RuPaul’s Drag Race UK: Posh on a Penny

Posted on October 25, 2019

The competing queens rarely like to see it this way, but if you consider every challenge in Drag Race to be coursework at Mama Ru’s Finishing School for Queens, each of the challenges make sense. Of course we all know why and how things like the seasonally-occuring singing, acting, and celebrity impersonation challenges are there. Mama wants her girls fully tested in the performing aspects of drag. And Mama Ru won’t crown a queen if she can’t pull together a lewk all on her own, with nothing more than trash at her disposal.


Drag Race, by virtue of its success, tends to attract well-costumed queens with established careers and their own costume-makers. As the show’s popularity increases to international levels, it’s more important than ever that it take one week to do drag Marsha P. Johnson-style and make-do with what you can get.


It’s a long tradition in drag, Most queens had to go through a homemade period in their careers and – most importantly – many of the queens competing still make their own costumes. Just as the singing and acting challenges favor those queens with experience in those areas, so does the trash-picking challenge center the queens who can sew and stone their own tights.

Which is why some of the queens expressed serious frustration with the “I don’t know how to sew” girls. You don’t know to show up with some basic DIY skills at this stage?

But first …


Honestly, the two best things about the mini-challenges are that they’re largely nonsensical if not downright pointless, and they force the queens to look absolutely horrifying on camera.


Just look at that collection of messes.


They packed up Raven to come over and do Ru’s makeup for her, so they may as well put her to good use and get her out on camera. Always good to see her serving it. She always was one of the best in terms of face and full polish.


Gratuitous. The little hairy one is our fave. Feel free to choose one for yourself.





Credit where it’s due: these queens collectively did better than a whole lot of other casts when it came to making their own. It’s clear there are some real creatives among this lot.


Divina served high avant-garde fashion very much in the British mode, giving us hints of Westwood, McQueen and even a little Burberry. Baga’s design wasn’t the most flattering in the world, but it was really well done, helped along by killer face and hair. Blu… bless her heart. The thing that’s keeping her in the competition is her willingness to just go for it, every time. The results may not be perfect, but the effort’s always impressive. Ru loves that sort of thing. Sum Ting did a fairly impressive job on that suit for a non-sewer, but it’s clearly unfinished and besides, it’s such an oddly bland sort of look. We shouldn’t be seeing garments you can buy in a department store on the Drag Race runway. The Vivienne is to be commended for the drama and fully-realized concept of her look, but we can’t say we loved it. It looked too much like what it was – trash pickings.


Although no one looked more like a literal pile of trash than poor Vinegar. We don’t quite get why the judges and queens were hard on Cheryl’s look. Granted, she seems to only have one character/look in her arsenal, but this was a pretty good use of the materials. Poor Crystal. We’re starting to think she’d have to set herself on fire to get the judges’ attention. Hers is gorgeous and incredibly well made.


But we can absolutely see why Divina won it – good reality TV storytelling aside. Yes, she got her confidence back after several weeks of questioning herself, but this really was the most eye-popping and creative look on that runway. If the execution isn’t perfect, it can be forgiven if you take the materials into account. And the head styling is what really takes it to runway levels. She earned this one.


Just as the two sloppiest and ill-prepared girls earned their bottom status. We don’t think there was any doubt who was going to win this one. Not because we assumed Sum Ting to be a better lip-syncher than Vinegar, but because it seemed pretty clear that Vinegar was starting to realize this competition isn’t really where she’s at her best.


We’re truly sorry to see her go, not least because she was a true original and stood out from the other girls by offering a different style of drag. But as we predicted from the jump, this show was always going to run into a problem when Ru & Michelle’s desire for American pageant-style drag ran into a very different, very British sort of drag that place virtually no importance on polish and much less on presentation. It’s pretty clear which way this is trending and which girls are most likely to be standing at the finale, but we wonder if there won’t be some grumbling about the show applying American judging criteria to British queens.



[Stills: World of Wonder via Tom and Lorenzo]

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