RuPaul’s Drag Race begins, as always, in a post-elimination haze. The queens are spent. Their nerves are raw. They need to literally untuck. But Eureka and The Vixen want attention. It was inevitable that these two would beef. Whatever differences they have, they both desperately need to be heard. The sad thing is, they could be saying important things. Things that need to be discussed, But we’ll never know. Who can hear anything through all that noise? There’s something achingly familiar about this scene, though. As Eureka and The Vixen drone on, their voices morph into Sheree Whitfield and Marlo Hampton’s African safari nonsense-speak. What’s the point of making a point if your point is lost in the ether?
Just to be clear: the mini-challenge, “Slap Out of It!” isn’t based on Cher’s iconic, “Snap out of it!” slap. It’s modeled on RuPaul’s equally iconic Season 2 final challenge slaps. Come correct. The queens are asked to insult RuPaul in order to elicit a slap. Whoever has the best reaction, or is the least litigious, wins.
Kameron: “They call you mother but at your age shouldn’t…” Slap. RuPaul: “I didn’t like where that was going.”
The Vixen: “Vanjie… Vanjie…” RuPaul reaches back to slap but does a double take. The room breaks out in dance to “Vanjie… Vanjie…” RuPaul ends things with a knockout slap.
Aquaria: “My name is Aquaria and my birthday is February 12, 1996.” RuPaul is so incensed, he brings Asia over to slap a bitch. Cracker yells out, “Yeah, slap her!”
The coup de grâce comes from Asia O’Hara. In response to her, “You hit like a girl. Too bad you don’t look like one.” RuPaul actually slugs her. It’s a total accident and he’s very apologetic but she reels around the room, milking the moment. Her parting salvo of, “It’s about to be Asia O’Hara’s Drag Race. I’m about to own this whole building!” brings down the house. Winner: Asia (duh).
Once the excitement dies down, RuPaul announces roles for Cher: the Unauthorized Rusical, a production of RuCo Enterprises. Kameron will be 60’s Cher. Monét and The Vixen cover different 70’s Variety shows (hey, Cher was a busy lady). Aquaria is overjoyed to portray Disco Cher. Asia O’Hara seems a little confused with what Movie Star Cher represents. Eureka is luckier. Rockstar Cher is pretty obvious. Miz Cracker rounds out the bunch as Comeback Cher. Just to make things a little more challenging, the queens have to sing live on the runway. There’s no lip-syncing to hide behind tonight.
RuPaul waxes philosophical on his walkthrough. He reminds the contestants to take that one thing they’re really good at, the thing that makes them special, and apply it to every challenge. The way he giggles and looks around makes it seem like he accidently gave out his secret to success. I’m paying attention, Mother. Even serious RuPaul makes time for drama, so he asks Eureka and The Vixen about their feud. Eureka isn’t giving it any energy. She needs all her attention on the competition. Cher is a few counties outside of her wheelhouse. RuPaul jokes she’d be boffo at an Ethel Merman Rusical and I beg the drag gods to make it happen. The Vixen feels isolated. She doesn’t see the correlation between her argumentative nature and her lack of friends. At least now she knows who her enemies are. RuPaul counsels that the biggest fight you have is with yourself. It’s fitting advice but The Vixen isn’t ready for personal growth. Not just yet.
The workroom is a cacophony of singing queens, dancing queens, and wigs. Asia can’t sing, act, and has never done Cher. She pronounces herself “Literally Moonstruck.” Monét sings opera but she’s a basso profundo. She couldn’t even pull off Countess Luann. Cracker grew up with no exposure to popular culture so she’s not as well versed in Cher as she should be. RuPaul practically clutches her pearls at Cracker’s old lady jokes. Quick on the draw, Cracker sits down for a rewrite. Monét watches Aquaria prance around the workroom, singing in a voice that sounds melodious only to its owner. “That girl is getting too big for her britches,’ Monét muses. “She’s gonna be sore when she falls off that pedestal.” The irony of the situation is lost on Monét: she’s the one that’s getting the overconfident edit this episode. Be careful, Monét. This could be your death knell.
The queens rehearse with Todrick Hall. As 60’s Cher, Kameron starts the show. Gulp. He belts out a few notes (more than I ever could) before he falters. He gives it a second shot and, crickets. Miz Cracker is a whirlwind of elbows and knees. Her troubles are only intensified by the addition of the robot microphone. I mean, how else is she going to get that cool 90’s autotune effect? Eureka is the biggest diva. Unwilling to sing, she asks to focus only on choreography. Todrick insists she sing and dance. He can’t direct an incomplete scene. Over and over she asks and over and over he refuses. You keep thinking Eureka gets it but she always has an extra “yeah, but” in her back pocket. A childhood trauma has stolen her singing voice. Old pain can feel fresh. She decides she won’t let it slow her Drag Race roll. The show will go on. As a wise man once said, “What Would Cher Do?”
Personal aside: Is anyone else fascinated by Miz Cracker’s birth family? Her childhood was spent roaming the streets for found objects to impress her artist mother. Her father demanded demonstrable perfection. She was only allowed 1 hour of tv a week and played with toys she made herself. They were bohemian but her mother cared about appearances. When they didn’t have enough food for school lunch, she’d carry an empty lunch box to hide their shame. As someone with an unconventional childhood, I’m intrigued. Just me?
While painting for the challenge, Asia opens up The Vixen’s skull and takes a peek inside. She diagnoses her with Angry Black Woman syndrome. Although her anger is justified, it feels misplaced. Does she have an issue with Eureka specifically or with all the Eurekas of the world? If it’s the latter, The Vixen might want to consider easing up a bit. For her own sake. Having done the Lord’s work, Asia leaves The Vixen with a parting salvo: stop lying to yourself that you don’t care what we think about you. The Vixen has a lot to think about.
Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical is very nearly a smash hit. For the second week in a row, the Drag Race writers choose a fitting (and entertaining) challenge concept. Witty songs, sharp choreo and a whole smattering of Chers are drag ABC. Monét X Change, resplendent in Cher’s Indian headdress, belts out “Cultural Appropriation” with pride. Aquaria lives for her gold Disco outfit. Every once in a while she even remembers to be Cher. Eureka, visibly nervous, gets the biggest laughs for her Turns Back Time ass cheeks. The Cher and Cockroaches finale, complete with sparkly roach cutouts, is the cherry on top of a very sweet drag sundae.
It’s a challenge (in the true sense of the word) for the competitors. Not only are they singing live, they’re doing it while dancing vigorously. Most Pop Stars can’t do that. With the exception of Asia’s hairmakeupactingsingingmemory and The Vixen playing Diana Ross, the queens pull it off. The thing is, I kind of wish it was a lip-sync performance like Herstory of the World. Most of the singing was decent (much better than I expected) but the untrained voices dropped a lot of lines. I guess it’s a testament to the writing that I didn’t want to miss a word.
The runway category is Glitterific. Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Andrew Rannells and Billy Eichner rule the judges table. Kameron Michaels knows how to Proportionize. With her arms covered, she looks quite feminine. Monet thinks she really did it up with smoked out eyes and a sheer bodysuit. In reality, her uncinched body pokes through her pantyhose onesie. I don’t even have words for that with merkin on her head. Oh, Monét. You were my Season 10 winner and now you’re going home. The Vixen simply glued some glitter on her Book Ball challenge dress and called it a day. Asia’s shiny clown isn’t enough to rescue her sad Cher. I know I’m biased but how can anyone question Miz Cracker’s artistry when faced with a skull vomiting glitter all over a 1940’s femme fatale? I really don’t get it. Aquaria is on a nice trajectory. Around the midway point she really found her groove. Her Byzantine Mother Mary is the only real competition for Eureka’s Supernova glitter gown.
Top three: Kameron Michaels, Monét X Change, and Eureka
Bottom three: The Vixen, Asia O’Hara, and Aquaria
Kameron Michaels is named the Cheriest Cher of all the Chers.
Asia O’Hara and The Vixen perform Groove Is In The Heart (by Deee-Lite) FOR THEIR LIFE. At first, neither queen connects to the music. But these are professional, working women. Their lip-syncs are tight. Their dancing is sharp. Before I know it, I’m in. This is why I love drag. I forget all about the competition and lose myself in two performers, working their craft. Asia O’Hara, shantay you stay. The Vixen,
live to fight another day sashay away.
Next week: Eureka and Aquaria both think they’re the number one guy in the group. The Broad City ladies judge Breast World.