Bullet Points – RuPaul’s Drag Race 05:01

She’s back!

They’re back!

Hell, even she is back. And why are these people back?

Because they’re here!

Yes, ladies and lady-boys! The most glamorous television show ever is back with a record FOURTEEN new ladies to meet, admire, and ridicule. As excited as we were by tonight’s episode being a return to form after the flawed experiment that was RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race (which you can read all about here), it was discouraging to see such a strict return to form: by that I mean that the first challenge was exactly like the first challenges of the past four seasons. (Don’t believe me? Logo has all four previous seasonsof the show on its website.)
After the de rigeur entrances into the You Better Work Room (thanks Pandora!), and the customary hellos and shade throwing, and some particularly intriguing bits that arose from it (more on that in a bit), we get to the first mini-challenge; an underwater photo shoot with Mike Ruiz. For the most part the girls struggled valiantly (with one exception, but we’ll come back to her in a second) and some even managed to give good face underwater.
The next day, the girls hop on a double decker bus for a quasi-group number, driving by and waving at celebrities who will be judges this season (including two that I’m personally excited about: LaToya Jackson and legendary costume designer Bob Mackie) ending at a store in Beverly Hills, where they’re greeted by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Camille Grammer, who directs them to go around the corner, where Ru has them dumpster diving for materials to make red carpet-worthy gowns. After much working, shade throwing and critiques from Ru, we get to the runway.
Rather than just do a breakdown of the runway, let’s look at each queen individually (well, as best as we can; there was a lot of ground to cover even in the expanded premiere episode). So let’s be like Pepper Mashay and “Dive Into The Pool” and start with the safe ones first…
Detox (or, as she’s known by her full name, DetoxIcunt) was a bit of a pain but her entrance look was amazing, her runway was not bad at all, and her photo rightfully won the mini-challenge. Being that she’s BFFs with the notorious Willam, I’m expecting more excitement from her.
Jinkx Monsoon seems to come from the Tammie Brown school of kookiness, which can be a good or a bad thing. Her entrance look was fun, her shoot while misguided showed a lot of personality (“It looks like a dead hooker in the Hudson River!”) and her runway look was well thought out (except for the loofah bustle). The narcolepsy thing could easily wear on the nerves though.
Honey Mahogany, aside from having a great name, served pre-”Supermodel” Ru (circa her cameo in the B52′s video for “Love Shack”), had a strong photo, and had a runway outfit that Pepper Labeja would have coveted. Hopefully she’ll bring more personality to the next challenge.
Vivienne Pinay is very pretty but aside from her Kat Von D-esque enterance outfit and a decent photo, her runway dress was a bit of a dud (if she had lost the gauze bottom half of the skirt it would have been a lot better) which took away from having one of the best faces of the season so far.
Monica Beverly Hillz is a mess. A breakdown, threatening to quit, and allusions to a drug-filled past… Honey, you’re supposed to space that shit out over the course of the entire show, not all at once. And while her face was fabulous (and Ru nailed it by comparing it to Lady Miss Kier), the outfit was competently put together, but completely wrong for a red carpet.

Alyssa Edwards is the self-proclaimed Vanessa Williams of drag (in that she won Miss Gay U. S. of A. but had the crown taken from her). I’m not a fan at the moment, because frankly her attitude is so negative, and her shit-stirring and prodding of the other queens (Alaska in particular) was wearing thin. And frankly she wasn’t that good in any of the challenges. Especially in light of the fact that she was getting outshone by…

Coco Montrese: If Alyssa is Vanessa Williams, then Coco is apparently Suzette Charles. While I can understand both queens wanting to mik this “scandal” for all it’s worth (and the show is willing to indulge them) I find that I’m leaning towards Team Coco, only because she performed better in the challenges: the photo was well done, and the runway look was thought out, if I question her taste levels regarding the megaphone cone bra.

All of these girls were declared the dreaded S word; safe. Which caused Ru to say one of the best lines of the night, “Anyone who says it’s a honor to be nominated is a lying bitch.” Which then leads to the tops and bottoms…

Roxxy Andrews won but I don’t think she deserved it. Her photo was uninteresting, and while her look was strong, I felt it wasn’t as polished as it should be – especially the shoulder treatment that she did. (Mind you, Michelle Visage loved it but then again Michelle’s taste levels are a bit dubious). It will be interesting to see if she has what it takes to take it to the end. But the ass kissing about finding Ru’s shoes made me gag (and not in the good way – i.e., “I’m GAGGING on the ELEGANZA!).

Ivy Winters was surprisingly tame this episode (which is surprising for a circus performer who can breathe fire!). Her costumes were strong (she’s designed some of Manilla Luzon’s more outrageous looks) and while her dress was impeccable (and hand sewn, thus making it the closest to a couture gown), the hair was completely an afterthought. Also I agreed with Santino Rice’s comment in that she should have found a way to incorporate more non-traditional elements into the mix.

Lineysha Sparx, this season’s Puerto Rican queen, was out and out robbed of the win. Not only did she look sensational on the runway, but her dress was made out of wallpaper. Just for that alone (and for her pretty strong photo in the photo shoot), she has instantly jumped up on the radar as one who could make it all the way to the end. Plus her language gaffes (“One hundred thousand of dollars!”) was charming.

And then, there’s Miss Alaska Thvnderfvck. After four seasons of trying to get on the show (look back at the Season 1 recap episode when they play tapes of people who auditioned but didn’t get cast — she’s there playing on her ukelele), she has finally been accepted into RuPauls School for Girls. But as she’s painfully aware, her “girlfriend” is an issue. The last time we had a couple on the show was the late Sahara Davenport paving the way for Manilla Luzon to be cast the next season. But when your lover happens to be the reigning winner from the last season, it’s a stickier situation (as Alyssa’s prodding prompted Alaska to reveal that things had been a bit tense in the Needles/Thvnderfvck household). She knows that she basically has a target painted on her back and everyone is coming after her. I just wished she had done better in the mini-challenge; as we all know, Ru hates it when her girls don’t attempt to rise to the occasion. Thankfully, her runway look was well done, second only to Lineysha’s flawless look. (And Alaska’s entrance and subsequent nude moment inspired one of the best lines of the night — “The reason she walked in with a horse on her face, ’cause she’s a horse!”)

Jade Jolie is the pretty, young, girly girl of the season. Too bad her sense of style can be described as “a person with ADD on a sugar and Red Bull rush.” While the gown wasn’t bad per se, it was too simple, with just a column of red sequins, and then an aplique near the shoulder. Hopefully she will take Ru’s pretty direct advice and Edit!

Serena ChaCha is the pretty, young, annoying one of the group. The art school queen’s sparkly leiderhosen were doing her absolutely no favors and her attempts to be “edgy” turned into “busted.” Seriously, the outfit was a mess and the makeup was horrifying. And she was frankly getting on everyone’s nerves while getting ready and can’t deal with any type of criticism.

Penny Tration has a great name, won the online vote to be in the show, and that’s where the positives end. Her look was just bland. And then she pulled out the old drag queen trick of turning upstage when you don’t know the words to the song. Mind you, Serena was barely better. In fact, this had to have been the most boring Lip Synch For Your Life in the show’s history. Maybe we have been spoiled after seeing the likes of Nina, Bebe , Jujubee, Raven, Shangela, Alexis, Manilla, Dida, Latrice, and Chad deliver lip synchs that were in turns stunning, flawless, jaw-dropping, and moving. If Ru had told them both to Sashay Away, I would have been okay.

So what did you all think of the episode? On the whole, I thought it was fun but I’m concerned that we might see more in-fighting than we are used to, which could be a detriment, but we’ll see!

A few random notes:

  • Ru once again had a ton of laugh-out-loud lines.
  • The reason for the photo of Pandora — She will be doing a series of on-line video recaps of the episode in the style of SportsCenter. Looking good, if a touch pale, Miss Pandy!

Two more things of note:

  • Once again, The Gay 90′s is hosting a weekly viewing party Monday nights at the side bar. As we can attest, it’s a fun way to spend the time with the queens.
  • Speaking of queens, drag, glamour, and art, I encourage you all to attend the Pick Your Persona Ball at the Walker Art Center this Thursday. I’ll discuss it more in this week’s What’s What, but the idea of a house ball inspired by the work of Cindy Sherman (who has earned her honorary drag queen status) is so brilliant that I can’t believe it hasn’t been done sooner. Plus the fact that it’s a true house ball (complete with categories and asking for all five of the traditional parts of the Vogue) makes me a happy boy!

Originally published as part of “The Idiot Box,” my television column for l’etoile magazine, on 29 January 2013. 


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