RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS: Hot Firefighter Makeovers

Posted on June 02, 2024

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Since we don’t want to come off like the bitter bitches we no doubt are, we’re going to jump around on the chronology of this episode because we don’t want to front load it with a lot of complaining. There. Now you’re warned.

 

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The family makeover challenge is still our favorite out of all of the Drag Race challenges, because it tends to embody the show at its best and highest form, using the art and technique of drag to start a conversation with people who aren’t predisposed to doing it. At its best, it allows for moments of allyship, emotional breakthroughs, and frank conversations about the fluidity of gender presentation and the limitations imposed by masculinity. Wait, it also does those things at its most mediocre, as this episode proved. Whoops! Slipped one in a little early!

 

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The queens grouped off into pairs because this was going to be a girl group challenge on top of everything else, which made for a fun twist. It was also a very cute idea to set up a speed-dating scenario so the firefighters could meet each queen team and ultimately make their own choices.

 

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All four of these guys were sweet, cute, and sensitive to the idea that they were being welcomed into a space that isn’t for them or about them. Every single one of them gave a stiff, halting performance on stage that was actually incredibly endearing. It’s somehow more charming watching a straight guy happily struggle his way through drag then to see one take to it like a born diva, which has happened more than a few times in the past.

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Which is why it was so disappointing that the drag itself was mid across the board. That’s right! It’s bitchin’ time. But first, a rewind of the clock.

 

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We’d like to believe that Gottmik’s out-of-left-field accusations about alliances was an organic moment in which the pressure of the competition was getting to him. But it didn’t feel organic at all and he has no reason to feel anything but supremely confident about his chances. It felt like the producers trying to stir the pot because the current setup, in which no one gets eliminated, no one wins anything for themselves, and no one receives any true critiques, is resulting in the most mediocre results week after week. We just didn’t find it all that believable that the queens are starting to get cutthroat over badges. If nothing’s on the line except how much you might win for charity that week, there’s not a lot driving these queens. The charity idea is a good one, but the lack of eliminations or critiques means there are no stakes for anyone. They’d have been better off starting each queen with a pot of money and taking a little away each time they fail to make the top two, or a lot away if they’re in the bottom. Because let’s be for real here:

 

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None of these efforts would rate high on a list of the best makeovers in Drag Race herstory.

 

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The performances were cute, but not all that memorable. Once again, we never saw the queens recording their verses and the dance rehearsal portion was as perfunctory as ever. But the number was fine, although it felt like everyone was keeping the energy at a manageable pace for the straight dudes.

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The Hoezes get credit for being extremely cohesive in their looks and for giving Valerie Valentine Roxxxy Andrews’ face, but as impressive as it was that Roxxxy whipped these up in a short time, they’re just okay. Question: Why did we see so little of the preparations? Drag Race used to be so good about depicting drag as an art form with a million different obscure techniques, but now queens get a challenge, spend a lot of time in the Werk Room kiki-ing, and then just show up on the main stage fully prepared. Something’s missing. A lot is missing.

 

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Meow Meow Mix had the best looks overall, if only because they were the most ambitious. How did they put them together? Who knows? They did a pretty good job with Angelique although we’d have liked it if her makeup matched the other girls’ better.

 

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We figure Shannel was the most involved in The Pussycat Hose aesthetic, because that doesn’t even look like Angeria. They did a decent enough job with Natasha Bradley, but the looks weren’t cohesive and we’ve seen Angeria and Shannel looking much better than that on the main stage.

 

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The Hose Draggers weren’t showing the freshest drag in the world, but they were easily the most cohesive and their looks were the most polished. We realize Gottmik would probably rather die than put herself in a ’60s bouffant wig, but it might have been better if she’d try to meet the other queens halfway.

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The Hoezes won, which means Roxxxy and Vangie faced off for the lip sync, which wound up being the best one of the season. In related news, we don’t think Roxxxy’s costumes have been all that great. Vangie looks adorable here.

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Was that lip sync so epic that it deserved to be declared a tie? Meh. If we had to, we’d have picked Vanjie for the win here, but it’s clear that the show is trying its best to shake things up and light a fire under some of these bitches. They opted to give Angeria the snip, which made no kind of sense to us.

 

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.

ALSO: We will be doing a talk and Q&A at the National Arts Club in New York during Pride, where the topic will be drag queens, Drag Race, and queer cultural heroes of history. The details are here. See you there!

 

[Photo Credit: Paramount Plus via Tom and Lorenzo, World of Wonder Productions, Inc./Paramount+]

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