We open with a black-and-white montage of this season’s contestants. After RuPaul announces, “I’m back!” we get a quick montage of upcoming scenes from the season. Twelve queens, some doing backflips, some dressed as creepy hillbilly babies (?), and a whole bunch of splits. Oh, and a reminder that each week two queens will have to “Lip Sync...For Your Life.” God, I missed this show.
After a revamped theme sequence we see a contestant enter the revamped workroom. The first contestant is Nicole Paige Brooks from Atlanta. What is up with drag queens and the name Paige? I think every city has at least one Paige Turner, but aside from the obvious pun I don’t see what the appeal is for the name. We see her trying to decide which end of the workroom she wants to claim for herself. In an interview she defines herself as a southern belle/Capricorn/big momma. Is that considered a triple threat?
Moments later Shangela enters. She identifies herself as the “Debutantess of the Deep South.” According to her, “debutantess” is one part booji and one part home girl. I think I like this queen. The two chat for a bit revealing that Nicole Paige has been doing drag for 15 years while Shangela has only been around for 5 months. NPB interviews that she is not interested in babysitting any newbies.
Next up is Raven, she of the pierced lip and tit-centric presentation. She reminds me of this queen in Cleveland named Athena Ghost who was really just a boy in makeup rocking out to Evanescence. Not a fan. Ugh, tattoos up the arm, too. In an interview male Raven (David) claims that he wants to be the ice queen. I think that might be this show’s version “I’m not here to make friends.”
Coming through the door next is Jujubee. She is Asian, poppy, fashion forward, and loves glitter because it’s “wicked spah-kly”. She’s also from Boston. I like her instantly.
The show starts to pick up the pace and introduces Sahara Davenport. After she walks through the door Shangela looks over and starts screaming. The others are like “okay?” and it turns out that Sahara and Shangela were friends in college. As those two freak out, a blonde named Morgan McMichaels enters and Raven starts to freak out a bit. They both started out at the same club.
After the screaming subsides, Mystique enters the room. She is this season’s plus-size queen. We see her introduce her right breast as “Cheeseburger”, her left as “Taco Bell” and her rear as “Diet Coke on the Side.” She could be interesting, especially after she interviews that “skinny bitches” can suck it.
The next queen is Jessica Wild, the viewer’s choice contestant. She shares that her biggest fear in the competition is the language barrier: she’s from Puerto Rico just like last year’s viewer pick, Nina Flowers. Her strategy is to smile if someone says something she doesn’t understand. That’s probably better than just saying “Good night, Bahamas!”
The drag reunion tour continues when NPB recognizes Sonique. In her interview, Male Sonique reveals that his mom sent him to military school and he came back as a drag queen. That’s military spending I think I can approve of.
Tatianna enters next followed by … Kathy Griffin? Oh, no, that’s another queen known as Pandora Boxx. She does list Miss Kathy as one of her influences as well as Madonna and Goldie Hawn. This one might be a weirdo, but there is a charm there that I’m responding to – hopefully it will last. Shangela asks if she sews and Pandora says that she does and that she made the outfit she’s wearing. Shangela screams.
A heavily medicated Rihanna enters the room. She is introduced as Tyra Sanchez. Shangela asks Tyra if she is bankable and she doesn’t seem to know how to respond. Wake me up when this contestant is gone, please.
She Mail time! RuPaul welcomes the contestants and warns them that there will be “more twist and turns than Kim Kardashian trying to wiggle out of a pair of Spanx.” The queens love that line, as do I. Ru finishes by telling the queens that this season will blow them away. The queens applaud the video and then Male Ru enters. He goes around the room to meet and greet the contestants and everyone SQUEES! appropriately.
After the introductions, RuPaul welcomes all the contestants and tells them that anyone who walks out of the house in a wig and high heels is his hero. All twelve were chosen because of their (say it with me) Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. He then goes on to list the prizes up for grabs: a contract with NYX cosmetics (aww, no more MAC?), a PR contract with Project Publicity (LGBT represent!), an LA Eyeworks campaign, headliner of the LOGO/Absolut Pride tour, and $25,000. Not bad.
RuPaul introduces Mike Ruiz, photographer extraordinaire. This segues into the theme for this week’s challenge: Gone with the Wind. The mini-challenge will be a photo shoot that will reward the queen that gives the best “Face Face Face.” After the commercials we see that it also involves a cannon and two shirtless, dark skinned guys in Civil War uniforms. This is what we in the biz like to call “revisionist history.” Also, these are not the same Pit Crew guys from last year. Where’s Kenyon?
Jujubee gets the full explanation of the photo shoot except for the part about the fans being set at “Gale Force” (oo, there’s a good drag name). She interviews that she could feel her wig starting to slip and her eyelashes sliding. Her photo turned out okay and she tells Ru that she had never been blown like that before.
Tatianna has a good photo while Sonique looks like she walked out of the superhero shoot from cycle 5 of Top Model. Pandora’s photo looks crazy, Jessica’s was okay and Mystique’s was just blah. Morgan looks like she is having a good time until her wig flies off. Whoops! I think she could have rocked it without the wig, but she becomes self-conscious and tries to use the Isadora Duncan style scarf that all the contestants had to cover her hair. They got a decent shot with her wig still on but it wasn’t great.
Morgan walks back into the workroom and tells the queens what happened. She seems to have a sense of humor about it, which is good. Meanwhile, Pandora muses on the amount of prep time it takes to achieve transformation. Morgan adds to this by hoping that the other boys are as attractive as he is. I will admit, Morgan is a cutie but it’s fairly obvious that s/he’s pretty self-absorbed.
Back at the photo shoot, NPB pinches Not-Kenyon’s nipples before mounting the cannon. That is not a euphemism nor erotica. Mike Ruiz hilariously describes NPB as being more catalog than couture. Really, guy? I agree that she comes off like a stewardess with a tray table up her butt but hey, she still took an okay photo. The wind machine whips Sahara’s face in the most unflattering way. Meanwhile Tyra, who inexplicably wore an outfit that you can’t even sit down in, drones about the difficulty of being near the Pit Crew. There’s something stiff in the general area of Tyra, but it’s not what you’re thinking. Even her picture puts me to sleep.
Shangela seems to be doing okay, heeding the advice of “think Franklin Mint plate” (c’mon, that’s perfect for this challenge!) until her “chicken cutlets” try to come out to play. Whoops. I think her photo turned out well. Last up is Raven who looks so mannish in her photo. She enters the workroom and goes on and on about how wonderful that blowjob was. Sahara interviews that both Raven and Morgan are offputting, punctuated by Morgan stripping down to full junk exposure. She’s not shy I’ll give her that. Tyra also speculates that Morgan is going to get on her nerves.
Ru, Mike and the Pit Crew enter the workroom to reveal the challenge results. And the winner is...Raven?! Are you shitting me? Anyway, Ru sends the queens home for the night since “tomorrow is another day.”
The next day we see the contestants as they wake up in their hotel rooms and make their way back to the workroom. RuPaul welcomes them back and introduces this week’s challenge: Make a Scarlet O’Hara inspired dress from a set of drapes and various household items. He’s calling it “Gone with the Window.” It sounds like this might have a bit more structure than last season’s “Drag on a Dime.” Raven gets first choice of drapes since she won the photoshoot. She picks an ugly zebra print which Pandora whines about in an interview.
After RuPaul gives the “Start your engines and may the best woman win” soundbite, the remaining queens make a mad dash for the remaining curtains. Shangela and Tyra tease each other about who shoved whom while Morgan and Tatianna actually fight over a set (Tatianna wins). Over in housewares, Jujubee has determined that she will be “flawless” as she hoists a ceiling fan onto her workstation. Awesome.
Meanwhile, Shangela offers to share her workspace with Pandora. Pandora is able to read through the lines very quickly: Pandora can sew, Shangela cannot. Shangela asks for a couple of quick tutorials but Pandora is leery about this arrangement.
Tatianna and Raven give their unfavorable critiques of Mystique’s project. Raven describes the dress as a pillowcase and I have to agree, mainly because I have a pillowcase that looks exactly like what Mystique is attempting. Girlfriend is in trouble. Shortly after this critique Morgan breaks the sewing machine that she and Raven are using.
RuPaul enters and gets his Tim Gunn on, starting with Mystique. Her main issue (of many issues) is that the largest available dress form is nowhere near her size. Ru suggests padding the form but Mystique instantly brushes that suggestion to the side. Next, Shangela shows her burlap concoction that is somehow going to incorporate corncobs? Tyra is next and we learn that she has a son named Jaremiah. Huh. Ru chats up Sahara and Morgan, both who have quite a bit of work to do before they are finished. After the walkaround, RuPaul tells the contestants that the extra special guest judge will be none other than Kathy Griffin. Woo! I love Miss Kathy!
The queens enter the workroom, presumably the next day, and get ready for the show. Jessica and Shangela interview about what final preparations are like before the first big runway show. We get a shot of Mystique, who has a basket of some sort on her head. That seems awkward. Morgan interviews “I think Mystique is a mistake.” Bitchy, but perhaps fair given what has been presented so far. Sorry, I’m not on the Mystique love train just yet. More queens wax poetic about the artform that is drag performance and then we head to the mainstage.
Wow. This show has a budget this time around. There are lights all over the place including the catwalk. It looks like the show has cut down a smidge on the use of soft focus when filming RuPaul, which is also a nice touch. Tonight she’s wearing a lovely red dress that looks very Vanna White. Santino and Merle have returned and are joined by Mike Ruiz and Miss Kathy. Kathy compliments Ru on her Michelle Obama arms. Hehe. Ru recaps the challenge and starts the runway show.
Tyra Sanchez: She has a couple of layers going on and they compliment her skin tone and hair very nicely. Kathy comments that the carpet and drapes don’t match, but they don’t have to.
Raven: She turned the ugly zebra print into an almost functional tube dress with red going down the center, but the movement accentuates her man shoulders.
Sonique: Wow, she came up with a Lion King inspired ensemble including Rafiki’s staff. Very nice.
Jujubee: Not so much of a fan of this look. Although it looks like it is constructed well, there’s a matronly quality about it.
Tatianna: Along with a red wig that isn’t do her favors she made an ill-fitting baby doll dress. Very middle of the pack so far.
Sahara: A parasol? Okay. It’s an interesting look, almost as if she is trying to pull off a Walmart brand of Iman.
Shangela: The color of the look is not all that eye-catching and she decided to accessorize with the corn cobs hanging from her hands. Oh girl.
Jessica Wild: Her dress looks more like a bathing suit covered with giant sunflowers. She looks a bit like Esther Williams.
Morgan: Her outfit turned out well. It is a little similar to Sonique’s in its basic construction but it does not come off as costumey. Her hair, however, is pulling her face in a way that makes her look like a Tammy Faye impersonator.
Mystique: Huh. She’s committed to that basket on her head, apparently. Ru says, “who needs a hybrid when you could have a basket on your head?” What? That makes no sense. Maybe that’s the point because Mystique’s entire presentation is just as baffling. As she walks back towards the entry, she sets the basket down, jumps in the air and lands in a split. The judges applaud but that’s just gross pandering. Girlfriend is on borrowed time.
NPB: Her dress is cute but not really much of a standout within this crowd. She’ll be safe.
Pandora: She opted to rock a Kathy wig (smart move) and made a rather nifty suit/dress/fishnet combination.
The twelve queens stand on the runway. RuPaul reiterates her comments about drag artists as heroes before separating some wheat from the chaff. She calls Jujubee, Tatianna, Raven, Sonique, Jessica, and NPB and tells them that they are neither the best nor the worst. Raven isn’t too pleased with this, but neither is Ru. She tells them to step up their game before dismissing them.
Time for some girls to get told. Ru starts with Tyra. Although the dress has a simple design, the colors really worked well for her. Kathy’s only criticism is for Tyra to have a little more fun with her face. I hope she listens to that advice because “dull as dishwater” ain’t going to cut it.
Shangela is next. Santino hates the dress while Mike does not like the photo at all. Uh-oh. I like Shangela but I think she’s in trouble.
Morgan and her crazy-face are up. Kathy calls Morgan “Chergifani”: Cher + Fergie + Gwen Stefani. That’s fair.
Pandora: Kathy says she is looking in a mirror (hehe). RuPaul references the energy in Pandora’s photo and suggests that the same energy should come out on the mainstage.
Mystique: Kathy doesn’t like the dress but Mystique says she can wear short skirts like the skinny bitches. Ru asks if Mystique’s boobs are popping out in the photo to which the contestant responds, “Got milk?” Sigh.
Last up is Sahara. She mentions that her boyfriend is Asian, hence the parasol. Kathy brilliantly states, “Nothing says ‘Civil War’ like ‘My Asian Boyfriend.’” Boosh. The main critique is that the outfit is not drag enough.
Deliberations. Mystique is raggedy. Shangela looks too old-fashioned and is all potential and not enough experience. Sahara may not be fabulous enough. Tyra needs some personality. Morgan has a good package at the moment (as we saw earlier). Pandora needs to own the stage more.
The six have returned. Tyra is warned about her personality before being told that she is safe. Shangela has energy but that is not enough to save her from the bottom two. Eep! Morgan is declared the winner. She gets immunity next week as well as an Interior Illusions photo spread in Lux magazine. Pandora is also safe. Mystique is told that she is raggedy but that split saved her…for now. That leaves Sahara to round out the bottom two. She also gets dinged on personality. What’s worse, it’s the former college buddies left to battle it out in the Lip Sync for Your Life.
This week’s song: “Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk)” by RuPaul. Don’t fuck it up! The queens take their positions. One of the good things about this performance is that both contestants are taking this seriously. The first two episodes last year both of the eliminated contestants seemed kind of whatever about the whole LSFYL. These queens came here to play. As soon as the song hits the bridge, Shangela rips off her skirt and starts rocking the runway. Sahara responds in kind. There are cartwheels, splits, pirouettes, kicks – it’s awesome. Sonique goes a little overboard saying, “it looked like mortal combat.” As much as I love this show, I wouldn’t go that far. However, by the end of the performance you can tell that the bar has been set for future eliminations. I can’t wait.
RuPaul announces her decision. “Sahara Davenport: Shantay you stay.” Aww. She jumps and says “Yay!” but as she lands she instantly realizes that her friend had just been eliminated and looks like she feels really guilty for the previous half second. I hate when that happens. Shangela is very accepting of the situation and congratulates her friend. She sashays away.
In the workroom Shangela reflects on her brief experience. She is proud of what she has done and is happy to have lost to her friend. “Now it’s time to pack my wigs and go home.” I wonder if that was the send-off runner-up to “Sashay away”?
Back on stage RuPaul acknowledges the bittersweet nature of what just transpired. She then congratulates the contestants for surviving the first challenge. Ru signs off and asks for the music to play. “Don’t Be Jealous of My Boogie” is the runway song of the season.
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