Bullet Points – RuPaul’s Drag Race 05:07

RPDR0507-14“No one is safe at a roast, chickens!”

Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. There was a lot on this episode to unpack and untuck so let’s get right to it.

Thankfully we’ve reached the seventh episode of the season and we all know what that means; it’s time for my other favorite challenge that the show brings back. And yes, I am talking about The Reading Challenge.

The art of reading, aside from being fundamental (excuse me, fun-dah-men-tahl hun-tee), is a cornerstone of drag. To the outsider, it looks like the queens are insulting each other (and they are to some extent). But a good read will have wit, style, and flair to it. (For the definitive definitions of reading and shade – and yes, there is a big difference between the two – I refer you to this classic clip from Paris Is Burning).

Happily enough, the girls were prepared for this challenge. (Like Snatch Game, the Reading challenge has been featured in every season of the show since season 2.) And while there were some laugh out loud lines, Alaska brought it and won the mini-challenge because she was able to balance that thin line between cruelty and wit that is the hallmark of a good read. (For example, “Detox, you’re so seductive, but unfortunately it’s illegal to do it with you because most of your parts are under 18 years of age.”)

Then Ru revealed the main challenge: a comedy roast of RuPaul in front of a live audience. Basically, it’s combining comedy skills while roasting the woman who brought them all here in the first place. It was a brilliant idea for a challenge and thankfully, Ru brought in some help…

Insert the shrieking violins from Psycho.

I kid because if there ever was a challenge that Michelle should have been doing the workroom critique, this is it.

But Ru also brought in reinforcements to coach the girls; namely comedienne Nadya Ginsburg, comedienne and YouTube sensation Deven Green (if you can find her parody video “Welcome To My Home,” watch it immediately – you can thank me later) and iconic gay writer and comedian Bruce Vilanch.

Time for the show, and Ru, Michelle, and Santino are joined by actor Leslie Jodan (The Help, Will & Grace), and Absolut Vodka’s image czar Jeffrey Moran. All in all, the performances ranged from good to lousy. Let’s break it down…

ALASKA, emboldened by her win and the critiques she received last week, broke up RoLaskaTox, and had her moment in the sun. While I wish she would had some sense and put herself not first in the lineup (as everyone knows, in comedy you never want to go first), she came out strong and got some earned praise. If I have to ding her on one thing, her looks in general (and her hair in particular) always looks the same and I wish she would change it up a lot more. As it is, she looked like a classy, if anorexic, Lady Bunny.

ROXXXY was a huge disappointment. While she always looks great (and I actually liked this look over some of her more tackier ones), her timing, delivery, and jokes fell apart. What really was galling about it all was her complaining about how the challenge was skewed towards the comedy queens like Alaska and Jinkx. As Ru herself once famously said in season 1, “That’s why it’s called a challenge!” She found herself in the bottom two.

COCO shocked the hell out of everyone and won the challenge. And deservedly so, I might add. Ru and the judges love it when a queen takes a big risk. By coming out as Ru’s cousin from the Brewser Projects and maininting the character while still delivering some kick ass lines, she snatched the win. That said, I am over her constant bringing up the feud with Alyssa (along with all the other queens who basically held an intervention for them to get them to knock it off). Even though she won, I don’t think she’s long for this competition.

JINKX, of course, killed it in the comedy. Best of all, she brought her best look to the runway yet, managing to shut Michelle up. And while I can see the other queens’s complaints that she isn’t as innocent as she pretends to be, I can tell that her insecurities obviously come from some very real place. If she can keep them in check and not let it get in her way, she could easily win the whole damn thing.

IVY was a complete and utter bore and I’m shocked that she wasn’t in the bottom two. Her look was only basic and not as polished as she usually is. She’s just damn lucky that there were two other queens who were worse than her on that stage.

ALYSSA was deservedly in the bottom two. Not only was her performance completely and utterly devoid of any humor, she made the cardinal sin of crossing the line from witty barbs to true insults.

DETOX, who is naturally witty, was a mess in the performance. She’s naturally funny and engaging. The problem was that she was pushing the humor too hard. If she had kept her performance along the same lines as her performance in the reading challenge, she would have been fine.

So Alyssa and Roxxy found themselves in the bottom, Lip Synching For Their Lives to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.” At first I was shocked to see Roxxxy take off her wig…

… to reveal another wig glued onto her head, perfect for whipping around violently. (Side note: It is not uncommon for drag queens to stack wigs on top of each other to make the hair bigger and fuller.)

That said, Alyssa stepped up and brought her A game to her performance. What Roxxxy had in energy, Alyssa had in precision in her lip synch (to the point where Roxxxy’s hair whipping was covering her dropping the words).

Then came Roxxxy’s melt down on the runway. I wish they had made everyone watch Untucked before the Lip Sync, only so that Roxxxy’s tearful confession of being abandoned by her mother wouldn’t look like what everyone thought it was; a desperate ploy to keep her in the game. Thankfully for her and Alyssa, their performances gave Ru an excuse to keep them both in the game. For one more week at least.

To close, here are some of the funniest lines of the episode:
* “Detox, you won the challenge. You can take the chicken mask off now.”
* “Ivy Wenters. I can’t do it because reading you is like reading the Walt Disney book. It’s just too easy.”
* “Miss Alaska, I think you should wear a mask for every challenge.”
* “You all know Leslie Jordan? (Applause.) Don’t lie. No, you don’t.”
* “Michelle Visage. You can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t keep the girl from giving blowjobs to homeless men on the New Jersey turnpike.”
* “RuPaul is so old that the Hindenberg disaster nearly destroyed her Bat Mitzvah.”
* “You knew Michelle when Michelle was Michael.”
* “Girl, you look like the black Pee-wee Herman. Pants so high, he look like he in New Orleans at Hurricane Katrina, girl.”
* “It’s gonna be hard to top Coco, but look at her. Who would wanna top Coco?”
* “Michelle Visage is so full of semen. Period. No, seriously. She’s a whore.”
* “Ru, what I admire most about you is your ability to look at these tired queens and always find a compliment for them. You’re so full of shit, the toilet’s jealous.”
* “Michelle’s favorite movie in the world is Showgirls, and much like Nomi Malone, she relies on the talents of her black friend.”
* “I hope you’re having the time of your life, because you don’t have much time left.”

Originally published as part of my column “The Idiot Box” for l’etoile magazine on 12 March 2013. 

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