RuPaul’s Drag Race 8 – RuPaul Book Ball

Hooray for proper balls again!

The Aftermath : Just because I still can’t praise last week’s runway enough apparently

look at that. Look at it. It’s like some supervillains returning to their villainous subterranean headquarters after a hard night of tequilla shots, outrageous dancing and interdimensional hoors. They were returning as well to see a scrawled lipstick message from Thorgy Thor predicting that the top 3 would be Derrick, Naomi and Bob, and giggling that he was being soooooo shady. Is it too late to start a campaign for Miss Congeniality : Cynthia Lee Fontaine? (A : Yes). Both of our remaining Chis were, needless to say, a little bit miffed to be left out like that (although why anybody would take seriously a prediction that involved DERRICK BEING IN THE TOP THREE I don’t know), so fortunately Bob was on hand to tell them both that this was just “typical Thorgy” and not to let it bother them . I feel like there is very little at this point that Bob would not describe as “typical Thorgy”. Like, Thorgy could mope into the workroom wearing a bobbed wig, fitted cocktail dress and high deniere tights and mumble her way through a lip sync to “Only Shallow” by My Bloody Valentine without moving from the spot with an expression blanker than Pearl’s and Bob would be all “THAT’S MY GIRL THORGY!!!”

Oh and everyone thinks Derrick sucks and, in an even more revolting development, isn’t even a real drag queen because she doesn’t “carve her eyebrows” properly. I remain as interested in this as I am in any of the show’s protracted attempts to ask “no really, what *is* a drag queen?”, which is to say, not very. The upshot is that this week Derrick vowed to mix up her make-up and…no, sorry, I’m laughing already.

The Mini Challenge As if I wasnt excited enough by the return of the ball challenge, our mini challenge this week was another returning favourite!

PUPPETS! That’s Bob getting a head start right out the gate by repeatedly hurling his Kim Chi puppet face first onto the floor to imitate her lack of grace whilst walking. Kim drew Chi Chi, and Chi Chi drew Bob, leaving them as a nice little threesome, whilst Derrick and Naomi both pulled one another out of them mystery box, making them a couple. And we all know how Derrick Barry feels about traditional two person couples right? SO 2000 AND LATE. NOT FRESH. TIRED. LAME. Whether it was this, or having a bug up her butt randomly, or staring down the worst possible challenge for her at the worst possible time, or that she’s just been this awful the whole time and they’ve trimmed the edit down, but this random pairing was taken by Derrick as a Declaration Of War between her and Naomi that lasted all episode. And it was an hour long this week. Before the puppets were even back in the box, Derrick had mocked Naomi’s awful Snatch Game performance, made fun of her accent, implied she was talentless, repetitive and a Raven rip off (?!), called her a c***, called her cheap, and then mocked her awful Snatch Game performance some more, and Naomi in turn had mocked Derrick’s eyelashes and make-up, implied she relied on shop bought outfits, had no talent or identity, and also speculated on how many dicks he could fit up his ass. It was collectively very “Roxxy goes in on Jinkx and it starts off funny but very quickly gets uncomfortable”. Kim, Bob and Chi Chi meanwhile were much more playful, with Kim adroitly skewering Chi Chi’s cheap queen excuses, Bob doing a

fantastic job of parodying Kim’s “conceptual artist” make-up by making her look like drowning victim Isabella Blow, and best of all Chi Chi

honking “JOKES JOKES JOKES JOKES!” whilst waving a purse around and sporting a Poltergeist wig. She was the deserved winner, whilst Derrick and Naomi revved their engines up for Round 2 of this feud that apparently is now a thing.

The Challenge : Yes, hallelujah and praise the lord, after last year’s abbreviated effort (as mandated by tyrannical cultural overlord Hello Kitty! DO NOT WEAR OTHER DRESSES IN HER PRESENCE OR SHE WILL DESTROY YOU) we were back to a proper ball with three distinct looks and also a pointless musical number sucked out of the very bottom of Lucian’s bucket of… I’m sorry where was I? The three looks? First Baby Drag, a tribute to the contestants foremative years of sneaking off with their mother’s heels. Secondly “That’s My Mama”, a chance to homage their own mothers. That’s birth mothers (except technically speaking for Naomi of course), not drag mothers, as much as the thought of Bob The Drag Queen dressed as Bianca Del Rio might tickle me. Finally, “Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza” (try saying that with your mouth round Lucian’s bucket), an avant garde look made entirely out of books. Speaking of which…

This Week’s Gratuitous Shot Of The Pit Crew

EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK THERES A HEMMINGWAY! (Kudos to Ru for stacking her own autobiography onto those shelves not once, not twice, but three times)

The Drama : With an extra long episode this week, Ru could afford to do a loooooong walk around the workroom, laying out to everybody, in case we hadn’t put it together, what each queen needed to prove to get into the top 4. Bob had to show glamour, Chi Chi had to show that she could pull off a coherent and polished look whilst still staying true to her country roots, Naomi had to tell us all who exactly this contestant who just appeared two weeks ago is, Kim had to really go all out and produce her masterwork to make up the ground she’d lost to Naomi in terms of being this season’s design queen, and Derrick had to show she could create a look that screamed drag and illusion and mystique rather than just painting darker eyebrows on top of her eyebrows. Derrick

promised to try her best. It’s like someone sandblasted Alyssa Edwards midpose isn’t it?

This week’s bout of phony time filling drama was provided by the fact that queens were required to perform their own choreography for the song and dance number that opened the ball, this season to the theme of “Strangers With Candy”, in honour of this week’s special guest judge Amy Sedaris. Naomi for one had never heard of Strangers With Candy. She’s not alone. I mean…I’ve seen pictures, and not one of them featured

Matt Dawson, so I was mostly at sea for this entire section. The queens were being marshalled by Chi Chi, as a “reward” for her having won the Mini Challenge (I know right? Derrick gets a free lux mattress for guessing who is pretending to take dick for the purposes of the erotic fan-fantasies of the viewers, but Chi Chi puts on a fully realised comedic puppet show and she gets THIS?). Although let’s face it, she would have ended up doing it anyway, as this season’s dance captain. At least she didn’t have Betty and Thorgy bugging her the whole time about how funny or not it is to pretend to shoot up with heroin this go around. The biggest problem was,

as you’d expect, Kim Chi’s continued lack of rhythm, as she clattred around the stage almost knocking everyone else over. Although of course the BIGGEST problem was that this was the filler song and dance challenge for the Top 5 ball episode, which never ever ever ever counts for anything, ever, so nobody really gave a shit. Honestly the choreography was literally walking around and pointing to your anus when Lucian’s song talked about “loving hole”. I know Amy Sedaris is now reduced to commercials where the subtext is that she’s snorting detergent, but she deserved more.

The true drama though came from Derrick and Naomi who roiled and broiled and threw ever less gentle shade at one another all episode until it all came tumbling out that Naomi thought it was ridiculous that Derrick was even still here given that she hadn’t displayed any consistant drag vision all season other than “Britney Spears This Week” and “Not Britney Spears This Week”, whilst Derrick just came for Naomi’s habit of not securely attaching her wig, over and over and over again, like anybody cares about that sort of thing. The whole thing felt like both of them were determined to wedge themselves under the other’s skin to try to throw them off their game just before the final. In this, whilst Naomi’s critiques felt more substantive, Derrick probably won, in that Naomi was clearly rattled and conflicted over the thought she’d genuinely upset someone else, whereas I think it’s fairly obvious that…that’s not something that Derrick really cares about. On the other hand, in a more real sense, Naomi won because as a peace offering the next day she offered to help Derrick paint on artificial eyebrows for the very first time in his life.

Oh lawd.

The Melodrama So as you might expect from an episode where a bunch of gay men were asked to dress up as their own mothers, this week was a wellspring of tears, trauma and

RuPaul pulling THAT face and putting on THAT voice. The “Little Matthew” voice. Each queen, more or less in turn, recounted their relationship with their mother to camera, ranging from Naomi’s incredibly OTT positive relationship with her own adoptive mother

who she clearly couldn’t love more if she WAS Naomi Campbell, to Kim Chi’s far more complicated relationship, which became deeper and murkier as it became clear that “she doesn’t realise I do drag” had more serious layers behind it than the rather “tee hee” manner it was presented way back in the first couple of weeks. It was Bob and Derrick though whose relationships were probably the most critical to their overall story arcs. In the case of Bob, it was via her telling the story of how her mother fell ill with Boop Pneumonia (less cute than it sounds apparently) that she finally showed the more vulnerable side of herself we all knew was coming to justify her potential overall win as America’s Next Drag Superstar. It was Derrick’s story that probably hid hardest though, as he recounted how blythely he was convinced that his mother would accept his coming out to her at the age of 19 only to find out that she…didn’t. So much. This was both very sad and very Derrick and in an odd way definitely speaks to his slight ovreconfidence issues. Even if you don’t like Derrick Barry I can’t imaging you took much joy in him saying that his mother broke him and he’s never been able to put himself back together again.

(Chi Chi? Loves how her mother loves to dance. I love how Chi Chi’s mother

looks quite a lot like Chi Chi)

The Performance

Nightmarish

The Balls Let’s take this one category by category

Baby Drag Of all the categories this felt the least ambitious – in that Chi Chi, Bob and Kim all came out in an oversized piece of fabric and relied on big props and performance skills to hold their presentations together, rather than really creating an actual garment.

I mean, this isn’t exactly Rami Kashou levels of drapery here. Of the three I’d have Bob as my favourite just because his presentation felt like the most authentically childlike, with his windmilling arms as he struggled to walk about in heels.

Chi Chi would be last, mostly because of the fact that she had a

Janet Jackson nipple pastie hanging out and I don’t know what on earth that has to do with Baby Drag on this planet or any other. Winning the whole category for me though was Naomi Smalls, with a look that

was ambitious, and in keeping with her own personal drag 90s high fashion ethos, although I can see how some people might find the juxtaposition of infancy and sexuality a little…too much. And to those people I say “go back and watch Coco Montrese skipping down the runway in a Shirley Temple wig and with a teddy bear and then get back to me”.

Mama Realness Let’s get right to it – Kim Chi took this category at a gallop. First of all there was the fact that she looked absolutely amazing. Secondly there was the fact that the whole performance was basically calling out her mother as stifling and repressive in not so many words via voiceover and performance in a way that felt very authentic, brave and ballsy. Finally there was the fact that she was doing all this next to a picture of said mother

with her face blurred out, presumably having refused permission for her image to be used. I’ve seen people criticise Ru for the way she milked Kim for drama this episode but damnit if Kim didn’t absolutely seize that nettle herself. If you were looking for less complex tributes though



Bob, Naomi and Chi Chi all had nice looks, of which my favourite was probably Chi Chi’s just because it was so damned raunchy. Would that we all had mothers who could be paid tribute to via the medium of animal prints. The world would be a shinier place.

Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza Honestly the level of craft on this show astounds me sometimes




Look at those. Look at them. Those were made in a day and a bit at the same time as putting together two other looks and rehearsing a dance number. Which is your personal favourite is up to you (I’d go for Chi Chi on the grounds that both Kim and Naomi’s looks are a little expected and Bob, whilst visually stunning, did cheat a little in using corrogated cardboard rather than actual books) but there’s no denying that all these queens took paper and made paperade. And nice dresses. God bless these queens.

Derrick Barry



A category all of her own, I’m sure you’ll agree. Not since Shangela has it looked so much like someone’s taking their first steps in the world of drag, nigh on 2 months into the competition. Sure, Darienne Lake biffed the ball in her season by almost as large a margin compared to her rival queens as Derrick biffed this, but at least there was AMBITION in Darienne coming out dressed as Slave Girl Princess Leia with a prolapsed vagina. And she also didn’t stand there dressed as her own mother talking in sexual terms about the night she was conceived. I did like her story about pretending to be the Little Mermaid every bathtime as a wee’un, on a cutesy level. That was about it.

Most Insightful Judge Interjection : Amy Sedaris had her last period a long time ago

The Lip Sync So after some deliberation (Michelle coming out for Chi Chi, Ross Matthews for Naomi, The Sedarassi for Kim), Kim was declared the winner of the challenge, I think chiefly because of the unifying concept of a flower that ran through all of her designs. I’m fine with that, and glad that Kim is finally delivering on her billing as ZOMG SOOPER CONCEPTUAL DESIGN ARTIST OF THE WORLD after a fairly indifferent first half to the season runway wise. This left the Derrick vs Bob face-off that felt so predictable for this stage two weeks ago before they collaborated on the political challenge, and Derrick got sidetracked by a new rivalry with Naomi. Still, we were right, it happened, to “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester (choon!), and we got the predictable ending you would have predicted when it was predictable – Bob knocking Derrick out. Derrick to be fair put up a good fight

and you could even argue deserved to win, on the grounds that the performance was more authentically 70s than Bob’s, in that he looked and acted coked up the entire time, but let’s face it – a top 4 without Bob was never going to happen. Which is why Bob’s speech at the end, some overdone guff about how he loves Derrick so much now because he’s so brave, felt like overdoing it. Don’t try to cram an entire Bianca Del Rio story arc into one episode Bobbers, you’ll give yourself a hernia. There’s gilding the lily and then there’s spraying it with glitter and hot-gluing rhinestones to it.

The Untuckening Let’s all take a moment to breathe in and really appreciate the last Untucked ever to feature Derrick Barry.

Wait, who invited Jinkx? Anywho, Derrick spent most of the episode praising everyone else’s outfits, in that very special Derrick Barry way that implies that as a return you should praise the fact that he’s sat there in a swimsuit with shredded up bits of People Magazine Pritt Stick’d onto it. Oddly enough, the other queens couldn’t really bring themselves to do it. This week’s episode also featured a weirdly confident Kim Chi who, it being clear tat she was at least top 3, immeiately started lecturing Bob on how he didn’t ebrace the materials enough and throwing non-stop shade at Derrick to his face and in confessionals. Watching Kim on top was weird, I’m not sure I want to see it.

In other news : an episode with this much subtext blaring through

couldn’t have passed without a video message from one of the queen’s actual MOMs, and this week it was the turn of Naomi. She cried. Also Bob’s death march to victory edit continued as she had an emotional meltdown over how Naomi just doesn’t believe in herself like she should because she’s so talented

cry cry remember when Bianca was like this with Trinity and Adore cry cry, and also

even the Backstage Crew got in on the purse act. CAN ANYBODY BEAT HER?

(No)

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9 thoughts on “RuPaul’s Drag Race 8 – RuPaul Book Ball

  1. Sue Howarth

    I was resigned to Derrick being in the final, so there was a moment when I thought Bob was away. It is a relief we have such a good top 4. I am a bit worried Niomi is going through over Chi Chi, she seems more popular, well on reddit which is not really reliable, She really is not up to Violets standard so it would not seem right. Bob, Kim chi and Chi Chi make a lovely diverse top 3, fingers crossed

    Reply
  2. La G

    Amy Sedaris is in series 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and she’s very funny indeed. Unlike her ‘tribute’. I spent most of the episode experiencing dread that Drrick would somehow manage to be this bad and still kick someone out in the lipsync. It’s a great top four, it’ll be sad when we lose one next week.

    Reply

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