RuPaul might have Drag Race, but she’s not the only mogul in the drag world.
Several years ago, after spending hours listening to a Golden Girls recap podcast while stuck in a Burning Man traffic jam, two former Drag Race contestants—Alaska and Willam—decided to strike out on their own. “We were like, ‘Why don’t we do this about Drag Race,’” Alaska says. Soon, the pair had a producer, Big Dipper, and a whole new show: Race Chaser.
They started pitching the podcast around to various studios, including the comedy upstart Forever Dog, where it eventually landed. “Race Chaser was an immediate success,” says CEO Joe Cilio. “We had never seen anything like it. Forever Dog was a young company then, and it was amazing to have a bonafide hit on our hands.” Big Dipper says the podcast’s success was confirmation of what he and Race Chaser’s hosts already knew: that “there really was a market for drag fans who wanted to experience the queens in a different, long form way, and in a more personality driven way … and in an audio way.”
Fast forward about a year later and Cilio, seeing Race Chaser’s large and loyal fan base, started pushing the idea of Willam and Alaska creating their own podcast imprint under the Forever Dog umbrella, and that’s how the Moguls Of Media (MOM) Network was born. MOM launched during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and was an immediate success. A lot of that is due to its programming, which included shows like The Chop with Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon, and Very That with Raja and Delta Work, and Sloppy Seconds with Big Dipper and Meatball. “Basically,” says Alaska, “we were like, ‘This has been great. We want to share it with our sisters,’ so we reached out to our very famous drag queen friends and they said ‘Sure, why not?’”
Pivoting to podcasts represents a significant shift in the world of drag. It’s traditionally an art form based on live performance and on visual spectacle; podcasting is almost always strictly audio—the performers are rarely ever seen. What MOM is doing, then, is taking the inherent talents drag performers have for charismatic storytelling and entertaining and channeling them into a new medium, something that’s proven to be a necessity during the pandemic, when bars, nightclubs, and theaters were often closed and queens needed to find other sources of income. “We were really lucky that we had a podcast because we could stay connected to people even after all of our normal avenues of connecting with our community were completely closed off,” says Alaska. “It definitely got me through the pandemic, and it definitely helped ease things a little bit for a lot of people listening.” The duo also leveraged the power of the pod to raise more than $120,000 for queer-friendly charities like For The Gworls.
Podcasting also helped the MOM queens connect with their fans on a deeper level. “We’re talking for long periods of time, every single week,” says Alaska. “That’s a very intimate, personal way of getting to know someone. Early in my drag career and right after Drag Race, all [fans] got was what I was saying on stage or what I was saying in my music.”
Raja agrees. “There’s a certain freedom and honesty that comes out of a podcast,” she says. “It just feels easier to talk about everything.” Jinkx Monsoon sees her MOM podcast, Hi Jinkx!, as both a place for candid conversation and a way to, as she puts it, “showcase things that don’t get talked about a lot in our industry,” like how trans performers have redefined their careers after coming out, the diversity (or lack there of) of gender expressions in media, or what it’s like to be an adult film star. “It feels like this fun responsibility,” she says, “or this fun thing that I get to do that can possibly have an impact.”