A Ranking Post
1. Sasha Velour
I (*shocker*) actually really liked Sasha in this episode. I think it’s because she finally made the leap from monotone talking heads about how AIDS is bad because people die from AIDS and many of them were really nice people so it’s really sad that they died from AIDS to seriously contemplating doing Judith Butler (!) for Snatch Game and constructing entire answers to questions about mobile phone apps in German. It turns out what I wanted from Sasha this whole time wasn’t to lighten up, but in fact to provide a bit more specificity to her pretensions and “braininess”. Her punchlines as Marlene might have been a little pre-rehearsed but they all landed, and were all funny and the accent used to deliver them was gloriously fruity. Add to that the first week she really nailed it on the runway, as Fetish Madonna With The Big Booby Pasties, and I feel like Sasha deserved the win here.
2. Nina Bo’Nina Brown
Even more shocking than the fact that I rated a Sasha performance is the fact that someone picked a former contestant to impersonate for Snatch Game and it actually turned out well. I guess it helps that, like a couple of other recent queens (Trixie Mattel ; Magnolia Crawford) Jasmine’s legend has been built almost entirely out of supplementary materials rather than anything that happened on the show itself, so it feels less lazy. And lucky it was for Nina that braying “I GOT SOMETHING TO SAY” and waving hot sauce about was a success as the show made it clear she needed a comeback this week, as Ru spent much of her workroom time hovering around Nina desperately wanting to say “Inner Saboteur” but not actually doing it because she knew everyone would take the piss. Fortunately for her, Guest Judge Denis O’Hare was on hand to swoop in later saying what an apercus it was that Nina had chosen such a surly character to imitate, thus channeling her own resentment towards the very Atlanta drag scene that Jasmine herself reprsents. What the show loses with woo-woo bollocks on one hand, it then gains with the other.
A smart choice for Valentina here, leaping on a single piece of fresh pop culture and riding the one joke it presented to her through just enough of Snatch Game that she only had to resort to just shouting “COCAINE!!!!!” at the very end. Watching Valentina weep, cry, rend her hair, have racist PTSD over Ru’s resemblance to Steve Harvey (who incorrectly announced Miss Colombia as winner of Miss Universe, when we all know the winner was in fact Scooch), and tear up her answer cards in frustration was good for some solid laughs, without ever threatening to win, and her audacious Madonna look, prancing down the runway wearing nothing but a couple of censor bars and a Lucozade coloured body stocking meant that this was yet again another good episode for Valentina as terrifyingly unmovable physically flamboyant presence. She still, I think, needs to show a little bit more personality behind the beautiful shell.
4. Alexis Michelle
Oh Alexis. On the one hand I really think the judges were over-rating this performance. It was a bunch of B+ Liza mannerisms delivered seemingly at random with no relation at all to the questions asked. She showed a couple of moments of genuine quick wit (playing off “Miss Colombia’s” breakdown to tut tut as an old stager about her lack of staying power) but otherwise I’m fairly sure that 80% of the gays could have pulled this impersonation off if they did enough warm up stretches beforehand. On the other hand an undeserving win off the back of an episode that started with her delivering a full on villain monologue about how half of the other queens are filler compared to her, complete with stabbing reddie Krueger horror movie music, is exactly what Alexis needed to really make her mark on this season as a villain, so I’m all in favour. Who else is there? Farrah sniveling away in a corner ? No ma’am.
5. Trinity Taylor
A fairly quiet episode for Trinity, although she got to be the clear victor in the CLASH OF THE MADONNA MET BALL 2014 LOOKS against Nina on the runway. What a battle for the ages. Her Amanda Lapore on the other hand was really just a couple of stock gags about plastic surgery and being a man teef, but she again showed that she’s got really good natural comic timing and she looked pretty uncanny, which is really what Amanda Lepore is all about.
6. Shea Coulee
OK first of all I love her handwriting here. Otherwise Shea’s Naomi Campbell presents me with a real problem. She got in some quick lines, she was funny, and she managed to play off the other queens. The problem is that other than some capital-r References, this didn’t give me Naomi Campbell much at all. The look was off (that hairline needs to be lower or much much higher), the accent wandered between Posh and Cockney like one of those awful generic Simpsons British accents, and she carried herself in a slightly too fidgety manner. The best Snatch Game impersonations are visual and immediate – Shea’s was much more along the lines of an impressionist who needs to lead off their act with the name of who they’re “doing”. Outside Snatch Game Shea continued her reputation as a mother hen, spending most of Untucked giving one long rambling inspirational speech to Nina about how as a black woman she needs to reject the stereotypes of expectations that people have put on her societally and instead ebrace her inner yaddah yaddah talent blah. I like Shea, but it’s starting to get a little much. She’s started to sound a bit like Ru.
Aja was originally planning to play Crystal LaBeija for Snatch Game, but then copped out at the last minute and decided to play Alyssa Edwards instead, thereby hurling herself head first into the very trap that Nina adroitly avoided. Do we really need to see another Alyssa Edwards impersonation? No. Violet was pushing it, but that performance had a little bit of novelty about it at least. Now that Alyssa’s been cemented as a star for the ages via All Stars 2, this feels even more redundant, and definitely isn’t what Aja needed to pull herself out of the increasing spiral of irrelevance she’s entered into.
8. Farrah Moan
I don’t know her. Outside of a cute self-own about the level of highlighter she got dinged for in the last episode, I’m not sure Farrah had anything to say here, and I certainly don’t know any more about Gigi Gorgeous now than I did going in, which is to say “nothing”. I do have to give Farrah some bonus points this week though for her impeccable Madonna Superbowl showgirl runway, and also for the chutzpah it must have taken for her to start the episode off by picking a fight with Nina over how the latter is miserable and comes across like she doesn’t want to be there. This is the Farrah Moan who spends at least 5 minutes every episode crying on the floor because she can’t sew a button on. Again, like Aja, I’m not sure how long she’s got left now.
9. Cynthia Lee Fontaine
The plot of this week’s episode was kind of like Final Destination, in that Cynthia Lee Fontaine was clearly supposed to die last week, but a freak accident meant that somebody else went instead, and THIS episode was spent watching the universe of RuPaul’s Drag Race form itself into a giant Heath Robinson Machine to make sure that she didn’t escape her fate for too long. First of all there was the frankly cruel rehearsal scene of her with Ru in the workroom where Ru asked her, midflow, when her impersonation was going to start. Then there was Snatch Game itself, where she frankly was quite obviously stroking out in the middle, because even by Cynthia’s standards most of what was coming out of her mouth was just…noises. Then there was Alexis Michelle telling her to up her contouring to the degree that it looked like she was going out on stage with a giant moustache, ruining an otherwise cute runway presentation of Tumbledown Brits Madonna. THEN Peppermint pulled down an imaginary shotgun during that LSFYL and shot her in the head. It felt like a fitting end to Cynthia’s….journey. I think it’s really for the best that we all remember her (unlike with Shangela, who clearly “belongs” to Season 3 rather than to the year of her first appearance) as a Season 8 contestant, because whilst she seems super nice, I’m not sure we needed two seasons worth of the same filler queen and she was really scrabbling to even stay upright by the end there.
I still think Peppermint’s Nene was worse though. At least Cynthia was putting some effort in, trying to play off the other queens and coming up with collections of syllables that at least formed the rhythmic patterns of punchlines. Peppermint just aborted jokes halfway through like Diane Abbott trying to add up, and went “bloop!”. Fortunately for Peppermint’s overall journey through this show, she managed to deliver for the show’s producers in two other areas – firstly by turning that lip-sync into a blood sport (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a queen look as bedraggled leaving as Cynthia did – Peppermint BODIED her) and secondly in talking about how drag has helped her learn to express her femininity as a transwoman, in response to Alexis yelling “GENDER IS OVER, WE’RE ALL FLUID!” in the workroom (<3). There’s been some speculation as to how the show is going to present its first openly trans participant and I’m glad that people can at least slow their roll on that now the storyline is getting going, even if it was presented in the show’s now usual humdrum Issue Segment Of The Week style. Onwards and upwards.
And as we’re halfway…