New Series Looks At The 'Hustle And Sacrifice' Of NYC Drag Queens

"Shade: Queens of NYC" examines the less glitzy side of Manhattan's drag stars.

RuPaul’s Drag Race” may be successfully ushering the glamour of drag culture into the mainstream, but a new documentary series will give viewers a less glitzy, behind-the-scenes peek at the lives of some multitalented, gender-bending stars. 

HuffPost got an exclusive first look at “Shade: Queens of NYC,” which debuts Oct. 5 on Fusion TV, via the snippet above. In the clip, drag queen Marti Gould Cummings opens up about his involvement with the political organization Hell’s Kitchen Democrats.

Hours before taking the stage, the 30-year-old is shown at a community meeting urging fellow Hell’s Kitchen residents to “Trump-proof” their neighborhood, which boasts a visible LGBTQ population, by creating safe spaces for those who feel “othered.” 

“Since the dawn of drag, we’ve been politically active. Stonewall threw the brick, started the revolution,” Cummings says in the clip. “The AIDS epidemic of the ’80s? [President] Ronald Reagan wasn’t saying [anything]. Who did? Drag queens, and Elizabeth Taylor ― basically a drag queen!” 

“Shade: Queens of NYC” co-creator and executive producer Mike Kelton told HuffPost that he’d like viewers to come away from the 12-part series with a new appreciation for “the social importance of a man dressed as a woman in a gay bar with a microphone.”

“I’m so grateful that shows like ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ have brought the art form to a larger audience,” he said. “But most people may not be aware of the work, hustle and sacrifice that these incredible performers put in day in and day out.”

In addition to Cummings, the show profiles Brita Filter, Chelsea Piers and Jada Valenciaga, among other drag performers, and aims to be “something people have never seen before,” Kelton said.  

“It’s a gag that it’s a man dressed as a woman lip-syncing to Ariana Grande, but the heart of these queens lies in why they perform and who they are,” he added. “I have fallen in love with every cast member and it’s my goal to have America fall in love with not only the queen, but the boy behind the queen.” 

Shade: Queens of NYC” debuts Thursday, Oct. 5 on Fusion TV at 10:30 p.m. 

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