Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race Recap: Gaffs for Days

Welcome back, hunties. As we recover from one bitch of a hurricane, we're left to reckon with another — the drag queens of RuPaul's Drag Race. As Raven points out, it’s not just about Charisma, Unique, Nerve, Talent (C.U.N.T.), but also Synergy (C.U.N.T.S.). And don’t you forget it.

We’ve slimmed our ranks from twelve to ten (so long, Team Mandora!), and Ru’s next challenge? The “Gaff-In,” because a drag queen needs to stick it to a punch line. But first! We have a special mini-challenge, a get-to-know-you game called InDaButtRu, where each team is tasked with answering questions about each other.

But because the drag queen definition of knowing your partner is different than, say, the Newlywed Game version of knowing your partner, the questions go something like this: “Raven, who would Jujubee say has a tighter tuck?” (The correct answer is Raven.)

Tammie again proves that she’s a few hairs short of a full wig when she guesses that Nina Flowers wears grass for underwear. I can’t even make this up. Because winning is losing in the wonderful world of RuPaul, winning team Rujubee receive pies in the face.

And we’re on to the challenge! The girls have to write material for a variety show that involves Carol Burnett Show regular Vicky Lawrence. Plus, they have to incorporate a celebrity impression. Did you get all that?

Team Latrila proves once again that they’re on top of their game by choosing to impersonate Oprah and Madonna. Can we just give it to Latrice and call it a day? Team Yarlexis are doing Shakira and Charo, because Shakira is a laugh riot. Team Rujubee choose Bea Arthur and Fran Drescher, while Team Shad (Shannel and Chad Michaels) impersonates Bette Davis and Lucille Ball. Brown Flowers (Nina Flowers and Tammie Brown) select La Lupe and Tammy Faye Messner. Neither one knows who the other’s celeb is, and Tammie says she doesn’t do jokes. Oh, to be in Tammie’s world for just five frightening minutes.

Then it’s time for the “Gaff-In” portion of the show, which is modeled after the original Laugh-In. The teams have written jokes that are supposed to work for Vicki Lawrence’s Mama, and some of them go just fine (Team Shad’s California joke: “Do I look like I’m from California? If you’re not a nut or a fruit; you’re a flake," Team Latrila’s rotting cherry zinger). But Team Brown Flowers’ lashes joke falls flat, as does Team Yarlexis’s Lady Bunny setup.

The girls then show that they can do banter with Ru herself and perform a second skit as their celebrity impersonations with Ru. Team Latrila’s Madonna and Oprah fall a little flat here, though Manila Luzon definitely has Madonna’s weird facial tics down. Likewise, Team Yarlexis’s Colombia cocaine joke doesn’t quite work, which is weird because everybody loves a cocaine joke.

For the final segment of the by-now-interminable-variety-show challenge, the girls must successfully pull off a joke for the Peek-A-Ru Joke Wall. Again, Tammie shows us she’s slightly unhinged with a not-actually-funny “loco” joke. Even she knows it didn’t go so hot: “I think the rhythm on the joke wall was a little off-skelter, but I think that’s what made it work,” she says, simultaneously demonstrating that she’s delusional and inventing the phrase “off-skelter.” The segment ends with everybody getting a pie in the face.

Now that we’ve got the uncomfortable joke-telling, celebrity-impersonating part of the evening over with, we can get on to the fun stuff: a sixties groovy-glam drag. The queens rifle through their jealousy-inducing wardrobes to create retro-themed outfits. Fingers crossed we’ll be seeing a lot of go-go boots. As they fashion their fashions, Latrice and Manila get to know each other better. Manila admits she dated a girl in high school and was prepared to “play it straight, and get married and have kids because I loved her so much.” His girlfriend eventually forced him out of the closet, and Manila says that she even tried committing suicide. It’s sad, because we see Manila reference his boyfriend, the late Sahara Davenport, who unexpectedly passed away at the beginning of October. Tammie says she was doing drag as early as 13 and even went to the prom all dolled up. Of course you did, you beautiful weirdo.

Busy Philipps (of Freaks and Geeks if you’re old, of Cougartown if you’re not) is the special celebrity guest judge — and joins Vicki Lawrence, Santino Rice, Michelle Visage, and Ru on the panel. Busy’s all tarted up for the occasion in a garish pink houserobe, because ladies feel they can go extra-crazy fashion-wise when they’re judging the Race.

Heaps of realness are served. Yarlexis offers “swimsuit realness,” while Rujubee serves “sixties mod realness,” and Latrila is “serving it like Godzilla.” Good rhyme, not great analogy.

Now it’s time for the judges to deliberate. Vickie Lawrence is all up on Team Yarlexis’s Charo impression, mostly because it reminds her of the one time Charo cuchi-cuchi-ed all over the Carol Burnett Show. The panel is a fan of Manila’s Madonna impression, but feels that Latrice’s Oprah doesn’t cut it. (Shhhh! Don’t cry, Latrice!) And everyone agrees that Tammie Brown is the Andy Kaufman of the RuPaul-iverse. “Dear God, that woman is on another planet, isn’t she?” says Vicki. Yes, yes she is.

So, which teams are in the bottom two? Team Yarlexis are the winners (thanks mostly to a fabulous Charo impression, while Team Shannel and Team Rujubee are safe, while Team Latrila (nooooo!) and Team Tammie Brown must lip-synch for their lives. It’s Latrice against Tammie, and the song is “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” so this means tons of Ethel Merman realness.

Is it really any surprise that Ru chooses to save Team Latrila? The heart wants what it wants, and Team Brown Flowers says a tear-stained, rubber-chicken-filled good-bye. Au revoir, you crazy, amazing bitch.