Monday, August 8, 2022

StorySpotting: "This b*** I've never heard about before" (Canada's Drag Race)

StorySpotting is a weekly or kinda-weekly series about folktales, tropes, references, and story motifs that pop up in popular media, from TV shows to video games. Topics are random, depending on what I have watched/played/read recently. Also, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Be warned!

Yeah, I watch Drag Race sometimes, when my overworked brain needs the mental equivalent of a chewing gum. I am fascinated by the makeup and the sewing challenges. 
One thing I learned is that these shows are usually hilariously off the mark whenever it comes to geek culture... or mythology. And then recently I saw one thing I needed to blog about.

Where was the story spotted?

Canada's Drag Race, season 3, episode 2 (The Who-Knows)

What happens?

The runway theme for this episode was Goddesses of the Ancient World. All of the contestants would be worth a post... but I'll focus on one: Kimmy Couture, who walked the runway in a Vegas showgirl-esque orange dress and headpiece. During the critique round, this conversation happened between the judges and Kimmy:

"Tell us about your goddess."

"So, I went on Google, and I searched it, and then I found this b*tch that I've never heard before... I just really wanted to show some sun because I feel like, I'm like a ball of fire."

"Well, you nailed it. It all worked out."

Kimmy went on to win this episode.

What's the story?

Okay, yeah, it irked me that someone on TV would refer to a mythical character in this manner, and lack of attention to... basic facts, like her name. Because Kimmy herself could not tell us who the goddess was, I became curious to see if she'd just made up a generic sun deity for fun. After some searching, I found a post on her Instagam, and was surprised that she named the goddess there: her name was Alectrona or Elektryone.

So, here is what Kimmy didn't tell you:

Elektryone belongs to the Greek pantheon. She was a demigoddess venerated on the island of Rhodes, as the daughter of the sun god Helios and the island's own patron goddess Rhode (whom the locals worshiped as an aspect of Athena). Rhode herself was a sea nymph, the daughter of Poseidon. So Elektryone belonged to not one, but two illustrious divine families: that of the ocean, and that of the sun. Very fitting for an island deity. She had seven brothers, all kings of Rhodes.

According to some sources, Elektryone was the (demi)goddess of the sunrise. Her name is related to the Greek word for amber, which was always associated with the sun for its color, and its ability to create sparks. Elektryone was also a personification of youth, since according to myth she died a virgin, before she became elevated to the rank of a local deity. Youth and the sunrise go hand in hand.

By the way, the whole myth about Helios' family on Rhodes is pretty interesting. According to one story when the Greek gods divided up the world among themselves, Helios was not present, because, well, he was doing sun things in the sky at the time. So, they conveniently forgot about him, and gave him no realm. However, just at that time the island of Rhodes rose up from the sea, and Helios made his claim of that new piece of land. Other sources say Helios himself raised the island from the sea, after falling in love with Rhode.

You can read more about Rhode here, and Helios' family in Rhodes here.


I have a soft spot for Helios' family in mythology (going all the way back to Kerényi Károly's mythology books, and, most recently, Circe). That look Kimmy served did not read Greek, or mythical, to me at all - but then again, I'm not a fashion expert. I am happy for the chance to introduce some lesser known deities in this post, though. So... yay?

1 comment:

  1. Good to know you did your homework on Elektryone!

    Adelaide @ Halfway up Rysy Peak