Drag All Stars 3: “Winning the Crown Is the Only Way Out Alive”

If a drag queen gets crowned and nobody’s there to blog about it, does she still make a fuss?

I had hoped to be prompt in my posts about Drag Race, but I’m a little behind. (Which is not something Shangela could have said in that fat suit from a couple of weeks ago. That moment was so brilliant I thought she had clinched the crown then and there. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

I think I was so stunned about DeLa’s untimely departure that I had a hard time getting back into the groove. So here I am with a twofer. If Morgan can get eliminated twice, I can put two episodes into a single blog, right?

Truth be told, the penultimate episode was really just filler: Morgan comes back, Morgan goes home, and we’re back to normal. Kind of how we hoped the Trump administration would be.

The episode was noteworthy, however, for the way the knives came out in DeLa’s absence. Maybe she really was a calming influence, because after she left, there were no holds barred. In Trixie’s words, “Winning the crown is the only way out alive.” Foreshadowing?

Despite Morgan’s second elimination, the real focus of the episode seemed to be Bebe. The other queens (and at least one fan) were gunning for her:

  • Shangela: “When you don’t think you have any flaws, that’s a flaw.”
  • Trixie: “Bebe won Drag Race and stopped watching it.”

Ouch. But true. Bebe seemed to believe that her win in season 1, against some of the weakest competition ever, was a triumph. Tell that to Jinkx Monsoon, who beat out both Alaska and Detox four seasons later.

But Bebe survived for another week, and we got the chance to see her try to dance. As she struggled to let herself be lifted by a backup dancer, I struggled to believe that any queen would have trouble getting her legs in the air.

DeLa’s hope for peer judging based on quality rather than personality went out the window when the eliminated queens were brought back to vote, as a group, for the final two. This time, they could have been objective: they weren’t still in the running, so there was no need to eliminate the competition. But instead, they made the worst decision of the season (save for DeLa’s self-elimination, but I’m trying to forget about that): they chose Kennedy over Shangela.

This was a head-scratcher. Maybe they just like her more. Nobody really knows what goes on before the editing.

In her session with the judges, as well as her backstage interview, Kennedy essentially admitted that the other girls had accomplished more than she had: she deserved to win because she needed it more. Oh girl, no.

This is a trope of reality competitions. Project Runway is infamous for asking contestants why they should win, only to hear 90% of them say it’s because they want it so much. No, folks, you win because you deserve to win.

And here’s where the irony comes in. In the final lip sync, Kennedy’s performance was arguably better than Trixie’s. She may be a more boring drag queen, but she’s a better lip syncer. Aside from literally pulling out her hair, Trixie didn’t use the song as an opportunity to be funny. (Let’s face it, Trixie Mattel could get a laugh out of a Sarah MacLachlan song if she wanted to, let alone Miley Cyrus.)

Fortunately, RuPaul is the final judge. And clearly she overlooked the lip sync and based her decision on the entirety of the season. Trixie really stepped up this season. Competing against Shangela at the end, she might not have come out on top, but the stars were with her. The All Stars.

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Drag Race All Stars, Episode 5: Drag Soup

 

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Barbara Walters is infamous for allegedly asking people what kind of tree they would like to be. Now, RuPaul has brought that idea to a whole new level by asking his queens to imagine themselves as soup.

In an homage to Andy Warhol (the whole show is worth it for the sight of RuPaul in a platinum wig—the first time I’ve ever seen him do drag as a man, sort of), Ru challenges the contestants to decorate their own soup cans to support their brands. The results aren’t half bad, from BenDeLaCreme’s cream of something to Bebe’s peanut soup.

The Warhol theme continues when the main challenge asks the girls to imagine themselves at Studio 54, one of Andy’s favorite haunts. The episode turns into a mini-history lesson, and—as we learned with the “Snatch Game” episode—history is not these queens’ strong suit.

Yet again, we are confronted with the perils of overconfidence. Aja is sure she’s going to win because her dress is so beautiful. And it is rather nice. If this were Project Runway instead of Drag Race, she’d probably be at the top. But alas, nobody said drag was supposed to be pretty. My favorite outfit of the night was Trixie’s pink jumpsuit, complete with overstuffed booty and boobs. She stumbles around in it like Jennifer Coolidge, and that’s always a win for me.

From last week’s episode, it looked like Trixie might be on her way out. But, as I’d hoped, she redeemed herself this week and ended up in the top two.

Aja was not so lucky. Sadly, her pretty dress didn’t read disco, and neither did the hair that she compared to Brigitte Bardot’s. But the judges’ hackles really got up when she called her look an evocation of “Frances Joli.” Ru is none too pleased when you mispronounce the name of a disco diva.

Actually, this whole episode is a bit of a time warp, so it’s no wonder Aja got confused. Andy Warhol’s artistic heyday was the 60s; Studio 54’s was the 70s. Soup can paintings and disco didn’t quite overlap, but these queens are too young to know that. Aja’s distinctly 60s look would not have gone over well at Studio 54.

It seems that the generation gap has finally hit this show. Why should drag be immune? I’m shocked by the number of gay men these days who couldn’t pick Joan Crawford out of a line-up, but I had hoped that drag queens would be an exception. As the vanguard of camp, they’re the last element of gay culture I would expect to lose historical perspective. But all good things must come to an end.

Adding salt to the wound, Shangela keeps harping on Game of Thrones, using it as her catch-all metaphor for the need to build alliances. Gay people—drag queens?!?!—watch Game of Thrones?

Kids today.