All of the past winners return! (And Chad Michaels!) (No, it doesn’t count)
The 100 : Yes, we’re back, and frantically overrating everything that’s happening to try to Febreeze the stench of Series 7 off the place. A series that in the months since it aired has gone in legend from “a mediocre series of a usually fun reality show” to “THE WORST PIECE OF TELEVISION AIRED SINCE HEIL HONEY, I’M HOME!”. Seriously, go watch Survivor : Redemption Island, Amazing Race : Social Media Stars Edition, or that series of Big Brother UK that ended up with Helen Wood receiving £100,000 and then get back to me with your talking about it like it killed your mother in front of you at Christmas. Anywho, the gimmick this year is that this series features the show’s 100th episode as its première and has been cast such that the last contestant to walk through the doors at the beginning is the 100th contestant (turns out it was Derrick). And they didn’t even have to do any creative accounting to her there. Still, 100 episodes. The show demonstrated this passage of years of our lives by taking us way way back to the beginning, to an era where Vaseline covered the lenses, “Mathu” was just the sound of a St Bernard sneezing, and contestants with no discernable talent other than looking like this
could make the Final 3. More innocent days. From there, the show spooled us through a highlights reel of the obvious fan touchstone moments of the last centenary (Shangela emerging from her box, Mimi benchpressing India, Latrice’s aversion to nuts, Phi Phi buying Sharon a ticket to Party City, Alaska’s horse mask, Alyssa’s face, Laganja’s death drop, Bianca dismissing Satan, at least for today, PANTIES BITCH and thanks to some judicious pausing on my part, the greatest moment of Drag Race Herstory
THE MILAN INVASION! TOOT TOOT MOTHERFUCKERS!). Personally I would also have included when Nina Flowers accidentally diagnosed Tori Spelling with AIDS, but we only have so many hours in an episode. Whether this show can make another 100 episodes? This episode was a good start, at least.
The Entrances : Having been a Drag Race institution since at the very latest Series 4, the initial entrances to the workroom on the first day have become somewhat of a potential pitfall of late. A first hurdle for the most tragically try-hard to tumble over (I still wake up in a cold sweat remembering Sasha Belle charging into the workroom doing a bad Scarface impersonation with some left over props from a dinner-theatre production of Bugsy Malone) or at very least leave them with their Ornacias snagged in their zippers before the nation. As such this years queens mostly played it safe, stomping in, saying a catchphrase, posing for 5 seconds then stopping, to allow us to soak in their initial introductory note (Robbie : does vintage, Laila : does goth, Thorgy : does Lucille Ball but without the subtlty, Derrick : does Britney, Dax! : does cosplay, Kim : does anime, Cynthia : has a giant arse (/”cucu” – I love that I’m learning truly authentic Spanish from this show, it’s like Dora The Explorer with chola lip-liner). The only queen really to commit to the full high-concept entrance was our most dedicated bitch for the season, Acid Betty, who stomped into the workroom wearing an iron mask and spraying from a canister like Little Kenya Michaels herself was buzzing around her head.
And so it was when the mask came off
you could see why she was wearing it. Lady is severe. I have to admite Betty for going all out to create a spectacle, and just about pulling it off. Still…fewer props in future.
My own personal favourites? 90s supermodel devotee Naomi Smalls for quoting one of the greatest moments in reality tv history and then showing off her two greatest assets
thusly and Bob The Drag Queen because
well, I know what I find funny, and that definitely is mostly swearing. In terms of plot relevant points moving forwards, the introductions highlighted two groups of common heritage – firstly Cynthia and Naysha, who are both Puerto Rican and, more importantly, Bob, Betty, and Thorgy, all of whom are from New York and seem to have history. A history of thinking Acid Betty is a bitch. ESPECIALLY Acid Betty. (Oh and Derrick is from Vegas but you knew that from looking at him right? He just whiffs of opening for Siegfried & Roy)
The Mini Challenge : Our worshipping at the altar of Drag Race past continued with the Mini Challenge, a photoshoot directed by Mathu (I can only imagine what Mike Ruiz was off doing) (Imagine alone, with some tissues to hand), with the previous winners of Drag Race, minus Bianca Del Rio, who was off working because she’s the only winner anybody even likes any more. Bebe was there looking regal, Violet was there looking editorial, Sharon was there looking spooky, Jinkz was there looking classically raddled, Chad was there looking like Cher, Tyra was there looking fierce and thankfully not saying anything, and Raja was there
with Liberace’s jockstrap on her head. It’s a look. The new queens job? Outpoint and upstage some of the most charismatic and visually compelling figures this show’s ever known. And of course Acid Betty got to this
in the most literal fashion possible. Those of you expecting a subtle, Darienne-esue slow rise to villainy…should maybe expect something a bit more Route One from this chick. She was then immediately gazzumped by Robbie, who did exactly the same thing to Sharon, and was even less apologetic about it. Robbie’s whole edit this episode in fact made me worry that they’ve not really learnt from what they did last year with Ginger Minj – show absolutely all of the bitchy narrator confessionals from one participant only, to the point where even if they’re witty the effect is that you can only really remember them as pulling
this face. And that’s not a good look. When all was said and done and the photos were viewed, it was Betty, Robbie, Kim, Thorgy, Dax!, Bob and Derrick who looked visually most like they’d fit into the winners line-up, with Naysha, Naomi, Chi Chi and Cynthia all looking like contestants who’d wandered onto the set by mistake, and Laila looking like a contestant who’d wandered onto the set by mistake
to take a dump. No, seriously, it looked like she was pooping out her own shoe, it was a travesty.
The Important Question : Photoshoot done, the queens returned to the workroom to learn the answer to the most important question of any Drag Race season. Who looks hottest out of drag?
Judge for yourself. Personally I’m most here for Derrick, but the way to my heart always was via a high forehead. Inside the room the consensus so far mostly seemed to be in favour of Laila because of her round booty and “huskiness” (which apparently drives Thorgy in particular wild). Outside the room I’ve heard a lot for Chi Chi, but really she looks too much like a blacked-up Simon Farnaby for me.
It’s too much.
The Challenge : Normally winning the Mini Challenge would buy you an advantage in this challenge. Normally. But in what I’m taking as a nod to the inherent randomness of this entire franchise, in this episode the owner of the advantage was determined by
Morgan McMichaels firing it out of her arse. Said advantage? Well as usual the first challenge of the series was a design challenge, with 12 assignments all based around previous seasons, with Robbie (the name on Morgan’s balls) getting to decide which queen got which assignment. So Betty had to construct a garment out of money, just like Raja had to in Season 3, Cynthia had to construct a garment entirely out of sweets just like Alaska had to in Season 5, and Thorgy had to construct an edit that implied a family member molested Pearl without outright saying it, just like the editors had to in Sea…oh no wait, he had to do the cake based challenge from Season 3. (A lot of these challenges were based around Season 3 : aka The Sweatshop Season) (no resurrection of the nude illusion beachwear challenge from Season 7 though what a surprise). For the most part Robbie, despite his snide confessionals, seemed to play nice – giving gothic Laila the post-apocalyptic assignment, cosplay queen Dax! the Hello Kitty assignment and gaudy Vegas queen Derrick the Christmas Tat’N’Baubles assignment. (Said assignment also giving rise to this week’s
Gratuitous Pit Crew Shot. Hi Miles.) In fact Robbie played it so nice she forgot to reserve the best assignment for herself. Or indeed any assignment for herself, as she was left with the last doll to fall down the chute – the dog challenge from Season 4. Complete with live poopin’ and pissin’ poodle to wrangle. I suggest strategy in the future Robbie. Or at least thoughts. Any thoughts.
The Drama : Other than Acid Betty’s background gruntlings (calling Thorgy hairy and unpolished, calling all of the previous winners wannabes, saying that Bob’s not funny, threatening Derrick Berry’s life) it was a relatively peaceful workroom this week, it being Week 1 and all. None of the drag queens hve real reason to hate one another yet, not even for Raja/Shangela or Coco/Alyssa pre-competition reasons. So most of the drama this week came from the less seasoned and polished queens gradually prodding their feet towards the bottom of the pool to try to find out how out of their depth they were. Witness
Laila McQueen, approximately the size that she could fit inside Ru’s hat and use it as a little boat, confounded by the prospect of how even to talk to the Supermodel Of The World, instead blarting out some stuff about how camouflage is a scourge on humanity and should be destroyed then immediately regretting it, swallowing her tongue, and grasping for air throughout their entire chat. Or even more endearingly, Chi Chi Devayne (granted the fairly generic Glitterball assignment from Season 6), putting a great big tear in her dress 5 minutes before hitting the runway
and freaking the fudge out. Chi Chi in fact has to take honours for the most endearingly hapless queen of the entire episode, showing her country roots all over the place and announcing proudly that she’s eaten dog biscuits before and she’d do it again (“agiyun”) and she hates pageants cuz she’s never won one and that is some bullshit. There’s something about poor scrappy queens making it about halfway, before disappearing in a hail of snot blubbering that RuPaul has changed their lives forever that this show has as its lifeblood, and I wish that for Chi Chi. You can see why queens like Chi Chi and Laila would be scared though, as their bar-queen status paled in comparison to the fact that Naysha Lopez revealed at the 34 minute mark that the other 11 queens were in the presence of MISS CONTINENTAL herself. I mean… I don’t know what that is, it sounds like a promo tool for tinned pineapple chunks but LOOK AT THORGY’S FACE
This is obviously a BIG DEAL in the drag world. Chi Chi breathed that she’d heard of it like El Dorado or Xanadu or penises that cum caramel when you blow them. SURELY nothing could stop Miss Continental from blowing them all out the water? Other than her own stated utter inability to sew or construct garments obviously.
The Melodrama :: In this week’s backstory news, Derrick first did drag for Hallowe’en, Bob first did drag for Pride, and Kim has been doing drag for almost three years now but his mother doesn’t know he does it and he’s scared of her reaction when she finds out. Apparently Kim has shown his mother lots of pictures of him in drag, but every time she thinks that it’s a friend of his that he’s done a make-up job for. No offence, but Kim’s mother is either lying, or pretty dumb, or thinks all Koreans look alike to her. I also realised at this point that Kim deserves bonus points for every time he puts together a genuinely feminine face because guy has the squarest jaw I have ever seen on this show, if not in life.
He looks like a frickin’ Transformer.
The Performance : This week, it being a design challenge, the performance and runway were combined for an all purpose stomping of the designs that the queens had spent the last day putting together. The best? To my eyes? Betty’s extravagant cash couture, Bob’s beautifully referential period dress made out of curtains (from the “Gone With The Window” challenge from Series 2), Dax! feeling her Hello Kitty cosplay fantasy and Chi Chi’s scrappy but ultimately triumphantly disco presentation
Of these, it was only Betty who made it to the top, with the eventual win going to Kim Chi, who was given the hair ball challenge from yes, Season 3) and made this.
I feel like this is a personal problem between me and Miss Chi, because whilst I adore her as a person and can see the high standard of the execution, this level of high concept turns me off. I get two words into “Kim Chi is an anime character who is also a high fashion model who is dressed as a lion made out of hair inspired by Givenchy who solves mysteries in a submarine in the year 3046” before I start to glaze over and give up.
Naomi and Derrick both found themselves called out for final evaluation, in one of those early series scenarios where it’s impossible to tell if they’re in the top, or in the bottom, or just in the situation of the producers wanting to make them bigger characters. Naomi got praised for her look in general but also got demerits for her hairline and also how obvious it was that she was struggling to lift her boat (her assignment being the MILAN INVASION challenge from Series 4), which seemed unfair given that her faces as she fought under the 5 lbs weight of the thing were my
comedy highlight of the week. Derrick meanwhile was just up there so they could talk about whether he could do more than just be Britney, which of course isn’t going to get old fast at all.
Our losers though were obvious from the second they stomped the runway – Naysha in the only corset in the history of the world to increase someone’s waist measurement
and Robbie with doggy treats on her tits.
If you wanted Chi Chi to gnaw on your nipples Robbie, there are probably more direct ways of going about it. Yes both Naysha’s inability to sew and Robbie’s lack of strategy turned out to be deciding plot points, although Laila also found herself in the bottom with a serviceable Warhammer 4000 Devil Commander outfit, partly for her godawful Mini Challenge photo and partly because her entire demeanour suggested it would be so. She tried to pull Naomi down under the Mad Max bus with her as she went, calling her plain, but it didn’t take.
This Week’s Guest Judge Insight : Nicole Richie liked that Kim Chi kept his areolae bold.
The Lip Sync : It was Robbie who was cut loose from the bottom 3, on the strength of his mini-challenge photo and quite possibly on the “strength” of his talking heads, leaving Laila and Naysha to face off to “Applause” by Lady Gaga. It wasn’t a lip-sync for the ages, with Laila mostly rolling around looking sexy and seductive (although whilst someone needs to tell her to keep her goddamn finger out of her mouth I have to admit when she dropped to all fours and whipped her head about like she’d got her wig snagged in a candy floss machine, it was more than a little entertaining) and Naysha taking one of the most well travelled paths to elimination – being over-literal. By which I mean she clapped a lot. I guess the intention was to make it look like waacking, but instead she looked more like she was doing
Snappy The Crocodile for kindergarteners (or as Kim Chi put it in the best read of the episode – like a patronisingly over-enthusiastic soccer mom). So Laila won, and Miss Continental went off to learn how to sew.
The Untuckening So yeah, the format for Untucked is still dreadful – a “realistic” backstage account soundtracked with sub David Lynch piano music and realistic touches like a twink production staff member wandering in at the start and clapping the colour on. I’ll try to work with it. Still I managed to cobble together two main takeaways from the show. Firstly Dax! can be very chatty when the show isn’t editing her out of existence (seriously, she’s Violet’s DRAG MOTHER and stood 2 feet away from her and you don’t see fit to mention it? Why not write FILLERQUEEN on her head with a Sharpie?), and secondly that the war between Bob and Derrick is going to run and run. Clearly both of them have (accurately) marked the other as strong competition and aren’t going to let up on the other any time soon. The nub of the drama in this episode was that Derrick (not a comedy queen, unless you count how Britney Spears is intrinsically comedy) had done a funnier runway presentation than Bob (a comedy queen, and boy does she mention it, every 5 minutes, cruising for a bruising if she can’t back it up when the time comes). Bob of course pointed out that Derrick’s “comedy” had consisted of hot-gluing a wreath to her vag and trimming it with fabric scissors and was thus “comedy 101” but you could tell underneath that he was a little bruised that Derrick had got pieces onto the board playing safe whereas she had been called “safe” and all but ignored by Ru despite subverting expectations by producing a well-made and tasteful classic dress and presenting it simply but cutely. And Derrick made sure that Bob knew about it.
This is going to end in blood. Or at least I hope so.