I love me some provocative, gender-bending art, and someone who consistently delivers that is Sasha Velour, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. Yesterday, when Deadline announced that Sasha would executive produce an eight episode series on Quibi based on her insanely popular Brooklyn revue, Nightgowns, I was beyond excited. Sasha’s drag is at another level. Sasha consistently takes ideas and turns them on their head, deconstructing our notions of drag, gender, identity, and art. I mean just look at her photoshoot for Gay Times. And that’s not even the most stunning look on her Instagram!
Sasha describes Nightgowns as “a world-renowned theatrical drag showcase dedicated to celebrating exceptional drag performers of all backgrounds. Known as the ‘drag artist's drag show,’ Nightgowns is an inclusive creative platform that provides drag queens, drag kings, AFAB, trans and gender nonconforming drag performers a stage to create the show of their dreams…” The monthly live show has a regular rotating cast of seven performers, including Sasha.
What’s unique about Quibi’s Nightgowns is that it’s replicating a live drag performance on screen. Drag was born and thrives as a live show, so translating that to a digital platform is no easy task. Each episode will focus on one performer, their backstory and daily life, and finishes with a lip sync number directed by Sophie Muller. Sophie is a BIG NAME in music video directing, and she has worked with Beyoncé, Shakira, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, No Doubt, and so many other music giants. Those lip syncs are going to be tight.
The announcement of Nightgowns is one of many, in recent months, that highlights the enormous talent lined up for the 2020 launch of Quibi, a new mobile streaming platform. Maria wrote about Quibi back in May when it announced that Chrissy Teigen would be starring in Chrissy’s Court.
The platform was founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and a power team of Silicon Valley and Hollywood execs. The idea is that rather than competing with the streaming giants like Netflix and Prime Video in an overcrowded market, (Disney’s, Universal’s, and Apple’s streaming services will all be launching soon) Quibi will provide its subscribers with short form content broken into 8 – 10 minute segments. Hence the name Quibi: Quick Bites. Quibi has already garnered $1 billion in funding and has stacked up a strong content line-up.
Stars and talent like Don Cheadle, Jennifer Lopez, Anna Kendrick, Guillermo Del Toro, Lorne Michaels, and Tyra Banks are attached to dozens of projects already. So why Sasha Velour? She’s talented, but she’s not a household name. Quibi is likely targeting a younger audience. Obviously, a mobile platform is already predisposed to people my age. We already watch most of our content on our phones. Most of us don’t have cable, and we basically cycle between Netflix, YouTube, and social media.
We also have shorter attention spans, a factor for which Quibi is inherently designed. Yesterday, I scrolled past a 15 second video because I missed the first part and didn’t feel like waiting the extra 13 seconds for the video to start again. But still, getting our attention is hard. We’re saturated with the endless stream of content available at our fingertips.
Quibi’s appeal is that it features well produced, high quality productions from our favourite stars. According to THR, the platform’s news arm “will create two shows targeted at millennials under Quibi’s Daily Essentials banner.” There’s a revival of MTV’s Punk’d, a show where Tyra Banks explores beauty standards, and a Social Network-esque show about the founding of Snapchat. There’s even a tiny cooking show! While these shows may appeal to other demographics, they are primarily designed for the millennial and Gen Z mindset.
Although drag is an old art, its current mainstream popularity is largely from younger viewers. If skewing young is the goal, then pulling in drag, and especially the drag of Sasha Velour, is a smart strategy. And it’s working. Before yesterday, I had no idea what Quibi was. Today, I’m basically like: