The worst thing about this episode was the elf ears. When the girls were in the werkroom for the mini-challenge, I noticed that Ellie Diamond was wearing plastic caps over her ears so that she looked like Frodo Baggins styled as a teenage homosexual with items from Forever 21. Then I was like, No, wait. Sister Sister has on the elf ears. Then I saw them again and was like, No, girl, it’s Ellie Diamond. And then I was like, No, it’s Sister Sister. And then I was like, Not all white people look the same. Is this how racists feel all the time? And then I realized that they were both wearing elf ears. Why? Who knows? The obvious answer is attention, but I would like to think that it’s some kinky kaikai action they have going on behind the scenes.
Speaking of kaikai (which, as I’m sure you know, is when two drag queens knock size 13 Jessica Simpson boots from DSW) the mini-challenge has the girls getting hot for each other. They all have to vote on which queen is the shadiest, the hottest, the cockiest, and the most basic. It turns out that A’Whora is the shadiest, but that is an award she campaigned for like Pete Buttigeig playing Tracy Flick in a community-theater production of Election, or at least like Melissa Leo trying to get her Oscar. For your consideration: a lady who thinks being mean is a personality. Oh, wait, that’s me, too.
As for the hottest, the award goes to Tayce, whose hair in the confessionals seems to keep changing colors like Hades from Hercules. During the voting we find out that Tayce and A’Whora had a one-night stand for one-named queens. They even get flirty later at the workbenches. If this were on Netflix, would it be called Cobra KaiKai?
The cockiest award goes to Lawrence Chaney, which is ironic considering that her bravado is really just masking her rather evident insecurities. This will become obvious when Tia Kofi, named the basicest, gets to hand out the roles for Rats: The Rusical in a twist that’s absolutely inspired. Why isn’t an aggrieved queen always handing out the parts so she can make other people’s lives miserable? It seems like no matter what role Lawrence gets she’s going to be afraid of it. Our Lawrence may be many things, but a singer and a dancer, she confesses, are not two of them.
Veronica, a trained musical-theater professional, and Cherry, a Botox nurse from Lancashire, are duking it out over the juicy role of Evita, but Tia, afraid to take risks, gives it to Veronica. This means one of two things: Either Veronica is going to totally flub it and go home, or Cherry is going to prove that she wasn’t up to the task in the smaller role she’s assigned and go home. One of these queens is about to be destroyed like a Starbucks bathroom.
The queens go to rehearsals, where they’re working with Michelle Visage and her real-life vocal coach Dane Chalfin, who is a sexy, bald, bear-daddy snack. After the hottie who took last week’s photos, is Drag Race only hiring hot dudes in ancillary roles this season? The rehearsals bear out what we already know: Lawrence is not confident, Veronica can really sang, and Cherry isn’t as hot as she thinks she is.
When they get to dance rehearsals and we meet choreographer Jay Revell it becomes incredibly clear that this season we are only hiring hotties because he is, and I believe the correct spelling is, ffffooooooooooiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeee. What do I have to do to get that man to come next to me and rub my back seductively and talk to me in a calm, soothing voice? Oh, apparently I have to have an emotional breakdown like Lawrence does when she can’t seem to remember her lyrics or the steps to the dance. If every time I had an emotional breakdown I scored a hot guy, my bedroom would look like the auditions of Magic Mike Live.
Back in the werkroom the girls are painting their faces to look like rats, and Cherry is talking about how she grew up in the Traveler culture in the north of England. It’s a little hard for Americans to understand Travelers and how they fit into society because they’re not really that prevalent Stateside. While they may not be people of color, they are definitely an ethnic minority, and it’s almost like it’s acceptable for people in polite society to openly disparage them. Once, at a cocktail party in London, I couldn’t find my phone and a very sophisticated-looking older lady said, “Oh, the Gypsies probably took it,” and everyone laughed; no one was like, “Um, lady, no.”
Cherry’s experience was a little different as a member of the community. As she explains it, there was a lot of toxic masculinity, so not only was it difficult for her to come out as gay and as a drag queen, but even for her to be a nurse, which is not considered a normally masculine occupation. Just as the tears were starting to well up, I was hit with a startling revelation: Oh, Cherry’s going home. As soon as we get the heartbreaking backstory you know that queen better have her wigs off their Styrofoam heads and in her duffel bag because they’re about to be put on the Great Northern Railway back to Darlington.
The Rusical is quite funny, as far as Rusicals go, and pokes a lot of fun not just at Cats the movie and its notorious “butthole cut” but also at Andrew Lloyd Webber and musicals in general. It takes some knowledge of the show to get all the jokes, but if you haven’t treated yourself to a viewing of Cats, you need to get yourself some THC and go on the ride of a lifetime. (Just a warning, do not look directly into J.Hud’s eyes.) If you thought Dame Doody Stench is a caricature, it’s pretty much exactly like it was in the movie.
My favorite performances were actually by Bimini and A’Whora as a pair of punk-rock cats, but neither of them get singled out for their roles. For me the worst was Ellie, who roots around the stage like an animated sack of potatoes, and you can’t understand a word she says. Sure, Lawrence is lead-footed and makes a few mistakes, but at least she has the personality to deliver her lines with a little bit of slyness.
The category for the runway is “Surprise, Surprise,” which the queens all interpret to mean some sort of reveal and, sister, do I love a reveal. I love a reveal like Fire Island gays love PrEP. I love a reveal like OnlyFans gays love setting their phones on the bureau so we only get one angle of them. I love a reveal like Twitter gays love thinking that no one knows exactly what their alt is. Okay, I’ll stop. Wait, wait, wait. One more. I love a reveal like Puerto Vallarta gays love a sinking ship. Okay, I’m done.
The tops for the week are Ellie for her three-in-one Wizard of Oz looks, Tia for her macho man into janky Carmen, and Veronica for a genius transition from a 1950s housewife complete with just-baked muffins into a Metropolis-inspired fembot. I was a little disappointed with the execution of Tia’s look because it was one of the most inspired and really told a story, but that dress underneath just looked so limp, like a plate of cold spaghetti without any sauce.
I thought the judges’ selections left out some of the best outfits, though. To me A’Whora’s groom-into-bride transition was one of the smoothest and smartest of the bunch. I will never get over Ginny Lemon’s appearance as a ’60s-inspired hausfrau in an earth-toned flower-print dress, yellow leggings, and platform Crocs, which are a fashion abomination I didn’t know I loved. Her reveal is that the dress underneath is — dot, dot, dot — the same dress. It’s like she says, “I see you RuPaul and all of these reveals, and you can just kiss my ass.” And the judges indeed can, because the only difference in the second dress is that you can see Ginny’s hairy behind as she saunters away. I would have put Bimini in the top as well, with her peanut-shaped wig and corset, except her paint-filled popping balloons wound up falling flatter than Asia O’Hara’s dead butterflies.
As for the bottoms, Lawrence Chaney’s Scottish blue-and-white sequined Bea Arthur pantsuit into a tartan plaid saves her from being in the bottom two. She’s joined by Cherry, whose yellow-polka-dot “gender reveal” costume I thought was the weakest of the bunch. Also, how do you do a gender-reveal-themed lewk and not even have a raging forest fire as part of it? Joining her is Tayce, whose performance in the Rusical I didn’t think was as bad as the judges said, but whose red-on-red-on-red-on-red look is lazy. I mean, it’s just a red coat over a red bodysuit. That is not a surprise, that is just layering. The same goes for Asttina’s Mortal Kombat–inspired outfit, which just has a big black cape over it. That, again, is not a surprise. That’s just coming home and taking your coat off.
Veronica takes home the top prize, and I’ll admit I really underestimated her and her toned arms and pierced nipples. Never have I seen a win more deserved, though. Cherry and Tayce end up lip-syncing to “Memories” from Cats, and what are you going to do with that? Just stand in one spot and clutch at your neck? I guess, because that is what Cherry does. What is it about that spot on the left-hand side of the runway? Joe Black didn’t move from it while lip-syncing, either. Is it covered in superglue? Did they make the flooring out of Trinity the Tuck’s tucking tape? Whatever it is, it’s the kiss of death, because Cherry, much as the edit suggested throughout the episode, goes home.