And we’re back! We’re very late, but we’re back. Awards season blogging had to shove Drag Race España blogging to the back burner, but we’re charged up and ready to dive in, quickly skipping past the dozens of cultural references we’re not going to get. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover (the first two episodes), a ton of queens to assess (12 in all), and a bunch of jokes that are gonna fly right over our American heads (too many to count).
The New Presentation
We could never stay away from this show for too long. Its first season charmed the hell out of us, largely by sticking to its guns and not concerning itself with how well it slots into the Drag Race family of shows. It feels like watching a Spanish variety show featuring drag queens, which is exactly what it is, rather than an outpost of the Ru family of products, which is how some other international versions of Drag Race come across — no tea, no shade! That’s not a read, that’s just a fact. But okay yes, it’s a little bit of a read. Anyway, we love how excited and engaged all the judges are and we love how intense the queens can be about their drag. There are too many for us to get a handle on this early in the season, but we’ll give our impressions and you guys can tell us what we missed.
Venedita Von Däsh
The queens had to do a double runway presentation based on a person from their hometown and a symbol of their hometown. We loved Venedita’s take on the Lady of Elche and her salute to Elche’s shoe industry and palm trees was cute and well rendered. We always have a soft spot for bearded lady queens. The looks instantly came off more elevated in comparison to season one, which is exactly the same trajectory for every version of Drag Race.
Jota is young and bitchy, but she brings something new to the Drag Race table as a Romani queen. Her first look was an homage to Rocío Jurado, who clearly means a lot to her. It’s cute and well-rendered, as was her bullfighter look.
Samantha appears to be well-known to the judges and the queens. She’s got that “I shouldn’t have to do this” energy that well-established queens can sometimes give off. She seems to be more of a comedy queen than a glamour queen and she has a tendency to rip off her drag in the middle of a lip sync, which is not our favorite thing. But these looks are great. The first is a tribute to legendary trapeze artist Miss Mara and the second is to some sort of mollusk found in her hometown?
Ariel comes across like someone who’s in over her head a little. Her first look, based on the singer Alaska and the cover of her album No es Pecado, wasn’t bad, but her second look, based on Atletico Madrid, came off pretty half-assed.
Marina thinks VERY highly of herself. She doesn’t necessarily lack the goods to back up her claims of superiority, but she can be pretty shady about it. Her first look was a fabulous homage to the legendary radical drag artist José Pérez Ocaña. The second was a tribute to the Eixample neighborhood in Barcelona. It’s a great look, but we admit most of the meaning went over our heads.
LOVED Diamante’s salute to Agustina of Aragón, with real working boob cannons. That’s how you do historical drag. For her second look, she went back to her origins in the Dominic Republic and did a cute draggy take on baseball.
Juriji Der Klee
Juriji is the trans girl with the Belgian flair in this crowd. We had her pegged as a mere beauty queen, but she shocked us in the talent competition. Her first look, a salute to fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, was a cute idea, but it was pretty cheaply rendered. Her second look, as the “sea pussy,” aka a mussel, was pretty clever but still not as impressive as we’d like to see.
Marisa instantly came off like cannon fodder to us. Her first look, a salute to singer Marta Sanchez and her breast cancer advocacy, was of questionable taste, but worst than that, it was cheap looking. The second, a salute to the Camino de Santiago, was also pretty underwhelming.
Sharonne is the most seasoned queen in the lot, but with age comes experience and she’s clearly loaded with talent. Her first look, a salute to legendary soprano Montserrat Caballé and Barcelona, her collaboration with Freddie Mercury, delighted the judges. The second had something to do with pigeons, Gaudi, the Catalan bourgeoisie and Barcelona. We don’t know what the fuck she’s saying, but girl, we are living.
Estrella wears her big girl insecurities on her sleeve and works them into her drag in a way that sometimes feels uncomfortable, but lends her drag a sense of artistry. Her first look was an homage to legendary sex worker Monica del Raval. The second combined a horse, a flamenco dress and the Andalusian flag, so that’s something.
Drag Sethlas is another queen whose reputation seems to precede her. Her drag relies on reveals (which are sometimes clumsily executed) and is clearly very high end. The other girls appear to be a bit jealous of her, partially because she’s cute out of drag. Her first look was an homage to Lolita Pluma and the street cats she was known for feeding. The second look was a drag version of the coat of arms for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and honestly, that’s pretty damn fabulous.
Onyx: TONS of attitude and shit-talking, likes to think of herself as a fiercely shocking queen. We can’t say she didn’t deliver the goods. She certainly showed her range. She paid tribute to the Isabel II Canal with her first look and the Fallen Angel monument in Madrid in her second. The judges loved the second, but we thought the makeup work was questionable and the straps should have been hidden better. It was a bold move, we’ll give her that.
And it snagged her the win. We have no reason to argue against it, but we’d have gone for Sethlas or Sharonne over Onyx.
Marisa and Samantha (who was pissed to be there) faced off in the lip sync and the judges went for Samantha’s strip-to-the-underwear take, but it’s our least favorite kind of lip sync and it always smacks of desperation to us. Oh well. Bye, Maris. On to the next.
Supremme Elegant Talent Extravaganza
Let’s see what these bitches can do.
Real quick: the queens dove into the deep water and did an 11-part Library session, one of the longest we can remember. Some of the girls were surprisingly vicious, but no queen can deliver shade quite so well and so elegantly as an old(er) queen. Sharonne won this handily. She’s really charming.
All the season one queens came back for the talent show, which was a really cute idea. Every single one of them stepped their respective pussies up, as expected.
Talent show, go!
Sethlas did a lip sync/reveal/choreo number and put the chorus boys to great use (a lot of the queens did), ending with a bone crunching death drop from a platform.
Jota did a campy rap/organ bit that was fun and original and came with a SPECTACULAR look.
Ariel did a song and choreo number. These girls must have had a lot of time to rehearse and these boys sure earned their money this week. She was okay, but the judges weren’t impressed. To be fair, there were a lot of more impressive acts.
Juriji brought the house down with her opera number and honestly, it seems a bit of a crime that she didn’t win for it. We can see the argument, though. Juriji, while technically impressive, was a little timid and unsure through the parts of the performance. She was bested by a more confident and smoother performer.
Samantha’s bit was cute, but pretty low-rent in comparison to what some of the other girls were doing.
Venedita did a fun and energetic strip tease and the crowd loved it.
Onyx came out with a look and a concept but no act. “Birth” drag has a long history (the legendary Leigh Bowery was famous for it), but the execution of the alien birth was clumsy and distracting.
Marina surprised us with some pretty impressive ballroom dancing.
Estrella did a song about body acceptance while stripping down and while that sounds like it could go wrong in a million ways, she made it funny and charming.
We pre-cringed when Sharonne came out with a little Black man puppet and if we’re being blunt, we don’t think an act like this would go over all that well in America. But there’s no denying her vocal talent in both styles and voices. She managed to deliver a credible duet singing both parts.
Diamante came out with a great look and launched into a killer song. Once again, we’re impressed by how many routines the dancers executed this week. We also appreciate the costumes they were put in. It’s like this show knows us or something.
The runway challenge was “Day of the Beast” and oh good Lord, there are too many. Suffice it to say that everybody was impressively disgusting, but we thought Estrella, Sharonne and Diamante really stood out by delivering disgustingly well executed drag. We didn’t think they had it in them.
We also think Onyx’s costume is impressive, but to us, it’s a costume and not drag. Everyone’s got their favorite way of defining it and for us, it comes down to transformation using the face and the body. Climbing inside a suit like this doesn’t really accomplish that for us. Ariel’s and Samantha’s looks were interesting, but the judges weren’t impressed. Sethlas was another one who got overwhelmed or swallowed up by her costume. We suppose you could say the same about Diamante, but hers still falls under “transformation of the body” to us.
Sharonne won and we don’t have an argument against it.
Samantha found herself in the bottom (and pissed about it) again. Girlfriend needs to set some pussy fireworks off if she wants to stay in the game. Ariel seemed to have given up halfway through the song and got sent home. By the time we managed to get all the way through recapping these two episodes, the third one has probably dropped, but that’s all we have time for today – especially since we’ve got a recap of OG Drag Race to get up later.
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[Photo Credit: WOW via Tom and Lorenzo]