RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.
Okay, last week it was elf ears, this week it’s berets? What the heck are all the girls thinking showing up in the werkroom in the exact same chapeaus? A’Whora has on a beige leather one only one shade darker than her self-tanner, Ginny sports a lemon-yellow one in accordance with her usual palette, Bimini rocks a leopard-print one (that matches her hair), and Asttina, Tayce, and Sister Sister all wear some form of the standard black beret. Even Lawrence Chaney (said in a fake RuPaul brogue) has one made out of some strange grayish-purple fabric. Oh no, wait. That’s just her hair.
I don’t understand why they would all want to look the same each week, particularly because the very point of the competition is to stand out. It’s like they’re all on some sort of really gay football team together and wearing their high-fashion uniforms. But they aren’t in their little matching hats for very long because RuPaul gets them into quick drag to do the limbo as a part of the Notting Hill Carnival. (All of you Americans at home are probably asking, What does a Julia Roberts movie have to do with the limbo? Well, before Notting Hill was taken over by American hedge fund managers, it was home to the city’s sizable West Indian population. The first carnival was organized in the late 1950s to commemorate the Notting Hill race riots, and it’s been held in August — rather than during Lent, like most other carnival celebrations — every year since 1966, attracting more than 2.5 million people every year.)
Ru brings out DJ Jodie Harsh, a London drag legend who is sort of like the Lady Bunny of the U.K. (but younger, thinner, and less riddled by social diseases), to play beats while the girls all do the limbo. I don’t see why Ru couldn’t have found a gay DJ of West Indian descent to play this particular carnival, but any excuse to have Jodie on our tellies is a good one. All the girls get in quick drag and it is mostly not bad except for Lawrence Chaney, who looks like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane wearing a tacky Christmas tree skirt possessed by 666 devils. The challenge itself seems like a bit of filler, but never has there been more fun or dramatic filler.
The girls are then asked to split into pairs with their best Judy and they’re all thinking, “Team challenge, this will be fun.” Sister and Ginny pair off, Tayce and A’Whora couple up and try to find a room, Veronica and Tia form a basic bitches alliance, Asttina and Bimini incorporate the East London Coalition for the Continuance of Drag, and Lawrence and Ellie form their own Scottish Nationalist Party and have a referendum on independence. (The vote turned out to be a tie.) Then Ru drops a killer bomb on them: They’re not working together, they’re competing against each other and have to make an outfit based on a color-coded box of materials that the Brit Crew hands out. As winners of the limbo, Tayce and Veronica assign the colors. The person in the pair who loses the fashion walk-off will be up for elimination. This seems a little bit mean. Drag Race is supposed to be the friendly competition about queer togetherness and here they are manipulating the producers’ vagueness to have bestie go after bestie.
Since this is a sewing challenge, we quickly go around the room and find out who can and cannot sew. Lawrence Chaney learned to sew from his mother, which is the most Scottish thing I have ever heard, and I once listened to Sean Connery do a bagpipe rendition of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” A’Whora went to fashion school, which means she is probably either going to win this challenge or be sent home. Veronica can sew and so can Asttina. Ellie can sew, but she can’t make enough doing drag to afford the clothes she wants so she works in a drive-thru. I will be going to the Dundee Greggs for a vegan sausage roll and will leave her the biggest tip. (If A’Whora is to be believed, the biggest tip belongs to Tayce.)
Speaking of A’Whora and Tayce, their kai kai is a cause for conversation once again this week, when Lawrence spills the haggis about their ongoing flirtation in the werkroom. When Tayce finds out about this he says in his confessional, “The cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity, and the gumption!” I need one of those youths to make this into a JIFFY for me so that I can post it on the TikkersTocks whenever someone tries to insult me on the internet.
Anyway, this brings us to the girls who can’t sew, and this is where I say the same thing I say every year, which is if you get cast on Drag Race, you’d better take at least a remedial sewing course or have a seamstress teach you or something. Showing up with no skills is a sure ticket home. I am looking at you Ginny and you Tia.
Just as soon as I’m done ranting, Tia says, “How can you not sew? This show has been on for ages!” Exactly! Knowing that you have a problem doesn’t mean the problem goes away, it just means you look like a jerk for not doing anything about the problem. And Tia’s fashion choices are questionable at best to start with. Later she decides to change her whole concept at the last minute. “It’s a risk,” she says. “But who ever won by playing it safe, except in terms of sexual health.” Oh, that Tia is funny, and good thing because she can’t skate by on her fashions.
As Ru is going around the werkroom, he charges Ginny with making an outfit that is not only in the pink family, since she and Sister got the pink box, but also something that shows off how sexy she is. This feels unfair to me. Why this week? Why arbitrarily make Ginny do something contrary to her style of drag? And the week of a sewing challenge, no less, when she can’t even sew. Does this mean she’ll be graded on a curve if it doesn’t go well?
Ginny then starts talking about how she loves yellow because it is a gender-free color and discusses her working-class upbringing as a non-binary person who no one ever allowed to be feminine. Given her extra-credit assignment from Ru and all of this talk about her background, it seems like she is in danger of going home before we’ve even seen her outfit. She talks more about gender expression with Bimini, who also identifies as non-binary. It’s not only a meeting of the minds, it is also a meeting of the mullets.
Now it’s time for the matchups. Tayce is wearing her Maleficent horns for the second time in three weeks and it feels done and like a crutch, but the big black jacket she’s wearing held together by safety pins looks very ANTM season three. Or maybe that’s because she has the face of a model. Still, she loses to A’Whora, who constructed not only a bodysuit that actually fits (a first in Drag Race sewing challenges) but also a full-length black jacket with sleeves huger than Simon Cowell’s ego. It looks as expensive as two episodes of Game of Thrones.
Ginny Lemon finally reveals her sexy look and it is just a shiny pink tube of fabric stretched around the boobs and pads she had to borrow from the other queens. Paired with her yellow wig and yellow tights, it makes her look like a cheap stripper standing outside of Moe’s Tavern on The Simpsons. This is the meanest thing I have ever seen Drag Race do to someone. She is easily bested by Sister, who looks like a blue-faced broad in a David Bowie costume with an all-pink outfit with a moon on the front of it. She’s like Aladdin Insane.
Veronica Green has on a simple halter-top green sequence gown with a simple skirt slit all the way to her hip. Yes, it is lined and hemmed. Yes, it is well made, but it is boring. I think well-made but boring is Veronica every single time. (OH! I also just realized that she chose green and her name is Veronica Green. Yes, it took me this long. I am stupid.) She beats Tia Kofi, though, who looks like a Christmas package wrapped by a blind epileptic.
Asttina is wearing a little blue skirt and a little blue top and it looks like something a teen would wear to the winter formal. It’s nice and well made, but that’s it? But Asttina, being gorgeous, gets away with a lot of it. She’s bested by Bimini in a see-through blue lace gown that is all punk and topped by a black wig. It is the most polished I’ve ever seen her and also, possibly, the most clothed.
The best showdown of the night is the Scots civil war, with Ellie as a Marie Antoinette look-alike in a gold bodysuit with ruffles coming out of every orifice. How much does she make at that Greggs drive-thru, because all those accessories did not look cheap? She is edged out by Lawrence Chaney in an Ethel Merman mermaid dress made out of different shades of gold. It looks like a polished stage costume except her tits are too small and too close together. Can Ellie get her a job at Greggs, because she needs to buy a new breastplate. Lawrence takes home the crown that should have gone to A’Whora, but she is super pissed about it so I’ll take the drama over her actually winning.
In the lineup, it’s clear that Tayce and Ellie are only there because they were bested by superior competition. When it gets to Ginny they’re pumping her up and telling her how brave she was to try something that she had never done before, but she looks awful, and they tell her that. I thought, Damn they’re going to pump her up just to send her home. When they get to Tia she sarcastically jokes about how amazing her outfit is and how they all loved it. Again, knowing you have a problem does not make it go away, but at least Tia is funny about it. Asttina is just, I don’t know, worried and hoping to skate by on pretty. It looks like they are grading on a curve because Ginny, who looked the worst of the bunch, is safe.
The lip sync is spirited, with both of the queens laying into my girl Dula Peep’s quarantine anthem “Don’t Start Now.” While Tia clearly had the worse outfit, I think she’s a better all-around queen. Asttina has style and beauty, but she hasn’t shown us that she has anything else beyond that. Tia can’t dress, but at least she can be funny about it. Drag careers have been made on less. So, I guess, don’t let the door slap you in the Asttina.