Monday, February 22, 2010

RPDR: Country Queens

Last time on Starrbootylicious: The Jelly Isn’t Ready For You: the queens put on a burlesque show while Mystique still hates on the skinny bitches. Tyra is still about the dramarama while Jessica frets about her English skills. Raven had to lip sync for her life but didn’t have to worry because Nicole Paige Brooks did not get the “for your life” part of the instructions.

Ten ladies are left. Who will be lip syncing for their life tonight?

The contestants enter the workroom and see a long table with a checkered tablecloth. Juju immediately guesses that they will be eating something for today’s challenge. Someone also notices NPB’s goodbye note on the mirror but Raven only sees that there will be more space at the makeup counter. She is still stinging from being at risk for elimination. Sonique cleans the message off the mirror just before SheMail arrives.

Ru greets the queens with a howdy and delivers a message filled with various country song titles. Male Ru enters wearing a cowboy hat, an ugly print shirt and a drawl. He explains that since Georgia is where he got his start in the biz that makes RuPaul a country queen. Sure, why not? He goes on to explain that back in the day he would have to eat anything to get through the day and now he is going to pay it forward. Raven predicts in an interview that Mystique is finally going to win a challenge. The challenge is called “Chicken or What?” Basically, it is a blind taste test, or as Pandora describes it, “Drag Survivor.”

The pit crew brings out the first item up for nibs. No one seems to be gagging as they hold up their guessing implements: a rubber chicken or a sign that reads “what?!” Item 1 was a “What?!” Specifically, bull testicles. Now the gagging begins. Item 2 is presented and it is another “What?!” This time it is soy chicken and no one seems offended. Mystique, Pandora, and Morgan have two points each and the first two queens to three points win the challenge. Item 3 is met with trepidation. All three leaders guess “What?!” and are correct: they ate frog legs.

Since there is a tie, they will have an eat off with morsels of chicken, rabbit, alligator and deep fried cow brains. Pandora has a look on her face that reads “honey, I am soooo over this.” Mystique shares her strategy in an interview which is basically take a few bites, fill your mouth with water and swallow. Since everything is deep fried I think the issue here is more texture than flavor. Either way, Mystique is the first to finish. Morgan is close behind but the cow brains slow her down. More specifically, the vomiting after eating the cow brains slows Morgan down – and grosses out Juju who is sitting next to her. Sorry girl! This does not inspire Pandora who looks relieved that Morgan eventually wins.

The prize for Mystique and Morgan is that they get to be captains for another group challenge. This time they will be doing commercials for Disco Extra Greasy Shortening. Mystique’s team has Pandora, Juju, Tatianna, and Jessica. Morgan picks Raven, Sahara, Sonique and is stuck with Tyra. Tyra doesn’t view this as a slight and more as “saving the best for last.” Whatever gets you through the day, honey.

Ru presents two scripts: one for chicken and one for fish. Both skits will have the same set of characters. The contestants start their engines and open their scripts. Team Mystique has the fish script. Jujubee shares her concern about Mystique as the captain as we see the leader assigning roles. Jessica is assigned the role of “Disco Critter,” which sounds like some sort of PTSD induced by Studio 54. Over at Team Morgan, Raven is assigned the Disco Critter role and she is not happy about it.

We join Jessica as she works through her lines and there are a number of issues. Originally she was given the role because there weren’t a lot of lines, but it turns out that although there are only two points where DC speaks both of those points are rather lengthy. Juju refers to them as opening/closing monologues. Whoops.

Mystique reveals that the groups only have three hours to prepare, which includes learning the lines and putting on make- up. Yikes, that is not much time at all. However, Juju confides in an interview that she is impressed with how Mystique has really stepped up to the challenge.

Meanwhile, Team Morgan gossips about how Mystique won the challenge and it is very Mean Girls. Mystique responds in her own interview that words are words, but after hearing those sorts of comments every day it leads to a “fuck ‘em all” attitude.

Jessica is still struggling with her lines.

Ru enters and christens Morgan’s team as The McCoys. They do a quick runthrough of the script and they all seem to have it down. Ru asks what the team’s biggest concern is at the moment and Morgan shares that she doesn’t want to be on the losing team again, particularly since she is the captain and no longer has immunity.

Ru leaves the McCoys and joins the Hatfields. They do a runthrough and it is a disaster. The music that plays before the Lip Sync for Your Life starts to play under this scene, that’s how bad things are. Ru stops them and says they are still underprepared before asking Jessica if she chose the chicken role. Jessica says that Mystique assigned the role to her. Ru asks Mystique why she did that, but not in a “what were you thinking?!” way. Mystique says she believes Jessica will rock it out, but Ru doesn’t seem to be buying that line of reasoning.

Ru calls over the McCoys to provide some more details on the challenge. First, special guest judge Kathy Najimy will direct the commercial. The queens cheer, but there’s more news: RuPaul literally flips the scripts on the teams. Ru insincerely apologizes for the last minute switch. Frankly, I think this helps Team Mystique/Former Hatfields/Current McCoys since they didn’t really know their old script anyway. No one else seems to share my optimism.

We see the sound stage and it is decked out in red gingham. Team Mystique is up first and they are introduced to Kathy. Juju geeks out a bit before they get started. They start rolling, both in the film sense and, I assume, the drug sense. Jessica jumps out in her chicken costume and starts delivering her lines. This is what I refer to as the WTF Moment for a drag show. Last week I was at a show that had a Carmen Miranda medley. There was also the time a few years back where one drag queen was pushing another queen around in a wheelchair, followed by the wheelchair queen walking around mingling. Check it, there will be at least one performance every time that makes you stop and go “…what just happened?”

As Jessica works through her monologue, Kathy keeps cutting to offer direction. RuPaul has the most ecstatic look on his face – the kind that makes me fear for my safety. Juju is playing Ellie May (what you’re picturing is probably correct) and Pandora is playing chain smoking pregnant Auntie Fay. Oh God, Tatianna is playing a freakish Weinerville Baby. Meanwhile Mystique is off in her own world with her blacked out teeth. I do not like this challenge AT ALL. Anyway, there are some incest and hillbilly jokes and a lot of Mystique not listening to Kathy’s instructions. Kathy and Ru make a note of that last item.

Team Morgan starts their shoot and Raven is still unhappy about the whole chicken costume ordeal. After a few failed takes, Kathy asks if Raven did her own makeup because she is giving off a Joker vibe. We get a close-up and, you know, you can’t help but ask Raven “why so serious?” They finally get through Raven’s portion and Sahara’s Ellie May character wails onto the set. Kathy clarifies that Ellie has not been abducted by aliens but is just sexy sad. Um, sure. I have no idea what is going on at this point. Sahara takes her notes with a smile and tries again, this time entering while furiously scratching her crotch. … … … yeah.

Aside from the crabs joke, there are a lot of “smells like fish” jokes and boob grabs. Morgan, who looks freakish in her old lady make-up, is chastised for being too crude after putting shortening in her crotch. Normally I would agree with that assessment, but then Kathy loses me by saying that it’s a “family commercial.” I call total no waysies on that.

We see one final good take before the teams are given instructions for the runway show. The contestants will be wearing their best country duds to impress the other extra special guest judge: Tanya Tucker.

The girls return to the workroom to get started on their runway looks. Tyra interviews that the only country person she knows is her aunt who has several personalities. You would think she could give one or two of them to Tyra for her birthday or something. Tyra wants her look to encapsulate as much of her aunt as possible.

Juju tells a story about her first time doing drag. It was during a high school Halloween party and she had an afro and balloon boobies. That’s better than the rolled up socks I used at a “Dress as Your Favorite Spice Girl” party I went to. Tatianna brags again that she did drag in middle school. Mystique surmises that Tatianna came out of the womb in makeup. I think it’s funny, but if you really think about it for a second isn’t that kind of a terrifying image? I think SNL did a short back in the ‘80’s that was called “Babies in Makeup” and it was simultaneously hilarious and unsettling. Anyway, Juju asks Tatianna if she feels more like a woman or a drag queen and the response is “a little bit of both.” Both Juju and Mystique are like, uh, no, just a performer here, honey. They then go back to talking about make-up and start pulling some lines from the commercials.

We see an interview with Mystique about how she got into drag. She claims that she was never considered cute in male form, hence Mystique Summers Madison was born. Juju interviews that before the runway show all the queens looked countrified, but Mystique looks more like a big girl hitting the clubs. We see Juju talk Mystique out of wearing a garish pink cowboy hat with a sparkly purple top.

Mainstage! RuPaul enters with a hot pink wig and a dress made out of Big Bird. There’s a flower in her hair that matches the dress. Tanya tucker is in a leopard print ensemble including a hat. This episode has gone from unsettling to downright awkward. Also, is Tanya Tucker a gay icon? The only country icon I’m aware of is, of course, Miss Dolly Parton but that seems like a bit of a big get for this show – especially this early in the season. Ru recaps the challenge and reminds us about the need for Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent.

Sonique: Black midriff top with rhinestone-studded leather pants. I don’t think I’ve said this yet, but she really does have an amazing body. Trim, but not encountering the man-abs issue that Jade had last season. She slides on a pair of shades before exiting the runway.

Jujubee: A red gingham shirt tied around a red top. It looks like she is going for an Asian Daisy Duke look and it is working. I love her boots – they have tassels dangling from the cuffs. She pulls a cherry ring pop from her cleavage.

Raven: She is wearing a red gingham top with skin-tight jean shorts. The look is very pin-up. The lipstick is a bit heavy though and it looks like she is wearing a pair of wax lips. However, this is the most convincing Raven has looked so far.

Sahara: A flared denim skirt with a denim vest over a tied gingham midriff top. Frankly, she looks like a Coyote Ugly reject, but at least she appears to be having fun.

Tatianna: Hmmm, I think she was trying for a Jessica Simpson look, but I’m getting more of a Fergie vibe. She has a black/red checkered shirt tied over a corset/short combo. It’s not really working for me.

Pandora: This is more of a cowgirl look than the others have presented. Blue jeans with a prominent belt buckle and scarves attached and flared just below the knee matched with a cute halter top.

Jessica: Ah, another cowgirl look but this one seems to have a little Aussie inspiration. A checked shirt underneath a corset, high-cuffed blue jeans and a hat with a bolo-style cord. I love this outfit.

Mystique: Oh dear. First, the purple top is the same one she wore in the challenge, so that would be a nil score in the “Uniqueness” category. Her runway walk, if you want to call it that, is horrendous. On the return, she just spins down the catwalk.

Morgan: Hmm, not a fan of this look. Bedazzled boots, blue jeans, and a top that just screams Hot Topic.

Tyra: Interesting look with a white top and a skirt that looks like it is made out of kitchen curtains. She returns to the start of the runway where she takes off the skirt to reveal denim shorts that are a better match for the top. She goes to the center of the runway once more and puts the skirt on over the top. It’s an interesting idea but it looks like a smock at a barber college. The idea is quite impressive and would probably be amazing with a little more time and a less garish looking fabric.

RuPaul welcomes all the queens to the runway. They take a look at Team Mystique’s commercial first. I…no. Jessica did all right given the language restraints but everyone else was just kind of blah. Mystique looked a hot mess and seemed like she was ready to cut a bitch – more so than usual. Pandora interviews that she thought the commercial was hilarious.

We now get to see Team Morgan’s commercial. Raven’s chicken seemed a bit uninspired. Sahara is way overdoing it while Sonique is rather underwhelming. Tyra actually shows some personality as the baby. Morgan’s granny makeup still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I think I might have to give the win to Team Mystique on this one. RuPaul then tells the contestants that everyone will be evaluated individually. Oh snap! RuPaul tells Sonique, Jujubee, Morgan, Tatianna and Sahara to step forward. They are declared safe from elimination. So that means Team Mystique has their namesake, Jessica and Pandora on the stage while Team Morgan has Raven and Tyra.

Raven is critiqued first. Merle says she was all over the map and Santino agrees. Raven explains that she didn’t realize that she should have played the part as a chicken. I think what she meant was that she didn’t know that she should have done a chicken voice. She clarifies when RuPaul is like “wha?”, but besides that Kathy says that Raven seems to be a bit too serious and stiff when she should be having more fun.

Jessica is next. Santino loves her look and Tanya thought she did a great job as the Disco Critter. Jessica explains that she just imagined herself as a Muppet to get through this challenge. That’s awesome and adorable.

Pandora tells the judges that her outfit is mostly store-bought, but she added the scarves on the legs and a few other touches. Tanya loves the outfit. Santino isn’t as wowed as Miss Tucker, equating Pandora’s look with the freak shows on Toddlers and Tiaras. Merle deflects this a little by saying that Pandora is more about performance than fashion. Honestly, I think that will get you farther in this competition – if you have to lip sync for your life your outfit won’t save you.

Mystique is immediately asked to explain her outfit. She says she wanted to dress like her friends back home since they’re country. Wait, isn’t she from Chicago? At least that’s what she screams during those promo clips for Untucked. Ru doesn’t buy it, so Mystique describes her look as “Mall-wear Country.” RuPaul just laughs at Mystique, and rightly so. If you want to look WalMart Fabulous that’s fine, but don’t be surprised when you get told on the runway. She is also busted for wearing the same top from the challenge. They cut to an interview clip from Raven: “Why the fuck did you wear that?” If there are any Mystique fans out there I think your girl may be in trouble. That includes Kathy who says that Mystique was the most convincing female on the stage. All the other girls on stage just glare at Mystique.

Tyra is last for critiques. Santino loved the concept of all the outfits but his concern is with Tyra not changing her voice at all while performing. Tyra claims she can’t pitch that high. Honestly, I think the question is a moot point. One of the things that really struck me about last season was how none of the contestants really seemed to change their voices between their male/female forms. The only one who ever really did was Shannel and even then it was only for that creepy Mandarin Orange/Hannibal Lecter segment. Anyway, Ru asks about Tyra’s performance. Tyra claims that she got inspiration from her son and some of his antics.

Deliberations. Tanya likes Mystique’s physical look but the outfit was a mess. Tyra is incredibly well received but they seem fixated on the voice issue. I guess they need to have something to critique. Raven’s performance was a failure, especially compared to Jessica. Pandora’s outfit wasn’t a hit, but her comedy chops seemed to please the judges.

The contestants are back on the runway. Pandora is told to step up her style before being declared safe. Mystique did not take direction well during the commercial or with the runway challenge and is sent to the bottom two. Jessica is simply told that she is safe. Aw man, that must mean Tyra won the challenge and immunity. So she is around for at least two more episodes. Sure enough, Raven is sent to join Mystique in the bottom two. Tyra is told that she won some handbags along with immunity. Boo!

Raven and Mystique take their positions. The time has come for them to Lip Sync…for Ya Life. This week’s song is Wynonna’s “I Hear You Knocking”. This show is so educational: before tonight I couldn’t name one Wynonna song and now I can. I can’t tell if the editors are being cruel by playing Mystique’s portions out of sync or if she just doesn’t know the words. Once again, Raven is totally dominating the performance and Mystique is just an afterthought. Raven: Shantay, you stay. Obvs.

As Mystique sashays away she stops and does yet another jump split. Sending the one trick pony out to pasture has been long overdue. She interviews that she wasn’t going to change who she is in order to win a competition. Ya know, on a show where the producers have a say in who goes home, that is a terrible strategy. The hero of the story has to go through some sort of change, otherwise who cares? “I’m going to be Mystique,” she continues. “Take me as I am or nothing at all.” I’ll go with the latter. It looks like the other queens will go with that option, too.

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