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cheek by jowl

Comparison Test: America’s Next Top Model, RuPaul’s Drag Race

It's been a long, unfabulous four months, but America's Next Top Model finally returned to the CW last night, this time with André Leon Talley destined for the judging panel (he'll appear next Wednesday) and Miss J. Alexander back on the runway. While we waited, we managed the pain with liberal doses of RuPaul's Drag Race, now in its second season on Logo and VH1, and frankly, we're not sure which show we like better. We've compared them both in a few crucial categories, from Tools of the Trade to Gay Icons. As Ru says, may the best woman win!

  America's Next Top Model Drag Race
Typical backstories California girl modeling since the age of 15 (Saleisha, Cycle Nine); "discovered" by an ANTM producer at the local mall (Sara, Cycle Six) Androgynous Puerto Rican with a passion for tattoos (Nina Flowers, Season One); went to school in drag at age 14 (Tatianna, Season Two)
Tools of the trade Black tank top, skinny jeans, and stilettos. Pancake makeup, glitter, and a hot-glue gun.
Icons Clay Aiken, Taye Diggs, Janice Dickinson, FDNY, Dita Von Teese. Bob Mackie, Lucy Lawless, Kathy Najimy, Charo, Kathy Griffin, Dita Von Teese.
Advice "No matter what happens, always remember you're modeling." —Nigel Barker "When people look at you, if they can connect with what's going on behind the eyes, they won't care what's going on between the thighs." —RuPaul
Backstage chatter “You will not win this competition, because you are an ugly person. And God don't like ugly … he don't like it." (Bree, Cycle Five) “I'm going to have to put my balls behind my freakin' body today.” (Ongina, Season One)
How to decompress Walk around the house in underwear and a strappy tank; bitch about each other in the hot tub. Untuck.
Camp factor Benny Ninja teaching the girls about voguing; Tyra's wardrobe. They're drag queens.
Clever marketing gimmicks None, really. The Dragulator.
Photo: Courtesy of the CW, Logo