t choreograph their own dances or hire their own dancers and cast their own people. It is a lot that I personally do, because I want the project to look like something that came from my brain; my art and my creative zone that I was in when I wrote the song. For that, I feel like I know the worth of it. I know that $20 is a lot these days to spend on an album, but most people are not putting out 30 songs. Most albums don’t tell people a story with characters and a climax. I just felt that it was really important for me to do what I had to do to make business sense in some way, shape or form. This way, they have an option to pay to get it or they can wait for it to come out on streaming services, or they can watch the movie for free on YouTube. That way everybody wins.

D: It’s very high quality content. It makes it justifiable to actually buy it. Sometimes when artists have an album that isn’t so good - that has a lot of filler on it - it’s not really worth the $10 or $20, but yours is because it packs a punch in every track.

T: Thank you very much. I’m really proud of it.

D: I have one final question. I was wondering what your fans can expect from your Minneapolis show on April 8th?

T: They can expect a live version of what they saw online. In the encore, there will be other videos that I have done in the past. It is a fun time. I think my shows are a perfect blend of a musical theatre performance and a concert. You are going to get a storyline and be taken on a journey. It’s totally okay for you to stand up, hoot, holler, dance, and have a good time. I love this show because I think it has really cool, funny moments that have comedy. It has light heartedness. It has numbers that make you want to dance, and get really hood and ratchet if you want to, too. It will also have moments that are really touching, inspiring, uplifting and emotional. It has that raw spiritual-ness that you get on a Sunday morning in a gospel church, because of the well-rounded nature of the show. There is something for everyone, and I tried to write the album that way as well. The album includes pop, R&B, gospel, rock, musical theatre elements in it. It feels eclectic. There are songs that sound like were cut from the “Hairspray” musical, then songs that sound like Kirk Franklin or the Clark sisters would be singing, mixed with a song that Linkin Park would of sang. I have such an eclectic, diverse love for music that in my album, it doesn’t feel like I have to choose. I put everything together and I’m just so grateful that, in my opinion, it blends well together. With my album it’s like a buffet of music, and I feel my concert is the same thing. I think that everyone will come in and enjoy it, and it’s a really good time.

Photo: Live Nation

Photo: Live Nation

D: I’m really excited to see it. I’m actually going to be writing a review as well, so I’m really excited for your show. Thank you so much for your time today, this was an amazing interview and I appreciate the time you took to do it.

T: I appreciate that you took the time to do your research. I do lots of interviews and it makes a huge world of a difference when you’re interviewing with somebody who is clearly a supporter and familiar with your body of work. So I thank you for that, it’s very cool. I hope to meet you when I’m in your town.

What's your favorite Todrick video? Tweet me: @DerekPlease

Todrick Hall "Forbidden" Tour & Visual Album

Fresh off the release of his “Forbidden” visual album, Todrick Hall is touring the world from now until June 2018!

Photo: Live Nation

Photo: Live Nation

Photo: @Todrick on Instagram 

Photo: @Todrick on Instagram 

If his "Todrick Hall American The Forbidden Tour" is coming to a city near you, buy tickets here.

What's your favorite song from "Forbidden"? Tell me! @DerekPlease on Twitter

Podcasts: Ali Levine Interviewed by Heather Marianna & Farrah Abraham

Friend of the blog, Beauty Kitchen CEO Heather Marianna has a new podcast, and it's off to an amazing start!

Image: Heather Marianna

Image: Heather Marianna

Two weeks ago, Episode 1 featured a rousing conversation with celebrity spray tan artist Jimmy Coco. Heather and co-host Ashley Alexander had a lot of fun learning about Jimmy's new line of spray tanning products. Watch here:

Yesterday Ms. Marianna debuted Episode 2, featuring Farrah Abraham from MTV's "Teen Mom" as co-host. Their guest was Ali Levine, a creative and fabulous celebrity style expert. Watch here:

My husband and I recently watched the pilot episode of the fun new reality show "Stripped," which Ali and her husband were featured in. It was a riot! 

Stay tuned a new episode every other Monday! Episode 3 drops on President's Day, February 19. Check out the trailer for the rest of Beauty and the Boss with Heather Marianna Season One here: 

Best of all, Beauty and the Boss with Heather Marianna is available as a free video Podcast on iTunes! Enjoy on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC, Android (with Podcasts app), Apple TV, and more:

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Click the button to subscribe for free!