RuPaul’s Drag Race
I love the makeover challenge. A successful Drag Race makeover requires the queens to know their brand, be able to execute the technical aspects of drag flawlessly, and most importantly, coach a hapless (sometimes insane) non-drag queen civilian into strutting their stuff in six-inch Iron Fist heels. I’ll never forget crowding around a laptop in a college dorm room while watching season five and hearing Fortuna Monsoon whisper: “I killed Judy Garland.” It was then that I knew I would watch this batshit television show for the rest of my homosexual life. And while none of the superfans this episode are second-degree murderers (that we know of), I can confidently state that I would die for all of these women. Each one turned out to be a delightful, endearing guest star who helped our queens become loving drag moms.
First and foremost, watching Jaida transform into a drag Tiger Mom this episode was pure joy. Jaida is equal parts Maria Von Trapp and Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and her drag daughter is all the better for it. While the other queens opt to cosplay as fairy godmothers for these women, Jaida believes in trial by fire. “This is a winning family,” she explains to Ru. “She knows that I’m a strong mother, and I like winning. If she does not win? Don’t come home.” Ma’am, yes, ma’am! But for every instance of tough love (like when she tells Bethany to sacrifice her toe), Jaida shows us another dimension of her warmth and vulnerability. She tears up when asked about her adorable boyfriend, resulting in a lovely bonding moment with her daughter in the Werkroom. Then, on the runway, Jaida and Jazz are pageant perfection. Jaida is truly a master of the craft of drag. From the perfectly executed, matching red sequined outfits to their flawlessly beaten mugs, the Essence-Hall’s are showstoppers. While I would’ve liked to see Crystal take the win this week, I’m thrilled to see Jaida cement her status as the season’s new frontrunner.
Speaking of having a great week, let’s talk about Crystal Methyd and her drag daughter, Opal Methyd. Crystal is paired with Grace. In the Werkroom, they bond over loving glitter and being nerdy, and Grace teaches Crystal how to overcome your meekness before important meetings by posing like Wonder Woman. So you can imagine my surprise when the nervous kindergarten teacher transformed into a demonic, high-fashion Marge Simpson troll doll. It’s completely excellent, so creative, and the perfect encapsulation of why I love Crystal. It just might be my favorite makeover of all time. To top it off, Opal is a lip sync assassin. She does shoulder rolls, serves face, executes triple snaps to the syllables of “Mo-zam-bique …” I screamed. I cried. I think I threw a $20 at my TV screen? It’s all a blur. Crystal is yet again just a hair shy of the top prize this week, but it’s only a matter of time before she snatches a win. The Methmentum is unstoppable!
Gigi Goode may have been Gigi Mediocre last episode, but this week she is GiGi Perfectly Fine as she turns out her daughter, Bebe Bade. Bebe (née Shea) is the quietest superfan of the bunch and only gets about three minutes screen time (so about two minutes more than Penny Tration), but she seems perfectly lovely and exquisitely thoughtful. When Ru asks what the show means to her, she says that she loves Drag Race because “it creates community for people who don’t have it where they are.” We stan! On the runway, Gigi and Bebe sport black and white fur shift dresses. It’s cute, and the judges correctly give them a passing grade. Although Gigi inarguably remains one of the season’s strongest competitors, Jaida is right up there with her. And while Gigi was stumbling the last couple weeks, Jaida used the opportunity to step up. Now, she has taken Gigi’s place as the queen to beat. The next couple episodes are make or break for both queens, and the race is tighter than ever.
Let’s talk about Sherry Pie, or more importantly, let’s talk about Janet the Planet aka Tara Misu. Janet had her name legally changed to “Janet the Planet” as a reminder not to take herself too seriously. Are you in love yet? Because Ru sure is, and so am I! Janet stands at six-feet tall, and has been a fan of Drag Race from the very beginning. As a teen, she was bullied for her height and appearance, but when she found drag she knew she’d found her people. I think my favorite thing about Janet is that she’s not just a Drag Race superfan, but a drag superfan. Her appreciation for the art form runs deep, and it’s obvious that she’s a performer from the second she steps out on stage. Sherry certainly did a professional job painting and costuming her (they’re basically identical), but what really sells the transformation is Janet’s character work as a no-nonsense ’50s diner waitress. She has Sherry’s affect down to a tee, and she’s a joy to watch.
Next up Heidi N. Closet, a.k.a. Heidi Ho, a.k.a. Heidi Hydrates, a.k.a. Heidi Afrodite. What are we going to do about our dear Heidi? At this point, Heidi has more alternate identities than a KGB agent, and most of them have lip-synced. As usual, Heidi cracks me up every time she opens her mouth. Additionally, it’s impossible not to fall equally in love with her drag daughter, Honey Almighty, who opens up about her experiences being bullied and her anxieties about being put in drag. Heidi is a perfect companion, and lovingly supports her through an ultimately touching moment. Drag brings joy! While Heidi’s passion and motherly love for Honey translate in the Werkroom, what was missing was … any preparation. Like, at all. Even Ru — who has been eating up every last word Heidi says along with the rest of us — is peeved this week. When Heidi says she didn’t have enough time to make an outfit, Ru asks, “Well, what did you do with the time?” It’s a good question! Honey’s dress is borrowed from another queen, and there’s no family resemblance to speak of either. It’s a definite misstep, and a costly one that lands Heidi in the bottom for the third time. But, by the grace of God and a 14 episode order from VH1, no one goes home this week. Heidi will remain on our television screens for another week, and (hopefully) many more. Let the church say Amen!
Jackie Cox also landed in the bottom this week after her makeover of Tiffany, aka Snackie Cox. In the Werkroom, Jackie is all confidence. Her daughter is feisty, energetic, and can drop into the splits. What more could you want out of a baby queen? And according to Jackie’s neutral, non-partisan “Jackie Points” system, Jackie and Snackie should have this challenge in the bag. Unfortunately, like the S&P 500 and oil barrel prices, the value of “Jackie Points” tanked this week, much to the chagrin of Jackie and her shareholders (Cherholders?). Jackie looks cute as usual in a ’70s jumpsuit, but Snackie’s runway presentation is underwhelming. She sports a simple romper, and it’s just not enough in the face of the rest of the competition. Luckily for Jackie, she’s prepared to lip sync, and delivers a hilarious, Fatal Attraction-esque take on Alex Newell’s “Kill the Lights.” Both queens are safe, but if the double shantay weren’t in the cards, I would have been buying stock in Jackie.
Ultimately, though, Ru declares both Jackie and Heidi safe. I wasn’t ready to see either queen go, but this “twist” is starting to feel too gimmicky. We can pretty much guarantee at least one double save per season now, and only about a third of them feel earned. Furthermore, we have now had three episodes this season without an elimination. But Drag Race is having its moment right now, and I’m sure VH1 wants to milk every last drop they can out of their cash cow. I can only hope the producers used some of that extra money to upgrade Dahlia’s hotel room. (Sometimes, I imagine her sitting up there bored. She has no phone, no internet, and every three days a story producer knocks on her door to tell her: “We need you on set again. Bring the broccoli costume.” Get a bitch a master suite!)
But while Dahlia is socially distancing, the rest of the queens are at each other’s throats. Gigi and Jaida are now tied, and the next two episodes will likely determine who goes into the finale as a front-runner. And with Miss Sherry Pie disqualified, the other two spots in the Top Four are still wide open. Place your bets people! It’s sure to be a photo finish.
“It DO Take Nerve!”
Quotes that left me mouth agape
• “YOUR TURN JACKIE.” —Jaida Essence Hall
When Jackie’s daughter drops into the splits, Jackie is all smug before this Jaida smackdown. Jaida comes for BLOOD.
• “If you wanna look good, sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice. If you gotta get rid of a pinky toe, baby you gonna get rid of that pinky toe.” —Jaida Essence Hall
Jaida actually becomes the first contestant in Drag Race history to advocate amputating a drag daughter’s limb. Legend.
• “Girl you look better than I have half the season. Go in the corner and think about what you just did …” —Heidi N. Closet
Heidi punishing her daughter for being prettier than her? Very me.