A new Drag Race franchise! Another chance to become acquainted with another country’s drag scene! A million jokes and references, just flying past our American heads as we try and follow along! Darlings, what’s not to love here? We may be just a weensy bit behind on talking about Drag Race Italia‘s premiere episode, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t thrilled to see a new batch of queens who aren’t quite prepared for the lights of a television studio. Drag Race may be an over-saturated and over-produced global phenomenon, but it’ll still manage to round up a range of queens, from bar girls to chorus girls to self-proclaimed supermodels, and set them loose to do their best. It’s hard to get mad at it when it keeps doing that. We’ll talk about the girls in a second, but first…
We thank Drag Race Italia for these holy blessings and an unexpected new and previously never considered sexual fantasy. We do so miss when the Pit Crew had more of a central role in Drag Race, but we suppose productions have to keep themselves restricted to the Drag Race equivalent of essential workers right now.
Divinity, the self-described “Neapolitan Barbie,” would appear to be the looks queen to beat this season. The bodysuit is kind of basic, but the overall vibe and styling of her intro look are great.
Farida Kant, is polished and a little freaky with a dose of horror queen to her. We liked her intro look but didn’t love the shape of the wig.
Ava Hangar is loud, obnoxious, and walked in serving something new to Drag Race: Retro Camp Genderfuck, aka, Hairy-Armed Lucy Ricardo. It’s a hook, we’ll give her that.
Ivana Vamp is highly polished, adorably femme, melodramatic, and the kind of drag queen who just can’t help but add 25 years to her age when she puts on a wig and makeup. She seems pretty sweet and gave the episode its heartfelt moment when she talked about how her family has treated her.
Le Riche, who is the cutest boy of the group and whose shtick is entirely “I’m rich and poor people smell,” which is funny but seems kind of limited as a persona. We were not in love with her intro look.
Enorma Jean, “the youngest grande dame in Italy,” is, the oldest (46) queen in the group by far. As is generally the case with older contestants on almost any reality competition, she came in the door feeling her age, perhaps a little defensive about it, and wound up unsheathing her claws. We saw this same thing happen in Drag Race Holland‘s last season with Tabitha. Her name is pretty hilarious, but would make more sense if she was a big girl in blonde bombshell drag. Anyway, there was a lot of shade-throwing and hand-talking surrounding Enorma after the main challenge and we honestly couldn’t even follow along with any of it. Having said that, it is fabulously entertaining watching Italian drag queens get bitchy with each other and literally throw hands along with insults. There’s just a completely different flair to it. We feel like they’re all one insult away from throwing shoes at each other. Still, Enorma does smell like trouble.
Luquisha Lubamba dreams of becoming an international pop star and walked in serving High Clown Drag. We’re surprised bearded queens are still a rarity on Drag Race. Her intro look is cute, but we don’t love the way she makes up her real beard so that it winds up looking painted on.
Elektra Bionic, the self-described “Piedmontese stallion,” has the potential for supermodel looks, but not when she’s sporting ticky-tacky costumes like that one. She and Enorma seem to have some history, but it feels like that’s true of several of the queens.
The first mini-challenge was the expected photo shoot challenge and we have to say, it’s one of the few challenges, mini or main, that hasn’t gotten stale over time, even though it’s one of the oldest.
That’s because it’s not the kind of thing any of the queens can prepare for, unlike the library challenge or Snatch Game or … well, any of them, really: standup, singing, choreo, improv. Any queen on Drag Race knows all of that’s coming, but they never have any idea what they’re going to be asked to do for the photo challenge until a second before they’re asked to do it.
The results are almost always illuminating and give a sense of which queens can perform on a dime, which queens are difficult, and which queens have self-esteem issues.
It’s the best way to introduce the queens to the audience and it’s not hard to come out of it with a fave or two.
Anyway, we’re including all of these shots because Marco the Gondolier is hot as hell and clearly having the time of his life.
We’re also including these shots because … wait, why are we explaining this?
The main challenge was another somewhat expected one, but we didn’t mind it, since they gave it such an Italian twist: the queens were given grandmother’s attic trunks and had to use the items to pay tribute to Italian style in some way.
Starting with the safe girls: Elektra Bionic’s feathered Italian flag bathing suit was pretty fabulous. Enorma Jean’s pizza hat was cute, but the dress was pretty basic. Le Riche’s pasta-themed jumpsuit was clever and well-executed but more camp than fabulous, similar to Ava Hangar’s retro print dress.
Luquisha’s clown look just didn’t come together, although the idea was sound. She just didn’t use the materials well and it wasn’t a good idea to cover so much of her face on her first day. All you see is hair and beard. Despite our crack about how her drag ages her, there’s no denying that Ivana’s one of the most polished queens in the group and we were glad to see the judges pay attention to her eleganza.
Farida Kant’s pink gingham harlequin-inspired look was simply spectacular high-level costume design, which only made Divinity’s craft project of a look come off all the more amateur in quality.
She won this one easily. Love how she styled her face and hair for this one. The pom poms are used perfectly.
It was down to the two worst costumes of the bunch and that bodes well for the judging on this show. They sniffed out exactly the ones who needed sniffing out. As for the song, we sat there in hilariously confused delight, having know idea what the hell we were listening to but clapping along anyway. We were to distracted to notice who did better, although we have a vague recollection that Divinity had some moves.
Like we said, we love a good beard queen because of a long time affection for one of the all-timers, but Luquisha’s look was bad. Sorry, beard girl.
Edited to add: So of course we accidentally dropped the original final sentence, which was “Better luck next week.”
Our book, Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life, a New York Times “New and Notable” pick, praised by The Washington Post “because the world needs authenticity in its stories,” and chosen as one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR, is on sale wherever fine books are sold!
Drag Race Italia fans! The Italian Language edition of our book, RuPaul e le altre is on sale now wherever fine books are sold in Italy!
[Photo Credit: WOW Plus via Tom and Lorenzo]