How to Win RuPaul’s Drag Race

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Alaska is crowning. Photo: LOGO

In the immortal words of some queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race: This isn’t RuPaul’s Best Friend Race! No baby, this is the fiercest competition on television, and you’d be better be able to pull out all the death drops if you want to win. RuPaul’s Drag Race, now on Friday nights at 8 pm on VH1, has entered its ninth official season now, meaning that like a conscientious bottom, this new group of girls can get prepared. In an act of benevolence, RuPaul didn’t eliminate anyone from the premiere episode, and instead — twist! — is bringing back a former contestant. So with the first elimination challenge coming up, what are the tricks you should have tucked away? Here are some tips that would have totally been helpful before you got eliminated.

Learn to sew! (Or at least glue.)
There will be a sewing challenge. You might have to make a dress out of curtains! Or from apocalyptic trash! Especially early on, RPDR really embraced drag’s DIY roots, which meant that queens had to possess that ability to turn trash into treasure. And no one likes a girl (Naysha Lopez, ugh) who whines about how they don’t know how to sew.

Get ready for Snatch Game.
For the love of Cher, be prepared for this one. Like the unconventional materials challenge on Project Runway or restaurant wars on Top Chef, you know Snatch Game is coming, which is why it’s just shameful if you don’t have a celebrity impersonation locked and loaded. Moreover, a solid Snatch Game impersonation can signal a queen is a threat to win: Jinkx Monsoon’s Little Edie, Bob the Drag Queen’s Uzo Aduba/Carol Channing, etc. The queens who have done best are the ones who know what they’re going to do (which is why professional Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Berry did “well” on season nine). Moreover, take a look at what does well: Celebrities who are mostly visual (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, etc.) tend to be hard to pull off.

Be funny.
Gay humor has been forged by adversity, so it’s only natural that comedy is an essential part of RuPaul’s legacy. So if you didn’t learn how to throw shade from your drag mother, you need to go and take an improv class or make some gay friends. The days of Tyra Sanchez winning are over: The library is always open.

Don’t rest on pretty.
Speaking of Tyra Sanchez, we get it: You’re hot. You’re so fishy, you make straight guys question their sexuality (which, brava, m’lady). And while a beautiful body and an impressive tuck can wow the first time, it gets old pretty quickly. Don’t become a statistic!

But smile, you’re on HD!
And while your aesthetic can’t merely be “thot,” you still need to know how to paint for the crowd in the back of the bar. Learn to blend!

Get ready to evolve.
Reality television is all about taking the viewer on an emotional face journey. So whether you’re a spooky queen from Party City or a tired-ass showgirl, you have to be able to demonstrate the ability to take a critique from the judges and evolve. So if your thing is narcoleptic oddball, the judges, particularly Michelle Visage, will want you to be able to still knock a red carpet look out of the park.

Don’t take off your wig!
You’re in the bottom two, ready to lip sync for your life, when the lights dim on the main stage. RuPaul is looking at you, unblinking. Diana Ross starts to play on the loudspeakers. The lights are blinding and you’re dancing and you’re feeling yourself and you’re just itching to pull that wig off for the climax. Do. Not. Remove. It. You’re here to snatch other queens’ wigs, not your own.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: How to Win