Well, the season premiere taught us a very important lesson…
Never ever ever forget your herstory, henny!
And it’s an important lesson to remember as the season 8 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race was all about the herstory of this show. As the twelve new contestants entered the WERKroom for the premiere of the 100th Episode, it also served as an intro to the 100th queen to walk into the room and compete for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.”
To celebrate the occasion, Mother Ru has cooked up several challenges.
First, the girls did a photoshoot with the winners of the past seven seasons and the first season of All Stars…
…and a clown (who was standing in for Bianca Del Rio as she was on set for her film). Then, with the help of a who’s who of Drag Race alumnae, the girls have to make a look using material from a materials / theme challenge.
Thus the first jugdes’ pannel has formed with Ru, Michelle Visage, Carson Kresley, Ross Matthews, and extra special guest judge Nicole Richie.
Let’s break them down in alphabetical order and which challenge they had:
The Money Ball Challenge (Season 3)
I admit that I gagged when Betty sashayed into the room. Given her status as a legendary New York club queen for over a decade, this was an impressive get for this little show. And while she may be a little bit of a bitch (which is an understatement) let’s give the bitch her due because she delivered. She commanded attention in the photo, and not just because of her outfit. For me, the runway look was the big thing for her. In my mind, the big criteria of the runway challenge is this: Would this look work in the context of the original challenge? And in Betty’s case, it absolutely would. Not only did she nail the look but it worked within her own aesthetic. In my mind this was a very close second place. (But did you see how our beloved Bebe Zahara Benet was not having any of Betty’s upstaging shenanigans in the photo shoot? Loved it!)
BOB THE DRAG QUEEN
Gone With the Window (Season 2)
I am so ridiculously happy that Bob The Drag Queen is finally on this show! Why? Because she’s a brilliant performer with a twisted sense of humor (as evidenced by her entrance outfit – look at it closely to see what it says. That said, she was just okay in the challenge. The photo shoot was middling even though she worked that lens. And the outfit, which she had to make out of curtains, was cute if not memorable but impeccably made. Safe for now.
CHI CHI DEVAYNE
Glitter Ball (Season 6)
I am prepared right now to give this Louisiana queen the “Joslyn Fox Memorial ‘Dark Horse’ Award” for being the one that everyone is going to underestimate. Yes, she is pretty (and that honeyed blonde is the perfect color of hair for her), and her performances in the photo shoot (shave your pits, girl!) and the runway were only so so, but there is something there. Look closely at her trash bag dress. Now look at all of the detail she managed to achieve in the bodice. That is impressive! I expect her to be the stealth queen of the season. To quote the woman herself, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!”
CYNTHIA LEE FONTAINE
Sugar Ball (Season 5)
I have to admit that I am living for Cynthia Lee Fontaine! She’s like Charo on really good cocaine, and I appreciate the kookiness (and her clearly pumped kuku). The photo shoot was okay, and the outfit was cute… till you realize that it’s the exact same silhouette as Detox’s outfit from that challenge.
Hello Kitty (Season 5)
I love a nerd, and I love a drag queen nerd, and to prove my nerd bonafides, I am clocking Dax’s entrance look. If you’re going to do Storm’s punk phase, then you have to add the mohawk. Meanwhile, the photo was okay, but the Hello Kitty dress was cute if it didn’t take the materials to a new place.
The Queen Who Mopped Christmas (Season 3)
Presenting the 100th Queen to enter the WERKroom. To give credit where it’s due, Derrick’s Brittney is stunning, and she had in my mind the best photo of the bunch, and also has some good instincts. As for her runway, the look was cute, and I really appreciate her choice of going comedy with the reveal of her holiday bush, but it didn’t go as far as Betty or Kim’s looks.
Hair Ball (Season 3)
Chad Michaels, in the photo shoot, described Kim Chi as “Jujubee on steroids,” and given her captivating personality, subtle wit, and low key shading of the other girls, I agree. While her photoshoot was one of the better ones in the bunch, her outfit for the runway was genius! It’s no secret that her makeup skills are off the charts (and it must be said that she nails the overly cut-in anime-style makeup better than some of her peers, including her squirrel-friend Trixie Mattel). What impressed me was that she was able to combine anime and high fashion in a fantastic look (and, going by earlier criteria, this look would have won had it been shown in Season 3). That said, her walk was atrocious and I hope that she can correct it quickly, otherwise it will keep her from the top of the game.
Post-Apocalyptic Couture (Season 4)
I like Laila. She seems like a sweet queen, she has a good aesthetic, and has some decent skills in putting a look together (that jacket, while criticized, was really well made – it was the bottom half that was completely nothing). And the photo wasn’t bad, just not good. There is some potential there, and while she deserved to be in the bottom three, I don’t think she deserved to be in the bottom two.
Float Your Boat (Season 4)
I am so torn on Naomi Smalls. Anyone who takes their name from Ms. Campbell and Mr. Smalls and loves ‘90s supermodels has a place in my heart. And give the bitch her due, she nailed the photo shoot (even in spite of her “cliffhangers”). Where she lost me was on the runway. The dress was a swatch of fabric and the boat (which was an integral part of the challenge) was a pure afterthought. It was the photo that saved her. My concern is that she’s all looks and that’s it, and I am not ready for Tyra Sanchez 2.0.
Drag On A Dime (Season 1)
Oh boy. Let’s get a few things out of the way. First off, her face is freaking gorgeous and takes to drag painting well. And it’s clear that she is a polished queen. (One does not win Miss Gay Continental without knowing what she’s doing.) But her inability to adapt to the challenges cost her. The photo shoot was bad, not helped by her basic posing and the fact that her feathered black top and long black hair obliterated her neck. And her Drag on a Dime look was weak. Scroll back up to the top of this post and look at what the cast of Season 1 did with this challenge. That said, while she earned being in the bottom two, she would not have been my choice to go.
Bitch Ball (Season 4)
Oh. Dear. I am so not a fan of this Seattle queen. To be fair, the entrance look was great (even though she looked like an anorexic Charles Busch) and the photo was okay even though she failed to capture the camera and managed to shade Sharon Needles. So it was with great joy to watch her fail at one of the challenges that was Sharon’s triumphs in Season 4 – the Bitch Ball. That dress was an abomination and obliterated any attempts at a feminine silhouette. More than that, her stank attitude was not cute. Even her fellow Seattle-ite Miss Monsoon was not having her shenanigans.
Queen of Cakes (Season 3)
At first blush, I assumed that Thorgy was going to be nothing more than cannon fodder. How happy to find that I was so wrong. I love her exuberance and (*GASP*) having fun with drag. How refreshing to see that on this show. I would have loved more exuberance in the photo but I liked the somewhat demure look she came up with for the runway; serving as a contrast to her entrance outfit. Safe for now.
So Laila and Naysha have to lip sync to Gaga’s “Applause” and it’s not bad, but Nyasha’s weird soccer mom clapping was off-putting. And while I would have loved to see Robbie go, alas it was Natasha’s time to Sashay Away.
And now a few random notes:
– I was living for seeing all the old queens returning (Shannel! Raven! Latrice!!), though I had to cringe at poor Morgan’s “…in the tradition of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert…” bit. But I was howling over the queens looking
– Only one brief appearance by the Pit Crew? Shame on you Ru.
– Speaking of appearance, Michelle looked fantastic. In fact, everyone did! That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about Ru’s new reliance on hats. It’s a look but I’m not sure if I like this look. (Unless he finally had his face snatched and this is covering the scars. This is not any form of shade at all; he’s been talking about doing it on his and Michelle’s podcast for a long time.)
– While we’re on the subject, because Miss Ru’s looks are to be studied…
– It was so goddamn refreshing to see more of the queens’ interactions with one another. As much as I may gripe about some of them (*cough* Robbie *cough*), it’s much more refreshing to see more personality on screen, which was one of the lacking things from last season.
– Regarding Kim’s mom not knowing about her drag career: Really darling? Considering how many Instagram followers you have? That said, you can tell it’s a sore subject and I hope her family comes around right quick.
And finally, it is the return of….
…wait for it…
And once again, I am using the artwork of the one and only Chad Sell, so do yourself a favor, go to his site and buy everything you see.
Now then, for the new people in the audience, THE DRAG RACE SCOREBOARD is “a highly sophisticated piece of technology” (and mathematics) that allows us to don our Nate Silver drag and predict who is doing well in the competition, who is not, who is on the verge of winning, and who is getting screwed over by Ru and company.
Since there was no mini challenge winner (which would get the de rigeur 1 point), we just have the maxi challenge: 4 points for the winner, 3 for second place, 2 for third place (which in this case is going to both Naomi and Derrick), 1 for being safe, 0 for bottom three, -1 for “Shante! You Stay!”, and -2 for “Sashay Away!”
Next Time: It’s a girl group battle with a surprising finale…
Photo & Video Credits: Logo / World Of Wonder, Illustration Credit: Chad Sell