Monday, February 15, 2010

RPDR: Starrbootylicious

Previously on Gone with the Window: The Flaming of Atlanta: twelve queens entered RuPaul’s Drag Race to become America’s next drag superstar. Raven won the mini-challenge photo shoot involving a high-powered fan and a number of jokes utilizing the concept of “blowing”. The main challenge had the contestants taking part in some window dressing as they had to make an outfit from a set of drapes. Morgan won the challenge and immunity; Mystique barely avoided the bottom two, while Sahara and Shangela had to Lip Sync for Ya Life. Shangela, the drag rookie, was not up to snuff and was asked to sashay away.

Eleven queens remain. Who will be going home tonight?

We open with shots of the contestants as they get out of bed. As far as I know no one is sharing. As they enter the workroom Tatianna starts the eulogies for Shangela. Sahara tries not to let the elimination get her down while Tyra wipes Shangela’s goodbye note off the mirror and claims the workstation as her own. Before Sahara can react, a siren goes off and it’s time for SheMail.

This week RuPaul is giving a “Draguweather Forecast.” Looks like high pressure and occasional “Hay-ellll no” are on the horizon. Also, someone in the workroom is going to make it rain. The queens latch on to that phrase and pretend to not know what it means. Ru enters with the details of the mini-challenge: transform a RuPaul supermodel doll into a “Bad Girl”. The twist to this week’s challenge is that there are only six dolls, so there will be five teams of two and one queen left to fend for herself. Surprise, surprise, Mystique is the solo artist.

Ru starts the clock and Tyra snatches the entire tray of accessories as the other girls go for the dolls. She and Jujubee then have a lengthy discussion about the proper way to accessorize a hooker (don’t match the bag with shoes, diva!). NPB and Sonique are working together and we get a voiceover from Nicole about how much she misses her son. That’s two contestants so far with youngins. Maybe it’s the fact that children and significant others didn’t come up much last season but I find the whole kid angle rather disorienting.

After a quick hot glue montage, Ru reenters and calls time. First up is Monique and her doll ShaQuanda. It looks like Mystique is continuing with the “raggedy” motif from last week. Jessica and Tatianna have Wild Whore who looks like Rambo with a bubble skirt. Sahara and Pandora show off Shafreeforal looks like a hooker you would see on the first five minutes of SVU, black eye and all. NPB and Sonique’s Cynthia has a leopard print onesie on one side and a Lil Kim boob cozy on the other. Compared to the other dolls, this one looks rather professional so I don’t think they’re going to win. Tyra and Jujubee reveal Cherry who looks…a little bit like Tyra. She’s another one that looks a little too put together. Last up is Lady Mayhem from Raven and Morgan. Yikes! The waistline on the doll would make Barbie look obese. The doll is dressed only in lingerie and the hair is not ratty enough.

RuPaul congratulates all the teams on a job well done, but Sahara and Pandora are the challenge winners. Yay! Ru goes on to explain that the feature film Starrbooty inspires this week’s challenge. Huh, apparently “diva” is a female “hustla”. Do you feel your street cred ticking upward? Anyway, there will be two teams of burlesque dancers who will be judged both individually and as a group. As the winners of the mini-challenge, Sahara and Pandora will be the team captains. Pandora gets first pick and chooses Morgan. Sahara goes with Jessica. Sonique and Raven join Pandora while Jujubee and Tyra are selected by Sahara.

Mystique observes in an interview that the more revealing and skinny contestants are getting picked first. Tyra also notices that Pandora has all the “tall skinny bitches.” You know, one of the things I really enjoyed about last season was that “bitch” wasn’t thrown around all that much. Tyra and Mystique, the two most defensive contestants, almost use the term exclusively when talking about any of their fellow competitors. I think that may be contributing to why I dislike them so much. Anyway, Tatianna is invited onto Pandora’s team and Mystique goes to Sahara’s side. That means NPB is the last one and she joins Pandora.

The contestants are told that they will be receiving pole dancing lessons from pole dancing experts. Then, quite possibly the most awkward product placement ever “with poles provided by Platinum Stages.” Also, teams will be designing their own costumes. The gentlemen are told to start their engines because the best woman will run over to the fabric and claw it out of the hands of her competitors. After the scramble, we see that Team Sahara has already reached the point of conflict with Tyra causing a stink every step of the way. Sahara is unimpressed and Mystique chimes in that everyone is tired of Tyra’s bitching. Oy, Mystique bitching about Tyra’s bitching – see why I’m not a fan of either of them? Anyway, Tyra ignores Mystique and instead calls over to Pandora and asks why she didn’t pick her. Pandora halfheartedly apologizes while Tyra continues to complain that she is stuck with these bitches. Wow, not cool. The real Tyra would not stand for that, right?

After the break we are welcomed by two women demonstrating some skills on their respective poles that are giving me back problems just by watching. The teachers are from United Pole Artists. I don’t think they’re the same union as in Live Nude Girls Unite, but rock on Norma Rae’s of the sex industry. As the demo begins the queens’ expressions run from admiration to horror. One demo includes “dropping it like it’s hot” which I thought was something else – something I could actually do. Apparently the textbook definition involves undulating only the hips while in a crouched position. I don’t even know how to practice that, let alone trying it in the cliz-ub.

After the demos, the contestants are invited up to the stage to try out some techniques. Mystique is the first to volunteer and rocks out. Sonique, Raven and Morgan also demonstrate their skills on the pole. Yes, I’m well aware that that’s what she said. NPB is up next and it doesn’t go very well. Tatianna, who has been horrified throughout the demo, makes a frowny face after NPB’s failed attempt at sexy. The instructors ask Tyra to come up and try out the pole but she balks. She claims that she learns by watching and that she doesn’t want to be accused of stealing other people’s ideas. The hell? I don’t think they’re being evaluated on originality so I don’t know what Tyra’s problem is.

Back in the workroom, Sahara asks her team how they feel about the choreography. Tyra says she feels like a whore. Juju is all like, um, this is a Bad Girl challenge, but Tyra thinks that pole dancing is a bit “ho-ish.” Okay, another reason why I love this show is because of how it raises questions of gender and queer theory in an unconventional way, i.e. a competitive reality program. Drag shows are a mixed bag when it comes to performance style. Sex often plays a role and the parallels with tipping a performer as you would a stripper are there, however that is not the rule. However, I wonder if the next drag superstar could have such a self-imposed limitation. Although in the context of this challenge Tyra’s viewpoint would be frustrating to her teammates, it really does raise some interesting questions in the larger picture. In other words: half a point for Ms. Sanchez.

Meanwhile on the mainstage Team Pandora is working on choreography. Things are a bit of a mishmash since Pandora is not taking the lead. Morgan offers to take over the choreography and Pandora seems okay with this. Unfortunately, NPB and Tatianna are not strong dancers, making the process that much more difficult.

Later, Team Sahara works on their moves. Tyra’s complaint at this point is that she can’t rehearse in heels. The last drag show I attended was right before Halloween and the first performer simply sat in a chair and lip synced to “Here Comes Halloween” from A Nightmare Before Christmas. Inexplicably, this person still got tips. I imagine this must be the sort of gig Tyra has. As the girls practice the moves, Tyra just stands there and watches, probably figuring out whom to defensively throw under the bus.

In the workroom Team Pandora strategizes over costuming. They notice some pink and orange tiger print fabric that Tatianna believes the other team decided to discard. When Team Sahara returns and sees the fabric on the other team's work station, Mystique accuses them of stealing. Tatianna explains herself and she and Mystique get all pass/agg with one another. I think both of them need to work on their diplomacy.

Ru enters the workroom for the walkaround. Pandora is up first and is asked if she really feels like a leader. She says that she is a little overwhelmed by the strong personalities. Ru asks the same question of Sahara, but she responds that she does feel like she is meeting her responsibilities. Ru follows up by asking if Sahara approves of Tyra napping on a nearby couch. Seriously? As Ru tiptoes over to the couches Juju warns him not to wake up Madame Snoozefest because she’ll scream. Tyra doesn’t scream but explains to Ru that since everyone is hotgluing and she sewed her outfit in five minutes she doesn’t need to do anything right now. Huh. You do know that the person you’re talking to has final say in who goes home each week right Tyra? Ru announces to the workroom that the challenge will take place in a club called Dragonfly in front of an all-male audience. She reminds the contestants to bring their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent before heading out.

The contestants arrive at Dragonfly and this week’s judging panel waits for them onstage. The guest judges this week are Kim Coles (Sinclaire from Living Single) and Burlesque expert (Burlesquepert?) Dita Von Teese. The team that gets the most money in tips will win the challenge and be safe from elimination. Also, the girl on the winning team with the highest individual tip total will win immunity for next week. RuPaul also throws in a twist. The girls will earn tips not only onstage but also on the street. Tyra interviews that she doesn’t go outside in drag. Of course she doesn’t. How did she get on this show? Anyway, the contestants will be selling cherry pie gift certificates while their opponents perform in the club.

Team Sahara is the first group outside. The strategy includes approaching anyone and everyone. Jujubee interviews that she doesn’t really know how to approach people. My suggestion: stop using that weird fake southern accent.

Team Pandora takes the stage. We see a little of their routine and Tatianna narrates that NPB was having trouble with the choreography. It looked like Pandora didn’t really have a handle on the steps either. The crowd is sorta into it but then Sonique does an amazing backflip and the crowd goes wild. We see the solos and Sonique does well, Pandora looks more awkward than sexy, and Raven comes off more slutty than sultry. She at least acknowledges that things may not have gone as well as she had hoped.

Back on the street, Team Sahara starts chanting “cherry pie” and it looks like they are starting to round up some customers. Even Juju is having success despite her earlier fears. We see Tyra climb onto a lamppost and starts calling out for customers. Juju interviews that she is surprised that Tyra has a personality. And that’s why I’m rooting for Juju. Later, a customer with a twenty has approached Juju and said she’ll buy after a dance. Sahara sees this and rushes over to do some splits. Sahara wins that sale.

Inside, Morgan does a performance so amazing that even Santino is agape. Tatianna is next and starts dancing as if she is in the center of a ring of middle schoolers. She narrates that she might have been the skankiest on stage. NPB “performs” and the judging panel is not impressed. Kim Coles looks bored while Dita sucks something out of her teeth.

The teams switch and we see Team Pandora outside. The Christians and children walking around freak out Morgan. NPB’s approach might be a little too aggressive: “YOUKNOWYOUWANTSOMECHERRYPIE.” I don’t think she understands the difference between projecting and yelling. Tatianna narrates that Sonique is downright rude in her approach, telling a customer that time is money and he is wasting her time. That is not stellar customer service. Sales do not appear to be going well.

Team Sahara performs and it looks pretty solid. Juju interviews that even Dita has cracked a smile and we see that she is enjoying herself. Jessica’s solo features a lot of hair whipping while Mystique does another split.

Outside, sales are still not happening.

Inside, Juju does a lip gloss inspired performance, Tyra works the pole and does a split, and Sahara does a handstand with a split. I think the winning group is pretty clear at this point.

The girls enter the workroom to prepare for the runway show. Sahara interviews that everyone is anxious since no one knows the money totals or how the other team did in sales. Meanwhile, NPB wanders around the workroom trying to find a photo of her drag family. She talks about her kid a little bit, which leads to a segment about the queens discussing their families. Pandora’s dad has cancer and Juju reveals that her dad died of lung cancer. The conversation mutually bums them out.

On to the mainstage! Ru is channeling Cycle 4 Tyra, rocking a red wig and a black evening gown with some silver sparkly things that remind me of tinsel. She checks in with the judges who all enjoyed the burlesque show. Since the main challenge did not involve runway, the queens were asked to wear their high-class ensembles for judging. Let’s begin!

Sonique: A black lacy halter dress with a leather corset for the bodice. This is an amazing contrast to last week’s Lion King ensemble and she looks just as amazing.

Jessica: A purple bedazzled gown that somehow reminds Ru of Glinda. I don’t really see the connection, but I like the aesthetic.

Raven: She comes off a little Morticia-like in her gown, but somehow that look works for her. Kim Coles calls it Cher 2010, which I could also see if Cher never smiled in her life.

Sahara: Blue Diana Ross inspired gown. It looks good on her.

Pandora: Hmm, she’s wearing a floral print gown with these black strips that look like censor bars covering the chest and waist area. It’s certainly different, but I would not classify it as formal.

Jujubee: She is wearing a salmon colored wrap that seems very Golden Girls inspired. She claims Eartha Kitt was her inspiration, but I don’t quite see it.

NPB: A rather simple black dress with the exception of a lot of dangling strings from the shoulder straps.

Mystique: Her gown has a similar lacy swirl design as Sonique’s, but it looks good on her too. This has been a good week for Mystique. She does a few spins but isn’t all that coordinated.

Morgan: Apparently Agent 99 was always dressed in formal wear if we’re going by Morgan’s example. She’s wearing red heels and a checkered skirt/jacket combo. I’m thinking that having immunity may have factored heavily into her wardrobe choice.

Tyra: She is wearing a black sheath and about 15 pounds of bling on her neck and ears. It catches your eye, but it is not really a good outfit.

Tatianna: Purple is definitely her color. She describes it as Rhianna going to prom and I think she fully captured that.

All the women are on the stage now. The winning team is…Team Sahara! Woo! And Sahara wins immunity and a $1,500 gift certificate from Sequin Queen. Now it is time for the other team to get evaluated.

Pandora is up first and no one is a fan of her gown. Kim Coles thought the censor bars looked like duct tape. Sonique is next and RuPaul reports that her rudeness was not part of the challenge. Sonique says Ru would have done the same, but is told, “I do sassy, I don’t do bitchy.”

NPB is told that she is nice looking, but sexy really isn’t her strong suit. Dita isn’t a fan of the Megan Fox tongue action while Santino equates the dancing with a drunk Janice Dickenson. Tatianna, on the other hand, was one of the crowd favorites. Dita mentions that she noticed some guys asking for her name. Good for her!

Raven is reminded that she did not make much money on the stage. She acknowledges that she essentially fucked up the challenge. Girl, that’s the one thing Ru told you not to do.

Since Morgan has immunity, she isn’t evaluated but is used to segue into the bus-under-throwing portion of the competition. Basically: Who should go home? Morgan says Tatianna is the weakest person in the group. RuPaul asks Tatianna the same question and she responds that Morgan should go home. RuPaul says that Miss America answers do not apply to the Drag Race. Nicole says flat out to send all the girls home. Now there’s a Drag Race answer. Raven says Tatianna because she doesn’t believe that Tatianna wants to achieve drag superstardom. Tatianna chimes in and says she wouldn’t be on the show if she just wanted to sit around and look pretty. We don’t hear from Pandora or Sonique.

The girls are sent out so the judges can deliberate. NPB and Raven brought in the least amount of money. Raven had the weakest performance but a good runway presentation. Tatianna is green, but probably the prettiest one in the competition. Uh oh, we don’t need another Rebecca Glasscock situation. Sonique has a lot of southern charm that seems to be winning over the judges. Pandora was one of the top money earners on the team and although her wardrobe is questionable her personality is fabulous. NPB seems lost in the crowd.

The ladies return to the stage. Morgan has immunity so she is sent back. Sonique did well on stage, but she needs to work on her people skills. She’ll have time to work on that because she is safe. NPB brought in the least money, so she is on the bubble. Pandora is declared safe. Raven is told that she was the second-lowest money earning and that she will soon have the opportunity to prove herself because she too is on the bubble. Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise actually. Before sending Tatianna back, Ru tells her to sharpen her claws because the competition won’t get any easier.

Raven and NPB: The time has come for you to Lip Sync for Ya Life! Ooo, En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It”! Raven is really selling it while NPB is doing what could best be described as Karaoke Lip Syncing. Although they are both stationary for the first part, Raven is just coming off more relaxed and less lock-kneed than NPB. For the breakdown part of the song, Raven walks to the back of the catwalk and points to all the other queens telling them they’re “never gonna get it.” Okay, this performance is starting to bring me over to Raven’s side. She finishes by pulling out one of her falsies and powdering her face.

Surprise: Raven, shantay you stay. Sorry, Nicole Paige Brooks. Sonique appears to be the only one overly broken up by this turn of events, though NPB is sad to leave.

Next week: Kathy Najimy and some country cooking.

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