RuPaul's Drag Race Has Princess Problems
Can someone bankroll a naughty animated film about this week's characters?
In retrospect, a princess-themed challenge was inevitable. In the last few decades, princesses have arguably become both the most recognized and most problematic emblems of girlhood play, and who better to celebrate and degrade that cultural touchstone than a group of drag queens? But which of these Cinder-fellas -- as Ru calls them -- knows how to conjure the magic in their assignment? Let's investigate!
Wipe That Mirror, Gurl
The ladies discuss Jaymes Mansfield's departure, and everybody is just very knowing about it. Many of them adopt this air of patient wisdom to announce that from the moment Jaymes strolled in, it was clear she was terrified, lacked confidence, and was destined for failure. Check back with me in three weeks when half these girls are sobbing under a workbench, covered in sequins and trying to memorize a sestina about a famous drag queen that has to be delivered at a masked ball.
But then again, it's not like their assessments are wrong! Well...except for Kimora's. She's still insulted that she was in the bottom two, and says that while Jaymes is a "1," she herself is a "10." I can think of a few scales on which that might be accurate, but "Overall Excellence" isn't among them.
Meanwhile, Trinity Taylor would like you to know that she is officially coming for Valentina, who won last week's challenge despite having done drag for less than a year. WILL TRINITY'S FERVOR SURFACE AGAIN LATER?
It's A Fairy Tale, If By "Fairy" You Mean "Big Nelly Queen"
Right at the top of the episode, RuPaul gives me life in two ways. First, she looks great in her teaser video:
Second, she finally acknowledges the Waxen Ru that's been in the workroom all season.
This creepy thing is apparently on loan from Madame Tussaud's, and while there's a suggestion that it contains a hidden camera keeping watch on the girls (which seems redundant given...the visible camera crews that are also omnipresent), I suspect it's just another promotional opportunity. Either way, I'd totally buy one for my home. Can you imagine how amazing/terrifying it would be to see this glamazon peeking out from the shadows of your darkened bedroom?
Anyway: princesses. Once again, there's no mini-challenge, because the maxi challenge is a doozy. The queens must create an original fairy tale princess; give her a mythology; design and create her costume; AND give her a sidekick whom they will also portray. So that's an acting-cum-sewing-cum-writing challenge. And yes, I said "cum."
Aja announces that she will be slaying this entire challenge, thank you, while Farrah becomes the latest queen to announce she can't sew. No matter how many times I hear this, I still can't believe a hooker will roll in without at least learning how to assemble a circle skirt. As Aja interviews, "It's Season 9. How do you walk into the workroom without knowing how to sew? That's just saaaaad." And the stank she puts on the word "sad" says everything.
Oh, and you know who else can't sew? Can you guess? Why yes, it's Kimora, who continues to find fresh ways to be a stale fart. And naturally, she tries to justify her own ignorance by loudly harshing on everyone else's talents. She gives a particularly disgusted interview about Eureka's decision to play a sewer princess, even though anyone with sense would know that an off-kilter, non-pretty princess is guaranteed to get noticed. If you can pull that off, then you might win.
But all that is just a set-up for Eureka's complete lack of concern. Instead, she borrows Aja's plastic rat -- which came from god knows where -- and as she flounces away with it, she yells, "C'mon Templeton!" You may know that's a reference to Charlotte's Web, but Kimora sure doesn't! Or at least, the editors make it seem that way. After Eureka shouts, we cut to this stank-ass face.
And if you think that suggestion of Kimora's illiteracy was accidental, just keep watching.
Hooked On Fonix Didn't Wurk Fur Kimora
As the girls are prepping their looks, Alexis tells us she's going to play "#PrincessSubwayfish," complete with hashtag, because her "Instagram brand" is all about her riding the subway to her gigs. Let's put aside my soul-deep exhaustion over someone creating an Instagram brand; the bigger issue, for me, is that this isn't the time for humorless self-promotion. Girl, you're already on the show. You've made it. So instead of showing me your marketing prowess, why don't you show me the creativity that's going to make me look up your damn Instagram photos in the first place? Alexis is safe after the runway walk, so we don't hear what the judges think about her whole deal, but I'd like to think they'd agree with me.
And now: Kimora. The queens have been given a Mad Libs-style paragraph to help them create a backstory for their princesses (and to no doubt keep them all succinct as they spin their tales). While Kimora is filling hers out, she is asked to provide an adjective, and she...doesn't know what an adjective it.
Sit with that. Either Kimora is pulling a Kellie Pickler and acting dumber than she really is, or she truly doesn't know what an adjective is. Either way, I need this ho off my screen. However, I do come alive when Cynthia Lee Fontaine tries to hide her horror as she defines a simple part of speech. And let's not forget that Ms. Cucu is not a native English speaker, as Kimora ostensibly is.
In other news, Trinity shines as RuPaul goes around the workroom for his pep talk interviews. She not only makes Ru laugh with her tale of Princess Aquapussy, but she also finds a really charming way to announce that she's coming to snatch Valentina's wig. There's a playfulness to her anger that makes Trinity seem really fun and cool, and you can tell that even though she's serious about winning, she's just harmlessly teasing Valentina. I hope Roxxxy Andrews is taking notes, because THIS is how you read someone without making us shiver while the cold wind of self-loathing jealousy comes howling from your mouth.
This Week In Special Messages
As the girls continue to work, Cynthia tells Kimora about the origin of the term "cucu." Apparently, she started using it when she was a child, as a euphemism for "butthole," since her mother didn't approve of foul language. But as I've said before, "cucu" means so much more than that. The way Cynthia uses it, is also suggests "spirit," "essence," "man-gina," and possibly "sack lunch." That means "cucu" is an allegorical noun, but nobody tell Kimora.
After that, things get serious as the girls discuss their connections to the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Trinity is a former Miss Pulse, and Cynthia was supposed to perform there on the night of the attack. They both lost people, and their stories are reminders that even now, as Trinity notes, queer people aren't always as safe as we believe. And while I find this segment slightly false in its performed emotion, I have no doubt that everyone in the room really did feel shaken by the attack -- as did I, as did anyone with a goddamned soul. I'm glad Drag Race is always willing to give us a reality check. Drag is more than just an excuse for pageantry. It is an act of rebellion.
Cheyenne Jackson and Todrick Hall are on hand to judge this week, and Todrick is serving me a sparkly crown.
(I feel certain that he's worn a crown on this show before, but I can't find the receipts. Can anyone help me? Am I remembering correctly?)
On to the runway! The format here isn't great. We spend so much time watching the cheaply animated sidekicks that we don't get to enjoy the princess costumes, or at least not as much as I'd like. Still, there are several noteworthy looks, like Peppermint's flaming cigarette, Princess Carcinogetta.
I also love Charlie's Princess Climaxica, and her sidekick, a tiny fairy named Isabella Snatchpacker.
"She loves foreign tongue," Isabella says of her lady. "She's a cunning linguist. I'm here to protect her from bad puns and double entendres. How am I doing?" Charlie delivers this line perfectly. And while RuPaul puts her in the safe pile, I'd have made her top three.
Compare Charlie's brilliance to Kimora's dead-eyed Princess Banana Lady...
...or Aja's hot mess, named Princess Disastah.
Earlier, Shea interviewed that Aja is a "social media queen," meaning she knows more about hiding her flaws behind filters than she does about performing live. She may be on to something.
On the other hand, Valentina proves once again that she's a top bitch.
And I especially love her sidekick Nivy, a shady little fairy. "My advice is simple," says Nivy. "Hate everyone!" It's the most quotable line of the night.
But don't sleep on Trinity, because Princess Aquapussy is here to slay:
Her sidekick is Stanky the Starfish, which is our second butthole joke of the episode. Though for this show, I realize that number is shockingly low.
Judging And Kvetching
Oh my GOD, the judges are amazing this week. They throw SO MUCH shade at Kimora, who correctly lands in the bottom. See, Kimora tries to front like it's really hard for her to compete without using her breastplate and hip pads, and Michelle is having none of it. During deliberations, she can't stop fake-swooning about Kimora's brave struggle, and Ru gets in on it too. Then Carson compares Kimora's incomprehensible princess mythology to that notorious beauty pageant disaster perpetrated by Miss Teen South Carolina.
Joining Kimora in the bottom are Farrah (whose lack of sewing was indeed a problem) and Aja. The top girls are Peppermint, Valentina, and Trinity, the last of whom fulfills her episode arc by winning this challenge. If she and Valentina both end up in the top three at the end of the season, I won't be surprised.
I AM surprised, though, that Aja ends up lip syncing alongside Kimora. AJA! Despite her janky makeup, she has ten times Farrah's personality.
Lip Sync For Your Life
The girls lip sync to Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero," and students of drag herstory will know that the late queen Tandi Iman Dupree became a posthumous superstar after the world saw this video of her lip sync to the song. Some say Tandi nails the best entrance of all time, and I'm not gonna argue.
And while neither of these girls matches that legendary performance, Aja certainly blows Kimora away. Despite her heavy makeup, we can still see her eyes giving us flawless Joan Crawford insanity, and her dance moves are the perfect blend of athletic and sexy. Kimora, meanwhile, relies again on her boring sex kitten shtick.
No wonder, then, that Kimora's ass goes home. Now that she and Jaymes are gone, we've lost the season's weakest girls, so things will get especially interesting from here on out.
Most Watchable Moment
I will be replaying Michelle's Kimora-themed shade at least three times.