Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What "Shady Apes" Mean & How It Became A Catchphrase

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information and comments about the term "shady apes".

The content of this post is provided for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in the showcased video and thanks to the publisher of that video on YouTube.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

WARNING: Some quotes and some links that are provided in this post contain profanity.

"Shady apes" is a mild or serious insulting referent for one or more persons who act/s in a conniving, manipulative, and/or underhanded way that benefits him, her, or them.

The term "shady apes" is made up of the word "shady" and "apes". A person who is described as a "shady ape" is acting "shady" (see the slang definition as suggested above). Describing the person as an "ape" is meant to be insulting because the person is acting like an animal - He or she doesn't have the morality that is generally attributed to a human being.

The term "shady apes" probably is a newer form of the terms "shady bitch" and "shady ass bitch".

"shadyass bitch

Someone who tries to hide something by manipulating his or others' actions or words to his own advantage in order to attain something for his own benefit. This person may also hide information by not saying anything or lying.

by Sektatasek July 26, 2011"
While the term "shade" is included in a list of words and phrases from RuPaul's Drag Race show [edited by Branden Barker in December 8, 2012], the term "shady apes" isn't found in that dictionary RuPaul’s Drag Race The Drag Queen Dictionary

It's possible that the referent "shady apes" was used to insult people prior to its use on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 [2014]. However, African American drag queen Vivacious can be credited with introducing that term to the world on March 13, 2014 via her use of it during a screen confessional [talk to the camera] that was aired as part of Season 6, episode 3 that television show. In that screen confessional, Vivacious commented about her reaction to all of her competitors naming her as the person who should leave the show that episode.

Vivacious (Mothah!) Compilation - RuPaul's Drag Race

J Bag Published on Mar 13, 2014
Mothah! Has arrived! And then she done got eliminated.

Vivacious from RuPaul's Drag Race Season Six best moments!

Footage From Rupaul's Drag Race Season Six Episode 1 and Episode 3.

Includes "Shake It Up" by Selena Gomez

Season Six Queens: Darienne Lake, Courtney Act, Bianca Del Rio, Milk, Joslyn Fox, Trinity K. Bonet, Magnolia Crawford, Ben De La Creme, Gia Gunn, Laganja Estranja, Adore Delano, Vivacious, Kelly Mantle, April Carrion
1:32: “Those little shady apes all threw me on the bus”.
[Vivacious almost certainly meant “under the bus”]

There's a long history and present day examples of Black people being called monkeys (macaca), apes, and gorillas. Knowledge of that history & its present day usage may have significantly contributed to the formation of the "shady apes" term. However, it seems to me that no racial or racist connotations were associated with "shady apes" in the public examples of its use by Vivacious [on RuPaul's Drag Race (season 6, episode 3)] and by that series' fans and commenters. I've reached this conclusion mostly because the "shady apes" referent was applied by Vivacious to all her drag queen competitors regardless of their race & ethnicity (one of those competitors was Black, two were Latino, one was Asian, and the others were White). Furthermore, in the examples of this referent that I have found online-some of which are found below- it certainly appears to me that "shady apes" is used to describe a person's or group's behavior or words and not that person's or groups' race, ethnicity, or appearance.

To be clear, a person or group may act like a "shady ape" because he or she or they choose to do so for his, or her, or their own benefit, and not because of some supposed racial instincts or conditioning.

That said, given the reality of race in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, it's very possible that a person who calls a Black or Brown person a shady ape could face unexpected negative consequences.

These examples are given in no particular order and are numbered for referent purposes only. Italics are used to highlight the use of the referent "shady apes".

WARNING: Some of the comments included below and some of the website linked include profanity.

1. Vivacious - [aired March 13, 2014] “Those little shady apes all threw me on the bus”.
See the video clip given above.

2. From
Nancy Mitchell, May 19, 2014
I'm still bitter than you went home when you did. Your "shady apes" comment STILL makes me laugh.

#3 given as a series of comments most of which are consecutive
From May 20, 2014
3. SmartDeeDee
Hey, the producers deserve to say goodbye for the season too. I mean, what would be of us without our shady metallic sounds and contrived drama?

it is absolutely hilarious that they filmed that tie

it was actually kinda genius, it gave us something to freak over instead of just knowing bianca won.

Yeah, it was a great way to distract us and keep us interested. I mean, I still think it was a little shady towards Courtney, but it did work to at least create a polarization that keep us interested.

You know, that's true. It was the hot discussion around here after everyone got back from the taping - they totally faked us out, those shady apes!

#4 given as a series of comments most of which are consecutive
From May 20, 2014

Ru's a shady ape for filming a tie

Well she had the thirstiest sleuths on the internet (us, obv) speculating, didn't she? Well played...?

Hey, it got people talking and riled up so I guess it worked in his favour.

What's funny about is that most people who just watch the show on logo and never read anything online won't know that was ever a possibility. Ru is so mean to us, thirsty fans.

5. Black_Delphinium
From May 20, 2014
Rupaul you shady ape, captioning Lady Bunny like that.

calista23, Posted Mar 13, 2014
Tons of shade in this episode!

I think that Adore should lipsync for her life and not <3 April <3, as a leader, she was horrible. I like Vivacius very much and did not want her to leave the competition right now. And i will use her expression "shady apes" in my conversations!

Apr 15 2014
RuPaul Recap: Season 6, Episode 9
...“Our episode begins with the queen’s coping with the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Laganja. Adore and some of the other queens regret how they dealt with Laganja but they quickly turn their attention to Joslyn, who they see as the weakest competitor. Shown through a bunch of shady ape confessionals, it’s clear that Joslyn’s days on Drag Race may be numbered.”

#8. [consist of two comments] The Shady Apes of WoW Productions
...May 20, by Unnie55 -“I love WoW for bringing me this lovely show but they are the shadiest apes. I hope some of the shenanigans end for next season but I know better.”"

JCizle, May 20, 2014
Take it easy...
World of Wonder is doing their job: grow their brand. THEY pick they winner THEY want to give THEIR munties to after crafting the story THEY wanted. Don't catch feels or be sorry for anyone... it's just entertainment….

I expect MORE shenanigans next year. That's 95% of the reason we all watch! It's not personal... it's just drag.
This post also included a comment with the hashtag "shadyelephants"

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  1. Even more than her "shady apes" comment, Ru Paul's Drag Race Season 6 contestant Vivacious is known for her creation of Ornacia. Ornacia is a styrofoam head with painted features that Vivacious wore on the top of her entrance outfit. During one interview after her exit from the show, Vivacious shared that Ornacia had two sisters "Shewanna" and "Sheneeda". She explained those names (which are patterned after certain contemporary African American "made up" female names) as "She wanna wig" and she needa wig".

    Here's one citation for that information:

    HannahMiaRazor , Posted Mar 14, 2014 @ 9:05 AM
    …."Just in case anyone has missed it, Vivacious has started an official Twitter account for Ornacia, and now I've learned that Ornacia has two sisters named Shewanna and Sheneeda. I'm sad that Vivacious didn't stick around long enough for us to meet them."

    1. And just for the heck of it, I just looked up this information and I'm sharing it here for the sake of the historical record ;o)

      The contestant who said the much quoted line "This is not Ru Paul's best friend race" was Season 4 contestant Lashawn Beyond (said to contestant Jiggly Caliente.)

      [Warning: This brief clip contains profanity most of which his bleeped out by the tv station.]

      That clip also is a good example of an eye roll and head snap. Both of those gestures are done at the conclusion of that statement to emphasize disdain.