Sunday, April 11, 2010

RPDR: Once Upon a Queen

Previously on R-O-C-K in the Va-jay-jay: All the queens had to sing a live heavy metal version of RuPaul’s “Ladyboy” on the mainstage. Tatianna had yet another crisis of confidence, while Raven caused Berlin’s Terry Nunn to have a crisis of sexual identity. Sahara, Tyra and Jujubee were hot messes, but Tyra had immunity. Speaking of immunity, it is no longer on the table. Juju was more successful in the Lip Sync for Ya Life, sending Sahara Davenport off the runway.

Half the queens are gone. Who goes home tonight?

The queens enter the workroom and see Sahara’s goodbye message: “Live. Love. Believe!!” Jessica blames Juju, who is wearing Sahara’s wig from last week’s mini-challenge. Raven asks Juju how she liked Lip Syncing for Her Life, but Juju instantly dismisses the question. She was not a fan.

Raven’s next question, asking how people treated Juju in high school, was more interesting. Juju was everyone’s friend and was out. Tyra shares that she was picked on and was referred to as “that gay boy James.” Jessica tells the room that in Spanish the slur of choice was “bato.” I think that’s how it’s spelled? Spanish slurs are not my strong suit. Juju tells the girls what the slur is in Laotian and I’m not even going to attempt to spell it here. I can assure you it sounds unpleasant and Juju assures the room that it sounds even more unpleasant hearing it from your uncle. Yikes.

Jessica interviews that she had challenges growing up because she wanted to take dance classes and everyone instantly assumed that she was gay. Back in the workroom, Pandora shares that she tried to kill herself. Whoa. She goes on to explain that she hated herself for years and tried to overdose because she couldn’t deal with it anymore. Pandora says that she still sometimes hears the voice that says, “you’re not good enough.” She interviews that she has triumphed through adversity and is now happy with who she is. Juju asks for an “Amen” from the room. It’s moments like these that make me absolutely adore this show – you don’t get this sort of truth from the likes of Top Model or Survivor.

Let’s take a breather and listen to some SheMail, shall we? RuPaul laughs as she reads from a book titled Drag Fun with Dick and Jane. Eh, I think they could have tried a little harder on that title. “See Dick. See Dick try on Jane’s pumps. Strut, Dick, strut. You bettah work, Dick!” Ok, that makes up for the lackluster title. Male Ru enters and tells the girls that today’s mini challenge involves throwing shade and getting read. Translation: the art of the insult. The girls will go one by one down the line and tell their competitors what it’s all about. Ooo, stirring the pot in the most entertaining way.

Tyra whines that she doesn’t read people and even Ru won’t indulge this delusion. Instead, Tyra goes first. Ru hands her some “reading glasses” to help get into character. Her best line is calling Tatianna “Eminem in drag.” Tatianna is next and completely freezes. I find this surprising since she seems to have arrested her development in middle school so this challenge should almost be second nature. Tatianna doesn’t get through the line.

Jessica is next and pretends to flip her hair before she starts. Uh, girlfriend’s got some venom. She tells Juju to go back to Chinatown and says Raven’s face looks like [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep]. I tried reading her lips but can’t quite make out the whole phrase. Everyone is reacting positively except Pandora who is just standing there looking bored. Juju interviews that she has no qualms about this challenge. “I will read you to filth.” Alright then. Juju asks if Tyra’s barbecue was canceled because her grill is [beeeeeeeeeeep]. Nice. She rips through everyone and manages to work in at least four different accents.

Pandora flips up her hoodie before taking on the girls. She does alright, with her best line going to Jessica: “Your drag clothes look like a donkey fucked a piñata and threw up.” Now Raven is batting cleanup, telling Juju she should be better at pedicures and accusing Pandora of going through “the change of life.” With the library closed, Ru announces that Juju won the challenge. Yay!

Before going into the challenge, Ru introduces Absolut Vodka’s image czar Jeffrey Moran. He blah blah blah’s about berry acai vodka before Ru segues into his own product placement for his latest book. Anyway, this week the queens will be coming up with the concept for their autobiographies. Once they hammer out some of the plot points, there will be a cover photo shoot.

After some ads we rejoin the girls as they start writing out their ideas. Except for Juju who is trying on a purple Amy Winehouse wig. Tyra’s all like “huh?” but Juju says it gives her inspiration. You know what’s not inspiring? Tyra announcing that her book is dedicated to Beyonce. Put a ring on it, Sanchez. Juju speculates in an interview that this challenge could be a turning point in the competition.

Ru enters the room for the walkaround. Tyra is first and her book title is The Woman in Me. I give that a 7 on the “Also a Lifetime Movie” scale. Ru asks what the tone of the story will be. My guess is the tone that plays under the color bars during screen testing, but Tyra says it will be a serious story because she has been through stuff and things. Homegirl needs to work on her pitch. Ru asks about the book cover but Tyra hasn’t thought that part through yet.

Raven is next and she is going with the title Young, Broke, and Fabulous. Ooo, I’ll give that a 9. Raven goes on to say one of the chapters will be titled “LTR” and it will talk about her long-term relationship with herself. Umm, I kinda wanna read this book. Ru’s advice is for Raven to consider who the audience is for the book.

Jessica’s book is about a kid with dreams that eventually come true. And? Ru sort of has to break down the challenge again, saying that the book needs to be about Jessica Wild and a gorgeous picture on the cover will help separate it from all the other self-help latino drag queen books out there. Jessica interviews that the language barrier is really slowing her down. You know, Nina had the same issue at this point in the competition last season. Of course, she didn’t have to write her script ahead of time, so it is definitely Make it Work time for Ms. Wild.

Tatianna’s book is called Tati: From Teen Queen to Drag Superstar. Bleh, 2. However, Tatianna probably has the most source material out of all the queens, given that we hear about her travails just about every time she opens her mouth. Ru asks how the theme of the story will be conveyed on the book cover. So far, the plan is for Tatianna to stand on a stage. And?

Pandora is next and her book is called Out of the Boxx. I’ll give it a 3, but the title does work for her. Pandora rehashes what she was saying earlier about snuffing the voice of doubt that constantly heckles you. She goes on to explain that the theater and performing proved to be a turning point in her life. Ru takes it one step further by declaring for Pandora “Drag saved my life.” Pandora agrees. Yay!

Last up is Juju. Her book is called Memoirs of a Gay-sha! Jujubee’s Journey and I’m Still Here. I’ll give it a 5, but I’ll adjust if Tyler Perry attaches to direct. Her target demo is gay Asians. Juju breaks it down for Ru and the two queen out a bit over some of the details. (Homosexuality? Girrrrrrrl!) Ru asks how to say “fierce” in Laotian. “I would just say ‘Juju’.” LOVE!

After the walkaround, Ru recaps what the challenge entails but adds one more task: an interview with Marc Malkin. The girls will be judged on Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, Talent, and their ability to drop in the name of their book and plugs for the berry acai vodka. The guest judges will be Gigi Levangie Grazer and Jackie Collins. Fabulous!

Tyra is up first for the photo shoot. The photographers explain that the girls are responsible for art directing while they pose for the cameras. Tyra’s concept for her cover is three pictures: Tyra holding on to the past, accepting the present, and looking toward the future. God bless us, everyone. Tyra is confident in how photogenic she appears, but then one of the photogs point out that her face is melting. Where can I address my thank you letter, show?

Pandora starts off her shoot by taking advantage of some of the props, specifically a treasure chest. The concept is that Pandora will be coming out of the box with the assistance of the pit crew. She directs the boys to “lust over me, bitches.” They maintain their flat affect. Kenyon would have played along. Seriously, where did he go?

Tatianna has decided to go with a Princess of Persia look for some reason. It isn’t really working for her. She directs the pit crew to stand on either side of her and look at her. A few photos are snapped and Snarky Photog suggests that Tatianna be a bit more specific in how the pit crew should look at her because right now “they’re looking at you like you’re kinda crazy.” Tatianna interviews that the crew wasn’t being cooperative, so she took some solo photos instead.

Raven starts directing as soon as she walks on the set. Her concept is that she will be sitting at a yard sale in a long black dress while wearing sneakers. Basically high class meets white trash. So far she seems to be the only one who has thoroughly thought through this challenge.

Juju enters next wearing a red dress and one of those pointy hats. What are those called? I tried googling “Asian pointy hat” and all I got was a bunch of sites calling it “Asian pointy hats.” Snarky Photog asks what Juju wants for the cover and she says she just wants to look good. That’s not a helpful answer. She also has extra time because she won the mini-challenge, but Snarky Photog is less than impressed with how she used that advantage -- a lot of posing and not using props.

Jessica’s concept appears to be channeling Wonder Woman or Sailor Moon while staring off into space. Snarky Photog asks what she is thinking about and Jessica says “about my dreams.” He suggests that she think about something else because she is just coming off flat. “This is not my challenge,” she mutters to herself. Eek! Jessica might be in trouble. Snarky Photog (who isn’t really being snarky at the moment) suggests using some props, but that just makes Jessica more self-conscious. She settles on using an award statue and things seem to improve.

Back in the workroom, Tyra is frantically changing before the interview portion of the challenge. According to her, there’s only about five minutes between the photo shoot and the interview. Raven, who is now dressed as Nancy Reagan, comments that Tatianna did not change her costume at all. Jessica asks Juju what specifically they need to talk about in the interview. Juju tells her to talk about the book and the alcohol. All the queens are having trouble with the word “acai” (ah-sah-eeee).

We see Pandora enter the interview room and it turns out that it is a satellite interview. Marc can see the contestants, but they can’t see him. Boosh. We see a montage of all the queens in their respective interviews. Raven does a great job of dropping in her book title while Jessica appears to be drunk off of [Product Placement] vodka. Whoops. Pandora and Tyra drop in their titles, though Tyra forgets to say “acai” when talking about the booze. Juju drops in her title and tells Marc, who asks about where the candy hides, that there is a lot of candy to hide. Don’t pull a Jade, Juju! We see Raven namedrop the alcohol successfully followed by Pandora. Tyra fumbles again while Jessica gets even more sloshed. Tatianna gets cut off before she can slip in the plug (dirty!) and then she interviews that she didn’t drop her book title either. Jessica just barely slurs her book title in: Jessica Wild: Dreams of a Golden Child. She also reproclaims her love for the drink.

The girls return to the workroom to get ready for the runway show. Raven and Juju tease each other with their shade from the mini-challenge. Pandora rehashes the concept of “reading” but says that she does like everyone still in the competition. Raven apologizes for keeping it real, but Juju says that if you can’t laugh at yourself, how in the hell can you laugh at somebody else, can I get an “Amen”? I’m paraphrasing. Meanwhile, Tatianna is not a fan of the new Morgan-less Raven. Raven asks her how she did in the interview and Tatianna says she mentioned the drink but not the book. Raven wants her gone.

Ru enters the mainstage and she has sort of a late 60’s/early 70’s vibe about her – red Barbara Eden/Feldon hair and a chartreuse dress. She introduces the judges, with guests Gigi, Jackie, and vodka guy. Ru recaps the challenge and says that the runway theme is dressing for the book launch party. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Tyra is wearing a beige, skin-tight sheath dress. Wow, there’s a lot of junk in the trunk. She also transforms her look by hiking the skirt, putting on a belt and taking off the fur cuffs.

Juju is wearing a blue shimmering dress. For some reason her look is reminding me of Tia Carrere in Wayne’s World. That isn’t a slam, but that is what jumps to mind. Juju explains that she likes to make eye contact with the panel, something she calls the “Hey hey hey!” look.

Tatianna is wearing a Keystone Kops Prisoner inspired dress. It’s a lot like Rebecca’s look from the Top 6 runway last season without the raccoon make-up. Yikes, everything about the look is wrong – she looks like she has a potbelly, her hair is too long, the skirt is too long, and the shoes are way too mom-like.

Pandora enters wearing a lime green cheetah print. Pandora says she is trying to mix glamor and fun. Pandora, honey, you know I love you, but there is nothing glamorous about that print.

Jessica comes out wearing a shimmering gray smock dress and oversized bling earrings. Jessica voices over that she loves that dress, but it is not her best look. The whole look seems kind of droopy.

Raven enters wearing a bronze colored gown and a Dorothy Michaels style wig. Ru says “it’s so not Raven” and I have to agree. I’m getting a Bette Midler/The Rose vibe from the look, but Raven is making it work.

All the girls return to the runway. The judges start with Tyra, whose book is called The Woman In [sic] Me: a Guide to Letting Go of the Past, Accepting the Present, and Looking Forward to a Better Future by “The Other Tyra” Tyra Sanchez. Geez, Sapphire has nothing on this queen. Tyra explains the concept of the book before we see a clip from the interview. We see the part where Tyra skips over saying “acai” and she explains that she didn’t want to “fuck up the name of the drink.” Vodka guy tells her that if she is being paid to talk about the drink, then she should learn the damn name. Jackie and Gigi both dislike the cover but acknowledge that Tyra at least thought about the presentation.

Juju is next. Jackie loves the title and Merle commends Juju for drawing on a reference to another classic work. We see the candy discussion in Juju’s interview clip. Gigi tells Juju that she knows some moguls who might want to sample some of Juju’s candy. Oh my!

Tatianna becomes instantly uncomfortable when it is her turn to get critiqued. Her title is Tati: From Teen Queen to Superstar. Tati confidently explains the concept of the book, but Gigi asks where that confidence was when Tatianna walked down the runway. Santino hates the dress and says it could be a few stripes shorter. Tatianna snaps and says she is tired of trying to figure out what is too short and what is too long. Santino describes the look as Morticia Adams, which is totally fair. When it comes to the interview, we see Tatianna talk about getting hit on by straight guys before failing to mention the booze. Jackie mentions that the book was not plugged, but she isn’t crazy about the title anyway. Vodka guy says he probably would have had an argument with Tatianna about the biff.

Pandora’s book, Out of the Boxx: How Drag Saved My Life, has a rather nice looking cover with the pit crew helping my girl out of the chest. Santino starts the critique by suggesting that if Pandora is going to look like a “coke whore” she should go full throttle. Ouch. We then see the clip where Pandora correctly says what flavor the vodka is but doesn't mention the brand.

The cover for Jessica Wild: Dreams of a Golden Child is a bit of a mess. The way Jessica is positioned makes it look like she is wearing just the bottom half of a fat suit and there is just way too much gold and orange in the background. Santino says the cover could have looked more sophisticated. We then watch Jessica getting sloshed, interrupting Marc, and biffing the title of her own book. Santino calls it a trainwreck while RuPaul says it sounds like the title is “dreams of a golden shower.” Jessica claims not to know what a golden shower is. Jackie Collins seems offended by this naïveté. Poor Jessica. On the plus side, the product did get a lot of air time, but vodka guy thought it was sloppy and probably would have fired Jessica.

Raven’s cover is fantastic. Young, Broke, & Fabulous: The Pursuit of Finding Your Inner Trust Fund features the queen sitting in a yard sale holding up a pair of heels with a $2.00 price tag. We see a quick succession of clips of Raven plugging the book, which impresses Jackie. Then Gigi and Raven have a fake fight over who can teach whom about being a woman. Raven is really charming the pants off the panel.

RuPaul dismisses the girls and the judges deliberate. Tyra’s book title is okay, the judges like her dress, and Merle likes that Tyra showed a little vulnerability in this challenge. Juju’s personality impressed Jackie but vodka guy thought she might have crossed the “good taste” line. Tatianna’s look failed in the judges’ eyes. Ru likes Pandora’s consistency, but worries that she hasn’t taken her performance to the next level. Jessica didn’t seem to understand what was required of this challenge. Raven wowed the panel, but RuPaul is concerned about a lack of vulnerability.

Time for one more reading of this group of six. Ru calls the girls heroes and commends them for the progress they have made on this particular journey. “No matter what happens, you are champions.” Tyra is told that the next drag superstar needs to be consistently dynamic and that she is safe. Jujubee’s title, specifically “Gay-sha”, won over the panel and she gets to join Tyra. Tatianna fumbled her interview and biffed the runway show, so she will be lip-syncing shortly. Pandora did not overly wow the judges, but she is still safe. Raven totally won this challenge and she gets a shopping spree at L.A. Eyeworks. That means Jessica is in the bottom with Tatianna.

This week, the girls will Lip Sync for Ya Life to “He’s the Greatest Dancer” by Sister Sledge. For those not familiar with the song, it is the sample for “Getting Jiggy With It”, which is apparently Jessica’s strategy – she is really overdoing it. As a result, she looks kind of sloppy while Tatianna looks more subdued by comparison. Truthfully, neither performance is all that engaging, but I think Tatianna’s was a bit more solid. RuPaul seems to agree with me, but Tatianna doesn’t believe it. She actually does a double take when told “shantay, you stay. Juju and Tyra can’t believe it either, but Raven and Pandora look pissed.

Jessica is very graceful as she sashays away. She says that some of her dreams have come true and she can return to Puerto Rico with pride. Juju is in tears, but the girls still dance when the music starts to play. Ooo, they’ve choreographed a line dance. I expect instructions at the reunion!

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