RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: One Night Only

Posted on January 08, 2023

We’re back, darlings! As if we could ever stay away. We may have found it not worth the effort to continue recapping every single international entry in the ever-expanding Drag Race franchise, but you’ll never pry the OG out of our grubby little recapping hands. We’ve been here since Day One, we wrote the book, and we’re not going anywhere. Neither is Drag Race, for that matter.

 

And while the machinations and manipulations of the show’s producers can sometimes get a little tiresome, as does the show’s creative stagnancy, there’s no denying the fun of watching a new crop of eager, hungry queens walk through that Werk Room door for the first time.

 

Speaking of manipulations, they felt extremely half-assed this time. The queens were broken up into two groups and given separate entrance sequences, but it felt like the producers realized quickly how little value there was in trying to get cute about things and they abandoned any split premiere plans rather quickly.

 

 

 

Did we need this many pictures to illustrate our point that the show returned to its first two photo shoot challenges for this premiere? No, but you’re welcome anyway.

 

Just as the show seemed to abandon the split-premiere premise for lack of drama, the queens seemed to abandon any rehearsal drama rather quickly. To be honest, we almost always fast-forward through the rehearsal bits because they’re always exactly the same: “How we ever going to get this done?” “I’m not a dancer.” “There are too many queens taking charge.” etc., ad nauseam, it was ever thus. At the end of the day – every day – on Drag Race, the queens get the job done. More or less. Let’s assess all of them, shall we? We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so this will have to be quick and dirty.

 

IRENE DUBOIS

Irene came in with a lot of confidence… and then confidently strode out the door as the first elimination, seemingly tripped up by her assumption that she had this one in the bag. Of course practically every queen walks in on the first day talking smack and puffing themselves up, but it really did feel like Irene’s confidence fooled her into thinking that she could coast through this first challenge. Her entrance look was cute, as was her talent show costume. But her performance was terrible and she followed it up with a lip sync in a really unflattering costume.

 

LUXX NOIR LONDON

LuxX Noir is kind of fabulous and gave a pretty good performance during the talent portion, but every one of her looks came off a little cheap and her makeup looked harsh and unfinished.

 

AURA MAYARI

Aura is obsessed with her biceps and with being the self-proclaimed trade of the season. That’s about all we know. Her entrance look was great, but there’s too much samey-same in her drag, from what we can see.

 

MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA

Marcia Cubed has a cute gimmick that seems incredibly limiting for her drag. On the one hand, we’re impressed that a young queen is using a Boomer/X cultural reference as the basis of her drag (even the parody movies were a generation ago). It might make Ru happy to see a reference she understands, but there aren’t a lot of places to go with your Marcia Brady drag once you’ve established it as your brand. Having said that, her talent piece was really great. Funny, campy, and exhibiting an actual talent that required training and rehearsal.

 

ANETRA

Anetra came out of the gate hard (her entrance line of “What?” was pretty funny) and didn’t take her stiletto’d foot off the gas the entire episode. She served three highly distinct looks (with the exact same face, unfortunately) and delivered a talent performance for the ages. As Lorenzo said when we watched her combine dance, rap and tae kwon do to slay the room, that’s kind of what drag is all about: taking whatever you have at hand, whatever talents or scraps of material, and combining it in an unexpected way to make something entertaining.

 

MALAYSIA BABYDOLL FOXX

Malaysia served killer looks, a not insignificant amount of sass and shade, and… not much else so far. Her talent portion was executed well, but it didn’t really stand out. Even so, her drag is flawless and she’s already set herself above many of the other girls in terms of polish. That runway look is stunning.

 

PRINCESS POPPY

From what we can tell so far, Princess Poppy does flawless, but extremely limited drag. All three looks are a bit too similar for our tastes. You should be using this opening challenge to really show your range to the judges. Having said that, her talent performance was really fantastic. We kinda can’t wait for the current Gen-Z-fueled Paris Hilton/anime phase of drag to end, but every generation of drag stars had a tendency to look to the generation just prior to them for most of their inspiration.

 

SASHA COLBY

We do our best to try and avoid lapsing into the drag slang that the fandom LOVES to overuse but sometimes, the universe offers us no other choice: MOTHER has arrived. Sasha Colby is fierce, fabulous and funny. We thought all three of her looks were stunning and her talent performance was among the better ones. It seems strange to us that she didn’t get more love from the judges. They may not have noticed her yet, but from where we’re sitting, she looks like one of the girls to beat.

 

SALINA ESTITTIES

Salina is a LOT. And by that we mean that she appears to be incapable of saying anything without screaming it at the top of her lungs. She’s a big, funny girl doing Chola drag, and her talent portion was pretty spectacular. We tend to think all of her looks come off a little cheap, though.

 

AMETHYST

Amethyst is cute and sardonically funny out of drag, somewhat generic in drag. Her runway look was pretty cute, but her entrance look and talent costume were both pretty terrible. The talent performance had a cute idea that stopped being funny after ten seconds.

 

JAX

Jax’s ’90s hip hop runway look was fantastic and she really won the judges over by using her braids as a jump rope. Her entrance look was only so-so.

 

LOOSEY LADUCCA

Loosey is a big, vivacious queen who may just let her own sparkling personality trip her up. She seemed so sure of her ability to wow the judges that we half-wondered if she had some hearing loss issues. Her drag is very ’80s, very big, and a lot of fun, but her three looks were a little too similar in style for us. Her vocal performance would have worked fine in a packed club, where volume and personality tend to win over the crowd, but for this performance, she needed to show a little technical skill and she couldn’t really do that.

 

MISTRESS ISABELLE BROOKS

While Mistress Isabelle may not be willing to totter around on the highest of heels, there’s no denying that her drag is world-class. Her entrance look was a stunner. Her talent portion won us over by sheer force of will. She seems pretty cocky around the other queens, but her bemused response to the twins was kind of hilarious.

 

ROBIN FIERCE

Robin Fierce serves killer face and questionable costumes. Her talent performance was well done, but she needs to step her pussy up in order to stand out.

 

SUGAR

[see next entry]

SPICE

There doesn’t seem much point in assessing Sugar and Spice separately, even if they are technically competing against each other. We suspect they’ll work a little harder to differentiate themselves if they last past the third or fourth challenge, but for now, they’re clearly very comfortable playing flip sides of the same character. It seems strange to us that they try and work a light-and-dark theme, with sugar as the pastel-hued one and spice as the slightly gothy one – but they don’t really take it as far as it needs to go. Their gimmick would be a lot more effective if they were two very different queens sporting the same face, instead of two queens who are exactly the same but insisting that there’s some sort of difference. Having said that, we think Spice gave a much better performance than Sugar. We also think it would be a mistake to assume these queens aren’t ambitious as fuck. Personally, we wouldn’t turn our backs on them.

 

Anetra slayed. We have no reason to argue with Ru’s choice here. The Tae Kwan Do bit was an all-timer.

 

Amethyst and Irene wound up in the bottom and that’s another Ru choice with which we can’t argue. Amethyst really lucked out having an Ariana Grande song to lip sync. The lip syncs almost always favor the queen who’s most physically suited for the song.

 

Irene didn’t stand a chance trying to make “7 Rings” work in that getup. It’s a bit of a shame, because we think she may have more range than a lot of the queens left standing, but she made some fatal mistakes right out of the gate. Someone’s always gotta be the first one to go home.

 

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 The Year by NPR is on sale wherever fine books are sold! 

It’s also available in Italian and Spanish language editions, darlings! Because we’re fabulous on an INTERNATIONAL level.

[Photo Credit: MTV via Tom and Lorenzo]

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