By Contributing Writer, Lady Cocotte
There has been a lot of anticipation for tonight’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Last week RuPaul eliminated Dax Exclamationpoint AND Laila McQueen. It’s only the second time in Drag Race history that both bottom queens have sashayed away. And to make things even more exciting, RuPaul phoned a mystery queen and asked her to join the competition already underway. The shade of it all! RuPaul sure knows how to court controversy and all week names of possible replacement candidates have been bandied about on social media. Is Ru bringing back Victoria “Porkchop” Parker, the first queen ever eliminated (S1 E1)? Maybe he’s giving Naysha Lopez (the first eliminated queen of this season) another chance? People were doing historical research on Twitter and Instagram to see if any not-yet-cast queens had gone silent during the period of filming (social media silence during filming is the biggest indicator that a girl has made it onto Drag Race). And then there’s always the chance that Shangela will pop out of another box, shouting “Halleloo!”
After a week of questions, we finally get the answer… But first, we have to revisit the girls as they react to the double elimination. Tonight they have two messages on the mirror (Dax Exclamationpoint: “Ladies, you’re all fantastic! I wish I could be here with you! Set the world on fire + make everyone EAT IT – DAX!”/Laila McQueen: “You’re all the biggest pack of freaks and I am so ‘happy’ to call you ‘family.’ But actually I <3 you all & can’t wait for the future with you! Xoxo Laila!”). Eliminations always remind the queens that no one’s safe but this double amped things up a few notches. As Chi Chi Devayne explains, “This is a wake up call for all of us. If you ain’t steppin’ that pussy up, your ass is going home!”
When RuPaul enters the workroom, the queens look nervous. They know a new girl is coming, they just don’t know when. Well, it’s not right now. First, Ru wants to torture them with a mini-challenge. In celebration of the Supreme Court legalizing Marriage Equality, RuPaul gives the girls 30 minutes to turn boring judge robes into couture. As usual, pandemonium ensues. And before you know it, time is up. Bob the Drag Queen adds a little color but then throws a brown scarf over the whole thing. Not today, Satan! Naomi Smalls turns her robe into a top and pairs it with shorty shorts and thigh highs. At least she has a consistent look. Derrick Barry adds pink feathers and tosses her Britney wig around. I’m bored, Derrick. Show me something more. Cynthia Lee Fontaine wears crazy grandpa glasses and silver applique. Her robe looks good but more impressively, she holds her silly character through the whole thing. Bob is cracking up. Acid Betty has added the most color of any of the girls. Her robe sparkles but she gives stank face. Robbie Turner is working her accessories: a huge purple flower, a red petticoat and necklace worn as a beard. Kim Chi has cropped her robe and created a waterfall of paper rulings. Thorgy Thor looks like a bag lady and I love it. She does a little tap dance because, well, why not? Chi Chi Devayne has accessorized with gold, gold and gold. The winner is Naomi Smalls!
And suddenly it’s happening! RuPaul is finally announcing who he called to join the competition! The new competitor is (drum roll please): Naysha Lopez. Wah wah… Nothing against Naysha (watching her farewell on Untucked was so sad) but after all of this build up it’s kind of disappointing to see the return of a girl who left two weeks ago. I expected a bigger payoff, especially from a showman like RuPaul. Just my opinion. Cynthia Lee Fontaine is over the moon to see Naysha back. Acid Betty looks like she just smelled a fart.
RuPaul challenges the girls to overact in his new show, “RuCo’s Empire.” Naomi Smalls, the winner the mini-challenge, is a team captain. RuPaul makes Naysha Lopez the other team captain as a welcome back gift. For her team, Naomi chooses Robbie Turner, Bob the Drag Queen and Chi Chi Devayne. Naysha selects Derrick Barry, Thorgy Thor and Kim Chi. That leaves Acid Betty and Cynthia Lee Fontaine as last picks. No one wants to work with Betty so Naomi chooses Cynthia. When Betty sees who her team is she shouts, “Fuck!” But she’s just kidding, y’all. Not really but you know…
Team Naysha meets to give out roles. Naysha wants Derrick Barry to play the militant lesbian (the Jamal). Bad idea, Naysha. Derrick is a girly-girl. Kim Chi decides she wants to play the over the top super-diva (the Cookie). Another terrible casting decision. At this rate Naysha is booking her return flight already. Acid Betty sees the problem and tries to scare Kim away by pointing out that Cookie has a lot of lines. Kim thinks she can handle it (she can’t). After watching Kim struggle through the lines, Naysha decides that Thorgy Thor needs to play Cookie. Kim looks bummed but the switch enlivens the rest of the team. Thorgy knows that Bob the Drag Queen is playing Cookie on the other team so they’ll obviously be compared to each other. She uses the rivalry to push her further. “There’s a fire under my ass and I really, really fucking want to win the challenge!”
Chi Chi Devayne isn’t very impressed with her competitors. “I think the other team should be worried. They have a lot of girls that are just…like…not-black.” Her team, on the other hand is mostly not not-black. Bob the Drag Queen is overjoyed with her role. She knows she can absolutely slay the competition. And she’s having fun with it. As team leader Naomi Smalls explains, “I’ve never seen Empire but Cookie sounds like a handful and Bob is a fucking handful. So it’s just…match made in heaven.” Robbie Turner is a trained actress so she’s doing a lot of coaching. In a nice change of pace for Drag Race, the girls on her team seem to appreciate the help.
When team Naysha goes to shoot their scenes, RuPaul introduces them to his co-director, Faith Evans. Derrick Barry, in full militant lesbian mode, gives them the black power salute. It’s beyond awkward. Thorgy Thor is resplendent as Cookie. Acid Betty makes RuPaul laugh as a multiple personality version of Andre (although I think she looks terrible…that short lesbian wig is doing her no favors). Kim Chi has been relegated to the Boo Boo Kitty role and her performance is a little wooden. RuPaul asks her to make it more hood and she listens. The overacting takes her out of her head a bit and her performance is much better for it. Naysha is playing the Hakeem and she’s doing great. She’s dropped her pageant girl persona and is living her role. Derrick, on the other hand, is a bigger disappointment than I expected. She’s miscast but I think she would have been miscast in any of these roles. Sigh. Derrick might be lip-syncing tonight. She better hope it’s to Britney. The shining star of the team is clearly Thorgy Thor (and I’m not just saying that because I want to be bff’s with her). Thorgy is Cookie and Cookie is everything.
And then it’s team Naomi’s turn. The not not-black girls are fangirling over Faith Evans. Especially Naomi Smalls, who got her drag name from Biggie (Faith’s husband, RIP). RuPaul points out that Faith lived this life so they might want to ask her questions about characters or inspiration. Bob the Drag Queen jumps in with, “What’s the best hand to slap a ho with? Left or right?” RuPaul cracks up and they’re ready to go. Chi Devayne isn’t as good as I expected in the Hakeem role, especially considering she lived the life of a thug before accepting her truth and coming out as gay (as she explained last week). Cynthia is playing the militant lesbian poorly but she makes me laugh. Bob agrees. “Cynthia’s Ginger Snap is hilarious for all the wrong reasons! I don’t even know if she knows what she’s saying.” Surprisingly, Robbie Turner is bombing. You can tell she’s a real actress but something just isn’t connecting. And she knows it.
While the girls are preparing for the runway, all the emotional stories start pouring out. Thorgy Thor shares that her mother died of cancer when she was nineteen. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, no one told her her mother was sick until the very end. She was off at college, having a ball, and her parents didn’t want to upset her. Well, that plan backfired because her mother died the day she returned home. “I didn’t really get a goodbye. And I kind of feel like that was taken from me. And I’m very angry about it but I don’t know where to put that anger.” She knows her father and sister were trying to protect her she’s still mourning the time she lost with her mother. Oh, Thorgy. Such a heartbreaking situation.
The runway theme this week is Roller Girl Realness. Yes, all of the girls will skate the runway! Being a team player (of sorts), RuPaul also skates out to introduce the judging panel. Tonight we have Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Faith Evans and Tasha Smith (from Empire).
Naysha Lopez looks like Tamar Braxton in the 80’s. And she falls. In her talking head she complains, “If they show me falling in my runway I’m going to be furious.” Welcome back, Naysha! Thorgy Thor is giving a Three’s Company vibe. She calls it classic Thorgy and shows off by skating backwards. Derrick Barry looks like an ice skater in a long, plastic tutu. The judges call it “very Katy Perry” but I’m not impressed. Kim Chi, inspired by John Galliano, wears a nude bodysuit covered in parrot feathers. She is much more graceful in skates than she is walking. Acid Betty sports a huge mohawk and corset but it doesn’t look like she tucked. She looks like a man on skates. Naomi Smalls has a thin piece of fabric floating around her body. She admits her outfit isn’t roller girl but she doesn’t care. Bob the Drag Queen is wearing a metallic silver onesie. This is Bob’s first time in roller skates so she’s cleverly hiding her inability with jerky robot moves. She stumbles a little but survives. Cynthia Lee Fontaine is dressed as a cowgirl carhop. Her shorts are strangely baggy. Chi Chi Devayne is a vision in neon green. She’s showing her midriff but she’s a queen that needs to be cinched. Is it just me or is everyone looking a little manly tonight? Robbie Turner obviously spent many hours at the roller rink. Her moves are almost as fly as her 1970’s denim jumpsuit.
And then we get to see the premiere of RuCo’s Empire. RuPaul has a small part as Rucious (he loves playing the male roles in Drag Race productions). Team Naysha does okay but, as we know, Thorgy Thor is the breakout star. I just can’t with Acid Betty’s look. And they couldn’t fix Derrick Barry’s performance in editing. Team Naomi’s performance is all about Bob the Drag Queen. She’s living the dream. Cynthia Lee Fontaine is lost and Robbie Turner is struggling. Regardless, the judges enjoy the show.
Top queens: Thorgy Thor, Acid Betty and Bob the Drag Queen. The winner is Bob the Drag Queen!
Bottom queens: Derrick Barry, Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Robbie Turner.
LIP-SYNC FOR YOUR LIFE
The two queens up for elimination are Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Robbie Turner. They perform Mesmerized by Faith Evans. RuPaul gives them the option to perform in heels or skates. Cynthia chooses heels but Robbie takes a risk and goes for skates.
I’m not happy. I don’t want to see either of these queens leave. Cynthia Lee Fontaine is obviously a great lip-syncer and dancer. She’s giving it her all. But Robbie Turner is connecting to the song better and she’s doing it in skates. Robbie is doing so many tricks that she breaks a light at the edge of the stage. Cynthia is dancing her heart out but all eyes are on Robbie. No! I don’t want to lose my cucu! Robbie keeps using the edge of the stage to stop herself but at the last note she flies off! Luckily, the stage is surrounded by pads so Robbie is fine. And she’s safe. Robbie Turner, shantay you stay. Cynthia Lee Fontaine, sashay away. I’ll truly miss you.
Don’t forget to watch Untucked right here at Tamara Tattles:
Next week: The queens sing live in 80’s style New Wave girl bands.