Twelve queens makes for a lot of men in wigs to wrangle, so rather than do a straight recap of this episode I’m going to describe the general structure, then break things down queen by queen through the judges comments, and finally handle the lip sync at the end.
The intro of the show counts up the most memorable moments from the first 99 episodes from the premiere of Season 1 right through Violet’s queening “Come Through!” at the end of Season 7. You certainly can’t accuse this show of not knowing its own viral moments.
After the 12 girls enter the room and introduce themselves. They aren’t too demographically unique from prior seasons with the exception that there is not a single big queen – Kim Chi is the curviest one, and she’s tiny!
Ru appears to the girls via a video that hits tons of the major catchphrases of the show, though no one quite catches on to the theme of guest stars from seasons past even when boy Ru comes into the room to say hello.
As for the past champions and their Mathu Anderson photo shoot? Bebe Zahara Benet is in high drag – a full-length purple gown, spectacular glittering make-up that draws attention to her eyes, and massive buns of silver costume jewelry and a big loop of hair atop her head. Tyra Sanchez is in basic Beyonce cosplay of black lace over a leather bikini with a ratty blonde wig, and at this point she really just ought to retroactively cede the crown to Raven. Raja is wearing some sort of Hannibal Lector as a Drag Queen in Space facial mask of jewelry that is perfectly weird over a sedate black ensemble. Sharon Needles is in a high-collared full-length velvet dress with big pairs of buttons, slightly masculine features, and bubble-gum pink bouffant. Chad Michaels is the vision of Cher in her 80s leather phase. Jinkx Monsoon is in peach old-film glamour with a stunning head of firey red-orange hair. Violet Chachki looks perhaps better than she ever did on the show as an all-pink Vegas showgirl with gray-lavender hair (I just had that look!)
Oh, and they brought a circus clown to stand in for Bianca! The ladies don’t do or say much during the shoot, although Sharon – ever the queen of comebacks – answers an “OMG” with, “Not really a god, but… close enough.”
Once the shoot is over, the girls visit the runway as boys, where they learn that the maxi-challenge of the week is to repeat a design challenge from a past season! OMG, and to make the announcement, Morgan McMichael’s will launch a ping pong ball from her imaginary vagina. Wow, they are pulling out all the stops here. Robbie (more on this shady little beast, below) is the one assigning the past challenges.
The returning ladies and challenges are as follows, presented in trios.
- Shannel (S1) with Drag on a Dime for Naysha.
- Latrice Royale (S4) with Pride Floats for Naomi.
- Violet Chachki (S7) with Money Ball (S3) (could they not get Manila?) for Acid Betty.
- Jinkx Monsoon (S5) with Sugar Ball (hilariously, since it was one of Jinkx’s worst challenges of the season) for Cynthia.
- Tyra Sanchez (S2) with Glitter Ball (S6) for Chi Chi.
- Chad Michaels (S4) with Post Apocalyptic (how do you not have Sharon present this one!) for Laila.
- Raja (S3) with Cake Couture (one of the most flexible challenges) for Thorgy.
- BeBe (S1) with Hair Ball (S3) for Kim Chi. Damn, these balls are hard.
- Hello Kitty presents her own S7 challenge (and they use Katya’s photo – cruel!) for Dax
- Raven (S2 YASSS QUEEN) with Gone with the Window
- Pit Crew with The Queen Who Mopped Christmas (S3) to Derrick
- Sharon Needles (S4) with Bitch Ball (one of the easier balls) to Robbie.
On to the queens!
Naomi Smalls, age 21
When it comes to Drag Race entrances, you have to tune yours so it reads big in an empty room and slays in a full one.
I think Naomi benefited from the empty room and would have done just okay in a full one. Her motto? “Check your lipstick before you come for me.” It’s a decent phrase, but it’s not unique to her and she’s too sweet and slight a girl for it to be scary. She is wearing a complex, lacy one-piece bathing suit that is nearly with very little hidden from view, and she indeed has one of the best sets of legs in Drag Race history. She’s also into showing off boy body, with a totally flat chest.
Naomi does not contribute too much to the chatter with other queens, other than “It’s Storm!” in response to Dax. Similarly, she seems a little overwhelmed by the past queens. Yet, there she can rely on that body-ody-ody where her personality lacks. She works the camera like a professional model. Matthu is impressed, and I give her credit for being a little savvier than the robotic (if enduringly lovable) Miss Fame (to whom I see some parallels).
Violet is living for Naomi except for how she has “cliffhangers” – i.e., her toes are too big for her open-toed shoes. Having done a tiny skoach of drag costuming for men before, GOOD LUCK if you’re a guy with over size 10 feet.
Robbie’s choice of Hope Floats for Naomi is most certainly a shady choice – the boat is all about covering up Naomi’s stunning legs. Naomi is not only terrified about the boat inhibiting her walk – she’s afraid she might not even be able to lift it! “It’s like the thing that covers up the only thing I love about my body!” And, the next day, “This thing is TOO big, and that’s not normally a complaint.”
Naomi continues to be a non-entity for most of the episode, although she’s snappy enough in brief interviews. “Now I get why girls have emotional breakdowns,” she confesses once Ru leaves the workroom. Coming from one of the craftier contestants of the season, this is a pretty telling comment about the shortness of time they have to prepare.
Runway: The boat itself is a bit of a mess, which would not have played well in the original challenge. Beneath, she’s wearing an ultra-simplified sheath dress that leaves her practically nude over another flat chest.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine, age 34
This Puerto Rico queen walks in with heat and a well-rehearsed phrase in Spanglish, “Howya doin’, mis amores! Do you want to see my coocoo?” Her dress would be a plain red cocktail number except for the wide diagonal swath replaced with a lettered print fabric and a cutout at the chest for a glittering bikini to show through. I like it – it’s fashionable but also unique and on-brand for her cuckoo coocoo.
There’s a faint whiff of “trying too hard” from her monologuing to Naomi, but it could be that she came in amped to play to a bigger room and needs to ride out that excitement. Indeed, as the queens accumulate, her antics continue – her whistled frog calls are deadpan hilarious. Also, I already love her boy commentary.
In the challenge, Cynthia is a bit silly in her approach to the photos. If she kept it up it might have been unprofessional, but she also gave amazing face throughout. Her final shot is a stunner and she is perfectly balanced in the space.
All of the Ball challenges are the hardest ones, yet Robbie’s pick of Sugar Ball for Cynthia does not feel shady. She seems like a crafty queen and this has a lot of potential component piece. She’s going to slay it.
Runway: Her sugar ball creation is more solid than sweet: a candy-lined corset and a flowing half-cape from the waist (which she rips off at the end to reveal a bikini bottom). Very Courtney Act, mate. This might not have survived the cut at the ball, though it’s not more hideous than what Jinkx or Detox served.
Dax Exclamation Point, age 31
Dax comes in with an aggressive, “What’s up, nerds!” She opines she is all about cosplay, sci-fi, comic books, and “strong bad bitches who don’t any crap.”
Comic book criticism: if you are going to cosplay leather Storm, you better be ready with your mohawk and your colored contacts. Non-comic criticism: this is just a weak drag look – it’s Storm at her most masculine, but it’s not even played as punk rock as Storm took it. Dax’s breasts are all wrong – the chest piece of her shirt is sagging and her shading is wide and uneven.
For her signature look, this is a pretty weak drag.
Also, if she is going to do a lot of cosplaying on the main stage, I can see the judges (and other contestants) coming for her with, “Well, that’s not really drag, is it?” because she is more about portraying an array of female characters as a fan rather than a consistent queen identity. Yet, how is that different than an impersonator? It’s actually a pretty interesting question that I hope will get some play as the season wears on.
That all said, in the legs-for-days category she is going to give Naomi major competition. Although, her needing to sit down and rest a minute after entering doesn’t speak volumes about her stick-to-it-ness.
Her mediocre Storm outfit is flat in the group photo shoot, as is her peppy energy. This is exactly what I’m afraid of with her – no editorial and no drama. Despite the plain photo, she is given a gift from on high with the kitschiest challenge on Hello Kitty. She may have birthed a Kitty on stage in response to Robbie’s assignment. It’s totally non-shady to give the geek queen the biggest brand in the group, unless you were hoping that cuddly kitties would be out of her sci-fi wheelhouse.
“Anything a 12-year old asian girl wants, I want it more. I feel like a neon 80s nightmare.” Oh snap, she stole Acid Betty’s whole raison d’etre. In the workroom we get a brief glimpse at her sketching her look.
Runway: Dax killed her challenge. She’s got a Hello Kitty Jessica Rabbit mashup vibe going with a clingy short skirt and a bust-line ringed with subtle kitty touches, plus massive blond hair with bows. This is considerably less weird to what the ladies brought for the original kitty week, but it would have easily saved her from the bottom two with Kennedy and Katya.
Naysha Lopez, age 31
He opening phrase is, “Hola, the beauty is here,” punctuated by over-effectuated voguing. It looks pretty silly and is not the high elegance she’s shooting for.
Naysha is a gorgeous girl but very standard-issue – long black wig with bangs, Black Swan feathered high-necked long-sleeved blouse with gloves, too-short mega-pleated skirt which shows her underwear (tacky).
I immediately get a Phi Phi O’Hara vibe from her in the room that is underlined by her interview, “the most important part of my drag is… appearance.”I expect her to yell at Dax to go back to Party City. On her look: “It’s flawless, it’s stunning, it’s gorgeous.”Her word “flawless” is timed to showing her tacky exposed underwear. She’s just not stunning enough for that description – she’s a more handsome boy than she is a gorgeous woman.
Naysha is the first queen we see hit the photo-shoot of champions. She is enthused and seems non-intimidated. This is where her self-confident fishiness will serve her well. She gives amazing face and her outfit actually fits in quite well with the past queens – it’s a little adventurous, but still classic drag. She gives great face.
Robbie’s assignment of Drag on a Dime is maybe a slightly shady choice for a pageant queen; this is more Chi Chi’s realm. Naysha interviews, “I don’t do drag on a dime.” Oh, Naysha, I had such high hopes for you. Even some of the most label-whore queens of seasons past (ahem, Willam) were not afraid of skanking it up on the runway (although, to be fair, the juxtaposition of ultra-chic and ultra-cheap was kind of Willam’s brand). Then, as if this was not enough, “I’m a pageant girl. I brought so many beautiful garments.”
Nope nope nope nope nope nope. You are not the next drag superstar, and all of my initial concerns about you have proven true. She is complaining about a neon pink piggybank in her dime store haul when half the other queens are probably coveting it for a hat or bustier. Chi Chi looks like she is going to backhand her.
The Chi Chi vs. Naysha narrative continues the next day, when Naysha reveals she won the Intercontinental drag pageant. Thorgy is genuinely cute in her enthusiasm, but Chi Chi responds, “I hate pageants,” in deadpan. More on that below with Chi Chi
Runway: She did not find massive success. A Greek Goddess inspired dress with a tall gold corset looks like someone gave you a bottle of wine as a last minute gift by throwing wrapping paper at it and then putting a big fat rubber band around the middle. To her credit, when we see it from the back she has actually fashioned a corset – complete with laces – out of whatever gold thing died to make her outfit. It’s open on one leg all the way up to her hip not so much by design but because that’s where the fabric opened.
Acid Betty, age 37
This queen comes in with blinders on, lest she fall prey to her own cloud of hairspray. “No need to adjust your TV sets… (tosses away her mask) this acid trip is all real.”
I won’t lie, I am living for this a little. She’s like a technicolor Disney villain, with the figure and wide-shouldered-fashion of Cruella de Vil and the borderline masculine hair of Ursula (or Hades from Hercules).
After a season of a lot of sweet backstabbers, it’s refreshing to have a queen who comes right out and says she’s a bitch. “Even Bianca won’t fuck with her – that’s the tea.” I didn’t take that to be that she’s mean, just self-focused – as her jog around the room to spread her hairspray scent illustrated. The other queens sat in stunned silence. Yeah: this is a girl we’ll love to hate to love, in the style of Detox.
Acid Betty is so over the past queens that she draws instant eye rolls in response from both the old and new (Bebe and Violet, respectively). Her electric lizard act is closest to Sharon, but with the scream queen toned down here Betty looks a little foolish and even more masculine as she carefully poses to block the older queens (which I think misses the point – the goal here is to fit in, not stand out).
Out of drag, Betty keeps up the Acid Bitch routine with the other ladies. I feel like it’s a little too early to be so ruthlessly awful to everyone – there are many weeks of group work ahead before she can make it to looking out for herself.
Robbie’s assignment of Money Ball involves a lot of work, so it might seem a little shady, but it’s actually a good theme for the creative and psychedelic Betty. Upon being assigned, “This is the competition I came here for! To show people I can make something out of nothing. That is what I do.” In the room she is screaming in excitement, which is kind of crazy seeing as Money Ball went down as one of the most-stressful challenges of all time.
In chatting with Ru, Betty comes off a little sweeter while still shady, which makes her outright bitch routine seem a lot faker by comparison. She knows how to tone it down. She calls the Brooklyn drag scene “hairy.” Ru tries the skeptic routine on her Money Ball prep, but Betty is unshakeable – she’s building a base before she attaches all of the money to the outfit. We later learn that Bob’s constant chatting actually rattles Acid Betty’s focus.
Runway: Acid Betty killed the Money Ball. She is in skirt with a steep assymmetrical hem with banded colors of money, but the assymmetry sweeps up behind her head for a massive backsplash. It’s amazing. She might have won the week even against the stunners from S3, and that was one of the best (and most depressing) runways of all time!
Robbie Turner, age 33
“Good morning… I didn’t realize this was happening today,” yawns the ginger old-film-star imitation that saunters into the room in her sleepwear.
Let’s unpack that for a moment, shall we? That’s something you say when your look is so “I just got out of bed” effortless that you can play the coquette. It’s not something you say wearing a ho-hum nighty over garters with eight pounds of costume jewelry in a thirsty wig with uneven eyebrows.
In interview she opines that she’s old Hollywood gorgeous just as the camera pans up to her clownish mug. Despite doing drag for 14 years (“I’m only 12,” she jokes flatly), this girl looks like a rejected Jinkx Monsoon impersonator, right down to the snaggled smile. Not a single detail of her is as on-point as Jinkx’s worst day save for her beautiful vintage gown.
As a boy she’s fake nice and… no. I have no time for this. Mrs. Sasha Davis had this cocktail perfected last season, and she still didn’t make it to the halfway point. Acid Betty defuses her in a hot second (with a multi-entendre, “you don’t look old”) and grins determinedly as a flustered Robbie has no comeback.
Robbie is floored by the past queens, possible because she is in Jinkx cosplay of the exact thing Jinkx is wearing. This is made all the more annoying by the fact that they are both Seattle queens and Robbie is clearly just biting Jinkx’s look. Robbie does a lot of hair tossing and standing in front of Sharon, and doesn’t play well with her when Sharon icily points it out. I think some queens missed that the point of this challenge was to understand how you play with others when they aren’t your peers in a competition.
Robbie is annoying in every commentary. She whines about every single thing. Surprisingly, she is only moderately shady in her challenge assignments, but in the process forgets to save a plum one for herself and winds up with the Doggie Ball. Not the hardest, but she had some better choices along the way that would have played to her vintage vibes. “So, I’m looking through my materials and realizing a lot of these things can’t be turned INTO CLOTHING.”
Runway: Robbie fails hard at this. She tries to design a sort of Bettie Page number out of what looks like faux fur or plastic fringe and she gets everything wrong. It makes her look three times as wide as she actually is, and the low breast-line makes her wide expanse of chest look as flat Florida swampland. To her credit, she’s serving excellent face – her best all episode, but it’s a wreck.
“The dog is looking at me like, ‘get me the fuck out of here.’ I’m looking at the dog like, ‘get ME the fuck out of here.’ This is not going well.”
Kim Chi, age 27
The girls have a bit of a freak-out as Insta-Queen Kim Chi enters the work room. “I came to chop through the competition,” she claims, wielding a set of lavender dagger nails. She is in an asymmetrical all-lavender kimono with matching curly locks and white pumps.
(Dax is having none of it; Naomi is stanning.)
Whereas Kim Chi came off a little flat and unsure in her intro video, she is magnetic on the set – both in the room and in interview, where her dorky charm is set to stun. “I may come across shy because I’m soft-spoken,” she interviews, “but [reaches off camera and comes back wielding a pastry] doughnut come for me, ‘cause I’ll destroy you. [Cracking herself up.]”
The past queens seem to be entirely aware of Kim Chi (and maybe a bit pleased that she’s there – Chad: “She’s like JuJu Bee on steroids”). Kim’s a bit in the other queen’s light, and she meekly tiptoes back and forth before finding a non-obtrusive spot on the couch. This shrinking violet routine is going to be a problem for her. Despite that, her final photo is glorious – she’s exploding from the center of the couch like the stamen of a flower.
As for her Hair Ball challenge, at least Robbie didn’t racially profile her with Hello Kitty? It’s still one of the hardest challenges of all time. Kim Chi wants to “find a way to celebrate this beige color” of most of the hair. Beige is kryptonite to Acid Betty, who quickly flees the scene. In the workroom, we learn that Kim Chi has only been doing drag for two and half years and has yet to truly come out as a drag queen to her mom.
Runway: Kim Chi serves one of the most outlandish self-made runway outfits OF ALL TIME. She has turned herself into a sort of cowardly fashion lion. She amped up the dirty blonde wigs she used as epaulettes with a shower of gold. It’s not the most high-fashion thing we’ve seen, but on sheer ingenuity it’s impressive as hell. This girl came to sew, y’all.
Thorgy Thor, age 31
In walks a showgirl in the Ivy Winters vein but with the kook of a Tammy Brown. “Whoo! Thorgy with a T, H, and Orgy, and I feel incredible.”
I’m happy to see how Thorgy varies from her Meet The Queen here – her look isn’t rockabilly, and she’s turned up the shrillness of her personality. Neither are winning qualities, but it shows she can adapt to compete with some of the other more versatile girls. “My drag style is eclectic – I can be campy, but I can be fucking fierce.”
As a boy she looks like a girl – almost identical to Cosima from Orphan Black with her shock of braids or dreadlocks. I love it. She has a lot of charm, but I’m always wary of any self-described “fashion clown” because no one will own that put-down like Bianca did.
Acid Betty knows Thorgy from the NYC scene and seems only halfway happy to see her there (“Fuck you, Thorgy,” is her greeting, which reads harsher than it played in the room), and Thorgy feels the same (to the other girls: “She’s going to be a lot. She’s going to be EXTRA.”)
The plastic, haggish aspects of her showgirl look are on unfortunate display with the past queens – here she is no Ivy Winters. It looks cheap next to the other girls, and not in an endearing way. Raja, of all people, seemed to dig it, but Matthu is having a hard time getting “bigger” out of her without it just being an arms-in-air pose.
Thorgy Thor gets the first post-challenge assignment interview, and she is psyched to tackle her cake challenge. She’s adorable. I just love this man – he’s a sweetheart, which only reinforces the Ivy Winters vibe.
Runway: Thorgy delivers some Sharon Needles realness from top to bottom in a slinky red lace dress that’s snug to her curves. It has just the right hem length to gently kiss the floor when she’s standing still but show off her shoes as she walks.
Bob The Drag Queen, age 29
Bob walks in with no catchphrase but a cocky smirk with hand-on-hip, which she holds for an overlong beat before picking her teeth and flicking the results at the other queens. She’s in a possibly off-the-rack black and white long-sleeved one-piece bathing suite with “UNT” spelled across the front. She looks for all the world like Andre Braugher in a wig.
If that sounded like me coming for her… nope. Bob is such a star that she pretty much sucks the oxygen out of the room without saying a word. It barely matters what she has on, and what she does have on looks stunning and girlish even though it’s not a bomb of bright colors and glitter. Bob tosses off an actual woman vibe so simply that her antics (she swims across the work tables to reach her NYC friends Betty and Thorgy) seem less put on and more actually like your most-whacky lady friend.
She interviews, “i’m beautiful, talented, and [BIG EYES] HUMBLE.” Thorgy Thor is living for it, going full Rockette kicking over Bob’s supine form before tripping her to continue her routine.
In the photo shoot, Bob is FACE FACE FACE, which is good, because she’s a bit underdressed with this crowd. She gets a little ridiculous and Ru calls out “two more shots,” at which point she decides that rather than tamp it down she’s just going to be specifically ridiculous in the final two. At the point you’ve got Jinkx laughing but have also broken Raja and Sharon, you are a fun person to hang out with. And yet, her tights were ripped (Jinkx, of all people, passes this judgement).
“I’m excited because you get fabric,” Bob opines on her window dressing challenge, “it’s ugly fabric, but – hey girl, at least I got fabric!” This is intercut with her in the room trying to decide if she is going sultry or fugly with her window shade patterns. Indeed, I think this is the easiest of all the challenges that were handed out, except for maybe the cake. Robbie should have kept this for herself.
Ru: How did you get the name Bob the Drag Queen?
Bob: It’s a family name. My dad is named “The Drag Queen,” and Bob stands for big ol’ bottom WHAAAAAAAT!
We know he’s rehearsed this line because we saw it in his Meet the Queen, but it’s still funny. She admits she isn’t the world’s best sewer, but she does think she’s a better stand-up comedian than all these other queens.
Runway: Bob managed something understated and cute – a sort of 60s mod housewife dress constructed from clashing panels of fabric with a flippy long collar, along with a matching headband and clutch. When she spins, the dress flares around her impressively. She wouldn’t have won the original week, but she would have been entirely safe.
Laila McQueen, age 22
“Alright ladies, let’s turn up the juice and see what shakes loose,” mumbles an obvious man in a costume-store purple wig and a woman’s Sexy Beetlejuice costume.
I have to take a step back here to appreciate the wider world of culture I’m critiquing without participating in. People call this show the Olympics of Drag, and that is exemplified by the level of preparation of the competitors. These are largely performance artists or fashion designers who – as a core part of their artistic mission – happen to be doing that in the idiom of impersonating a woman. Yet, you know that this show must receive hundreds of applications from queens who perform lip syncs dressed as women without the high art implications. It’s not really right or fair to slag one of those women when they are cast because (a) they are still living their art and (b) we’ve seen them blossom into something much greater before.
In interview, she opines, “Laila is like a whory, kind-of rockstar… I don’t want to say goth-y, but.. goth-y.” To their credit, the other girls are nice to her, except the the “nice” Robbie who is just rude about her flats.
I hate Robbie already. But, back to Laila: in the shoot she seems like she’s desperately avoiding making eye-contact with Sharon lest she spontaneously combust. Her “ass-hanging out of blazer” look doesn’t photograph well. It doesn’t actually do anything well. Its unwell. She is constantly crumpling into herself to try to create a kittenish look. I feel like she’s never had a director scream at her, “STOP TURNING UPSTAGE.”
Robbie’s choice of the Rupocalypse theme for Laila is actually kind of kind: it’s in her goth-y zone and she gets to have her real life Sharon moment before she gets kicked off. Yet, Laila goes far into negativity as soon as Ru pays her a visit. “I think camouflage is a disgusting component of human culture.” Part of the issue is that she’s not the most articulate boy, so she tends to drop her one big shocker line (like that one) and then she has no small talk to back it up. It actually makes her read as more obnoxious than she is likely trying to be.
Runway: This is a split decision for me. She didn’t too too badly on executing to theme. It’s layers of confusing crap, which works for the apocalypse – a slightly saggy blazer with a spikey shoulder over some form of armor. Yet, the bottom half of the look is the massive boots which are clearly her own and a wide, unflattering bikini bottom, so all we’re really grading is the top part. It’s unfinished in parts, but I think the blazer concept is actually really clever and I love the architectural nature of the spikes.
Chi Chi DeVayne, age 29
“Laissez les bon temps roulez!” (i.e., Let the good times roll) says Chi Chi DeVayne in an elaborate trash-bag dress that might be the most architecturally interesting thing any of them are wearing.
I am all about this queen. I found her a little sleepy in her Meet The Queen, but I saw the possibility for her to be something a little more avant guarde, and he she is serving it from minute-one. “My drag is that real southern dragged out style of drag,” which I think undersells how crafty she is. Robbie has a snarky comment, of course. Honey, in the words of Naomi Smalls, “Check your lipstick before you come for me.”
Chi Chi takes in the scene at the photo shoot and is like “YES.” She doesn’t seem to have any problems hanging in or taking direction.
The Glitter Ball is another high-effort challenge. I may have given it to Derrick, because it’s both in his wheelhouse yet possibly too hard for him. Robbie sends it to Chi Chi, and she’s excited – clearly in her comfort zone with making something from nothing.
In the workroom, we learn Chi Chi has eaten dog treats before, and maybe also opossum? I am loving her more with every time she opens her mouth – she’s sassy, but I feel like she’s not in this to make excuses or cut down other girls. She is just a sassy creature. Every thing she says in the room and interviews just emphasizes that she’s in the game to win and have fun along the way. That means she occasionally comes off as bitchy, but it’s not the same thing as Acid Betty.
Even in her “I hate pageants” exchange with Naysha, she’s open to discussion and hearing about Naysha’s experience. It’s refreshing. I don’t know if we’ve seen a lot of queens have this kind of frank conversation from opposing viewpoints before.
Disaster strikes! When she tries to put on her ties they split in half! Thorgy tries to troubleshoot at the sewing machine, but the fabric is not cooperating.
Runway: Hilariously, it comes off almost verbatim to Adore’s aborted week-one mermaid dress – a shapeless thing held together with a belt. I suppose that’s the best you can hope for when you have a last minute disaster with your fabric.
Derrick Barry, age 32
“It’s Derrick, bitch,” announces this Britney-impersonating queen – our 100th! – before conducting his opening voiceover almost entirely in Britney lyrics.
(Are we counting Shangela once or twice?)
While this is going to get old SO FAST, I will say that he looks even more Britney than Britney ever has. He’s like the ideal Britney. Her one-piece white pant suit fits like the sexiest glove in America. Robbie gets excited to meet Derrick, of all people. Laila also refers to her as “huge competition,” while standing in Bob’s literal shadow.
(“Is Beyonce scared of Britney? Then Bob’s not scared of Derrick.”)
Derrick seems to want to connect with the other girls, but an opening salvo of “Who’s been carb-free for two weeks?” shows how insulated she may be from the drag culture the others are coming from.
It also brings up a good point – I don’t know that we have any body-ody-ody, always nude girls this season the way we have the past few with Violet, Courtney, Trinity, even Detox with her implants. I could see Naomi pushing in that direction, but these girls are more about the illusion of the womanly form than about having a womanly form. Derrick feels like she more closely identifies with the latter half of that spectrum, but later when everyone de-drags we see how toned Derrick is. It’s not surprising given how demanding a Britney act must be, but he’s much more MAN body than Courtney Act’s BOY body.
She comments that she feels as though being Queen 100 let’s her “open a new chapter,” and I enjoy the optimism even if nothing about her screams, “next evolution of drag” the way Violet did from day one.
Sharon: “It’s Britney, witch!” To her eternal credit, Derrick realizes she can play her own art director when it comes to inserting herself into the shoot, and without being manic she tries everything – including moving chairs around. Sharon noticed it, too.
Robbie’s choice of the Christmas theme for Derrick feels a little shady, despite her being the one queen who was a bit starstruck by Derrick, because it’s hard to Britney up Christmas. She is having some paralysis of choice with the gear from her Christmas present of a challenge. When she interviews, “my strategy for this challenge is to still come out with my Britney look” you know something is amiss. I thought the whole point of her was to break out of her little blonde box? Naomi: “Derrick Barry is not creative – obviously, because he’s impersonating someone else his whole life.”
“Like, [I have] this Christmas tree skirt? But I don’t know how to finish a whole outfit!” This kind of reminds me of Adore’s first challenge where she hot-glued the mermaid dress and couldn’t even get it off the mannequin – and, hey, look how well she turned out! The editing is either setting us up for a surprising success or utter failure.
Runway: She goes simple, with a pleated skirt, a red bikini with gilded edges, and a little fur muff. While she maintained her Britney, it could have easily been a little more punk (which would have read more interesting.) She pushed her makeup away from Britney, with a lighter complexion and a wider lip. She whips off the skirt to reveal a tiny bottom with mistletoe.
Best Entrance Looks: Cynthia, Naysha, Derrick, Chi Chi
Worst Entrance Looks: Laila, Robbie
Best Photo Shoot: Derrick working of the entire set owned the shoot, while Naysha and Naomi were model models with beautiful photos.
Worst Photo Shoot: Laila and Robbie simply could not get comfortable, Thorgy was awkward, but Acid Betty made some bad moves. Bob’s silliness might have been dangerous.
Best Runway: Looking at them lined up, it’s clear that Acid Betty trumped everyone, followed by Thorgy Thor and Bob. NYC sweeps the medal stand! Dax and Kim Chi where strong in their theme, but not the most elegant overall.
Worst Runway: Robbie, for sure. Laila next, but Naysha and Chi Chi are also in danger (luckily for Naysha, her fashion shoot was strong).
Who Should Win? I think Ru Paul needs to make a strategic move here and either award Kim Chi for being inventive to break her out of her shell or Acid Betty for pushing boundaries even though that will embolden her even more. Or, she can just award Bob for being the most-interesting queen.
Who Should Lip Sync: Robbie and Laila, obviously, because why risk Chi Chi or Naysha to a lip sync at this stage?
Stepping to the front: Bob, Dax, Cynthia, Chi Chi, Thorgy – this group is clearly safe. That makes sense, since neither Thorgy or Bob delivered the best photo shoots. With a reminder that “safe” isn’t “great,” they head backstage to Untucked.
On Naomi: Nicole Richie likes the boy-chest basics of the look and calls it Studio 54. Michelle liked the float, but she felt like Naomi made too big of a procedure of baring the boat again. Ross is obsessed with the photo, and now that we see it… it’s amazing. Michelle wants that fierceness all the time. Me too, Michelle.
On Naysha: Nicole Richie is obsessed with her beauty, but Carson doesn’t think she posed herself as a standout in the photo. Michelle doesn’t like she undergarments, and Ross Matthews hates the corset. Wow – that went even worse than I thought. She responds with… saying it’s the first dress she’s ever made. Buh-bye, Naysha – it was nice knowing you!
On Acid Betty: Michelle: “I love that you’re different.” Carson loved the avant garde of her photo. I think we might have a winner here.
On Robbie: Ross compliments the photo, and it turns out that it really worked – she looks amazing in it (Violet was caught blinking, unfortunately). Michelle calls her “a blob,” which is entirely accurate. A lot of excuses from Robbie, who thinks her winning personality should keep her out of the bottom (uh… what?).
On Kim Chi: Carson is living for her everything, from photo to runway. “You’re giving me cowardly lion anime realness.” Michele is in love with the facial makeup, but wants to coach her on her runway walk.
On Laila: Both Michelle and Nicole are into the jacket with me, but Michelle also tags the cop-out bottom (as well as the “crumpling” in the photo.) She wrongly calls out Naomi as the weakest link when she had other choices.
On Derrick: Michelle loved her cute outfit even if it was simple. Carson says she made the other winners look like her backup dancers in the photo (maybe not a good thing?). Michelle calls out the elephant in the room and says we can’t see any more Britney out of her, though Ru is not so sure about that.
In private, the judges love Acid Betty, and want more acid out of her. Naysha totally struck out on the photo, and Ru is incredulous that’s she never made a dress before. Michelle loved Kim Chi’s photo and the runway. They’re a bit split on Naomi’s runway, but they are obsessed with her photo. They liked Robbie’s photo, but call her runway “basic.” Michelle is pissed because she thinks she could have turned the theme with a little effort. They all agree Derrick was great and they need less Britney. Michelle and Nicole come for Laila – and, yet, Ross is interested in seeing more.
The queens return. Acid Betty is SAFE, which means Kim Chi won! Go go Kim Chi! The girls are all excited for her. She is adorable. We collectively fall in love. Derrick is safe, as is Naomi.
Naysha is in the bottom two. On one side, ugh. On the other – you know she is a lip sync assassin and is going to drop the other one in a single shot. Robbie is safe, which I suppose is fair, but I HATE HER. That means Laila is in the bottom.
Lip Sync: “Applause” by Lady Gaga! YES! Naysha is a lot of smiley point-poses, whereas Laila is like, “I KNOW MY GAGA.” She just goes into killer android assassin mode while Naysha is being cute. Laila’s really delivering it as if it’s punk rock (which it is), selling messy desperation and major sex while Naysha stands around and does practically nothing. High quality. That’s a clear “Sashay You Stay” for Laila.
Ru Paul Says: Laila stays! This was well-earned. Poor, Naysha. She could have slayed a lot of challenges, but you have to know how to sew a dress, girls!