It’s week two of Dragula, the search for a Drag Super-Monster who is equally gifted in the areas of glamour, horror, and filth.
If you were looking for an episode to sell you on Dragula, this is the one to watch. Last week’s episode emphasized bombastic special effect make-up in a way the first season never did, and this week continues that oneupmanship.
This week’s challenge? A high concept floor show of day-walking undead women in a small western town. It’s visually impressive and frequently unsettling. Plus, it again ends with an unexpected twist – the queens having a (paintball) shootout for their lives.
It also gives us a chance to get to know the nine remaining queens a bit better. I’ll admit, none of the girls feels as totally on-the-fringes and filthy as last year’s cast, aside from perhaps Monikkie. It’s a slightly more mainstream, more lovely crowd of competitors. Yet, they absolutely do not feel like glamour queens who just happen to have a penchant for the odd. They feel like something totally other – an aspect of drag we’re simply not seeing celebrated in media at this point. They’re just not as scrappy as last year’s cast – perhaps owing to the increased visibility of the show and this year’s casting process.
Enough talk – watch Dragula’s second episode, and then see if you agree with how I’ve ranked the queens below.
1. Victoria Elizabeth Black
(Was 1; Average rank of 1)
It’s hard to imagine Victoria Elizabeth Black (Instagram / Facebook) stepping up her game any further after her terrifying Cenobite last week, but this week she kept up her reign of terror over the competition with her charred fortune teller. She even won the week!
Victoria once again managed to convey horror stripped of some prior sheen of glamour. This time it was freshly burned off in a fire she presented live in her Floor Show.
(The insurance costs for this production must be insane.)
While Victoria’s performance isn’t as show-y as some of the other girls, it was strong even without the pyrotechnics. Her wide-eyed visage, kinked neck, and tossing of tarot cards helped to tell a complete story in a way few of the other queens managed to do.
Plus, clock the custom graphic design on the poster on the front of her fortune telling booth. That’s attention to detail.
Just as Vander Van Odd quickly ran away with the competition last year (even after being subject to potential Extermination in the same Wild West challenge), Victoria is really feeling like a lock for the finals. However, unlike last year, there are some queens who have a very credible claim to nipping at her heels.
(Was 3; Average rank of 2.5)
Dahli (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) might not have perfectly nailed the theme of a deceased woman in this old-western town, but her detailed shaman (“Charmin?”) is still one of the best looks of this challenge – creepy enough that slightly missing the mark on theme didn’t seem to matter to the judges.
Dahli’s details are once again on lockdown, but she repeats a flat chest criss-crossed with bondage gear from last week. That’s not a terrific match-up for a Shaman look, and it might indicate a limit on her imagination or execution that could fell her in future challenges.
As great as it looks, this look is pretty much straight-up cultural appropriation without a lot of personal touches that scream Dahli other than said bondage gear. Altogether it feels less like a gender-bending drag look and more like a slightly effete costume, which I could have easily said about last week’s look, too.
I’m here for Dalhi’s big budget and flashy looks, but I’m curious to see if anything she presents will feel uniquely hers, and if she might ever do it without baring her chest.
(Was 8; Average rank of 5.5)
Disasterina (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) brought a subtle terror with a strong narrative to this challenge with a performance that clearly separated her from the rest of the queens up for Extermination.
She could have gone totally obvious based on her day-glo aesthetic and brought a Day of the Dead look to this floor show. In fact, the Boulet Brothers might have liked it even better than what she brought to the challenge.
Instead, she delivered some sort of demented mother figure, haunted in death by the children she abused in life. While it lacks the specificity of other deaths in this episode, it makes up for it in character and plain old creepiness. The image of her screaming self-flagellation is a hard one to shake.
If Disasterina is going to sell each theme this hard, she’s not the canon fodder I made her out to be last week – but, she’s going to need to make her detailing more vivid if she wants to chip away at Victoria and Dahli’s commanding visual presentations.
(Was 4; Average rank of 4)
Abhora (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) seems destined to split opinions this season just like Loris did last year. She’s another young queen with a specific aesthetic who can occasional rub others the wrong way.
Abhora doubled-down on her pale gremlin persona this week as a perverted cartoon brought to life as a wicked bank-robbing clown. The combination of her demonic clown look with her goofy, baggy pants definitely had an unsettling aspect to it. It managed to be different without feeling like it was totally out of the theme.
Yet, it also shows chinks in Abhora’s armor. This was a chance to present a more fully-formed story to support her drag character or to take an easy out to show something other than her white-faced make-up, but instead she kept things pretty silly with her black and white look and two-dimensional props. Also, it didn’t feel very drag – her goblin feels androgynous, but in the manner of a de-sexed cartoon and not a drag queen.
While Abhora’s off-the-wall imagination might far outstrip her castmates, if she isn’t willing to show something other than variations on her concept she’s eventually going to lose.
5. Biqtch Puddin
(Was 6; Average rank of 5.5)
Biqtch Puddin (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) is mercilessly teased by the other queens for reusing her latex makeup effects for a second challenge in a row, but she brings a flair for terror to her floor show unlike anything we’ve seen from the other girls so far.
Biqtch goes totally method in her approach to portraying a drowning woman and is is fucking terrifying. She is channeling something straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean with her staggering and crawling, and an unnatural thirst for more water despite being suffocated by it.
This makes for two episodes worth of nasty bullying by the other queens, but also twice that Biqtch has shown a solid taste level and given hints of a performance ability some of the other queens seem to lack.
As much as some of them might want to make her out to be easy pickings, it’s increasingly obvious she has the ability to play spoiler in a way that other low-ranked girls aren’t able.
6. Kendra Onixxx
(Was 5; Average rank of 5.5)
Kendra Onixxx (Instagram) brings one of the best deaths to the Wild West, but her presentation is a bit lacking.
Her death by a plague of boils easily bests the too-pretty version of the same from James Majesty, and she sells her story marginally better with the inclusion of live rates in her floor show!
Yet, where is the scare factor with Kendra beyond her makeup effects and living props? She mostly just staggers around, which makes her better look ranked lower than Biqtch Puddin’s terrifying presentation. Kendra’s looks are fine, but they don’t scream a compelling backstory like some of the other queens.
I enjoy Kendra’s fabulous soldier persona and her witchy aesthetic, but she needs to push her shock factor way beyond what we’ve seen in this pair of episodes to avoid getting stuck in the bottom of the ranks repeatedly.
7. James Majesty
(Was 2; Average rank of 4.5)
James Majesty (Instagram / Twitter (NSFW!) / Facebook) goes way too subtle and glamorous this week with her vaguely diseased pretty women. Maybe she died of measles, but she looked great while she was doing it.
It’s not just that James’s make-up job was underwhelmingly filthy – it’s that her performance was barely there. Last week all James had to do to win in her stunning Cenobite make-up was strut provocatively to sell its disturbing sex appeal. This week she has to tell a story with her presentation, and she’s simply wasn’t up to the task.
How did her pioneer woman die? Probably a prostitute, because why not, but then why is she carelessly swinging on a playground? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if she was nurse or school teacher, caring for diseased children who fell prey to the same disease?
I have no doubt that James is going to continue to paint circles around the other girls with her makeup skills, but my assessment from Episode 1 still stands – she’s a little too obsessed with glamour and not enough with horror and filth.
8. Erika Klash
(Was 9; Average rank of 8.5)
Erika’s concept of a girl who was raised by (and died by) wolves was one of the cleverest in the episode, but she didn’t push it all the way in execution. What could have been visceral and terrifying if it had claws for hands and was adorned with bloody entrails came off silly thanks to pair of stuffed-animal paws.
It’s a pity Erika disarmed her concept with the cartoonish detailing, because her look brought something unique to the floor show without stinking of appropriation as Dahli’s did.
With two weeks at the bottom of the rankings, it’s really looking like Erika is the weakest link in the cast. Unless next week’s theme is a little less conventionally horrific, I think Erika is headed for an execution.
And the dearly departed…
Monikkie Shame (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) showed that she was way more of a personal creep than a creep in drag. We didn’t get any of her imaginative, technicolor confessional look – instead, just a bland nylon mask and an old-timey dress. It’s a pity she missed the mark so widely here, as she could have pushed her masked concept a lot farther and it would have been nice to keep a such an unpredictable queen in the competition to keep it rude.