It’s week five of Dragula, the search for a Drag Super-Monster who is equally gifted in the areas of glamour, horror, and filth.
This week’s episode went totally girly and campy by challenging the queens to be in a horror movie. They weren’t starring as a scary monster, but as the typical slutty girl who makes for an obvious first victim.
While a few of Dragula’s Exterminations have been hard to watch, this episode marked the first time I was unsettled by the main challenge of an episode – and I think that might have been part of the point.
There was something particularly shocking in watching a man act out these purposefully-exaggerated, somewhat sexualized acts of violence against someone doing her best to present as a woman but who we know to be a man.
Seeing the violence play-acted by two men really drove home the amount of degradation we put female characters through just for having the temerity to walk alone at night or dress provocatively.
With that realization comes the ultimate chicken-or-egg question: is this violence in our movies because being a woman is an inherently dangerous act, or do we expect and accept violence against women because the media normalizes it constantly in trope after trope, from the slutty girl dying first to the love interest getting fridged?
So far this season we have seen drag as torture and death, been reminded that rock’n’roll is simple socially-acceptable drag, and seen the queens in their most outlandish outfits while giving birth. The Boulet Brothers have unquestionably amped up the unspoken commentary in their challenges compared to the zombies and sea monsters of the first Season. I think that’s a big part of why the show is so much more compelling this time around.
Clever commentary aside, it’s shocking to see all six of the remaining queens deliver straight-up feminine performances for the first time this season. It emphasizes just how strong the remaining half of these girls are. This week’s weakest queens are weak for choices rather than faults.
Enough talk – watch Dragula’s fifth episode, and then see if you agree with how I’ve ranked the queens below.
1. Biqtch Puddin’
(Was 1, 2, 5, 6; Average rank of 3)
Biqtch Puddin’ (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) has pulled out in front of the pack with another delightful performance and a second win, and it’s starting to seem like only one other queen has the goods to catch up with her.
It’s hard to overstate just how much Biqtch Puddin’ hit the mark on this challenge, because it feels like a repeat of what I’ve said for the past two weeks. She nailed the look, despite some (non-deliberate) messiness with her wig. She nailed the filthiness, the campiness, and the little moments of comedy that it takes a true performer to find. And, despite touches of levity, her death was one of the most violent – it was unsettling to watch.
Biqtch shouldn’t get too comfortable in the pole position of this race. She’s very reliant on big, showy moments and less on the details of her looks. A challenge that’s more about a fierce look that entails less performance could still fell her. Also, despite this hot streak, we have to keep in mind the repeated looks of her first two weeks.
Those repeats weren’t only a bad decision that calls her judgement into question. They betrayed that her limitation might be true horror. Or have we just not really seen the full extent of her talents yet?
Does it even matter? Last year the Boulets were much more fixated on serious scariness from their competitors than this year, when they seem to place a lot more value on selling a performance – a place where Biqtch shines.
That makes for a multi-faceted challenge for Biqtch Pudding to stay on top. She must keep up the surprising performances, find a source of some scariness, and fend off the other girls (one, in particular). She might be our current front-runner, but she doesn’t have the locked-in feeling of a Drag Race winner. There could still be some surprises in store.
2. James Majesty
(Was 2, 6, 7, 2; Average rank of 3.8)
James Majesty (Instagram / Twitter (NSFW!) / Facebook) keeps on delivering the sex appeal the Boulet Brothers are looking for, but this week she served it up with a refreshingly ditzy sheen to distinguish it from her past presentations.
I’ll be honest – I don’t really get James. Just as I found her sexy cyber momma a little cringy last week while the judges raved, I thought her airhead yoga babe was the weakest performance this episode. She delivered her lines with a very “I’m delivering my lines” sort of tone, and her death was the least horrific (although I’m still not clear on if the girls selected/edited their own scripts).
Per usual James slayed on makeup. She effortlessly transformed her face from alien sex bomb last week to glistening scream queen in this episode. However, her look was far from flawless. Her lace front was very visible and there was something seriously suspicious about her boxy hip padding.
It seems like the Boulets have a real soft-spot for James (or maybe a hard one?), and she’s got nerve for days. It’s difficult to imagine how she could be stumped before the finale aside from repeating a past look. It’s starting to feel like the only way to defeat her is to just be more remarkable, since at her worst James is a solid average.
3. Victoria Elizabeth Black
(Was 4, 4, 1, 1; Average rank of 2.6)
Victoria Elizabeth Black (Instagram / Facebook) brought plenty of draggy glamour this week, but was still in the bottom half of the girls due to her reserved personality.
Victoria’s drag was giving Sharon Needless high-class spook realness. Some of her make-up choices had that sort of extreme look, from the high diagonal cheekbones to the double-size lips. She definitely took her note from last week’s alien challenge – this is a very draggy makeup look.
Despite her glamorous look, the Boulets were down on Victoria’s presentation – the felt it was a little too reserved. I didn’t get that at all! We’ve seen Victoria put a distance between herself and the viewer, but this was a much more comfortable, exaggerated performance. Yes, compared to Biqtch it was low key, but it stands up well against the other girls.
Alas, it’s not my opinion that matters.
Victoria still holds the best average rank of all the girls and she’s never been out of striking distance from the finals, but that didn’t protect Dahli from Extermination last week. Whereas Dahli might have been done in by her attitude, Victoria could be the victim of her inner-saboteur. It’s crazy to think a queen this talented could be felled by a lack of self-confidence, but after two weeks in the bottom she needs to either go big next week … or else, she’ll be going home.
(Was 3, 3, 3, 8; Average rank of 4.2)
Disasterina (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) delivered what really felt like it could have been a winning performance this week, but the Boulet Brothers still feel like she doesn’t know how to edit. Clearly they’re seeing something we’re not, and as a result it feels like Disasterina has hit a wall she just can’t get over.
Disterina’s aging blonde model may have been the most fun to watch of all the horror movie looks – she matched Biqtch’s campiness and James’ sluttiness. As remarked by the judges, she was playing Disasterina who was in turn playing a character, which is a tricky thing to do. There was a fake plastic aspect of her character, especially with the hyper-color blonde hair, but it was an in-character fake plastic aspect.
Yet, for the second week in a row, we heard the Boulets soften their praise by saying Disasterina has an editing problem. Unlike when we’ve heard this on Drag Race about someone like Thorgy Thor, the editing of the actual Dragula show is falling short in showing us evidence of the problem. Whereas Dragula usually feels much more transparent and fair than the “we’ll find the story in the edit” Drag Race, in this case it really feels like we’re missing something critical.
I struggled with the placement of Disasterina versus Abhora this week. Disasterina has given us so many more memorable moments in the past four episodes, but it feels like it’s impossible that she could win this show! Yes, looking at last year, Frankie Doom has a similar no-win season and still entered the finals as a strong contender. If Disasterina can slip past just one queen next week, she just might squeak through.
(Was 5, 7, 4, 4; Average rank of 5)
Abhora (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) is on the outs with the other girls, but managed to squeak through with a bitchy performance and a bold extermination full of half-truths.
I think the big reason Abhora squeaked out of this episode over Erika Klash is she did the exact thing the Boulet Brothers asked her for after the past two weeks. She ditched her “horror goblin” look (and persona) and brought a very different and fully-formed character to the floor show.
Was the purple hair and the severe makeup the most straight-forward horror-movie look? No! The girls were right – she looked more like the killer than the victim. The same make-up with an icy blond wig or jet black wig would have read better.
Despite the complaint, I found Abhora’s look to be strikingly beautiful in a non-drag way, which made her really stand out from the other girls. Her highlighting gave her wonderfully high, sharp cheek bones, and the widow’s peak line of her wig was perfect.
Does this mean I’m back on Abhora’s side after saying I was done with her for the past two weeks? Not necessarily, but after finally seeing her break out of her box I’m interested to see what she does next week – even if that means she’ll probably send home a queen I love more.
Which brings us to the dearly departed…
Erika Klash (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook) was never quite right in her fit for the show, but after a stern talking to in the rock challenge it seemed like she would finally bring the Boulet Brothers what they wanted – and, what could be easier than to dress up like a girl and die for this very feminine and highly dramatic queen?
Unfortunately, Erika completely misfired, dressing up for an anime convention while the other girls were in their best horror movie slut modes. This would have been such an easy week for Erika to escape the bottom to knock of Abhora, but she didn’t have the foresight for it – or the confidence to beat the lie detector extermination.