This week the 13 queens of Drag Race split into two teams to perform a musical parody of outrageous pharmaceutical advertisements. It’s a weird challenge that brings to mind the early seasons of the show, when challenges were deliberately ridiculous and meant to poke fun at the absurdity of other reality programs.
Slotting a straight-up performance challenge (complete with choreography from Drag Race All Stars alumnae Alyssa Edwards) after a classic design challenge really shakes up our ranking! Only a single queen holds on to her spot from last week’s ranking and ten of our girls wind up with an average between 6 and 10, which shows just how much the tables have turned from last week.
All right, readers – start your engines. And may the best woman … win!
1. Miz Cracker
Miz Cracker wasn’t the most-memorable member of her lip sync chorus, but she held her and herself well and had what might be the most-memorable signature look of the night.
Cracker’s lip sync was perfection in that she nailed all of the moves but still managed to maintain her slightly daffy character mannerisms. It’s impressive in the same way as watching an actor act as an actor acting badly. Her dancing wasn’t stilted or incorrect – she simply danced way that’s easily identifiable as her character.
On the runway, Cracker’s her golden C3P-Ho dress with a massive rectangle of cracker hair was spectacular. It’s a unforgettable high-fashion look that immediately seared itself into my brain as “Signature Cracker.”
No other queen this season understands her brand as well as Cracker, no one else is as funny, and so far few are coming close to touching her runway presentation. I’m not quite convinced she is what RuPaul is looking for as America’s Next Drag Superstar, but she’s already seeming invincible.
2. Asia O’Hara
Asia O’Hara was saved by a truly stunning runway after slightly botching her turn as a team lead, which was maybe down to how much energy she spent on corralling Eureka rather than coaching her team or working on her own performance.
I’m not so sure what the judges were seeing in the lip sync, where Asia was mostly noticeable for her dazzlingly white teeth and not for any specific performance. At points she seemed really out-of-sync, but that could be the fault of almost all of the other girls not hitting the beat with their choreography.
The judges were living for Asia’s runway look, and I understand why. Usually any kind of “showgirl” look is completely reliant on feathers or rhinestones to sell the garment. Asia’s is both stylish an altogether beautiful. A simple V of ruffles on the front that is mirrored by a frilly half capes on the back, which flows down into a capelet extending from the waist. The pink could not possibly be more pink – it’s pretty much PANTONE Pink C. The nude illusion of the suit is perfectly matched to Asia’s skin tone, and her accessorizing is perfect.
This was a redeeming runway for Asia, whose taste level may have been a bit questionable in her ultra-busy Drag On a Dime look last week. It feels like she is getting the “old pro” narrative just as much as Mayhem is.
3. Mayhem Miller
Mayhem Miller stood out in the lip sync extravaganza thanks to a featured spot in the final song, plus her look was one of the few tonight that really feels like “best” drag.
It’s a good thing Mayhem was the featured singer in the lip sync finale, because she didn’t find any memorable moments in her team’s own lip sync. Maybe that’s just because the script gave her such a plum role in the closing number, but it’s not a good thing to see this pro so easily overshadowed by five strong competitors.
Mayhem more than made up for the plainness of her performance in a stunning, red-carpet-worthy, turquoise gown with golden flowers. The fabric is beautiful and it helped Mayhem easily sell the illusion of old Hollywood glamour. Paired with her all-gloves look from last week, it seems like she may be one of the dominant runway queens of the season.
It probably doesn’t mean a lot for Mayhem to have a somewhat invisible edit this week after she dominated last week. The way the edit treats her next episode will be telling. Can she lock up the top three with Asia and Cracker this early in the season?
4. Kameron Michaels
Kameron Michaels made a stealthy comeback this week, delivering by far the best of all the lip sync performances and bucking expectations for her to always show up as a “muscle fish” on the runway by bringing a pretty pink butterfly fantasy that looks like a Lisa Frank illustration brought to life.
Kameron slayed the PharmaRusical. Slayed. She was fierce in every grouping of girls, but what was more surprising was her totally hammy solo performance in their second number. Along with Dusty’s extended solo, it was the most memorable element of the entire performance.
It also gave us an extended look at Kameron’s absolutely beautiful mug. For a queen who reads as a totally masculine boy with strong features, it’s amazing how much boy Kameron disappears in his female illusion.
Kameron’s “Butterfly Queen from Ferngully” runway wasn’t exactly sexy, but it was well-constructed and fun. It might have been more of a stunner without the bodysuit (or, at least with it as a one-piece bathing suit), but Kameron’s tattoos might make that impractical. I also could have done without quite so much pink on her face, which really cut into the striking asymmetrical lump of hair.
It doesn’t seem like Kameron is inclined to deliver to many juicy soundbites in her confessionals, but she was nothing but strong in this episode – even her workroom contributions were on point. She might be the case of a smart queen who simply isn’t as ready with reads and riffs as her competitors.
5. Dusty Ray Bottoms
We may be in for a big surprise from Dusty Ray Bottoms this season. She was electric in this episode, delivering the most memorable of all of the PharmaRusical lip syncs and dazzling on the runway in a pantsless, Beetlejuice-style, black and white striped blazer.
Given Dusty’s penchant for androgynous punk, it was surprising to see her pull off a Grease-inspired doo-wop dance so effortlessly in the Rusical. Not only did she pull it off, but it was riveting – perfectly executed and coquettish. I don’t know what I was expecting from Dusty, but it wasn’t this amount of fine control.
Then, on the runway, Dusty delivered perfectly simple sexiness in a wide black-and-white stripes offset by a garish polka-dot ascot. It’s utterly perfect – just ugly enough to be beautiful, which is a perfect summation of Dusty’s drag aesthetic.
Dusty’s look was strong, but there were some elements of it I might change up. I wish her fishnets were a little more strategically ripped, or even with sewn-on appliqués to continue her dots theme from her ascot Also, her strappy shoes felt wrong – an outrageous combat boot with a stiletto heel would have sold the look better.
I don’t think Dusty is suddenly surging towards the finals, but her ability to edit here speaks volumes for her chances to squeak into the top half of the race against this killer cast.
6. Blair St. Claire
Blair St. Claire was pleasantly surprising this episode, showing that she might not be just another youthful pretty face in the style of Farrah Moan .
Blair’s lip sync performance was a real revelation, despite looking like a baby giraffe with four left feet during rehearsal with Alyssa Edwards. She turned what could have been a disastrous showing into something charming and ethereal. She has an ineffable Tinkerbell quality to her on stage that makes her fun to watch.
Blair’s signature drag look was the most expensive-looking of the night, even if it was too heavy for her tiny frame – take a look at how low her breasts are placed! It was well-received by the judges, but I hope Blair has a setting other than “Emma Stone at the Oscars.”
This makes two episodes in a row with positive notices for Blair, and she seems relatively unflappable behind the scenes. Could she be the official ingenue of Season Ten?
7. The Vixen
The Vixen is still here to fight, but despite winning the week she was weak in this episode. Is this second-episode win already her pinnacle on the show?
Vixen’s looks this episode really don’t work for me, in the same way neither of her looks worked last episode. If I was grading maxi-challenge looks, her ill-fitted gold one-suit and messy wigline would be a clear boot. While her lip syncing is strong, her body movements are all “boy” – long, gangly, and aggressive. Everything about her screams, “skinny dude in a dress” except for her mug.
On the runway, Vixen’s outfit has the same cheap “art school project” quality as her shoddy entrance look. The flame theme is lovely, but there is just nothing to this garment to give it shape or to disguise Vixen’s boy body, and you can see a solid inch of her hair before the line of her shiny red wig. Maybe if her look wasn’t constructed entirely out of limp glitter vinyl (a fabric I know and love) it would work a little better, as the pattern of the garment seems cool – especially the simple, sheer pencil skirt beneath the flair at her waiste.
As executed, it’s a mess. I’m not sure who should be more embarrassed that she won while wearing it – The Vixen herself or the Drag Race producers.
I’m honestly at a loss for how Vixen won over everyone else on her team, who all out-performed and out-modeled her. I suppose there’s something to be said for being the brains behind a successful operation, but I’m starting to doubt if Vixen is going to turn any complete and completely-stunning looks this season (or any wigs that actually cover her hairline). She might really just be here to fight.
8. Monet X Change
Monet X Change impressed as a lip sync slayer in this challenge, and her understated glam body suit was a wise choice as a follow-up to her disastrous sponge dress.
Monet absolutely destroyed the lip sync challenge. While she didn’t have a singular memorable role like Dusty or Mayhem, she popped up at least once in every song to deliver a little bit of cross-eyed madness. She proved that she can pull focus with even the tiniest bit of business.
Monet made a wise move on the runway, going with a simple ruby red cat suit that she bejeweled the bejesus out of. It’s not my favorite look of all time, but it’s fundamentally unbootable because it’s a sound garment. A little splash of contrast might have helped it pop more, like a yellow or silver sash around the waist – but, it could have also junked up a classy look.
Also, there’s something very boxy and masculine about the proportions of her frame, and I’m not sure how it could have been fixed – more cinching, bigger breasts, or wider shoulders?
It’s easy to imagine Monet sending several other girls home in lip syncs, which might be necessary if she doesn’t step up her fashion game in the coming weeks.
9. Monique Heart
Monique Heart is quickly emerging as memorable fan-favorite contestant, but her charms seem to be completely lost on the judges. They couldn’t recall her (quite good) lip sync performance and were confused by her runway reveal from Cookie Monster into “see me with them hands.”
I’m with the judges on the runway read, but totally puzzled by their reaction to the lip sync. Are they getting all of their black queens confused just like Yuhua did last week?
In all seriousness, I think they have Monique confused with Asia in the lip sync challenge. While Asia was hardly featured in their performance, Monique was one of the strongest background lip syncers in the bunch – perhaps even better than Monet! Plus, she was at the front of her team’s opening number and their second drug pitch, and she was terrific both times. I caught her make a few fumbles in her choreography, but that was only after rewatching the footage several times.
Monique would be fine if the judges thought she was fading into the background in the challenge but loved her runway look, but she made some choices on the runway tonight. Her Cookie Monster look with a google-eye headpiece was more curio than couture. It didn’t really have a shape. Then, the tearaway reveal to a slightly tacky sequined one-piece (with an exposed-but-padded ass) made no sense! The two garments had no relation to each other, and each one made the other look even cheaper.
I think if the judges already were feeling a sense of kookiness from Monique her runway could have worked for her, but it felt much more like something we’d expect from Yuhua at this point. It feels like Monique is already handicapped heavily with a poor edit after missing the top with the best outfit of week one and now being close to the Bottom Two. It’s going to take a lot for her to bounce back.
10. Yuhua Hamasaki
This was a weird week for Yuhua Hamasaki. She stands out repeatedly (in a good way!) in the midst of her team’s lumpy lip sync performance, but gets read on the runway – first for her pedestrian “best” drag and then for talking back.
Yuhua plays a squeaky, geeky role in the lip sync, appearing as a scientist, best friend, and deliverer of disclaimers.Selling a nerdy character who is still cute is a difficult feat that has felled many queens in the past, but Yuhua nails it. It’s all rather adorable, even if it’s firmly a background role.
Yuhua’s runway is a bit of a mess. Her glittery, high-necked blue one-piece might have been saved if it was dressed up differently, but everything else about her presentation is heavy. The ruffled blue jacket. The massive lump of hair. The sheer black sleeves. The cheap, too-busy fishnets. The chunky black heels.
It all feels like its weighing her down – especially all of the black. It makes her spangled suit seem dull and overly demure. With a set of lighter accessories, a beautiful updo, and bare legs, it might have come off as something more delicate and lovely.
It’s hard to know what to expect for Yuhua based on what we’ve seen so far. She can construct a garment, but her taste level might be questionable. She’s quick-witted, but… her taste level might be questionable. Right now she doesn’t feel like a queen who can make a deep run against these ferocious competitors.
Aquaria contributed little to this week’s competition, with a lackluster lip sync as an old lady and a downright ugly look on the runway.
Aquaria’s awkward dancing in the challenge was more like what I expected from Blair after seeing the rehearsals. She knew her moves, but they come off stilted.
Also, her old lady gag in the final song from her team simply fell flat. She let her pink dressing gown do a lot of the character work for her, but its billowing silhouette visually dragged down her team the entire time.
Aquaria’s runway was hideous. One of my least favorites of all time. There is not a single redeeming thing about it.
Drag with a flat chest is fine, but at the point you’re cavalierly showing your boy nipples in a sheer black mermaid dress with weighty fuzz on the bottom and overalls on the top I question if you’re delivering drag or just incredibly misguided fashion. Adorning it with nose rings and a sad pair of flat liberty spikes does nothing to sell it.
I can’t help but draw a comparison between Aquaria and Violet Chatcki as young, confident, fashion-forward queens. The difference is that Violet’s performance and runway always backed up her backstage bluster. Aquaria’s does not. The judges seem to be living for her, but that’s only going to take her so far if she can’t deliver a solid performance or a gag-worthy runway.
12. Eureka O’Hara
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Eureka O’Hara showed off the worst she has to offer in this episode, which is by far her weakest performance out of her two seasons on the show.
Eureka’s challenge performance was abysmal. Her choreography is tentative and even watching with the sound turned off her lip sync looks stilted, and with the musical playing she simple doesn’t match up with it at all.
Eureka’s mermaid sequin body suit could have been a success but it came off as messy in the presentation.
If you have an entire body made of two-way reversible sequins, wouldn’t you want to be strategic about changing them over? Maybe do an iconic hands on boobs (like Monique’s look), or sketch lines with her fingers? Instead, Eureka’s just mashes two of her hands across her torso with all the sexiness of someone modeling a garden shovel. She kind of makes handprints on her ass, but they just look like a pair of pink smudges.
Then, she doesn’t even reset those marks for her lip sync! The body suit goes from a striking set of color blocks to a purple muddle.
Eureka’s performance this week was so sloppy, and a mess of tears cannot redeem her. This is not the style-conscious, highly-detailed queen who I was expecting to come out on top this season. Eureka needs to get her head in the game ASAP, because right now there are some complaints.
Sashay Away… Kalorie Karbdashian Williams
Kalorie Williams seemed really crushed about letting down her scene and her state, but even as the second queen out I don’t see that as the case.
We’ve seen a lot of train wrecks over the years of Drag Race, and Kalorie wasn’t that. She is a beautiful queen who simply might have thrown her wig into the ring a season or two too soon for her journey as a drag queen. That seems obvious from a viewer’s perspective, but clearly Kalorie came to Drag Race thinking she could win. No one goes through all of the trouble of prepping for this show only to become cannon fodder!
Rather than a case of “Delusion: Convince Yourself,”Kalorie’s story fits the theme of early out queens coming from smaller drag markets where they’ve become the cream of the crop without having the deep bench of competition you might find in New York or Chicago. Of all of our recent early-out queens, only Naysha Lopez qualifies as someone from a major scene with national competition chops – and she was brought back to the race because of it!