Aaaaaaaand… she’s back!
Which means… they’re here!
And so are they!
Which means… It’s Here!
After all the months of waiting, the Season 7 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race is finally here, children! And after the exciting season premiere, I had just one question: Why did it feel so… lackluster?
Don’t get me wrong, an hour spent with the new class of RuPaul’s Finishing School For Wayward Girls will always be quality television as far as I’m concerned. But I can’t help the fact that this episode felt light. Unlike Season Five (which had a longer than average premiere length) or Season Six (which split the girls in half and stretched over two episodes) we barely got to meet the girls. This slightness might have to do with the nature of this week’s challenge (more on that in a bit) and also with the decision that this season of Untucked is now going to be strictly on line at World Of Wonder’s YouTube page. It was just very disconcerting as I and the rest of the crowd at The Gay 90’s viewing party were having a Peggy Lee moment. (“Is That All There Is?”)
For the first mini challenge the fourteen queens had to do a fashion runway show showing off looks from their spring collection and their fall collection. Then for the main challenge, the queens had to create a resort wear tear-away to reveal a nude illusion. (Or, as my table referred to it, the Roxxxy Andrews Memorial Challenge). The first runway was cute as Ru was joined by regular judge Michelle Visage, new regular judge Carson Kressley (who I am thrilled is back on television; as one of my two favorite cast member of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, it’s good to see him back on screen), Ru’s makeup artist Mathu Andersen, and “Anna Wintour.” While the show was fun and it gave the judges a chance to crack wise about the girls, it’s very telling that the great Alaska was able to show more personality while serving The September Issue realness than any of the fourteen contestants on that runway.
On the main stage Ru, Michelle, and Carson were joined by the other new regular judge Ross Matthews (who, despite my initial misgivings was pretty good) and guest judge Kathy Griffin.
There’s a lot of looks to break down here so let’s gird our loins and go into it by starting with our assessment of the home team…
And here is the Twin Cities’ own MAX (née Max Malanaphy) who came in and… well, didn’t conquer per se, but still acquitted herself well in the first episode. I loved the entrance look as it was giving me Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. As for the challenge, I wasn’t a fan of the first look (a 1930s look mashed with someone from the Capitol in The Hunger Games) nor was I feeling the runway (the crutches might have been a bit too far even though when you realize that Michelle rightfully called it when she compared the runway look to Helmut Newton’s famous Vogue photo shoot with Nadja Auermann) but I loved the fall runway look. Carson was dead on when he said that it gave him Jil Sander flashbacks. Most importantly, Max accomplished three distinct looks that gave us three different characters, which is a huge thing in this competition. For now, she’s safe.
And now, for the rest of the girls. Starting with the top three…
VIOLET CHACHKI won the challenge, but she wouldn’t have been my pick for the win. To be sure, she is gorgeous (and any queen that throws a shoutout to Lady Miss Kier is always someone to be applauded in my book), but she lost me on the nude look. He decision to go out with nothing but duct tape revealed a boy body. What won it for her was her fall runway look, which snapped from a sequined wrap dress to a tartan jumpsuit. I loved it!
MISS FAME would have been my pick for the win. Not only is she stunning in face, not only did she nail the runway (which is no surprise given that she started doing drag in fashion shows), but the looks were all high fashion. And the nude illusion (which she used a body suit for) actually helped to keep the illusion of woman going. She had my vote for the win, but she ended up in second place.
KENNEDY DAVENPORT came in third this week, and what a happy surprise. Not only can she serve showgirl realness (she is the drag sister of the late, great Sahara Davenport of Season 2) but she also gave three polished, distinct looks on the runway. I loved the Oprah realness of the spring look and the 70s blaxploitation realness she served in the nude. I’m thrilled to see a fuller-figured girl deliver (which they all did in this challenge – more on that in a minute). On a side note, in the nude illusion, she is the spitting image of local burlesque icon Foxy Tann. Which is a nice coincidence…
… as JAIDYNN DIORE FIERCE served us Lizzo with her entrance look. (I don’t know if Miss Fierce is aware of our Lizzo, but she should learn “Batches and Cookies” tout suite! And on a side note to Lizzo, when the queens are copping your look, you know you’ve made it!). Love the sassiness, loved the resort/nude look, love the face, but I hated the fashion show looks for being so identical. That said, she delivered on this challenge and landed in the high middle as far as I’m concerned.
Rounding out our troika of bigger girls is GINGER MINJ. Ginger scored really high in my personal book for several reasons. First, all of the looks were on point. Second, and this is important, she knows how to dress her figure really really well. And she has one of the most startling transitions from boy to girl. I think what kept her out of the top three is that all of the looks were rather similar in silhouette, which is tricky given her shape but nevertheless it’s that kind of difference that pulls you out of the safe zone.
I’m calling it now – I’m living for Катя I mean KATYA. She had some of the funniest moments in the episode (from her Russian Pam Anderson enterance look to some of the best commentary out of drag). The spring runway look was amazing (a Missoni bodysuit) and the fall drag was okay, but the nude look was so-so. While I get that she was going for Russian hippie, it really didn’t play out. Safe for now.
I’m starting to warm up to MRS. KASHA DAVIS. What I like about her is that she, like Max, not only put together three good looks, but that each look was a fully realized character. Where I can ding her is the fact that the looks weren’t that fashion forward per se, even though her spring look was an on point take on Eva Gabor in Green Acres. And the resort/tear-away look was very much an older woman gone nude (Michelle’s comment about Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company was spot on), so points for staying within the wheelhouse.
I don’t know what to think about PEARL. She’s gorgeous, and I love that she serves 90s heroin chic model realness in her looks, but there’s no spark yet behind the eyes to make me sit up and take notice. I can’t tell if she’s really over it or just playing the part of being over it.
TRIXIE MATTEL is another comedy queen, and I like that she has a point of view. That said, there’s nothing that made me sit up and take notice of her in the show. On the other hand, I thought her concept for the main challenge – as a barbie doll playing tennis to reveal a doll body complete with the hinges – was clever and a neat twist that plays into her character. That said, she should have taken in further with the movements and really committed to playing the role of a doll. I want to like her but I hope she can deliver.
SASHA BELL kicks off the bottom four. On the one hand I love a queen who’s a fan of the show. On the other, she did not crown herself in glory in the episode. Her looks were dated as hell and then the nude illusion (which was a flesh-colored leotard with a black bra showing) was raggedy. Any sympathy I had for her went out the window when she said that she didn’t understand the challenge. As Pandora Boxx said in her Drag Center recap, if Jessica Wild (her castmate on Season 2), who barely spoke English, could understand and deliver on the challenges, then so should Sasha. Frankly, I’m surprised that she didn’t have to Lip Sync For Her Life…
…but I’m shocked that JASMINE MASTERS was spared. No tee, no shade, no pink lemonade (to quote the lovely and bubbly Miss Masters) but she was a mess this episode. Each of her looks in the fashion show was dated, and the resort wear cocoon thing was horrible. It was the personality that saved her.
Which meant that KANDY HO’ was sent to the bottom two and frankly I call shenanigans. The latest in the long line of Puerto Rican queens on the show, she served up great looks for the all of the challenges. While there was nothing that said “Winner” about them, they were nowhere near as atrocious as Jasmine and Sasha’s efforts. That said though, Michelle was right to call her out on the severity of the contouring. But even that didn’t seem to be enough to warrant having her Lip Sync For Her Life. But she was ultimately spared…
…and we bid a sad farewell to TEMPEST DUJOUR, and again I call shenanigans. I appreciate a campy queen (and her entrance look was a dead on homage to Phyllis Diller) and her looks weren’t that bad (I kind of like her “Kris Jenner IS Liza Minnelli” fall look), and if the only thing you have to read her for is things looking a little sagging, then something is up. That said, given her recent weight loss, I don’t think she’s learned yet how to dress her new body in drag and it threw her. But as soon as “Geronimo” started, I knew that she was a goner. It might be shenanigans, but it was bound to happen.
And now, because YOU demanded it… well, because I demanded it for YOU…
It’s the return of THE DRAG RACE SCOREBOARD. And, on a side note, I encourage all of you to head over to the site of graphic artist / RPDR superfan Chad Sell and gag on all of his glorious art (and buy a piece or twenty)!
For those new to the party, THE DRAG RACE SCOREBOARD is a highly sophisticated piece of technology… I mean, mathematics… that awards points to the girls based on how they did. Here’s the normal breakdown: 1 point for the mini challenge winner, 4 points for the winner of the main challenge, 3 for second place, 2 for third place, 1 for all of the safe girls, 0 for bottom three, -1 for having to Lip Sync For Your Life, and -2 for being told to “Sashay. Away.”
NEXT TIME: It’s the first group challenge, plus Olivia Newton John (!) and Moby (?).
In the meantime, before I pass out from this post, I encourage you all to go see the show in its natural habitat (read: at a gay bar). Thankfully there are three good choices. While The Gay 90’s viewing party has been the standard bearer, The Saloon has also gotten into the game. Meanwhile, for our friends in St. Paul, Camp Bar is now hosting a weekly viewing party as well. Trust and believe, you haven’t lived till you see a gaggle of gay men and friends cheering and jeering the show on like it’s the Super Bowl.
Also, while Ms. Boxx has returned to recapping the show, so have two of my favorite recappers: John Polly and Jon Mallow. Sadly, our fairy blogfathers (and friends of l’étoile) Tom and Lorenzo have stopped recapping the show. So, to end this recap, and console us over that sad news…
Photos: World Of Wonder / Logo, Chad Sell