One of my biggest life events in 2014 was becoming obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I watched a random episode of its sixth season on a lazy Saturday and got sucked in by watching some of the world’s most-fabulous drag queens competing while also showing some of the behind-the-scenes of their craft. I’ve loved drag and gender-bending culture ever since I was a six year-old wearing a Jem costume for Halloween, so it wasn’t long before I had a season pass plus tickets to see the queens on tour (Ben De La Creme foreva!).
This week the newest season of Drag Race got started. One thing I experienced in my new fandom last year is that there aren’t a ton of sites doing recaps and commentary on the show – I was reading the same few things over and over, in particular, Tom and Lorenzo (now shuttered) and Onion’s AV Club, plus indiewire and l’etoile. So, I figure if I’m going to watch it obsessedly for the next three months, I ought to write a bit about it too!
Let’s be honest – there’s really nothing to recap other than fashion on the first episode when there are 14 queens and four outfits to reckon with. That’s not even a minute per outfit!
Rather than try to make some sort of cohesive narrative out of it, I’m just running down the queens in order of appearance – first in their entrance, then as they debuted spring and fall looks on the catwalk, and finally as they hit the catwalk with resort wear over a nude illusion. I wrote this as I watched, so I didn’t have any spoilers to influence me.
Gentlemen, start your engines! If you want to play along at home, grab a season pass!
Initial Look: Very Vivacious – do all NYC queens wear bodysuits with fins and spikes? She came off a little flat in her opening speech, but she was clearly relying on getting a reaction rather than an empty room. The green side-of-face highlights didn’t work on screen, and she had exposed tape on the side of her forehead. Actually, the more I analyze this, the more I think this was a mess – sort of a non-thoughtful Lady Gaga.
Spring Glamour: Now we’re talking. A mini-dress that looks like it’s made of roses glued directly onto her skin with an ultra-cinched waist and a beautiful face. High-fashion.
Fall Fashion: Halleloo! She looks like a living Oscar award in this shimmering gold vinyl dress with pointed shoulders, again with a mega-cinched waist. A massive hooped feather fascinator extends the silhouette.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Beautiful face, she looks like January Jones in this legitimately fashionable asymmetrical robe. The nude illusion is also strong – it seems like she has even fashioned some genitalia for herself in the proud tradition of Carmen Carrera.
Initial Look: Super-cute in orange in a Hairspray way that youthens her – she could be mistaken for a woman out for a stroll.
Spring Glamour: A lovely bejeweled pink dress. Hopefully she rocks some different silhouettes over time other than the big fluffy above-the-knee skirts, but episode one is about building a brand!
Fall Fashion: Nailed it – giraffe-print dress and a matching overcoat with bright green trim on both and brown leather gloves. The flow of the jacket immediately changes up her silhouette despite the dress being similar to the first. A chunky necklace ties it together.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: A gauzy yellow sun dress gives us our third silhouette in one episode, so there goes that concern. Her nude is awesome – super-exaggerated shadows make it seem like her womanly curves are really there. Great gigantic pearl necklace, but the shading on her forehead is a bit dark.
Jaidynn Diore Fierce
Initial Look: Looks like a vintage 80s Rainbow Brite costume from Party City – you know, like Jocelyn Fox’s tacky Quinceanera look from last season.
Spring Glamour: A shimmering purple and gold bathing suit? Great look, fantastic face, but missed the concept by a wide margin – it’s not springy at all. Two tacky looks in a row aren’t a great sign.
Fall Fashion: It’s… I think it’s the same outfit? No, this one isn’t purple, and it has a sort of fringe that wraps around it to dress up that it’s another fucking swimsuit.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Definitely best thing she’s worn all episode, a pink cheetah-print wrapped robe that has layers upon layers and a gorgeous face. Her nude look is… a body-suit. Now, granted, her natural curves are abundant, but she didn’t do anything to dress it up as a true nude illusion.
Initial Look: Simple, gorgeous purple dress with purple hair – looks like she’s headed to a fashionable cocktails picnic, although those killer heels won’t do well on the grass. High marks for beating Ms. Fame at both the purple game and the face game. Plus, I love that she’s a stone-cold-bitch to everyone without being villainous… there’s a difference!
Spring Glamour: I have no words. Okay, I’ll try – it’s the top and crotch of a sparkling checkerboard swimsuit that has a bunch of white duct-tap and glitter in a sort of grid the middle, like a four-year old trying to make a Wonder Woman costume out of left-over craft supplies. And a weird head-hugging hood. It flatters her, but it’s fugly.
Fall Fashion: This is the first time I have rewound the replay. A twinkling black dress that crosses over to affix to each ankle (I’m sure there’s a term for this?) is unbelted into a spectacular tartan flying squirrel pantsuit affair with a plunging neckline. The plaid gloves were amazing. This is A+ fall fashion.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: You just know this girl is going to do nude well. Her glittering wrap-around mermaid dress would be fine for any runway (though the hat is unfinished – but, she ditched it quickly!). And… beneath she’s actually naked with a super-toned body that looks great no matter the gender of its owner. Well-done.
Initial Look: It’s cute and vintage and all (a blue dress suit that would look a bit old-fashioned even on Jackie-O), but I think we learned from Ben De La Creme last season that this sort of in-character queen cannot win if that’s her only schtick – you have to have the dimensions of Sharon or Jinx.
Spring Glamour: Not spring-y at all, and quite disconnected – shimmery silver skirt and bra under a flat lavender jacket with ruffled shoulders. The old lady concept is wearing thin right away.
Fall Fashion: Shows a little range by going sexy with a beige color-blocked cloak, nude top, and high-waisted loose vinyl pants with scary stiletto boots. Great look, very fall. Slightly mannish face though, and she’s doing Sharon Needles fingers.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: She comes out doing the Gaga from Paparazzi crutches in a white and black diamond cardboard wrapper – not exactly resort. Her nude look is awesome though – somewhat sexy granny panties beneath a corset and bustier. Very apropos.
Initial Look: Ultra-horrific Russian flag themed jumpsuit, but she’s like a prettier Willam without man-jaw and constant 5-o’clock shadow. Seriously: great face.
Spring Glamour: This one felt actually runway caliber – a yellow and white, jagged-striped, super-hero jumpsuit with a cape in a slightly different pattern. (Her name? Major Vertigo!)
Fall Fashion: Another editorial look from Katya, and I think we have a real competitor on our hands! A forest-patterned jumpsuit is super-unusual and is draped with what looks like a dozen pelts adorning her shoulders. Plus, a fur cap, because Russia.
Chattery: “We have to be naked and I have the body of a 55-year old Irish rock-climber!”
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Red fringed cloak over a darker red shag-hair, stiletto-heel, open-toe boots. Crown of roses. Once she goes nude, the long hair gives it a lady-Godiva look. Her face is getting a little more Willam mannish this late in the day.
Initial Look: Tacky separates with exposed man abs and purple blush. I predict an early elimination.
Spring Glamour: Tacky separates with exposed man abs and purple blush. I predict an early elimination. Is there an echo in here? To be fair, it was spring-y, and the tall green heels with gold toes were on point.
Fall Fashion: Girl finally got her act together here with a royal purple coat with massive black cuffs that looks fit for a queen. Sure, it’s over a simple black jumpsuit, but why detract from the drama?!
Chattery: Jasmine just burned herself on a glue gun and is trying to create a butterfly in a cocoon look that seems to be constructed from hula hoops. He explains it to Ru forever, who seems genuinely confused.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Here’s the thing: The butterfly hula hoops totally missed the resort wear theme, but her actual nude look of blue sparkly tattered fringe could have worked. If she just did a tear-away caftan over it instead, she would be fine. However, I think she’s headed for elimination.
Mrs. Kasha Davis
Initial Look: Super-basic dude in a dress. Like, barely Halloween appropriate.
Spring Glamour: An elegant old Hollywood dress in pale green that probably wasn’t going to cut it during a final runway, so wise to burn it here.
Fall Fashion: This one does feel like a final-runway dress, but I question if it’s Autumnal. Basically, a shimmering silver-on-white paisley gown. Not enough accessories – needed a major necklace and more bracelets and rings to make it pop.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: It’s Golden Girls bright pink casual-wear on the runway. I could see it on Dorothy or Blanche. Her nude illusion rocks, though – great painting on a nude body-suit that looks like she has real curves. If only the nose contour was as good!
Initial Look: The pastels weren’t bad, but the over-exaggerated face – I can’t wait for Michelle Visage to clock it! We quickly learn that Trixie is prettier as a man than a woman. Seriously, she barely needs any makeup.
Spring Glamour: Straight-up go-go girl with a mini-dress that barely covers her tuck. Did the pastel pink heels make it a spring look even though thigh-high boots would have felt more authentic? Not sure. Same awful makeup, though – so heavy black on the eyes!
Fall Fashion: When I was a kid my mother had this wig that was made of multicolored metallic tinsel. Like, it didn’t have hair, it was all tinsel. That is this dress. The spiky shoulders are cool, but otherwise this is tacky-to-the-max and not very runway or fall. Same makeup.
Chattery: During makeup application we learn that Trixie’s boyfriend’s parents loved him until they found out about his drag. Also, we get to watch him paint over his handsome face. Maybe that’s why they stopped loving him?
Resort-Wear Tearaway: The make-up is slightly less exaggerated then we’ve seen so far, but with the Bianco Del Rio white under-eye. She’s got a shiny pink cloak, then a mini-dress, and then a nude illusion! She does wind up looking like a real life, more-curvy barbie doll once she’s nude, so I think she’s won the day.
Initial Look: Adequately fierce patterned jumpsuit. You don’t want to give too much away on a first impression, plus it will be easy to maneuver in for whatever inane Day 1 challenge Ru throws at them. (Sadly, not a factor here.)
Spring Glamour: Love the yellow lace on the nude top, but everything else looked cheap (make-up included). She had man-shoulders because of the un-cinched waste and her yellow skirt looked like a torn bed sheet.
Fall Fashion: It’s confusing like runway fashion ought to be! Oversized pirate blouse tucked in high on a multi-buckle leather belt over beige high-waisted pants and chunky fur boots. Altogether it’s very Raja, and gives me some hope for her.
Chattery: Deep as a puddle. “This runway is right on my alley.” And he doesn’t know how to sew. Oh dear.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Her jeweled purple Grecian wrap is a stunner, and the judges seem to enjoy her nude look. Except, she looks like she has a full beard on at this point in the day, though it could just be her trying to lighten up her cheeks by contrast.
Initial Look: The sheer black one-piece plus garters was very Madonna, but with a… chin strap beard? It didn’t really make any sense. At least when Milk went out there she went ALL THE WAY out there. In retrospect, I think she was trying to alter the perceived shape of her face by creating an exaggerated frame for it, but (a) that should have been paired with a high-necked outfit, and (b) she shouldn’t have covered her ears, too.
Spring Glamour: YES. All white and beige with a fur-collared jacket and a translucent white slip dress with a slit right up the middle. Nailed it.
Fall Fashion: Black on grey layered skirts with a slight Stevie Nicks inspiration, but up top it goes dressed-up punk with a silver sea-shell belt and onyx necklace with a leather jacket. Nailed it again.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Super-gorgeous in a flowing red Greek dress and killer face. She’s got the fashion chops Milk was lacking. The tear-away is again very Madonna (she says Versace), with a crazy high-waist panty and breasts out. It works.
Initial Look: Ultra-fierce black and gold showgirl outfit. This is the first all-the-way on-point look to walk into the room.
Spring Glamour: Lovely, flowy dress in a flattering yellow with a bright orange belt. Not the most fashionable in the runway sense, but again she’s completely on-point here.
Fall Fashion: This is a great look, but would have been better for spring. It’s a completely mono-chrome mint dress and accompanying cape with hair coifed up to reach the heavens. Gold gloves match the top of the hair. You can watch Michele Visage wilting in the presence of so much leafy greeness!
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Maybe her one misstep this episode, her massive gold cloak looks like a circus tent and didn’t involve much sewing. Beneath, she’s wearing a nude version of the famous Ru-Wings dress we saw on Courtney and Darienne last season. Her body-suit has some subtle painting on it. It’s a nice effect.
Initial Look: Basically recycling Alaska’s duo-tone Barbarella with machine guns. Cheap wig. Not wearing tights with those boots, really?
Spring Glamour: A sister of Violet’s over-patterned bathing suit mess, its a rainbow mess of a mini-dress with some kimono elements.
Fall Fashion: A lobster mummer’s costume, complete with belly carapace (I’ll have you know I wrote that down before the judges said it). Also, strands of hair dripping from the cuffs, because that worked out so well for Jade Jolie. A stunning asymmetrical puff of honey-blonde hair is great for the silhouette but does nothing to complete the look.
Chattery: Apparently a huge fan of the show, she feels like she, “figured out the formula.” Not with these fashions, girl. It’s like she’s wearing costume store versions of past successes.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: A hideous neon blue and green robe and what I’ve heard referred to as a “shake and go” red wig that is massive and fugly. She’s not doing nude illusion so much as she’s in a nude bathing suit with a messy-as-hell tuck (and if I notice it, you know it’s bad). Michelle Visage gives her a DEATH STARE.
Initial Look: Pink to the max, but she managed to do the housewife thing without sacrificing glam. It feels like a more put-together version of Magnolia Crawford.
Spring Glamour: Oh, hell yes! The oldie comes out swinging with a high-drama look that I don’t necessarily have the vocabulary to describe. The gold skirt is bold with a massive belt and an off-both-shoulders gauzy white blouse, and the jewelry is gorgeous. It’s a bit Bianco Del Rio, on the whole.
Fall Fashion: Oh my glam! I can’t even with this look, I want it so bad. Black too-big vinyl books, cheetah leggings, a black sleeveless quilted cloak that’s gold inside with symmetrical zippers arching up to the high collar. No reveal, no arms exposed. Yes. Sell it to me now.
Chattery: We learn she’s a costume designer. No way we get another old-and-professional winner after Bianca, but Tempest is feeling like the “Total Package That Could Have Won Last Season” contestant we always get (see also: Alaska, De La). He used to be 400 pounds!? Gives me some hope for losing my start-up weight. And he has kids with his husband. I love this guy so much.
Resort-Wear Tearaway: Gorgeous subtle leopard-print wrap, but the body-suit is a bit frumpy – she didn’t do much to style it or make it snug.
Predicted Winners and Lip-Synchers?
Initial Look? Winner: Toss-up between Kennedy Davenport and Violet Chachki. Lip-Sync Candidates? Jaidynn and Jasmine.
Spring Glamour & Fall Fashion? Winners: Ms. Fame, Pearl, and Tempest. Lip-Sync Candidates? Jaidynn, Trixie, and Sasha Bell.
Final Runaway? Winners: Violet, but also strong showings from Ms. Fame, Ginger, Mrs. Kasha Davis, Pearl. Lip-Sync Candidates: Jasmine and Sasha Bell.
Should Win? Both Fame and Tempest killed it and edge Kennedy due to her weaker resort wear. Violet’s first runway look was too weird, or else she’d be in the top group for me.
Should Lip-Sync? Jasmine vs. Sasha, with Jaidynn barely escaping.
Stepping Forward: A fine safe group of Ginger, Jaidynn, Pearl, Kasha Davis, Katya, Max, and Trixie (just barely, one assumes).
Our guest judge is Kathy Griffin. The judges quickly eviscerate Sasha for her lobster look and showing undergarments on the runway. They loved Fame’s runway challenge, though Michelle Visage wanted more from her resort-wear. The judges genuinely loved Kennedy. Again the focus on Tempest having lost weight – are we going to get a former-big-girl vs current-big-girl arc here? Michelle weirdly hated her fabulous quilted look.
The judges didn’t read Jasmine too hard on her oddball cocoon, but Ross didn’t like her ONE good look from the episode. DANGER. Kandy Ho gets the exact rundown I gave her – body 10, face 3. (“it looks like you literally contoured on a beard”). No positive comments. The judges have a lot to say about Violet – Michelle got “boy” from her runway (stuff it, Visage), but Kathy Griffin dug it.
Ru pulls out the “which queen has least impressed you” gun early, and the safe queens appear to be watching back stage.
- Sasha: Pearl (whatever, girl)
- Fame: Jaidynn (yes, girl!)
- Kennedy: Trixie (you know it’s weak when the fierce queens diss it – they have nothing to fear)
- Tempest: Ginger (shut UP, girl)
- Jasmine: Sasha (watch those rocks in that glass house)
- Kandy: Tempest (“not bore people”? What runway was she on? – Fame gets super-offended on Tempest’s behalf – they briefly spar about an earlier comment on Tempest’s age, but it stays civil)
- Violet: Sasha (“faded into the background” = yep)
In private, the judges continue to savage Sasha, loved Fame, liked Kennedy (“a little costumey”), didn’t like Tempest (weirdos), didn’t hate Jasmine enough, no comment on Kandy’s challenge looks, and are intrigued by Violet (“wasn’t feminine enough” vs “took a risk”).
Kennedy is safe, Violet wins (nice) and gets major bitch face from both Fame and Michelle (also nice). Fame is safe. Sasha is safe – what the actual fuck? Tempest is in the bottom two – what the actual fuck part two?! Jasmine is safe – what the actual fuck, the trilogy.
Basically, this is all about the young vs. old drama. Boring, and rude to Tempest.
Lip Sync: Geronimo by Ru. Tempest doesn’t know all the words and Kandy is working it and twerking it before hitting a split.
You can’t possibly give it to Tempest over Kandy there, so Tempest leaves, which is complete bullshit. If anything, that was a, “This season has no Bianca so watch out” move rather than being able any kind of competition – which would have knocked out any of the three weaker girls in that lineup.
What did you think? Offer your reads in the comments below.