RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
Cheerio, good day, and help yourself to a crumpet or, should I say, a scone … a Victoria Scone. Yes, we’re back for another fine season of Drag Race With Accents and Shitty Prizes, and thank the ghost of Thomas Becket. Not even Brexit could remove this show from the European Union of our hearts.
Let’s get right into it and meet the queens, starting with Veronica Green, the West End boy who was eliminated from season two because she came down with COVID-19. This time she steps into the workroom with her skin painted green like she is auditioning for the role in Wicked that she could never land. It seems like Veronica is the same old queen but jazzed up and more potent, and she will make you green in the face. Is Veronica the Delta variant?
Next out of the gate is Kitty Scott-Claus, who looks like she’s dressed as a stewardess on Gemma Collins Airways. (The only people in the U.S. who will get that joke are those that listen to Who? Weekly, but trust me, that is hilarious.) She’s friends with Cheryl Hole, who reminds me of Jan for some reason, which means I already hate her.
River Medway is named after the most famous river in Kent, which is like being named after the most famous rest stop in New Jersey. She looks like one of the Fantanas — singing girls promoting Fanta, a soft drink like Orange Crush but disgusting.
Scarlett Harlett, like a lot of dangerous Grindr profiles, has too many Ts in her name to make sense, but I already love her because she claims to be the Danny Dyer of drag, who is a famous tough-guy actor. Unless she means she’s the Dani Dyer of drag, his daughter who was on Love Island. Anyway, she is the only East London gay without a mustache or a mullet.
Making her debut in a sack of rainbow feathers like she’s a party favor that fell off a pride float is Vanity Milan. It would be funnier if she were London Paris Milan, but she doesn’t seem like she has much of a sense of humor. She has only been doing drag for a year, and you can tell because she’s still wearing the inordinately tiny glasses that come in the Baby’s First Drag DIY kit.
Veronica Green hates Ella Vaday because she is not just a dead ringer for Barbarella, but she’s also a musical-theater queen with a more extensive résumé — oh, sorry, CV — than Veronica. She is also the trade of the season, so she can tread on my floorboards any damn time.
The funniest entrance line goes to Choriza May, who also has the funniest name. “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” she says. “Hate me because I’m an immigrant.” All of this is as fitting for post-Brexit Britain as an energy crisis, a staffing shortage, and parliamentary ghoul Michael Gove dancing alone in a Scottish disco. I love Choriza and the fact that she moved to Newcastle to get good dick. For all of you Americans out there, that’s like moving to Baltimore because you heard they have decent scruff.
The aforementioned Victoria Scone comes onto the scene tall, gorgeous, and with her face beat to make her look exactly like Ellie Diamond. However, she’s the first contestant assigned female at birth on any version of this program. I love how RuPaul later congratulates her on “breaking boundaries in the competition.” Bitch, you’re the one who cast this show. You could have had some bio queens on whenever you wanted.
After the Ellie Diamond look-alike, we get a queen who is “five-foot-two-and-a-bit” who is wearing a body-contouring tight suit, an electric-yellow wig, and the same tiny glasses from the DIY kit. Wait, is that Bimini in disguise trying to get the title that was robbed from her last season? Is this Bimini 2: Electrka Fencealoo? It might as well be.
I’m going to jump ahead to the end to talk about Charity Kase, who is dressed like Marie Antoinette if she lived only on a diet of rats. It’s a hyped-up kind of spooky drag, like Sharon Needles with a budget but (hopefully) without the racism.
The last two are queens who are both 19. First is Anubis, who is from Brighton and is wearing one of the most unflattering outfits I’ve ever seen on Drag Race. It’s sort of like a giant coat with giant sleeves but also like a shedding sheepdog wearing Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil wig from 101 Dalmatians.
Then we get her complete opposite, Krystal Versace, a makeup artist wearing a gorgeous red sequin number that looks like she mopped it from Aquaria’s touring wardrobe. She claims that “I invented tits,” and she has the sort of cocky naïveté only the young can possess because they haven’t learned enough of the world yet.
I hate both of them. Anubis keeps talking about how camp she is. She mentions camp more than Wet Hot American Summer, but we don’t see anything that’s camp. She just says it over and over again, trying to manifest it like a really gay version of The Secret.
Krystal has been watching Drag Race for six years, so, basically, since the start of the pandemic. My problem with Krystal is that she is as expected as a woman who has been pregnant for ten months. It’s so obvious: the contouring, the plastic surgery, the well-executed outfits that could land on anyone, the jargon not of drag but of Drag Race. She is puss fish boots the house down shablam on periodt hunty I feel very attacked. Krystal is polished, but she is not, by any stretch of the imagination, original.
With everyone in the workroom, Ru plays a game of charades, and the less said about this, the better, because it was not funny and it did not influence the rest of the challenge, so let us wipe it out of our minds and never think of it again, like the idea that Boris Johnson does, indeed, have pubic hair.
The challenge is the same as the premiere of last season; each queen needs to dress like a representative from her hometown, but this year there is a twist: The queens also have to dress as their favorite things. I would find that very difficult. I don’t know how to dress as “watching Gogglebox while eating two full sleeves of Jaffa Cakes.”
A few excellent looks go unrecognized, including Charity’s take on the English rose, which looks more like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors with a bad case of acid reflux. I also loved Vanity’s Jamaican-flavored yellow-and-green loofah jacket hiding a similarly colored tight dress. Choriza is not just funny but dressed as art for her favorite thing and sort of looked like if Keith Haring did a portrait of a Picasso and that painting dressed as Mary Berry for Halloween. I mean that as a compliment.
However, the tops are Victoria dressed first as a giant daffodil for Wales and then a giant afternoon-tea set as inspired by Leigh Bowery; Krystal as a Kentish garden if it posed for a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and then as a sphinx cat if it were attending Cheshire Fashion Week; dark horse Scarlett, who wears my favorite look of the night as Queen Elizabeth I dressed as a Pearly. (A Pearly is someone from East London who dresses up in a bright outfit covered in pearls or other spangles to canvass money for charity.)
The bottoms seem to have one thing in common: chaps. I don’t know when all the girls started doing this, but they wear these tight pants with the crotch cut out so Michelle can’t yell at them for only wearing a bodysuit with some shit all over it. This is the silhouette that Ellie Diamond wore week after week last season. Elektra Fence was wearing them in her miner look that the judges hated, and River had on one chap in her dreadfully dull music outfit.
This time the top two face off against each other for the win, and Krystal bests Victoria even though she gives the pumpkin-spice latte of performances. It is tepid and fine but, ultimately, not something you want to tell your friends you enjoy.
River saves herself from the lip sync thanks to her performance as a statue of Thomas Waghorn with a traffic cone on his head. I can guarantee you that Ru has no clue what that is, but River shuffling on the stage and pointing like Miss Vanjie trying to order a combo meal at Popeyes was the funniest thing in the whole episode.
The lip sync is between Elektra and Anubis, who is wearing one of the ugliest outfits I have ever seen on this show. She’s supposed to be dressed as a sea creature, but it sort of looks like a root-beer float trying to vomit itself up. It’s just a copper-penny sequin dress with a net over it. In the Untucked lounge, she wishes she could say that she wore it because the last time she saw her father was at an aquarium. So many of the girls think a good story will excuse a look. Sorry. No. As sad as that story is, she still looks like three closely dumped piles of dog diarrhea on the sidewalk.
So one 19-year-old wins, and the other is sent packing. But there is a problem with kids so young on the show: They don’t have the experience to really process anything. There are no references, there is no synthesis, there is no surprise. Krystal is giving us what she saw on this very show so many times. Yes, it’s slightly different, but she’s not making it her own. As for Anubis, well, the first word in her good-bye message is “camp.” Just ’cause she keeps saying it doesn’t mean that she ever delivered.