RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: The Mother of All Balls

Posted on January 21, 2024


Did we clap AND cry when Ru announced that this week’s challenge was a ball? Yes. Yes, we did. Not because we’re emotional sorts about balls, but because…well. We’re getting a weensy bit ahead of ourselves.



The A Team and the Late Shift met face to face, with the accompanying shit-talking and shade-throwing you would come to expect. While there are likely to be some real rivalries that will play out with consequences and drama, for now, we’re still in that “enjoying everyone’s bright new faces” honeymoon period where we just don’t care about such things. Look at all of these happy, fabulous queens! We may be jaded bitches after too many years of recapping this circus act, but we do it out of love. And to sell books, but that’s a form of love, isn’t it? Anyway.


Shenanigans are afoot this season and they may just have outdone themselves with all of the twists and turns. The immunity potion is fun. Rate-A-Queen is also fun. Taking some of the onus off the judges in terms of who goes home and who wins seems to be giving them the freedom to be a little more pointed in their critiques. We don’t know… it’s all just working for us right now.


We realize it could all get very messy and we could wind up hating the way it plays out, but for now, we’re enjoying a format that feels fresh and might yield unexpected outcomes.


So far, this crowd is fun. The one wannabe villain is trying way too hard to secure that title. We don’t mind a queen throwing shade all over that Werk Room and in her confessionals, but we wonder just how much blowback Jane will get from the fans, who tend to go rabid when queens like Kandy or Mistress get shady, but bat their eyes when it’s a white queen they consider cute. Still, we suspect Jane is going to realize sooner rather than later that she’s not the only frontrunner in that room.



Nor is she the only one capable of being shady or manipulative. No one seems to realize yet that Nymphia is playing her own game and she’s doing a very good job of keeping her gamesmanship so low-key as to be un-noticeable. She distracted the entire room from realizing she was doing couture work by acting the clown. It’s scary-good manipulation.



So Ru announced it was a ball and Lorenzo burst into tears. “There, there.” Tom said. “Maybe they’ll post videos and you won’t have to get screenshots of 42 different looks!” Happily, the Drag Race social media team came through for us. Anyway, before we get to all of that, Ru made his first walk-through of the season to get the measure of the girls. A surprisingly high number of them can sew, which means maybe our fifteen years of incessant “HOW COULD YOU TRY OUT FOR DRAG RACE AND NOT LEARN THE BASICS OF SEWING?!?!?!” shrieking has had an effect.


In completely unrelated news, but in the interests of making a cultural reference in the RuPaul mode (i.e., dated as hell) Q out of drag looks exactly like an illustration in a 1950s children’s book. He could be the Dick in a Dick and Jane story. Give him a crewcut and he could be one of Nancy Drew’s boyfriends or one of the Hardy Boys.

Okay, ball time. The first category was Mother Goose and the queens were tasked with providing looks inspired by a classic nursery rhyme. It seemed like some of them stretched the definition of a nursery rhyme in order to make an existing costume work, but category accuracy was not all that big a deal to the judges.



We liked Geneva’s Little Miss Muffet look, although the judges were a little hard on it, possibly to justify why the queens placed her in the bottom. Dawn’s look is weirdly great. Hershii’s bee was fabulous. Mirage’s Black Sheep was cute if a little underwhelming, but she probably delivers the most dramatic transformation of all these girls with her drag. Megami’s Bo Peep costume was gorgeous, but her makeup was odd and so far, her presence on the main stage comes off tentative and mildly defensive. The judges aren’t going to put up with that for long. Amanda has fun or dark ideas for her costumes, but the results always look pretty raggedy. She still needs a good deal of help with her makeup. Morphine’s slutty made was a basic-as-hell Halloween costume. Mhi’ya just threw on one of her pageant gowns. We don’t get why it obscures her face. Q absolutely slayed this category. Nymphia’s Blue Boy was gorgeous, but perhaps too literal. It didn’t feel draggy enough. Sapphira’s pumpkin look was a stunner. We don’t tend to love parade-float costumes for drag, but the way the bodice and hair created a stem was gorgeous. Jane’s look was sad. Xunami’s transformation was great and the design was fun. Plasma’s look was awkward and hard to understand.

The second category was Significant Mother, in which the queens offered looks inspired by their favorite famous moms.



Geneva’s Salma didn’t hit the mark. Dawn’s Audrey was inspired without being literal – love the makeup – but we don’t get the white hat at all. Hershii’s mother nature was underwhelming and the “flames” looked tacked on. Mirage’s La Llorona was great. Megami’s Gaga was too low-key. Amanda’s Michelle was pretty great, including the breast reduction and gray hair reveal. Morphine’s Kris Jenner was lazy-ass drag. She is so not living up to her smack talk. Mhi’ya’s LiL Kim was pretty cute. The judges were a little too hung up on the idea that she resembled Missy Elliott more. It’s like saying that Geneva’s Salma looked too much like Penelope Cruz or something. We had to laugh at Q’s Yassified Judy Garland. It’s a great homage, even if he did go too far with the glamour makeup. Nymphia’s Angelina homage struck us as odd, given how that marriage wound up, but the pictures of her drag family were a nice touch. Sapphira’s Eve was fabulous and a little witty. It blew Mirage’s La Llorona out of the water. Jane’s Octomom was just okay. There’s a looooooong history of “drop a doll out of my panties” drag spoofing motherhood (going back at least 60 or 70 years), but we always found it one of those drag bits that leaves the art form open to charges of misogyny. Xunami essentially borrowed Kandy’s dress. Plasma’s Ann Boleyn was an inspired choice, but the look didn’t feel draggy enough.

And the final category was Mother/Father Eleganza, which tasked the queens with making their looks from scratch, using only menswear.


Geneva’s look is a big nothing. Dawn’s look was inspired and impressively rendered. It’s surprising that she didn’t rate in the top three, although we have to admit, wearing pretty much the same face and pointy ears with every look is already wearing thin. What does her makeup have to do with this design? At first we thought Hershii’s “mom running errands” look was kind of a cute way of going until we heard that she didn’t make those pants. Girl, you might get away with an underwhelming design and you might get away with cheating the requirements a little, but you’ll never get away with both at the same time. Mirage recovered really well. Megami’s Rosie the Riveter wasn’t a bad idea, but it looked pretty sloppy. Amanda’s look was impressive for being well made, but it didn’t make a lot of sense. Morphine recovered pretty well. We thought Mhi’ya’s look was cute and a fairly decent attempt from someone who couldn’t sew. Q’s look was gorgeous and probably would have secured her the win in a different week, but Nymphia blew everyone out of the water with her work. Sapphira’s look was cute, but we wanted the skirt to go to the floor. The proportions looked awkward to us. Jane: yet another fairly basic, low effort look. Her drag is not living up to her smack talk. Xunami’s schoolgirl drag was pretty cute. Plasma’s look was a mess.


Geneva, Hershii, and Mhi’ya wound up in the bottom and we can’t say we have a problem with any of them being there. Q, Nymphia and Sapphira wound up in the top, and we can’t honestly say we have a problem with that either, although Dawn might have rated a place.



Nymphia won this one handily and the other queens better stop looking at her as some sort of Werk Room clown ASAP.



Hershii and Geneva faced off for another of this season’s underwhelming lip synchs and the former sashayed away, which again, seems like the right choice for the week. But it’s anyone’s game at this point, with a couple of clearly talented and polished queens looking like frontrunners, but only a few queens who seem like cannon fodder. The rest of them have a shot.

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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