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How Much Does ‘Drag Race’ Owe to ‘America’s Next Top Model’?

Before there was the “other Tyra,” there was Tyra Banks.

Though Drag Race has become a sensation in its own right, the show’s earliest seasons lampooned other reality shows, chief among them America’s Next Top Model. When you get down to it, Top Model’s DNA is a huge part of Drag Race’s. You have larger-than-life hosts, a dash of camp and a cast of 14 hopefuls vying for a bevy of glamorous prizes, including a $100,000 contract.

Drag Race started campy as hell, but as the show’s gone along it’s been stripped of a lot of those campier elements,” host Kevin O’Keeffe says on the latest episode of “The Kiki,” INTO’s web series about RuPaul’s Drag Race.

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Together, hosts O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez draw a straight line from Top Model, which didn’t shy away from bringing queer people of color like Miss J and Mr. Jay onto people’s TV screens, to Drag Race, the queerest show in the history of reality television.

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Whether it’s conversation about what it means to be transgender, fights about race or ruminations on queerness, the two shows share so much. With all that in mind, take a look at this week’s “Kiki,” which tips its wig to the queen of reality television, Tyra Banks.


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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