It is time to fetch your glasses and your library cards, because the other bedrock challenge of RuPaul’s Drag Race is here!
As I said last week, there were two key challenges to RuPaul’s Drag Race. One being last week’s Snatch Game, the other being The Reading Challenge; the annual challenge where the girls read each other for filth. Most people confuse reading with shade, and while they are similar they are not the same thing at all. And so, in my continuing quest to educate the masses by forcing them to watch Paris Is Burning, here is the legendary Dorian Corey to explain (with a little assist from the late great Venus Extravaganza):
The reading challenge has been a part of the show since Season 2 and since reading is so fundamental (oops, I mean “fun-dah-men-tahl”) to drag culture it makes sense that it would be a part of the show. And the results run the gambit from blah (Season 3) to okay (Season 4) to bravura (Season 5). The ne plus ultra of The Reading Challenge would have to be Jujubee’s iconic takedown of everyone in Season 2 (start at 2:00). Old school, of course, but it shows what a good read should have; wit and style!
As for this season’s batch there was some good (Bianca, Adore, Joslyn) and some bad (Trinity tried to read herself, and that’s admirable but the joke fell flat; Laganja was just a mess) and some that were mean-spirited (Darienne’s read of DeLa would work on any other queen but her – but I’m saving the nesting doll line for future use).
So Darienne wins The Reading Challenge (wait, someone else other than Bianca wins a challenge at reading? The nerve!) and gets to pick her crew for a 90s style rap battle royale to the new jam “Oh No She Better Don’t” (which is now available as a download for charity on iTunes). And Darienne chooses Adore, Bianca, Courtney, and Laganja; leaving DeLa with Joslyn, Milk, and Trinity (and leaving DeLa to whine that she’s not with the winners, which should have caused one member of her crew in particular to stab her in the neck). Meanwhile, the queens get on-set coaching for their raps with rappers Trina and Eve, who were actually quite sweet and encouraging to the girls and were calm yet engaged judges on the panel.
Because of next week’s insanity (more on that in a bit), I’m going to do this drive by style:
Adore finally wins a challenge and deservedly so. She nailed the look and the rap. And while I can agree with Michelle about the hem being to high, I would have gone higher on her to show some leg. Make no mistake, she is destined for the final four this season.
I was surprised by BenDeLaCreme this episode, and not in the good way. From her whiny response to not being picked with the winners, to her asking Darienne why she wasn’t picked, it was not cute. As for the rap, it was middle of the road. As for the runway, we’ve seen this cougar-ish shtick from her. It’s starting to get slightly old.
MC Bianca Del Rio did really well in this challenge, with a killer runway look and a sharp performance in the rap (though Michelle was right to call bull on Santino: Bianca’s look was a direct callback to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez of TLC).
It’s interesting that Courtney Act came out wrapped in a duvet because her performance today in the rap and the runway was a snore. And it has to be said that she is not the body queen she thinks she is. The more she reveals of her body, the more it’s revealed to be a boy body. And unlike the great body queens of yore (see Season 3’s Carmen Carrera) there’s no wit to Courtney’s body looks. And as a side note, the read of Joslyn was not cute girl.
While I can understand Darienne Lake being threatened by DeLa, I can’t understand the nastiness about it. Just do great work and don’t fuck it up (to quote someone). That said, the look in video was kind of cute but the runway was typical Darienne; Good hair, fantastic face, meh outfit. The performance in the rap was hilariously bad and while she should have been in the bottom two, she was spared to snark another day.
Joslyn Fox once again shocked the hell out of everyone by landing in the top three this week, and good for her! She truly is the black horse of this competition. After her surprisingly good work in last week’s snatch game, she came up with some decent reads and gave a great performance in the rap video (and looked every inch the video ho). The only slight misstep for her was the runway which needed some editing in the accessories department.
Laganja Estranja was middle of the road, which is funny in the fact that she looked a wreck in the challenge. Not only that but the read was shockingly bad. But she’s safe for now…
… as is Trinity K. Bonet. You would have thought last week’s revelation would have cleared some of the weight off of her mind and she could get back in the game, but as soon as someone made a comment about her ennunciation and she’s off it yet again. The result was a piss-poor rap performance which is a shame as she looked perfect in the video (the love child of Anita Baker and Toni Braxton) and on the runway (as if Naomi Campbell were starring in a couture production of Hair). Not surprisingly she was in the bottom two.
Joining Trinity in the bottom two was Milk, which was a shock given (a) Darienne’s performance in the video was worse, and (b) more to the point she gave the judges what they wanted. She gave them more traditionally girly looks in the video and the runway. Alas the rap was weird and the runway outfit was slightly busted (which is a shame as the face was gorgeous). And as soon as I head that the Lip Sync For Your Life was to Salt-N-Peppa and En Vogue’s “Whatta Man,” I knew that Milk was going to get the Sashay Away. It’s to her credit that she went down swinging with an energetic take; it’s just a shame she had to go up against Trinity who sold the hell out of the song.
Time for THE DRAG RACE SCOREBOARD:
– Adore Delano: 10
– BenDeLaCreme: 13
– Bianca Del Rio: 11
– Courtney Act: 9
– Darienne Lake: 5
– Joslyn Fox: 7
– Laganja Estranja: 4
– Milk: 4
– Trinity K. Bonet: 4
NEXT TIME: Ooh, child! It’s two episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked back to back. That’s three hours of drag riches for you to gag on, people! I hope The Gay 90s can handle it.
Side Note #1: Speaking of The Gay 90s, cheers to them for hosting their weekly viewing party. Darlings, watching the show is fun, but watching it with a throng of queers (along with several of the l’étoile family) cheering and hissing along is life-giving.
Side Note #2: Speaking of life-giving it’s time again for the annual April Showers Brings Bitch Flowers party at The Varsity. In fact, everyone’s favorite doyenne of drag, Bitch Flowers herself (a.k.a. designer/man about town Richard Anderson) will be there giving out two VIP passes to the party featuring none other than Season 2 standout Pandora Boxx! Be there!!