RuPaul’s Drag Race

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

May the best woman win! With five drag queens left in the competition, the time is ripe to add some RuPaul’s Drag Race recaps to your calendar. And this week, there was no lack of ripe fruit on the runway, as Ru introduced her squirrelfriends to the ‘mos of Stonewall Riots past. But first! Let’s coat our eyebrows in wax and see just where we’re at. (Spoiler Alert!)

Jessica Wild has been sashayed away back to Puerto Rico to guide Ricky Martin through his coming-out process, but her untamed spirit lives on in the animal queendom, where Raven and Tatiana are flashing their teeth, circling, gearing up for battle, and cautiously sniffing at each other. Meanwhile, poor adorable Pandora Boxx, like a deer in the headlights, is just wide-eyed paralyzed and baffled about what the judges want from her. Do they want “Funny Girl” Barbra, or do they want “The Mirror Has Two Faces” Barbra, after she spent all that time on the stair machine at the gym and got a push-up bra and a black cocktail dress and now she’s all glamour and highlights filmed from her good side? And what do the judges want? Who knows? Who could decipher what a Santino even is, let alone unravel his philosophy on drag?

We’ve got plenty of time to ponder these mysteries, because the mini-challenge is, as usual, a total bore. The girls have to match baby photos of all the queens with pictures of the grown-up girls — except for “big girl splits” Mystique Summers Madison, because one of the things she lost in the fire was her baby pictures. So RuPaul just cut and pasted adult Mystique’s face onto a baby’s body and girl ends up looking like one of the Wayans brothers in that movie about the Wayans brother who’s a baby with a grown-up head. Is RuPaul testing us with some kind of moral dilemma? Like, we should feel bad that Mystique lost her baby photos? Or laugh at that big ol’ noggin and tiny infant body combo? The answer is Mystique is long gone from the competition, so we should refuse to devote any more thought to the matter. And as Edina Monsoon would point out, “Patsy, you have no morals.” Moving on.

Tatiana, keen observer and chronicler of face, wins the mini-challenge, and Ru brings in the special guests for the main challenge: five Plain Wayne middle-aged gay American hero-men who the respective contestants must reverse-fairy godmother into passable “Drag Mamas.” Tatiana picks first for herself and then has the added privilege of picking for the others, so she sticks her nemesis Raven with the bearded one, and Raven is just so mad about that because the LOGO people won’t spring for shaving supplies. Not to fear, though, because all the queens and their charges have their work cut out for them and then pasted onto saggy moobs. And there RuPaul goes again, a bewigged Aesop in a velveteen toga or something, teaching us Important Lessons about respecting our elders and practically daring us to show anything but the utmost reverence. But come on! Tati’s drag mama claims his armpit hair just straight fell out(!), probably some time between Murphy Brown and Grace Adler (but then later it miraculously grows back, proving nothing other than that here is a man who is beyond awareness of his own armpits), and Raven’s mama — an otherwise sweet and intelligent probable Faerie who drops buzzwords like “genderfuck” — flaunts an unidentifiable mass of wrinkles somewhere on his torso that’s been pierced with everything he could find in his junk drawer, and he has a pronounced limp as well. Okay, Ru! We get it! But we could’ve gotten it just as well without having to derive entertainment value from men who openly express concern about their orthopedic health, or feeling guilty about laughing when The Other Tyra wraps her drag mama in duct tape to give her “the curves she deserves.” These men don’t deserve curves! They deserve nice comfy tracksuits and cute patient Greek waiters at diners who don’t mind an occasional pinch in the ass.

Anyway, the girls all do the best they can do, giving their mamas sassy names and showing them how to strut. Pandora Boxx’s mama Litter Boxx walks like Nathan Lane’s John Wayne impression from “The Birdcage” and Tyra frets over doing someone else’s makeup, while Jujubee prays aloud that her mama doesn’t just cold drop dead before runway. And then, the twist! The twist is that the mamas and the queens have to perform a song together (a RuPaul song, because she has to supplement LOGO’s hourly wages with royalties from iTunes downloads) in addition to their runway, which, I don’t see how the contestants could have expected that the main challenge would just consist of shoving America’s gay heroes in front of a cable audience and making them mug and blow kisses, but the producers say “it’s supposed to be a twist, you have to look surprised” so Jujubee opens her eyes wide and yawns dutifully. Then Tatiana admits that she doesn’t know who Oscar Wilde is and that’s the shock we’ve all been waiting for, and her drag mama tut-tuts and says “There’s a pantheon one should learn” but none of the old-schoolers are given the chance to impart any wisdom because Juju says it will get in the way of their makeup application.

And then it’s showtime. RuPaul does her thing on the runway, wearing the stitched-together carcasses of every puppet from “Avenue Q,” and Cloris Leachman and Debbie Reynolds are there, and my boyfriend looks up from his real estate textbook and OMG’s. I don’t know who they are, so he patiently explains to me that Cloris Leachman was in a movie with Al Brooks, while Debbie Reynolds has been in a million things, but he can’t remember specifics.

Back to the runway. Cloris and Debbie and Santino and Merle are there, and so is the lady from NOT MAC and RuPaul lies through her teeth and says that all the girls just looooove chexmixnix cosmetics, and then the queens and mamas take the stage.

Raven and her mama Golde Lame look so cute together and you can tell they really bonded, because during their performance Raven senses that her mama is on the verge of collapse and just scoops her up, gallantly carries her offstage and then gives Golde a kidney, sealing the win. Pandora, my favorite, gives a great performance but the judges think that her mama Litter Boxx outdid her, which is ridiculous because even if that’s the case it means that Pandora was a great coach! Anyway she’s in the bottom two. Juju doesn’t know the words to the song and just “peas and carrots” her way through and her mama just sort of flails around in a caftan and they have a genuine mother-daughter moment where Jujubee is like “Mo-om you’re embarrassing me!” and she ends up in the bottom two as well. Tyra’s mama looks like Phyllis Diller in a blonde afro wig, which is as good as any of these men could look, so Tyra is safe to hot-glue things to herself for another day. Dullsville Tatiana, who sometimes says she has a strategy and other times says that her plan is to not have a plan, is inexplicably safe, and goes backstage where vindicated Raven imagines her “grinding her toenails” because of Raven’s triumph over facial hair. The real winner here is Raven’s gay American hero drag mama, Steve(?), who gets a well-deserved vacation in Palm Springs, and a new kidney to boot.

Meanwhile Pandora Boxx is shooting daggers at RuPaul and the judges before she and Jujubee shimmy and lipsync to Debbie Gibson’s “Shake Your Love.” Jujubee’s all mouth and face and more “peas and carrots”, while Pandora switches on the charm is so adorbs with those big round eyes, but RuPaul’s muppet frock is making her left titty itch and she’s in some kind of mood. So in the end Jujubee shauntay-stays, and Pandora is sent packing, suffering the added indignity of Ru’s cruel punnery. “Pandora, you opened your whole box for the world to see. Now sashay, away.”

“It’s like a kick in the balls,” says Pandora of her ousting. “It’s hard to constantly get harsh criticism.” Then she pauses, looks into the camera, and shares her parting words with a shrug.

“Fuck ’em,” she says.

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