For A RuPaul's Drag Race Makeover Challenge, The Backstage Crew Gets Runway Ready
Even out of drag, these guys seem pretty awesome. And in drag? FABULOUS.
Once again, a RuPaul's Drag Race makeover challenge is a referendum on joy. Year after year, this challenge showcases the freedom drag can provide to anyone willing to let go and enjoy being fabulous. This year's baby drag queens provide an extra jolt of pleasure, so let's discuss them!
Wipe That Mirror, Gurl
Oh my god, Nina. The dark cloud around her gets bigger and bigger. Having delivered a great lip sync and now getting praised by the other girls, she is still entirely negative. Asked if she can find ANY reason to celebrate her advance to the top six, she says no. And she seems like she means it.
That generates exasperated interviews from nearly all the queens. This is not a nasty bunch, so they stress that they like and respect Nina, but they cannot take her anymore. As Sasha says, "I'm tired of spending all our time together as a group trying to build someone up who doesn't want to hear it." And one does get the sense that if Nina wasn't around to suck up so much attention and energy, the rest of the ladies would be having more fun. The irony, of course, is that Nina probably feels ignored.
Forget J. Crew. This Is HEYYYY CREW!
VH1 is not giving this show one extra minute of scheduling time, so this week we skip not only a mini-challenge, but also the "she done already done had herzez" teaser video. Instead, Ru comes right in and announces that this year's makeovers will be given to the show's very own crew members. The girls are overjoyed, which is great to watch.
You can feel how much they like all the guys who get chosen, and you can tell how much the guys like them. Plus, throughout this episode, Ru gets emotional about respecting these fellows as co-workers, and appreciating their willingness to get into drag. The world has really moved forward, Ru keeps saying, and moments like this make it easy to believe. What a nice reprieve from recent news.
So who gets chosen? First, Ru calls up Sarge, a camera operator, and he is serving face from moment ONE, honey.
Then we meet Aaron, an art coordinator; two PAs named Rizzo and Josh; and an audio guy named Brady, who quite sweetly says he makes sure the ladies sound as beautiful as they look.
And then comes Duncan, the associate director. "We're all in Ru's house," he says. "But when Ru's not here, it's my house." The ladies cannot handle it. They are SO excited that Duncan is doing this. It's like when my elementary school principal got in the dunk tank at our spring carnival. The tables are turning! Power has shifted hands!
As always, Peppermint's face says it all:
Because they won last week, Shea and Sasha assign a crew member to each girl, and at first glance, the matches seem good. Aaron is an artist, for instance, and gets paired with Nina. Duncan is serious and powerful and works with Sasha. The other match-ups are Shea/Josh; Trinity/Rizzo; Alexis/Brady; and Peppermint/Sarge.
Let's Talk. Let's Tuck.
Unsurprisingly, all the girls have an easy rapport with their drag sisters. And they'd have to, I think. The crew sees allll the off-camera mess, so nobody has anything left to hide.
Shea is surprised to learn that Josh is inspired by Natalie Portman. "She does not fit with the Coulee brand," Shea interviews, and then we see poor Josh trying (and failing) to walk like a lady in heels. Will these two make it work? And can you believe we have to ask that question about superstar Shea?!?!
On the other hand, Trinity shines like a crazy diamond when she becomes Rizzo's drag mentor. She's immediately like, "Look, this is how it's gonna be. You're gonna tuck. You're gonna give me body. We're going to have bomb-ass choreography when we lip sync to this RuPaul song." I love how Trinity doesn't make space for doubts, questions, or alternative viewpoints. That's great in a situation like this, because the brand-new person needs a strong, sure leader. So go on Trinity! Get it!
Meanwhile, I love Brady the sound guy. While wearing a big black bra over his t-shirt, he sasses Ru and Alexis by insisting that he should get Michelle's job.
Then Brady explains how much he's learned to respect drag as an art form by watching the girls do what they do. Where were the straight guys like this when I was in high school? That also applies to Duncan, who proudly says that his young son would probably have tips for him on walking in heels.
And then we return to Sarge, who really needs his own talk show. Like, today. This guy is a natural! Ru compliments his "intellect and fun energy," and Sarge says he's flattered to document the life experiences of drag queens.
Over in the back, Aaron the artist tries to give Nina real talk about treating herself with more respect. Nina...remains Nina. She also randomly decides to create TWO outfits from scratch, despite not knowing how to sew. It doesn't work at all, and she eventually gives up. Meaning she has almost no time to pull her looks together. Oops!
No, Seriously. Let's Tuck.
As the crew guys get shaved, everyone is having a ball. Sarge is great at throwing good-natured shade, of course. (I expect this to be a daily part of his talk show.)
But the real story comes from Trinity and Rizzo. The latter is fantastic, saying gender norms have no place in the world. More importantly, he submits to Trinity's demand that he tuck. This delivers an incredible sequence involving tucking panties, masking tape, and screaming. And Trinity has NO SYMPATHY. It's everything to me. This falls where we'd normally get a special message about important issues, so make of that what you will.
Stomp The Runway
On the runway, Ru is joined by Michelle, Ross, Kesha, and the designer Zaldy, who created Ru's glorious dress:
The frock contains a lot of Ru's catchphrases, written in Japanese! We also learn that, in solidarity, the entire crew is working in wigs and heels.
Then comes the runway stomp, starting with Trinity Taylor and her new sister, Glittafa Dayze.
And child, those swimsuits are turned out. There may be duct tape. There may be pain. But there are also RESULTS. The same cannot be said for Shea and Bae.
Bae's wig is a disaster. It keep falling in front of her face, and when she walks away, her hairline is visible.
Alexis Michelle and her sister Rye Ann Stardust are much more put together as intergalactic hookers:
Nina and her sister Ariana Bo'Nina Brown suffer from their lack of prep time, with even their makeup lacking Nina's characteristic polish:
By contrast, Sasha and Dunatella (yes, with a "u") Velour steal my heart forever with this brilliant bit of fashion wordplay:
Last comes Peppermint and Wintergreen:
And if you thought Sarge gave face OUT of drag, then you ain't ready for all this. We may never be ready for the glory she serves.
Look! A Rushed-Through Montage!
Next we get a quick montage of the girls lip syncing to a RuPaul song. We don't spend enough time with any one pairing to get a sense of what they're doing, so when the judges later say that Trinity and Glittafa are the best, we just have to believe them.
Judging And Kvetching
This is an especially thorough judging session. Trinity, Sasha, and their respective sisters are given high marks. Everyone agrees that Sasha and Dunatella brought ace fashion, while Trinity and Glittafa killed in every metric. Alexis is read for a boring, basic look, and Nina is chastised for delivering the same silhouette for yet another week. Shea, meanwhile, is read for making Bae seem like an afterthought. Later, Michelle argues that Shea has committed the worse crime, while Zaldy and Ross argue that she was more interesting than Alexis. At the end, RuPaul says, "You've been no help at all." Hahaha!
And then there's Sarge! The judges are not happy with Pep and Winter's clashing looks, but Wintergreen's personality is undeniable. At one point, she cracks Kesha up just by standing there.
Ultimately, Trinity gets the win, while Nina and Shea land in the bottom. I thought Shea might never have to lip sync, But after Valentina's hard fall last week, I should've known that anything could happen.
Lip Sync For Your Life
Nina interviews that she's feeling so defeated, she wants to stand there and point like Charlie Hides. Still, as Demi Lovato's "Cool For Summer" plays, she pulls out a solid performance. Shea also serves hard, stomping the runway like a high-fashion model.
And after so many weeks in the bottom, Nina falls at last. She's ridiculously talented and totally exhausting. Let's pray for her.
Most Watchable Moment
It's the Sarge show, y'all. Let's all keep watching Wintergreen make Kesha laugh.