And we’re back with another high-flying episode of everyone’s favorite reality-television show. (And no I’m not talking about the shenanigans in the barn at the end of The Bachelor!) After a somewhat lackluster season debut the show rights itself with what could possibly be one of my favorite episodes and challenges in the show’s herstory.
But first came the mini challenge, which was rather odd. The remaining thirteen girls had to mug for the camera and serve face while the Pit Crew blew them (in the face with a leaf blower). As if that wasn’t confusing enough, iconic music producer Moby (yes, that Moby) served as guest judge. Both Trixie and Ginger won and I can’t disagree. The former managed to make me laugh in the midst of the windstorm. As for Ginger, she managed to still look fetching while getting blown.
As for Trixie and Ginger’s reward for winning the mini challenge, both girls had to be team captains for half of the saftey video of Glamazonian Airways, the first airline run by drag queens. This was my reaction (which was retweeted for all the world to see)…
So why was I so excited? For starters, this challenge is the first real group lip sync that the show has had the girls do in a long time. As much as I love watching the girls being put through their paces with acting and comedy challenge, a polished lip sync is a queen’s calling card and the most memorable queens in the shows history are the ones that can deliver. Conversely, not having a strong lip sync is an affront to the drag goddesses and usually a clear sign of who is not long for this competition. Also this challenge and the material is an obvious nod and wink to the famous Virgin America “Safety Dance” video:
(Side Note: I’m sure somewhere Sir Richard Branson is probably laughing his ass off at this episode and kicking himself for not having drag queens on his video. Also, now that television producer and personality Jonathan Ross has the British rights to Drag Race, I would love to see Sir Richard as a guest judge on it if and when it finally happens. On that note, while I would love to see Ru and Michelle involved with a British Drag Race, I do question it slightly as drag traditions in the UK are considerably different from ours – and I’m not just talking about the panto school. Anyway, back to our recap…)
The other reason I was geeking out over this challenge was that the style of the material (a mashup of song and spoken word) is a salute to none other than the one, the only, LYPSINKA!
Created by performer and playwright John Epperson, Lypsinka is not only one of the most acclaimed drag performers of the late 20th Century (she’s all over the film Wigstock, which also features Ru, Alexis Arquette, Crystal Waters, Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite, and Lady Bunny), she’s also one of the influential and most pioneering. As you can see in these clips, La Lyp was among the first to mashup spoken word clips and songs into creating a full piece. And given the fact that she happens to be one of my favorite drag performers of all time, you can understand why I geeked out over the challenge.
In addition to the main challenge, the girls had to walk the runway in their best jet-setting outfits for Michelle and Carson and guest judges singer Jordin Sparks and singer/icon Olivia Newton-John (who looked amazing!).
Let’s judge them by teams shall we:
(featuring Katya, Max, Miss Fame, Pearl, Violet)
Overall the team was okay, and I give Trixie a lot of credit for reigning all of the girls in (especially Violet, who was dour as hell throughout the challenge) and making sure all of the looks were uniform yet still in character (while Ginger’s comment about their look being Aryan Airways was funny and apt, it gave the team a “1960s Pan Am Stewardess” uniformity that helped). But there were problems. For one thing the material for this group wasn’t as strong as the material the second group had to work with. And the performances on the whole ranged from fun (Trixie and Max) to okay (Violet and Pearl) to tragic. Miss Fame gave great face and served Betty Draper’s resting bitch face while playing the guitar, but the performance was stiff and bloodless and the dance moves were non-existent. As for poor Katya, she had the hardest bit with a full on monologue in the beginning that she kept flubbing the words on. While I would extend a little sympathy due to the degree of difficulty, she had problems.
As for the runway, I loved Trixie’s space age stewardess, Max served up Old Hollywood Glamour (of course!), Pearl’s 1930s aviatoress look was fantastic, Katya gave us late 1960s stewardess realness, I hated Miss Fame’s outfit, and Violet’s look was okay. While I can sort of understand the love that Violet got for her slightly interesting performance and for that cute outfit, I would have swapped her out for Trixie in the top three. Likewise while both Katya and Miss Fame deserved to be in the bottom three, I think Miss Fame should have been lip syncing for her life do to her lifeless performance.
(featuring Jaidyn, Jasmine, Kandy, Kennedy, Mrs. Kasha, and Sasha)
It’s probably a good thing that they weren’t being judged in teams because Ginger and her team would have easily won. Yes they had better material, and yes, maybe they should have tried to unify the look amongst themselves (it felt like going from first class with all the pretty stewardesses to the economy class where the girls are a hell of a lot more fun) but they delivered on the performance. Even the weakest link of the team (which was Sasha) was full of energy. And the best of the bunch (which was clearly Ginger and Mrs. Kasha) were tearing up the stage. But all of them across the board nailed the challenge, individually and as a team.
As for the runway. Kandy’s makeup looked considerably better, Mrs. Kasha served up some East Coast housewife realness, Kennedy looked like she was going to hop on the same plane that Pearl was piloting, Sasha looked like a flattened out Lady Bunny (and I don’t mean that as a compliment), Jaidynn looked like she was going to bust out into a tap solo at a nightclub in Harlem that Pearl and Kennedy were going to after landing from their flight, Jasmine’s dress looked arts and crafts, and Ginger looked stunning though it was more yacht realness than jet-setting realness. While Ginger rightfully deserved the win, Mrs. Kasha made it a close second. Lip syncing to a jazz scat is hell and she made it look effortless and fun. And while her performance in the challenge wasn’t bad, Sasha’s runway look was a mess. The hair was too heavy and the dress was shapeless; both of which obliterated any shape to the poor girl. She looked like a deflated Lady Bunny.
So Ginger rightfully wins (Yay!) and Katya and Sasha have to lip sync to Olivia Newton-John’s song “Twist Of Fate.” And Katya SLAYED! One of these days I’m going to have to write a treatise on what makes a good Lip Sync For Your Life, but was so refreshing about Katya’s performance was that she was able to do the split, the back bend, and that beautiful slow split while still selling the emotions of the song. Look closely at her face and you can see that she is serving the song and that is more important than anything. A deserved win. Plus, I’m living for Katya’s confessionals which are among the funniest of the cast and would be a detriment if they were gone so soon.
– I’ve got to say that Max is not only doing a great job on the challenges but managing to have the right attitude about the show. As he said on air…
– How cute was it to watch the queens geek out over Olivia Newton-John? Even better, how cute was it to watch RU geek out over her? By the way if you haven’t seen their episode of RuPaul Drives, you should. You could tell she was having a ball. Even better was when she sweetly managed to throw shade at Michelle. (“Did I tell you that she borrowed it from me?”)
– Now that Santino has gone, Michelle has really embraced the bad cop role on the judges’ panel. While I could easily say that she goes a little too far sometimes, I’m okay with it since it’s giving the other judges free reign to openly disagree with her.
– In a nifty coincidence, choreographer Jamal Sims (who put our girls through their paces in this challenge) also choreographed the Virgin American Safety Dance.
– Side Note To Pearl: For the record, John Goodman can look rather fetching in drag. Like when he served Linda Tripp realness on Saturday Night Live…
Okay, enough babbling. Let’s return to…
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)!
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, 2 for the others in the top three (since Ru didn’t make clear who she thought did better between Violet and Mrs. Kasha), 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 WEEK: Brush Up Your Shakespeare as it’s about to get Tragic
Photo Credits: Logo / World Of Wonder, NBC / Broadway Video, ChadSell.com,
Video Credits: Virgin America, Lypsinka.com, World Of Wonder