Wait. Didn’t we just do this? What language are we on for this one? What is time anymore?
Sorry for the delay in getting this recap up. We’ll try and do them in a more timely manner going forward, but we needed to get our Dutch sea legs back for this one. These international Drag Race franchises are coming so fast now that it sometimes takes us a moment to switch our settings (in this case, from Spanish to English to Dutch).
In fact, it was kind of a culture shock going from the Spanish version, in which the queens criticized the host for saying “Pit Crew” in English, to the Dutch version, where the queens go back and forth from English to Dutch in nearly every sentence.
We never took the time to really get to know the queens for this season. The cast Ru-veal came while we were on a mini book tour and there’s only so much Drag Race-related work we can do in one week (especially during Hot Girl Summer, aka our first time out of the house in 15 months), so we came to this premiere episode cold; with less information about the contestants than any other season of Drag Race except for the very first episode.
But that all worked out in our favor, since the episode was clearly designed to give the viewer the lay of the land, with each queen serving three looks and one minute of whatever talent they figured could impress the judges most. We ended the hour fairly well versed in the dolls, with some clear ideas about who’s likely to be among the front runners and who’s looking like cannon fodder. Fred looks great, by the way. He clearly got the “I saw myself in high-definition on TV” freshening up. Supremme won us over as the host of Drag Race España by being much warmer and more maternal than Ru ever was, but Fred is the most energetic of the Drag Race hosts and it’s refreshing to see someone who’s as into the whole competition as any of the competitors.
It was also great to see all of the queens from season one return even if we only remembered about half of them. Sorry, girls! That’s what happens when there are seventy-nine (rough estimate) Drag Race seasons over the course of a year. Anyway, since we don’t know the new girls all that well (and presumably neither do you), we’re going to run down our first impressions, based on their entrance looks and talent show efforts.
Reggy B: young cute, and cocky, she’s Abby OMG’s drag daughter. This first look is cute enough, but the illusion netting is a little too obvious and wrinkly under the studio lights.
She rapped for her talent portion – or rather, she “rapped.” It was okay, largely because it was only a minute long. Her drag is not coming off all that impressive so far, going by the first two looks.
Ivy-Elise is a member of Mermaids Mansion, along with last season’s winner Envy Peru and finalist Abby OMG. This entrance look is fabulous, although we kinda think mermaid drag should have more of a fishtail effect rather than highlighting her legs.
She twirled to our satisfaction for the talent show, but her costume was flimsy and unimpressive.
Juicy Kutoure is a young, inexperienced Insta-queen with no stage experience who says she took her inspiration from Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Britney. The other queens had their claws out for her, as performing queens tend to do when faced with looks queens.
She performed a sort of rap and claimed her talent was all about posing, but then she failed to do much posing – and she clearly can’t walk in heels, which is a fatal deficit in drag. Honey, if you can’t handle the stilettos, are you even a drag queen?
My Little Puny delivered some super high-impact drag in her entrance look and is our pick for the cutest boy in the group.
She poledanced adequately.
Vivaldi is 22 years old, a little full of herself, and likes to present herself as an edgy, artsier sort of queen. We loved her entrance look. Is it us, or is this gaggle of queens more anime-inspired than most?
Her talent was a burlesque-inspired strip tease, which was really more about doing a succession of reveals. It was fun to watch, though.
Tabitha, at 46, is the oldest queen in the group and we got the impression that her size and her age are making her just a weensy bit defensive.
She kind of went after Vanessa for having what she perceived as an advantage in the competition because she’s a trans woman; a situation Tabitha likened to having to compete in a swim meet against Aquaman. It was a fairly uncomfortable conversation, although Fred and Vanessa tried to keep it light. What’s ironic is that Tabitha more or less repeated the same comments that Ru made several years ago but we doubt the American version of the show would have depicted a conversation like this, since Ru doesn’t seem like she wants to revisit or amend those comments now that trans contestants have become a regular feature of any Drag Race season. Without defending either Ru or Tabitha, this idea is not entirely uncommon among older queens and it’s especially prevalent in the drag pageant world, which has defined rules against trans women competing. But this argument only makes sense if you define drag as solely a gender illusion art form. Drag Race, in all its forms, moved past that definition a long time ago and Tabitha came off a little insecure.
She performed a semi-competent salsa number but managed to flub a step or two in only a minute’s time onstage. The dress was perfect, but the wig was janky.
Love Masisi is another more seasoned queen (she’s 43), but she doesn’t seem remotely pressed by that and came across like a sweet queen with a great attitude. Loved the entrance costume, as impractical as it was.
Her vocal performance started off a little shakey, but by the time her minute was up, she was hitting all the notes and giving off confidence and charisma to spare. We liked the concept behind her look, which felt very “Priscilla,” but we didn’t get why the wig was asymmetrical or what was going on around her crotch. We don’t know if it’s intentional, but her makeup is very reminiscent of ’90s Ru.
The Countess is 21 years old and a self-described fashion queen who told Fred that she chose the name to put herself on a pedestal, above and apart from other queens. She has expensive tastes, claims her jewels are real, and predicted that she’d blow all the prize money on a pair of Swarovski-studded Louboutins. We had her pegged as a shallow queen with nothing but looks and labels to serve, but boy, did she prove us wrong on stage.
The bitch can play, we’ll give her that. In fact, we’re not entirely sure why she didn’t win this week, given her level of talent and the fact that served one of the most sickening looks during the talent show. She looked amazing and produced a moment of quiet artistry that left the room awe-struck.
Vanessa Van Cartier as noted is the only trans woman competing and is also one of the over-40 queens. She seems very sweet, but she also seems like she can get vicious if you cross her.
She did a performance art piece, which … let’s just say we’ll never be fans of performance art pieces, even if the judges seemed to love it.
Keta Minaj is Puny’s best friend and ex-boyfriend. We didn’t think she made all that much of a first impression, but evidently the judges disagreed. We did love this entrance look, though. It’s not easy to make a pantsuit look like a drag costume, although we suppose rendering it in latex helps.
She did one quick-change magic trick that was perhaps not the most impressive feat onstage, but since magic tricks usually require a set up and a few diversionary tactics to really work, this was probably the best she could do in the short time allotted. Her look was okay, but we can’t tell if she’s serving genderfuck or if she’s just not softening her drag enough. It feels like she can’t quite make up her mind.
Whew! We’re 1500 words into this jawn and we still have the final looks to run through. The category was “Nightlife Extravaganza” and it’s interesting how the interpretations of that tended to come down to either “Club Kid” or “Studio 54.”
Tabitha’s obsession with Vanessa Van Cartier’s breasts suddenly made more sense when she came out as an inexplicable pile of boobs. Love Masisi’s drag seems to come down to whether she’s paying homage to Ru or to Grace Jones. Both inspirations work really well for her and we loved this disco take. The Countess surprised us with a really well done fetish-themed look after telling us what a high-fashion queen she is.
Reggy B’s costume looked a little off-the-rack and her wig looked a little off-the-floor. Ivy-Elyse’s Leigh Bowery-inspired drag was clumsy and awkward-looking.
For a so-called looks queen, Juicy’s drag feels really underbaked. This is a “just okay” sort of look. My Little Puny’s Bowery drag was freaking perfect. We think the only reason she didn’t win was because her ex managed to out do her on the same front.
Vivaldi’s take was a little weird. We’re not sure what the point was to wearing a more or less standard cocktail dress over a Club Kid bodysuit and makeup. Vanessa Van Cartier served up a coke-fueled disco fantasy and it was glorious.
But if we’re going solely by final looks (and it seems like the judges were, since her talent display was only so-so), Keta Minaj won this one hands down.
On the whole, this entire runway was fairly impressive; showing that this group of queens have a high level of polish among them, but Keta’s look was insane. More like something a queen would save for the finale than the first episode.
Reggy and Juicy wound up in the bottom and since the latter can’t even walk in a pair of heels, it’s no surprise how things shook out.
We really think these Insta-queens should take some time out in the real world to work on their drag before trying to win this competition, but who knows? Maybe she got a million new followers out of it and maybe that’s all she wanted.
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[Photo Credit: WOW Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]