Ladies, we’ve got a lot of queens to cover, so let’s get to it.
Oh, she definitely came to slay. Bitches are put on notice: this is the one you have to compete against.
We like Miz Cracker but one of the biggest and best reasons to do All-Stars is to show how your drag has advanced or improved since your time on the show and, well… this is just okay.
Alexis doesn’t really have to show she’s improved since her bigger-than-life drag was always fun.
Now this bitch stepped her pussy up. She left looking like a little girl and came back looking like a supermodel. This is very simple drag in terms of its execution, but she nailed the look.
We always loved Miss Mariah but felt she was one of those queens whose looks change drastically with each lewk. If you asked us to name who this was, we might not have been able to answer correctly. And look, having the ability to change your drag up is a good thing, but it’s not always great on a reality show, where you should be establishing your brand a little harder. This is not a critique of this look or even of her approach; just a note that the format of Drag Race doesn’t help a queen who looks so different from moment to moment.
Hmph. We expect Michelle Visage will have a few things to say about India’s understanding of proportions. There’s a lot to like about this look but the shape is terrible for her.
It’s … tasteful. We love Jujubee and we think both of her low-key looks this week show a confidence that she can slay the competition without resorting to high drag, but girl: you need to give us the high drag.
Girl, WHAT is the POINT? Why would you walk through that door serving pure Britney, knowing that your reputation and your time on the show had a lot of people saying that you can’t do anything BUT Britney? And not to be total bitches about it, but this is not good drag at all. The costume isn’t flattering (or even all that well-designed) and she looks like she put a knit cap on under that wiggy-ass wig.
It’s okay. Like India’s look, the proportions and body work feel a bit off.
A super-strong showing from Ongina that did not serve as a preview for her work to come.
Always fun to start off with a reading session, but it felt like some of the girls were holding back because it’s too early in the competition for the claws to come out – although Derrick sure tried. Also: Ricky Martin’s style choices were incredibly disappointing.
Jujuebee’s original library read is one of the most quoted in the show’s history, so it’s not a surprise to see she aced this one. Blair, on the other hand, may just be someone the other queens need to look out for. She’s coming for them.
As for the main-stage challenge, it was another World of Wonder marketing campaign, but we’re not gonna get to bitchy about that. It makes sense to expect each of these queens to come prepared with a killer number to establish just how good they are.
Alexis came out hard and hot and didn’t let up for a second. She rates super-high when rating this week’s efforts and it’s clear the bitch is hungry.
Having said that, we thought Shea had this one locked up. The poledancing wasn’t as impressive as it could be, but that may have had more to do with the wobbly setup. The performance was fantastic, though. You really couldn’t take your eyes off her and it feels like she didn’t get the win this week because everyone’s already assuming that she’s gonna sweep her way through to a coronation.
Mayhem’s effort was bad from start to finish. We went back and rewatched with closed caption on and it was clear that she fucked up the lyrics more than once. Technical critiques aside, it just didn’t feel like the number went anywhere or had a point other than “I’m a drag queen!” We weren’t crazy about the lewk either.
Mariah took a huge risk and it paid off – meaning she didn’t completely fuck it up. We think the number would work better if she’d been allowed to really go for it, but it felt like she was restrained by the setting a little. Still, she impressed Ricky Martin and that’s gotta give a girl some comfort.
Miz Cracker was high-energy and her song was kind of fun, but the act sort of devolved into a lot of mugging and fairly basic choreography. And the costume under the pickle wasn’t really dramatic enough for a reveal.
Blair did that thing that Ru loves to see when a queen low on talent or technical skill just leans all the way into a performance, limitations be damned. The girl can’t sing, but she sure as hell sold it.
Oof. Ongina, girl. We’re rooting for you, we really are. But this entire number was half-assed, from the costumes to the choreography to the concept.
Derrick’s act could have worked. A couple of his impressions were decent enough that they could have been part of something funny and entertaining if it had been well-written and well-paced. She just rushed through a lot of voices without giving the audience a chance to hear them – and of course, it would have helped if the jokes had actually been funny. Again: she didn’t help herself by coming out in Britney drag. More on that in a second.
Jujubee’s a contender and we felt like this performance showed why. She really knows how to keep an audience in the palm of her hand – possibly better than any of the other girls. The act was a bit low-key and could have been helped tremendously by a more sickening look. This was pretty, but she needed something jaw-dropping.
Okay, here’s the thing: We’ll give India this one. She came out as hard as possible and she whipped herself into a frenzy, which was enough to land her in the top, as far as we’re concerned. But her win felt like the formation of a storyline; a way to rehabilitate one of the “lesser” queens in the Drag Race franchise and elevate her after her time on the show kind of ruined her reputation.
Drag Race is a worldwide franchise and every queen who competes is also given opportunities for work year-round under the Drag Race banner. This felt like the company pushing one of its lower-tier assets into a more lucrative position. Call us cynical bitches if you must, but get it (you’ll pardon the term) straight: She was good and she showed that she’s got chops. We just don’t think a win was truly warranted.
The increasingly complex setup for All-Star judging sometimes results in some deliciously high-drama moments, with grudges playing out and alliances being formed. Sometimes it works. This year’s setup seems like it’s too complicated for its own good and we’re not sure how well things will play out if the bottom queens have to beg EVERYONE for a chance to stay instead of just focusing on the winning queen’s choice. In the end, it didn’t matter who won the lip sync this week because both “sides” made the same choice to send Derrick home.
Bringing back a high-ranking queen for the lip sync each week is kind of fun (and another instance of WoW cycling through its roster of assets), but again: the setup doesn’t quite work.
There wasn’t a chance in hell that India would survive against Yvie – and the song choice of La Vida Loca felt like the win was being handed specifically to her on a platter. You couldn’t ask for a better song to highlight Yvie’s particular brand of insanity drag.
But we don’t know … it just felt anti-climactic to bring in this surprise guest, have her slay the shit out of the lip sync – and then just send her home. The stakes felt extremely low.
We have a whole chapter in our book (and you should applaud us for waiting this long to mention it) about the history of celebrity female impersonation drag and how it’s filled with trailblazers and high artistry. But here’s the thing: it’s one of the many genres of drag that Drag Race isn’t particularly good at celebrating outside the once-a-season Snatch Game challenge. The judges came down really hard on Derrick for “not showing us who you are” or whatever, and his confused response made perfect sense if you look at it from his point of view. His entire style of drag is not about showing your true self (which is something GuRu really wants to see in his girls), but about doing a meticulous job of recreating someone else. And in the Werk Room, when he said he literally couldn’t see any of the other girls’ costumes without making a Britney reference, we felt really bad for him. Not because he’s a bad drag queen, but because he keeps subjecting himself to a competition in which his kind of drag simply isn’t given many opportunities to shine. If your drag prevents you from pulling from the pageant and ballroom traditions upon which the show bases most of its judging criteria, you’re going to have a really hard time. Vegas-style celebrity impersonation skills only get you so far.
“Our book Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life is on sale now!
The Los Angeles Times called it “a nuanced exploration of the gender-bending figures, insider lingo and significant milestones in queer history to which the show owes its existence.” The Washington Post said it “arrives at just the right time … because the world needs authenticity in its stories. Fitzgerald and Marquez deliver that, giving readers an insight into the important but overlooked people who made our current moment possible.” Paper Magazine said to “think of it as the queer education you didn’t get in public school” and The Associated Press said it was “delightful and important” and “a history well told, one that is approachable and enjoyable for all.”
[Stills: VH1 via Tom and Lorenzo]
Pop Style Opinionfest: Politics, Social Justice and Pop Culture Colliding Next Post:
The Daily T LOunge for June 8, 2020