For some of you, the RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular heralds the Christmas season. For me, it’s a sign that RuPaul has a holiday album to sling. Mama Ru is the Bethenny Frankel of drag. She can, and will, sell everything. So here we are, watching Trixie Mattel (season 7, disputed winner All Stars 3), Latrice Royale (season 4, All Stars 1 and 4), Eureka O’Hara (seasons 9 and 10), Mayhem Miller (season 10), Sonique (season 2), Kim Chi (season 8), Jasmine Masters (season 7, All Stars 4), and Shangela (seasons 2 and 3, robbed of win in All Stars 3) fake compete for the fake title of fake Christmas Queen. It’s an unusual mash-up of Christmas special/musical comedy/cross-promotional marketing tool (the Postmates ad is so Vanderpump Rules)/reminder that All Stars premieres next Friday (set your DVR). It’s the overly produced, poorly acted mess 2018 deserves.
If you base the Spectacular’s entertainment value on the poorly choreographed, corny lip-syncs to RuPaul’s questionable hits, it’s a rough spot. The mini-challenge is a lip-sync with the Pit Crew. The maxi-challenge is a lip-sync with the Pit Crew. The queens are in full geish all episode so they don’t need time to paint. But that doesn’t stop the Spectacular from staging a behind-the-scenes lip-sync. Instead of Untucked, we get a traditional Christmas lip-sync. The illustrious judging panel (Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews, and Todrick Hall) give all of the queens the same critique (great dancing, great runway) and they’re all named winner. It’s a scripted nightmare with more sponsorship than seems legal.
So why am I grinning like a mad woman? With all it’s fits and foibles, all it’s racism and tone-deafness, Drag Race is enter-taint-ment of the highest order. There’s Eureka, looking like a Christmas alien. Sonique’s major glow-up since season 2 is impressive (she’s all woman and that woman is named Yolanda Hadid). The queens get squeamish under the mistletoe because, ew, who wants to kiss a girl? Kim Chi proves (once again) that she’s a photography queen with amazing looks that restrict all movement. Mayhem’s couture Krumpus brings the perfect amount of evil (and glitter) to the Holiday stage.
And then there’s Jasmine Masters. She’s worked hard to get here. Recovered from one of the worst social media avalanches in Drag Race herstory. Made a name for herself instructing the children how Drag Race fucked up drag. And won her spot on All Stars 4 purely by making RuPaul laugh. Now she’s ready to prove herself, but for real this time. She has it all planned out. Enter the workroom like a boss. Whip off her coat to reveal the dress. And slay. As is the case for many dreamers, things don’t quite work out the way she plans. The very first image we get of Jush is her toe poking out under a wonky hem. Oh, the humanity! This poor woman never gets a break. Jasmine naturally makes things worse when she swathes her head in ribbon for the Non-Denominational Christmas Eleganza runway. I think the idea is she’s a gift. There’s a bow and everything. But, basically, Jasmine Masters has a bag on her head. I want to analyze further but I’m stymied. Jasmine Masters has a damn bag on her head. And therein lies her genius. Shining through all of the mess is the confidence and delusion that we’ve come to expect from this loveable queen. Welcome home, Jasmine. Never change.
Not to be outdone, RuPaul ends the Spectacular with the lip-sync face-off fans have been clamoring for: RuPaul’s camel-toe jumpsuit vs Michelle Visages’ camel-toe jumpsuit. The performance isn’t entirely Mariah Carey ImmaJustStandHere. It’s not quite Ramona on Lip Sync Battle. It’s more Lisa Vanderpump (Michelle) and Dame Charlie Hides (Ru) share a bottle of Vanderpump Sangria and dance in the kitchen. With some Vicki twerking thrown in for good measure. They Flashdance some stunts and a death drop but it’s mostly swaying to the beat and one awkward Golden Girls/Dirty Dancing lift. Michelle is in her element (she’s always ready for her close-up) and RuPaul can smell those coins rolling in. It’s another drag evening in the books, and to all a good night.
Don’t forget to tune in next Friday for the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 premiere.