We go into tonight’s RuPaul’s Drag Race with everyone thinking they’re doing better then they are. Miz Cracker complains that she’s always in second place.The Vixen doesn’t understand why her performance isn’t winning appropriate accolades. They’re six weeks in and the fatigue is real. So is the competition. It takes grit to make it any further. Grit, guts and gumption.
Sitting on a Secret, tonight’s mini-challenge, asks the queens to identify items by sitting on them. I literally grimace. The Drag Race writers have let me down again. Sitting on a Secret is a great name but it’s not enough. Aquaria molesting an eggplant isn’t enough. Asia correctly identifying a fax machine and a traffic cone using only her derriere isn’t enough. I mean, it’s enough to win the challenge but you get where I’m going with this. No amount of ass vs. cake porn will convince me this challenge is worthy of Drag Race.
The maxi-challenge, another shameless RuPaul plug (said with equal parts annoyance and admiration) has three-queen groups create lecture panels for Drag Con. Merch first! Most queens are excited to choose their own teams. For Monét X Change, two-time Lip-Sync For Your Life champion, it’s awkward. She gets why no one wants her. She doesn’t even hold it against them. But she has to be on someone’s team. That’s just math. Eureka sweeps in, the magnanimous savior, giving Monét and the near-mute Kameron Michaels their third.
To no one’s surprise, Eureka dominates Team Body. Kameron thinks she’s the perfect partner. At this rate, he’ll never have to say a word. Monét lets the crazy train blow off a little steam before she grabs a gem from Eureka’s babbling stream of consciousness, shines it up, and presents it to the group à la the Lion King. Proportionizing. It’s all about Proportionizing. They’re going to brand it. They’re going to preach it. Proportionizing. The other teams are already over it. Proportionizing.
We get a RuPaul workroom moment. Just look at the faces of the young queens how to see how much it means to them. RuPaul is called Mother, not only out of respect. For many of these men, he was their healthiest male role model. The only one that felt right. Representation is important. He tells Team Face to convey joy. Team Hair needs to keep it funny. And Team Body-ody-ody, they have to be entertaining. It’s good advice, in general.
Team Face is in trouble. You’d think having Aquaria on a panel about makeup would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, she’s not so good with the, what would you call it, words? Monique tells her to practice, practice, practice. She doesn’t have time to help. She needs to make her runway look. While the rest of the queens came with literal baggage, all Monique brought was glitter and Jesus. Although I can’t remember any of her runway looks (other than the Queen of Hearts), I never clocked them as hastily made. That’s to her credit.
While the makeup goes on, the tea spills. Drag isn’t conducive to relationships. Not only are you always on the road, many gay men aren’t attracted to drag queens. No fat, no fem. So it’s no surprise that Kameron Michaels doesn’t do drag when he has a boyfriend. It’s still a little sad, though. Monét X Change is out to everyone in her family, except the Aunt and Uncle that raised her. When news of a gay pageant win in Brooklyn traveled all the way to St. Lucia, she made up a ridiculous tale to cover hers. Even the bravest amongst us are scared of losing love.
Team Body launches their Drag Con panel like a corporate presentation. They’re organized, on message, with just enough heart to connect to their audience. Everyone speaks, but not too much. It’s another case of underdog success. Team Face starts with razzle dazzle but quickly drops all pretence and gets real. Aquaria makes a genuine connection with the audience. Monique Heart’s hee hee hee gets RuPaul going. They lose control towards the end, though. Aquaria and Asia’s decision to do their own makeup instead of the demo Pit Boy scatters the focus. I can’t help but hear Tatianna’s singsong “choices” when Team Hair presents their Soap Opera. It’s bad acting, bad writing, bad planning across the board. The air in the room grows thick. The audience squirms in their seats. Bribing the audience with wigs is the last act of desperate queens.
Michelle Visage and Ross Matthews join real life Big Sick couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon on the judging panel. The runway theme is Hats Incredible. Everyone has broughten it today. Kameron wears a Fidget spinner, Monét is a church lady. Eureka wears a houndstooth onesie. Aquaria is a Klaus Nomi rabbit crawling out of a magician’s hat. Monique Heart sports a gift bow. Asia O’Hara’s dandelion orb quivers with every step. Miz Cracker, and her bonnet of hair (This is my hair. I don’t wear hats) do My Fair Lady. Blair also tries My Fair Lady but without the flair. Or bottoms. The Vixen rounds things out with an entire dress made of beach hats.
Top three: Kameron Michaels, Monét X Change and Eureka
Bottom three: Miz Cracker (gasp!), Blair St Clair (gasp again!) and The Vixen
The Judges think Team Body offered a nice mix of info and entertainment. They’re pleased to see a bit of Kameron Michaels’ personality but she still hides behind strong partners. Monét has finally found her runway sweet spot. She’s added polish to her bag of tricks. But Eureka is the Linda Evangelista of the group. She’s not only the judges’ favorite, the audience loves her too. As a huge Eureka fan, I should be happy. Instead, I’m Aja. Eureka O’Hara, shantay you win.
Miz Cracker and The Vixen get the same critique: great runway, horrible panel. Team Hair didn’t give any real information. They failed to connect to the audience. And they were mean, especially to Blair. Not that Blair is free from blame. She was practically nonexistent in the challenge. I can understand not wanting to be a part of that dramedy but tapping out, on stage, isn’t cool. She’s not quite fully baked just yet.
When Ross points out her sweet act is starting to taste saccharine, it trips a switch in Blair’s brain. She drops all defenses and shares her unspeakable truth: she lost her virginity to rape. Dainty is her escape. Pretty is her refuge. While the queens cry in empathy, The Vixen draws a map to the rapist’s front door. While RuPaul thanks her for her candor, The Vixen packs her weapons. The Vixen came here to fight. Tonight she plans to fight for Blair.
With Miz Cracker safe, Blair St Clair and The Vixen perform I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross. For their life. It looks like Blair’s public confession broke down some walls. She’s still sweet but there’s power surging. Like a rose with sharp thorns. RuPaul told us that the pretty crutch only works so long. Eventually we have to deal with the darkness. Blair is looking her monster straight in the face and her drag is all the better for it. The Vixen reminds me of old school drag. Like Tandi Iman Dupree doing Superman (I can’t hear I Need A Hero without thinking of her) or that queen that did the splits off a double decker bus. It’s a battle of old vs. new. Performance skills vs. authentic emotion. While The Vixen spins, twirls, and does the splits, Blair melts into a puddle of feels. In the end, one queen wins. The Vixen, shantay you stay. Blair St Clair, sashay away.
Next week: Snatch Game! Bianca Del Rio stops by the workroom. Kate Upton speaks words. RuPaul asks the queens to eat their weakest. And sequins. Loads and loads of sequins.