But Sasha’s already come dressed as The Princess, I don’t get it?
1. As is usual with the first boot, even with two episodes of…work behind her, there was little mourning for Jaymes Mansfield, just a general consensus that she was out of her depth and scared wigless from the second she walked into the workroom. Instead the focus in the workroom hubbub was primarily on the simmering nascent rivalry between Trinity and Valentina that is slowly coming to define the first half of the season. It’s odd, because neither Trinity nor Valentina really stood out to me pre-season, but at the moment I’d give both of them good odds of still being standing as we reach the Ball stage of the competition. Contrast this with Aja, who I had as almost a dead cert finalist based on her pre-season hype, and yet here she is
pootling around aimlessly at the edges with no top placements in three episodes and looking like Isabella Blow having an allergic reaction to peanut butter. The clash between Trinity and Valentina is a classic one – Trinity, being a regional pageant queen in the grand tradition of this show, is all about keeping it real and being straightforward and down to earth and relatable, but with a hard edge ; Valentina on the other hand
well look at her. Everything’s passed through a Disneyland filter with birds singing and little cartoon butterflies floating around her head. Valentina’s all about the beauty of pure artifice, big doe eyes, and spiking your enemies’ water with Dulcolax whilst you’re not looking.
2. As such this week’s main challenge, as introduced by Ru direct from the set of
the Viva Forever video, couldn’t have been more up Valentina’s alley. The queens were tasked with conceptualising a classic fairy tale princess with a drag twist, including a name, backstory, theme, and full outfiit designed from scratch. Which you’d think would be more or less the right amount to be focusing on with 13 queens still remaining in the cast but WAIT THERE WAS MORE. The queens also had to come up with a sassy sidekick, which would also be played by them, via the magic of CGI. This being pretty much the platonic ideal of “one aspect too many” in terms of challenge design, especially as the queens were all given a Mad Libs style script with blanks to fill in, pinning their creativity down within very clear and narrow boundaries. Apart from Sasha, who was apparently given liberty to write her entire piece, and as such it rambled on for what seemed like five hours about how her sassy sidekick is an imaginary orc friend who placed Sasha’s princess from the land of Anxiousia in a cage of self-doubt that sat on her head in the form of a bird-cage until one day her sorrow was such that he took pity on her and as such the imaginary self-created anxiety she wefted for herself ended up setting her free woobidy wickety blah blah SASHA’S READ A BOOK TRIM IT DOWN A BIT FOR FUN’S SAKE. Forget the additional time it would have given queens to beat their mugs properly and make their panties fit, more importantly eliminating the extra element would have given us 30 seconds less of Sasha’s art school bullshit.
3. Yes, this is the third week in a row without a mini challenge. Yes the Pit Crew are still nowhere to be seen. But forget all that, WHERE’S THE SHADE TREE? It was a goddamn highlight of Series 8, and an integral part of the show’s rebirth after a disappointing Season 7, bring it back! The waxwork Ru that now stands in the corner
allegedly with hidden cameras hidden in its eyes (I am so sure) is no replacement.
4. Episode 3 is historically a little late in the season to be finding out who in attendance can sew and who is going to have to fall back on their experience with soft sculpture, but it was worth leaving it off just for the cut from Brooklyn’s Finest Arty Queen Aja strutting around the room proclaiming to all in attendance that of everyone present it was she who had the “experience and new age mindset to make this extremely avant-garde and high fashion” to Farrah muttering in confessional that she personally had previously made a tote bag and a pillow. Honestly I think Princess Tote-Bag and her sassy sidekick Pillowvius The Pillow could have been a challenge winner, but Farrah instead allowed her inner saboteur to take her over. In a trice, her usual facade of perfect innocent squishable dewy-eyed fish
cracked and she ended up sprawled on the floor covered in dye with her beeny discarded
looking like a second-tier vampire villain of the week from Ultraviolet. The rest of the queens, presumably mostly falling somewhere in the middle of these two poles experience wise immediately got to picking out themes. Fire, water, ice, volcano, sewers and other Legend Of Zelda : Ocarina Of Time dungeon themes got thrown into the blender and spat out again, with Alexis’ choice of theme being my favourite, just for bearing no resemblance to the end product that got produced. I mean take a look at it, and then guess what the outfit was supposed to represent.
If you said “the New York subway” then…congratulations but I’ve got no idea what underground network you’ve been riding on. That’s full of crabs. And trees.
5. I am glad to report that this week, as well as putting together a decent look, Shea demonstrated strong signs of having a personality outside of just general good vibes and decent confessionals. And that personality is bossy and take charge. Ru is off taking twice as long as usual in hair and make-up because (*whisper*)delta and raven aren’t doing a great job (*whisper*)? No problem, Shea’s happy to do double duty and wander around the workroom interviewing all the queens anyway. Nobody knows what’s going on on Untucked because you’re hiring the floor managers to provoke thirst from Facebook gays rather than because they know how to run a set? Shea’s ready to get everyone to go in order and hit their cues by yelling at them to GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER! Your guest judge (Cheynne Jackson) has been drafted in because he’s well fit rather than on the basis of his depth of drag knowledge, and somebody needs to deliver an Expert Opinion that Aja is underperforming because she doesn’t have Instagram filters to rely on, complete with
brutal Powerpoint Presentation examples? Shea’s on it, and she’ll have it on your desk by Tuesday. And it’ll be caramel scented. Forget Lady Gaga taking over when RuPaul expires, I think Shea’s got this.
6. An unlikely bond was formed this episode. We won’t get to see much more of it, as one of the queens in question was even at this point clearly cruising towards her third bottom 2 (real or implied) in a row, but it was cute to see Cynthia and Kimora bond this week. And said bonding was of a linguistic bent, as Cynthia taught Kimora the meaning of two words : “ajetive” and “cucu”. In the case of the former, Kimora was struggling with her parts of speech (and yes, parts of the segment were perilously close to a latter day Big Brother contestant going cross-eyed and huffing “I FORT VEGETARIANS COULDN’T DRIVE LAMORGEENEES!” but Kimora deserves points for commitment if nothing else) and Cynthia stepped in to explain. In the case of the latter it was Kimora who got to be the audience for X Men Origins : Cucu, as Cynthia told Kimora that she invented the term at the age of three after her mother smacked the shit out of her for saying “culo” to mean her butthole when she was trying to tell her she needed to go to the toilet. And here was I thinking it was because she’d been bitten by something radioactive.
7. This week’s dose of the outside world came courtesy of Trinity and Cynthia telling the other queens about how they were connected to those who died in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Trinity had been crowned Miss Pulse previously, performed in the bar the week before, and knew someone via her non drag worklife whose daughter died in the shooting. Cynthia was due to perform on the night of the shooting but cancelled, and had a friend who died. On a lighter note, I was interested to learn that apparently Kenya Michaels runs shows at Pulse, because the thought of Kenya Michaels running anything is hilarious to me. Like…the *same* Kenya Michaels that competed on this show? Are you sure?
8. And so, to the runway.
Charlie Hides : It’s a little more Evil Queen than it is princess, but I’m living for the head-dress and the amount of work that’s gone into the structure of the dress. I guess it could be Princess Anne? I think she’d rock it anyway.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine : I know I’ve come for the other queens for the predictability and weird specificity of their theming but I have no idea what’s going on here. What’s that thing on her head? Why is her companion a rabbit? What’s the idea here between a pretty dress and saying “cucu” over and over again? Cynthia needs to start stepping it up on the runway and in the challenges a bit more to justify her return at this point.
Trinity Taylor : It’s a little busy but I can see why she won for this. The tearaway reveal was cute, she worked the presentation (kudos in particular for being the only queen other than Peppermint to realise she should be reacting like the sidekick is actually there in physical form rather than just being a voiceover), the starfish character was visually creative and had a coherent character, and she delivered the b tier innuendo with decent comic timing. I think though she probably benefitted from the comparison to another underwater themed queen this week…
Farrah Moan : Too. Many. Starfish. Outside of that…it’s a bra and a piece of fabric. Also the fact that she couldn’t even get her sidekick character down well enough to get by without reading direct from a script was just embarassing. Those painted on eyes weren’t fooling anybody, girl and neither, for that matter, is the boy body. Deserving Bottom 3 placement for sure. (I also guarantee she had to be told not just to paint her face for the sidekick EXACTLY the same as Flounder from the Little Mermaid, so lazy)
Nina Bo’Nina Brown : It was Trinity K Bonet of course who first took the “Princess” theme to outer space, but this whole look took it to the next level. The script for the sidekick wasn’t up to much, but this was Nina at her crafty best. The draping, the jewel, the bulbous head, those sunken alien eyes, the eyelashes, the pointy little alien nose. Nina can also count herself lucky that the ridiculous levels of purple lighting that’s run through this series reached parodic levels this week, as it played well with her theme and her colouration.
Eureka O’Hara : Visually I don’t hate it so much (although sticking on a plastic rat AND a plastic cockroach was too much), and she gave a great committed performance as the grimy dog sidekick, but I cannot reward anybody who put that out as a name. You reek of Daria? What?
Peppermint : I like how the ash plays right on the edge of looking like a beard but *just* avoids it. I like the power stance. I like the little tin foil tiara. Mostly though I like that this got into the top 3 on the show purely because the judges bought that ham-fisted line she spun about using the outfit to get over her phobia of fire or whatever what a line of baloney. Don’t buy that and then make fun of Kimora for talking about how she feels naked coming out without butt-pads on.
Aja : Where to start? It looks like Ronald McDonald melted. That wig is falling off. The bra looks like it’s crocheted. The MAKE UP. The chaps were lop-sided and were hideous. Why put so many rings on one hand and not on the other? If you’re supposed to be a volcano why are you so furry? THE MAKE UP! If you’re supposed to be a volcano why is your sidekick making jokes about coal mining inside you YOU CAN’T MINE INSIDE A VOLCANO. THE MAKE UP! The fact that the assembled queenage actually gasped at this being in the bottom 2 is amazing.
9. Facing off against Aja was Kimora who, given that she again spent a second episode in a row grumbling about how she pays people to make things for her, actually didn’t do a terrible job at producing a knock off Britney In Vegas jungle princess look. It’s a pity that the script that she produced for her sidekick was so boring. I’ve seen a lot of people say Farrah should have been bottom 2 because it’s bizarre at this point in drag race history for a queen to come not knowing how to sew, but I’d say it’s even more bizarre to come here after 9 seasons and not realise you have to make jokes. It was sad enough when Jiggly fell for that shit and that was 5 years ago. Fortunately for Aja, she was facing off against Kimora (who, for the second week in a row, turned up not knowing the words) to “Holding Out For A Hero” and if there’s anyone who a trashbag sloppy mess vibe fits it’s Bonnie Tyler.
Look at that. Kimora didn’t stand a chance. That’s fire right there. I’ll miss Kimora, but there’s only so long someone can compete on this show without really trying at all. At anything.
10. This week’s best Untucked Moment : obviously it was Aja charging around the place, her outfit disintegrating more and more with every passing second, melting down about how the judges just love Valentina so much if they love Valentina so much why don’t they just fucking MARRY Valentina, Valentina could go out in a diaper and they’d just LOVE HER SMILE. Hopefully this is the sound of her ego snapping and she’ll come out the other side again. Hopefully.