By Contributing Writer, The Lady Cocotte
Well, it’s here squirrel friends: the last challenge before the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8. There have been some ups and some downs but thankfully Mama Ru and World of Wonder wrangled the show back on track after the debacle of season 7. It’s an unexpected top four, to say the least. We all knew that Bob the Drag Queen would be there (and hoped that Kim Chi would too) but Naomi Smalls and Chi Chi DeVayne are dark horses who truly earned their spots. I don’t want to say goodbye to any of them tonight and that’s just the kind of drama I want from Drag Race!
Before we can move on to the main event, we must revisit the girls after Derrick Barry’s elimination. Bob the Drag Queen continues her “say nice things about Derrick” campaign as she cleans the message mirror (“ To my top 4, Ru said I won the challenge! What happened? I love you all! <3 Derrick Bitch!”). I think Bob’s secretly bummed that she didn’t make it all the way through without lip-syncing but she hasn’t lost any of her trademark bravado. If I only had a fraction of her confidence! But I’m not bitter because she has the talent to back it up. Naomi Smalls fake complains, “The judges told me I have to work on being ugly and I don’t think I know how to do that.” She tries and fails. So everyone gets involved in making Naomi ugly by smudging her makeup all over her face. It’s a sisterhood.
For the first time all season, the girls enter the workroom already painted and wigged. “It’s the final challenge,” Chi Chi explains. “And Ru told us to show up in full face and be ready to hit the ground running.” In other words, it’s going to be a long day. RuPaul introduces them to Jayson Whitmore, the director of RuPaul’s video “The Realness.” As usual, the final maxi-challenge is to appear in the video alongside Ru. But you only get there if you survive the final elimination. Cruelly, the queen going home tonight will be edited out, as if she never existed. Metaphorically, of course. Jayson reminds the girls that they have to move quickly today in order to get everything done. So basically, there’s no time for fuck ups. Lordy, I hope Kim Chi is up for the challenge! It would be heartbreaking to see her leave at this point.
In season 5 they did chiffonography and hairography. This time it’s floatography. Man, RuPaul is almost as bad as Tyra Banks. For floatography you lip-sync on your back staring up at the camera so it looks like you’re floating on air. This should be good news for Kim Chi as it requires no choreography or steps. Naomi is first and she looks gorgeous (of course) but she’s having a hard time keeping her unsupported legs up. “I’m starting to freak out because my ridiculously long legs aren’t floating and I can barely hold myself up. Manual labor is not my thing.” But she’s a supermodel so she eventually finds a pose that she can maintain that also looks stunning. Bob gives it a try and quickly finds out how hard it is to keep your legs suspended. “I’m going from looking like Viola Davis to looking like Patrick Ewing. This is not cute.” The director agrees. Chi Chi DeVayne has no problems with floatography. She’s a dancer, afterall. And then it’s Kim’s turn. She kind of tucks her legs but the director doesn’t seem to mind. He asks her to give better face and it flusters her a little. Bob compares her to an upside down turtle and she’s not entirely wrong. Uh oh. Kim Chi just fell off the platform. Oh, Kim. Nothing is bruised but her pride. Shake it off, girl! You can do this.
“I have no idea what avant-garde is,” Chi Chi remarks. “But I’m gonna do my damnedest.” They each get a chance to dance solo and need to show who they are. Bob proves again that she can dance. When the director asks for more energy, Bob cracks and shows her first sign of fear. Until he says, “Can you give me a little more comedy, please?” And she’s back, in full force! She caps an amazing performance with a death drop. Kim Chi is the most avant-garde in a big feathered dress. She smartly uses the dress as a prop and doesn’t need much movement in her performance. Her face and dress do all the work. My god, Naomi Smalls is gorgeous. She’s doing her thing in a blue vinyl bodysuit with a cowl and thigh high white boots. She trips and Bob calls her Kim Chi (the shade). But she picks it right back up and works those supermodel poses. Chi Chi definitely doesn’t know what avant-garde is. She’s wearing a black crochet dress with a leather fringed shoulders. Her dress keeps getting caught in her heels and it’s obviously cramping her dancing. The director asks her if she’s danced in gowns before and she says no. All of the girls’ mouths drop open. I think she’s just too frustrated to get into it with him but it’s weird. She’s the least impressive which is surprising since she’s the dancing queen.
The director describes this as a scene with your biggest competitor: the mirror. Bob the Drag Queen slays. She brings every emotion the director calls for. Kim Chi looks a little jealous but she brushes it off with some shade. “Bob’s glamor look is really interesting. His right hand looks like he fisted a coal mine and his left hand looks like he fisted a gold mine.” The virgin’s getting naughty! For some reason (probably those long luscious legs) Naomi isn’t working with the mirror. She’s lying supine on some long ottomans, caressing herself. You’ll get no complaints from me. It’s gorgeous. Chi Chi is back at the mirror. She manages to get a double image using a hand mirror. Very nice. Kim Chi gets a full length mirror and she does great. I guess my fear was misplaced. Miss came through.
On the last day, all four girls hold the purse as they enter the workroom. “It’s our final day in the workroom and it feels like it’s our last day of school,” Naomi hypothesizes. “And we’re finding out who’s gonna get valedictorian or something.” They talk about what they learned about themselves during the competition. Bob learned that her confidence often comes across as arrogance. Kim Chi learned that people like her for who she is and she shouldn’t be anyone else. Chi Chi realized that she looked down on herself for being country. Naomi learned that she should stop comparing herself to others and be happy with her style of drag. “Because what I have is amazing and I just need to own it.” Can I get an Amen?
Since it’s the final challenge, there are no guest judges. RuPaul is joined by the entire judging panel: Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews. The runway theme is Best Drag.
This isn’t my favorite Bob the Drag Queen look. She calls it a tuxedo but it’s really a sparkly jacket over a white, high neck blouse and black leggings. She had to use her best wig last week to fulfill Michelle’s request for glamor but tonight’s looks a little Shake-N-Go to me. Chi Chi DeVayne looks gorgeous in a pink sparkly dress and pageant updo. She saved her best for last. Kim Chi has a feathered corset, sparkly skirt and a bug/Maleficent headpiece. It’s a strange combination but Kim makes it work. The judges point out her improved walk. Naomi Smalls wears a hot pink satin jumpsuit and long, straight hair. It’s Cher meets 90’s supermodel and it’s all Naomi. For the first time her legs are covered but they’re still the star of the show.
The judges give their final critique.
Bob the Drag Queen
Michelle hates her final look and Carson points out that her makeup has never been very good. Ross adds, “There has been some growth with the looks but if I’m buying a ticket to Bob’s show it’s not to see glamor. It’s to be entertained.” Carson brings up her amazing Snatch Game work and the Shady Politics ad. Michelle’s favorite Bob moment was Chocolate Chip Cookie in RuCo’s Empire. RuPaul thinks Bob not only rose to the occasion every challenge but was always able to inject Bob into it as well.
Chi Chi DeVayne
Ross calls her the M. Night Shyamalan of drag queens: he didn’t expect to see her in the final four but that she really deserves it. Carson calls her lip-sync to And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Goin) a come to Jesus moment. RuPaul brings up her amazing dancing in Bitch Perfect. But Ross isn’t sure she’s as original as the other three girls. He’s seen her drag done before.
Ross is impressed with her journey of self-acceptance. Carson thinks she’ll really blossom once she gets positive feedback from the fans. Michelle points out that she killed every single look all season long. She brings up Kim’s Wizards of Drag look. Carson loved her pink wig made out of paper at the Book Ball but he’s not sure of she has the ability to command the stage yet. Ross feels like she has the capability to change drag. “To really sort of shift it in a very new, 2000-something sort of way. And I’m curious to see where it goes.”
Carson likes her combination of fierceness and sweetness. Ross calls out her Wizards of Drag look as a game changer. Michelle agrees. “Haute couture, high end, fashion.” RuPaul loves her avant-garde look in the video. Carson’s favorite is the black and white look. For Ross, it’s her Book Ball gown. “Her POV became OMG for me. LOL.” Carson thinks she needs another year to mature but Michelle disagrees. “Her drag is really good and polished.” Ross agrees with Michelle for once. “I think what she did this season is worthy of being in the top three. And maybe even taking the crown.”
LIP-SYNC FOR YOUR LIFE
Since this is the final runway before the finale, all four queens perform The Realness by RuPaul. Tonight, the lip-sync won’t be the only determining factor for elimination.
It’s always hard to get a good sense of anyone’s skills with the stage so crowded. Bob does her thing. As does Chi Chi. Kim Chi looks good in the few seconds we see of her. Naomi works her body and flings her hair like a pro. Kim Chi makes the wise decision to not move much (less chance of falling that way). Chi Chi gets a lot of camera time. Damn, they’re all doing good. I give up. RuPaul’s just going to do whatever she wants anyway. They group hug after the music ends. I don’t want to say goodbye to any of them.
Our top three are Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls. Chi Chi DeVayne, sashay away. I have to admit I’m shocked but I think I would have been shocked no matter who was eliminated. So much talent on that stage!
It’s your last chance to see the backstage shenanigans on Untucked, right here at Tamara Tattles!
There won’t be an episode of Drag Race next week. Instead, Logo will show Bianca Del Rio’s smash stand up special “Rolodex of Hate.” It’s NSFW but definitely Must See TV. Bianca is an evil, funny bitch and also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met (a lovely dichotomy). They’re filming the Drag Race finale on Tuesday, May 10 which will air on Monday, May 16. I’ll be back with a recap but until then, see you in the comments section!