RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Drawing and Blanks

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Book Ball
Season 8 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Book Ball
Season 8 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
RuPaul. Photo: Logo

I am blinded by my hatred of Derrick Barry. God, what a horrible showing she has in this episode — not only as a drag queen, but as a person. The moment that got me the most upset was when she told Naomi Smalls that she is just as good as everyone else because she made it to the final five. Sadly, she is right. She will always be able to say that she made it to the final five. We can’t take that away from her. It’s awful because she does not deserve to be there. Alyssa Edwards, one of the greatest queens ever on the show, only made it to sixth place. She didn’t do as well as Derrick Berry, the leakage from a trash can baking in the Chinatown sun. It’s horrible.

For the first part of my screed about Derrick, let’s talk about the puppet challenge, because everyone loves puppets. The point is for each queen to pick a puppet of one of their fellow queens and read them to filth with an impersonation. Both Chi Chi and Bob are absolutely perfect in this challenge, making fun of the faults that their subjects mock about themselves. Bob skewers Kim Chi’s lisp and weight loss, and is so funny that even Kim cracks up. Chi Chi goes after Bob with the immortal line, “Jokes jokes jokes jokes jokes jokes jokes.” It’s like a new version of Rihanna’s “Cake,” because Bob can only do one thing. She even mentions Purse First!

Derrick, on the other hand, does not know how to read. She just points out what she considers to be a shortcoming without making any jokes about it. She’s not funny; she’s just mean. Sometimes she smiles at the end of it, so you can tell that she’s supposed to be joking, but she’s not. She’s as serious as a heart attack taking the GED so it can get its children back from the state.

Reading, at least among friends and on Drag Race, needs to come from a place of love. My friends read me all the time for being loud. I am super loud (and probably partially deaf for giving too many blow jobs behind the speaker at the Roxy) and I don’t care when my friends joke about it because I know it and I know they love me. If they told me that I was a shitty writer, however, I would come with my knife out.

Derrick basically does the latter. She tells Naomi that her lace sticks up on her wigs. She tells Naomi that all of her lewks are the same. She tells Naomi that she has no talent. Those are not reads. They are critiques. Someone who does not know the difference has no business being on a drag competition.

Derrick and Naomi don’t just come after each other in the puppet challenge. They fight the whole time, mostly because Naomi thinks that what Derrick does isn’t drag. It’s not. He’s a female impersonator, which is why she can’t do drag makeup. She can’t do much of anything except pretend to be Britney Spears. The judges keep calling for more personality, but Derrick has as much personality as a Weight Watchers meeting has triple-fudge-brownie ice cream, which is to say it has none.

I have to say, I absolutely agree with everything that Naomi Smalls had to say about Derrick, but that is because I hate her with such a fiery passion that flames, on the side of my face, flames …

The sob stories this week are all about mothers because the queens had to do lewks as babies, as their mothers, and as books or something. I don’t know. I haven’t picked up a book since I dropped out of beauty school.

Kim Chi talks yet again about how her mother doesn’t know she does drag and she’s afraid to tell her. She gets some amateur psychology from Ru because this is a 90-minute episode, so there was no reason not to luxuriate in our homosexual pain, which is one of the show’s favorite things to do. Speaking of, Derrick Barry also talked about how his relationship with his mother has been strained ever since he came out to her. I will not make a joke about a boy and his mama, as much as I may want to, because even I am not that cruel.

RuPaul came out and did her trot down the runway as usual, but I could barely see her dress on the television. It was like a neon blur, like someone put a dozen highlighters into a vat of anti-freeze or something. Should I have adjusted my set or did I just do too much ketamine in the ’90s?

All of the queens have to do three lewks this week, as well as a Jerri Blank dance number because David and Amy Sedaris are the guest judges. The Jerri Blank dance is kind of a wash. Everyone is pretty good at looking ugly and dancing like a fool, even Kim Chi can pull of these moves. Here are the other runway categories:

Baby-Drag Realness

  • Kim Chi: Like the new logo for Nickelodeon’s Sprout TV channel.
  • Naomi Smalls: I haven’t seen a diaper look that slutty since Lisa Rinna’s Depend commercial.
  • Bob Thedragqueen: Pebbles from The Flintstones meets Pebbles who wants to go for a drive in my Mercedes boy.
  • Derrick Barry: Britney Spears dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, but with crooked eyebrows.
  • Chi Chi DeVayne: The chicest thing to ever be on Muppet Babies.

That’s My Momma Realness

  • Kim Chi: Like Lucy Liu in that Kill Bill fight scene. This was absolutely stunning, one of the best things I’ve ever seen on the runway.
  • Naomi Smalls: If the cover of Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon came to life, it would look exactly like this.
  • Bob Thedragqueen: Hello, T.J. Maxx. You’re missing a mannequin from the Active Bottoms section.
  • Derrick Barry: Britney Spears wearing a nightgown and Adrienne Barbeau from The Mist. With crooked eyebrows. This is one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life.
  • Chi Chi DeVayne: The best extra in a Salt-N-Pepa music video.

Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza

  • Kim Chi: An Asian version of one of those Anne Geddes photos where little babies are sleeping on flowers.
  • Naomi Smalls: Have you ever seen a book get blown up by a hydraulic press? This dress looks like that.
  • Bob Thedragqueen: A mural of Beyoncé spray-painted on the side of a school for the arts.
  • Derrick Barry: Britney Spears with some trash hot-glued to her leotard. And crooked eyebrows.
  • Chi Chi DeVayne: If there were a book challenge on Project Runway Junior, she would have won, except for her hair.

Of course Kim Chi and Naomi get universal praise, because they are absolutely flawless and Kim Chi deserves every bit of her win. She can’t dance and can barely walk, but no one gives lewks like her. That is what doing drag is all about: creating exciting characters, outfits, and makeup to take people to a place that is not possible in the usual confines of gender. That is why Derrick sucks. She’s trying to be a woman when drag is so much more.

Ross Matthews is trying to excuse Derrick by saying that she tries hard, but at this stage of the competition, there is no queen that should be trying, the queens should just be doing. It is obvious from what she is wearing that everyone else — even Bob, who cares more about performance than appearance — is much better than Derrick. She has to go home this time, right? Right?!

The bottom two are Bob and Derrick. And the lip sync, once again, just highlights how much better Bob is. She is giving us character and her humor is shining through. She’s making Sylvester funny, turning it into a number that is totally hers. Derrick is mouthing the words and doing all the right dance moves, but conveying nothing. It is as blank as Jerri Blank, but not nearly as much fun.

Thank the sweet Baby Jesus. The long national nightmare that is Derrick Barry is over, but I now have to hate Bob for giving her so much support on her way out. Chi Chi could use some more people in her corner, I guess. So, good-bye to Derrick Barry forever. She will always be in the top five and we can’t take that away from her. Maybe we should be able to.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Drawing and Blanks