RuPaul’s Drag Race 06:09

Before we begin, a brief word on the controversy of the “Female or She-Male” challenge.

RPDR0609-statementWhile I know that RuPaul’s Drag Race and Ru in particular haven’t had the best record when it comes to transgendered issues, and while I get that the challenge was in poor taste, I do think Logo and World of Wonder are going a bit overboard by deleting the infamous “You’ve got She-Mail!” bit. In that case I don’t see it as an anti-trans slur but the long held practice of drag malapropism (i.e. herstory, she-mergency, condragulations, she-larious, and so forth).

But it did lead to an interesting debate I had on Twitter with a few friends of mine about the show: so far in the history of the show we’ve had contestants who have come out as transgendered after the show, and we had one contestant come out during the course of competition. What will be interesting is if/when the show has a contestant that is competing and in the actual process of transitioning. That will be interesting as hell to watch as it throws the whole dynamic of drag into question. This isn’t mean to be a stance either for or against a transitioning person competing in the competition, but it’s a fascinatingly head-hurting debate.

And by an odd coincidence, all of this would come to fruition the week that one of the most famous transgendered people out there would be on the show as a guest judge.

But first, let’s take a pause on gender politics and play a fun game of Hung Man.

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Can you figure out the secret word?

(It’s casserole!)

(Side Note 1: Cheers to Johnny Scruff for being an engaging and fun brand ambassador for Scruff.)

(Side Note 2: If you haven’t been watching the web series Oh, Pit Crew! then you really should.)

Anyway, after De La wins the mini challenge it’s time for the main challenge: the return of that iconic 90s television staple The RuPaul Show.

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And before you say “But Todd, we’re already watching The RuPaul Show,” I’m talking about Ru’s talk show in the 1990s.

Thus, the girls have to fill in as guest hosts for Ru and interview the grandmother and grandson duo of singer Georgia Holt and personality and activist Chaz Bono. While Chaz was a little too leaden for my tastes, Ms. Holt was fantastic not only as a guest, but also as a judge giving sympathetic and insightful advice. I could listen to her talk all day about her fascinating life.

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Comes the dawn the girls must sashay down the runway in animal realness for Ru, Michelle, Santino, Georgia, Chaz, and the iconic Paula Abdul (who also has the distinction of being the most lip synched artist on the show). There was one other person unseen on this judges’ panel; and that was the producer(s) trying to manipulate things to a specific outcome which led to some “What The Fuck?!” moments that had everyone screaming at their television sets.

(Side Note 3: Michelle has some balls coming out in a Cher-esque style in front of dear Cher’s mother.)

(Side Note 4: RuPaul: “You make one misstep and then—” Michelle: “Merle comes back?” Dear Michelle, we’re all hoping dear Miss Ginsberg replaces Santino. Don’t make us wish she takes her old seat back. You know, the one you’re sitting on now. Darling.)

(Side Note 5: It was interesting between both the main challenge and the runway it invoked the first season, which also had a talk show challenge, which combined with the runway was a nice callback to Season 1 winner – and former Minneapolis queen made good – Bebe Zahara Benet.)

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With two notable exceptions, the interviews across the board ranged from awkward to cringe worthy to “What were you thinking?” So let’s break it down person by person…

RPDR0609-Darienne

Darienne Lake had a fantastic runway look, with the rushing of her dress down front evoking the face of an elephant without being literal. As for the interview, it was slightly off and awkward even though she tried.

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BenDeLaCreme left me bugging. Who could have expected this rather fun and slightly avant garde take on a beetle (and that she’d sell it so well). As for the interview, she was surprisingly fun and genuine and engaging.

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Bianca Del Rio wasn’t bad per se, just not as polished in an interview setting as we had all hoped. And like Bianca herself said, it was a matter of time management. And I loved her runway look, complete with the body painting to echo the leopard print.

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Joslyn Fox was a mess in every aspect of this challenge. The interview was not polished at all and borderline uncomfortable for the guests. And the runway look was not only a mess of random crap yet again, but there was the issue of the “meaty tuck.” Worst of all, it seems that she isn’t listening to the judges’ critiques.

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Speaking of awkward, Trinity K. Bonet was not only awkward, but also biffed her interview with “Chad” Bono. Which is a damn shame as her runway look was fantastic and dramatic.

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Courtney Act, nailed this challenge. While the energy felt a little low, she knew what a talk show should feel like; herself having been on many talk shows. And it must be said that the runway look is spectacular. And she has to be commended for taking the initiative and asking Ru what she needed to do and delivered.

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Meanwhile, Adore Delano whiffled on this challenge. The look did not scream animal at all (it seemed more like lukewarm Florence Welch gone bondage. As for the talk show segment it was a situation where her charm couldn’t carry her through her unpreparedness. And not only that but she wasn’t listening to her guests’ responses (particularly when Georgia was talking about growing up during The Great Depression) and Adore sounded like she was making fun of her.

During the commercial break, everyone (well at least everyone at The Gay 90s for their weekly viewing party) was trying to figure out who would be in the bottom two. Even our esteemed editor-in-chief and I were debating between all of the various possibilities.

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So imagine our surprise when we heard that Joslyn was safe! As much as I adore her, she earned her spot on the two. But Ru and company decided that (a) Adore needed a scare, and (b) that Trinity’s time was done. Very rarely does someone survive a third Lip Sync For Your Life, and the ones that do are either fantastic performers (Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese), charismatic presences (Alexis Mateo), or both (Jujubee). And the best was that both Adore and Trinity turned it out to Paula Abdul’s “Vibeology.”

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But like I said, it was Trinity’s time to go, which is a damn shame as she was finally blossoming in the competition. So it’s a sad Sashay Away to Miss Trinity! The best is yet to come for this one (and I hope this means that she’s on the short list for Season 2 of All Stars.)

On to THE DRAG RACE SCOREBOARD:

– Adore Delano: 14
– BenDeLaCreme: 16
– Bianca Del Rio: 18
– Courtney Act: 15
– Darienne Lake: 8
– Joslyn Fox: 8
– Trinity K. Bonet: 7 

NEXT TIME: lt’s time for the annual makeover challenge, but this time there are wedding bells, our girls become mothers of the brides, Ru reveals his ministerial side, and a gay power couple comes to call.

Special thanks as always to The Gay 90s for hosting one of the most fun viewing parties we’ve been to in a long while. Trust and believe on this, you have not lived till you’ve heard the 90s crowd cheering and booing the girls. Join me and the rest of the l’étoile-ites there!

And to end, let us console ourselves with another video from the real star of the season…

Photo Credits: Logo / World Of Wonder

Originally Published on 15 April 2014 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my television column for l’étloile.

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