RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: Glamazon Prime

Posted on February 13, 2022

Darlings, your packages have arrived.

 

With that out of the way, let’s return to this week’s challenge. And a return it is, since the queens are once again tasked with making a look; this time out of the unconventional materials of Michelle Visage’s shopping addiction. It’s stagey and cute and that’s the kind of thing we all want, but we have to admit, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a really creative spin on a challenge.

 

Werk Room revelations this week: Daya is getting pissy about the Crystal Methyd comparisons and Willow is having problems with her hands, which hampered her during the rush to acquire materials because she couldn’t open any of the boxes and had to scavenge for everyone else’s castoffs. We don’t know what the solution to this is – or even if there’s supposed to be one – but it’s become more than obvious that this drag competition is much harder on the plus-sized contestants or anyone who might have mobility or chronic pain issues. That might not sound like something the show needs to consider, but Drag Race has built its brand specifically on telling the stories of queer people overcoming hardships of one form or another and it makes us uncomfortable when it reminds us that certain people have it harder than others and we’re not sure there’s a good enough reason for it.

 

Jazmine and Kerri traded very different family stories, the former illustrating the power of reconciliation and the latter demonstrating that sometimes you just need to cut ties with the people who can’t accept you.

 

Daya wound up safe – and extremely pissed off about it. In a way, we were charmed, because it’s really rare in this day and age to see someone on a reality show who’s that clueless about how they’re coming across on camera. To be fair, we think he had some good points about having his fully realized and meticulously costumed character ignored in favor of a couple of pretty half-dresses, but he seems completely unable to accept the idea that his drag isn’t fresh or original in any way. He seems to want to be recognized for his originality, but doesn’t want to examine whether it’s worth recognizing. Other safe queens: Willow, whose Where The Wild Things Are-esque take was cuter in concept than reality, Kerri:

 

…whose look wasn’t horrible, but didn’t seem to have much of a concept behind it. Tops and bottoms:

 

The judges loved Lady Camden’s look, which makes us think they were more impressed by clarity of concept this week, given their commentary and choices. Her look is a cute idea, and she’s to be commended for making the materials work, but it looked pretty rough up close. They hated Jazmine’s look because there was too much going on, which is another way of saying that there wasn’t a clear enough concept of what she was trying to do. Similarly, Maddy’s country bumpkin concept was muddied by the use of a blowup doll and an ugly  dress that didn’t seem to embody any one particular style.

They kept going on and on about how pretty Deja’s tablecloth dress was, but again, we think they were just responding well to the clarity of her design. The dress was pretty mediocre, but they focused all their critiques on the cheapness of her accessories (which is kind of a weird thing to complain about in an unconventional materials challenge). Angeria’s look was both impressively executed and easy to understand at first glance. All of this is a leadup to explaining why they went for Jorgeous’ look over all the others and why we tend to agree with them. While it’s deceptively simple in design and execution, it looks like a fully realized costume, rather than something that she came up with from a pile of junk. Unlike most of the entries this week, she could do a full drag show in that costume as-is and it would work perfectly.

 

Jasmine and Maddy had a minor throwdown during Untucked and we suspect it was just because Maddy knew she’d done all she could do and she just wanted to go out with a bang. We had to give Jasmine a lot of credit for not really taking the bait, secure in the knowledge that once she hit that stage, her pussy was going to explode all over it. The little rodeo clown never stood a chance, although like most of his time on the show, Maddy really did give it his best shot.

 

Ironically, Maddy left the competition just as he started to figure out how to contextualize and articulate his drag. We still have problems with straight contestants in what was always a queer safe space, but we’ve never had a problem with straight cis male drag as an art, so long as it has something interesting to say or represent. Maddy’s story of growing up in a trailer in rural Arkansas without a mother places him in a long lineup of drag performers who turned to the art in order to process the story of their own lives and when he tries to reference rodeo clowns or serves us pure HeeHaw drag makeup like this, we find him much more interesting because we can tell it’s coming from somewhere. If drag is the tool and the art this straight man needs to make sense of the world, then we wish him all the success; truly. If we had any advice to impart, we’d suggest he focus on those styles of drag that speak directly to his experiences; not just as a straight dude or a guy from a small southern town, but as a man who seems to want to reach for the feminine in his life. We didn’t love the fact of his presence here, and we don’t think he ever truly stood out in the competition unless you lowered the bar for him, but he deserves to be proud that he was the first at something and drag doesn’t stop being a brave act just because the performer gets to take it off and go home to a heterosexual life. He got a little messy near the end, but he effectively made his case for himself.

 

 

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!

 

 

[Photo Credit: VH1 via Tom and Lorenzo]

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