I’m back to discuss the second episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7’s back-to-back streaming premiere of its All Winners season.
If two Drag Race episodes in one day each packed with eight iconic champions wasn’t big enough to begin with, I have two more words for you: Snatch Game.
“Snatch Game” is an off-colour pun on the old TV game show Match Game, where contestants filled-in-the-blank in a phrase in an often-vain attempt to match what a panel of celebrities would fill in on their own cards.
Drag Race introduced it as a celebrity impersonation challenge in Season 2 and it immediately became a regular feature of every season of every franchise (except for All Stars Season 1, but we don’t talk about that).
One of the reasons Snatch Game has become such an iconic, enduring challenge on Drag Race is because it makes the show more accessible to a wider audience. Even if you don’t care about drag, this is a pre-packaged game show skit with easy-to-grasp rules, like a parodic round of Jeopardy on SNL – with the added thrill of each cast member improv-ing their own answers.
In recent years, some All Stars season have used the format of other TV game shows under the “Snatch Game” title, mimicking The Dating Game and Family Feud. Season 7 is back to the standard format… with a twist: every queen has to impersonate two celebrities on two different panels of the show!
I am old enough to have grown up watching all of these cheesy, campy old celebrity-driven game shows in syndication on daytime TV. In fact, they were one of the best things about staying home from school! Now, these camp curiosities have been relegated to special cable channels and YouTube clips. It makes me wonder how the challenge lands for younger audience members (and queens) who never experienced these things firsthand. To them, “Snatch Game” is primarily a Drag Race reference!
There’s no fear of that with this cast. They’ve all been through this gauntlet before. They’re all queens who have shown an ability to reference a massive amount of pop culture across their runs and reigns. And, half of them – Jinkx, Trinity, Shea, & The Vivienne – are previous Snatch Game winners!
If there was ever an episode a casual fan could enjoy, this is the one! I’ll cover every step of the episode in detail, including every celebrity impersonation and the slick “Pleather Principal” runway! Plus, at the end of the recap I’ll update my Episode 1 power rankings to show where the queens stand after another week of Legendary Legend badges. (Want to skip right to the power rankings? Go for it!)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen… win!
Drag Race All Stars Season 7 Episode 2 “Snatch Game” – Recap
Platinum Plunger Aftermath
Usually the start of an episode of Drag Race features the queens sauntering back in from the workroom to mourn (or celebrate) the loss of a fellow competitor. Plus, on All Stars, there’s usually the matter of revealing and comparing elimination lip sticks!
Despite this season skipping eliminations entirely, it has maintained the “one queen missing” format by holding back the queen blocked by the Platinum Plunger: Trinity The Tuck.
It’s an odd dynamic. There’s no reason she has to miss out on the initial “winners gloat on the couches” moments, though it does make for an interesting beat when she returns to the workroom, plunger in hand, to demand an explanation.
The explanation? That Shea considered Trinity a fierce competitor, but also the queen who she had the most history with and who would take the block as a compliment.
Playing the ego card with Trinity will never fail – this is the queen whose All Stars Season 4 mantra was “I want the beat the best of the best.” She graciously “accepts” the plunger (though she never had any choice in the matter).
What’s missing in this new post-plunger format is a reveal! Usually, this is where we see the elimination lipstick chosen by the loser in the Lip Sync For Your Legacy (LSFYLegacy) format, or possibly by the entire group in the “Lip Sync Assassin” variant.
Since Shea and Monét didn’t have to pre-select their plunger target, there’s nothing for Monét to reveal.
Surely, production could have had plungers with bejeweled names for each of these eight queens! Removing that element is a story production choice to streamline the rivalries of the season. Producers want to place the emphasis on the BLOCKED and the BLOCKER. Having a potential second blocking target from a second winner every week would needlessly complicate the grudges in the workroom.
“A new day in the workroom!”
The next morning the queens enter the workroom, and the topic on everyone’s lips are the Legendary Legend badges newly adorning last week’s winners, Shea and Monét.
While the group briefly fixates on Shea in real time, we get Monét in confessional pointing out that losing the LSFYL is an awesome deal. You get a badge, you are immune to blocking, and you don’t have to block anyone! “I don’t want to put a target on my back,” she says.
I fear this might come back to bite production on the ass as the season wears on with queens being hesitant to win a lip sync, even if it will earn them $10,000. Only time will tell.
As if to immediately allay those fears, we cut immediately back to the workroom with Yvie asking “how does it feel walking in with a target on your chest?” Her comment is aimed at both winners. The queens who weren’t blocked don’t have any grudges to hold about the Platinum Plunger, they just want to slow down Shea and Monet. Jinkx agrees that it seems like the best plan to block anyone who already has a lead, which puts Shea and Monét in her crosshairs (for what is about to be revealed as her all-time strongest challenge).
The queens don’t get any more time to conspire before Ru comes crashing into the workroom like the Kool-Aid Man dipped in glitter. He wastes no time in revealing that this week’s challenge is Snatch Game. He asks the queens to “double down on [their] charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent” to impersonate two celebrities.
Had Shea known Snatch Game was in store, would she have still blocked Trinity? Quite possibly – she is in the half of the cast who are prior Snatch Game winners (along with Shea herself).
The queens get right to work on prepping their first characters. The Vivienne reveals she has Joanna Lumley (Patsy from AbFab) and Catherine Tate prepped, and calls character acting “her safe space.”
(It’s important here to remind you that queens are not allowed to explicitly perform copyrighted characters due to potential licensing and copyright conflicts, but they can portray actors as those characters without naming them. Thus, Viv is absolutely playing Patsy, but she has to brand it as Lumley.)
Shea is doing Miss J. Alexander, a fixture on America’s Next Top Model (and in many memes) and Elsa Majimbo, an online comedian. Shea, of all people, should know that this way lies danger. RuPaul rarely lives for portrayals of internet celebrities, and Miss J has a subtle flamboyance that will be hard to replicate on the panel. Shea’s Flavor Flav was a roaring success because he’s already a walking cartoon character, and it’s those sorts of impersonations that have won Snatch Game almost every single time.
Jinkx reveals she is doing Natasha Lyonne and, finally, Judy Garland – with the blessings of her friend Thirsty Burlington, who recently retired her version of the character. Monét offers to swap Jinkx for Mike Tyson and Martin Lawrence so Jinkx can perform them in blackface and get cancelled.
(Personally, I think Jinkx as Mike Tyson would be hilarious. Sans blackface, of course.)
Ru enters for a brief walkaround, possibly only 15 minutes after she walked out. Trinity reveals she is playing Leslie Jordan (who Ru gets in one guess) and… Satan. More on that in a moment, but Trinity is very confident.
The real story here is the first workroom interaction between Ru and Raja. It feels like the meeting of equals… there’s zero hesitance or condescension from Ru to Raja, and Raja delivers zinger after zinger to Ru even while confessing her slight anxiousness about a second try at Snatch Game. Raja reveals she will be doing Madame and Diana Vreeland. Unlike Shea, she has picked a pair of 70s and 80s references squarely in Ru’s wheelhouse of aging touchtones.
Snatch Game, Round 1
Monét X Change as Mike Tyson
Monét did a solid job on the lead-in spot with a super-silly, super-sexual Mike Tyson.
Tyson seems like one of the most overtly masculine characters we’ve had on Snatch Game, but Monét wisely leaned into the inherent silliness of Tyson’s performance of masculinity to keep things campy. It landed her a few big laughs.
Centering an entire character on offering anal sex to everyone in the room could’ve gone very wrong, but Monét never loses the comedy through-line.
And, it must be said, Monét bears an uncanny resemblance to Tyson here. She has his squeaky voice and stuttering demeanor down, as well as a scribbled version of his face tattoo (to avoid copyright claims from the artist, who has made them before).
Raja as Madame the Puppet
Raja shocked with a hilarious, unhinged version of Madame the Puppet.
It wasn’t just that Raja used every opportunity to pack in the sort of silly, punny jokes that RuPaul loves. She also had an uncanny visage that blended make-up with prosthetics, a precise vocal impersonation, and impressive physical acting that played up the idea of her being a puppeted from below the desk.
Madame is literally a character from game shows like Snatch Game. Ben de la Creme showed that this can be a wise move with her stunning Paul Lynde on All Stars Season 3.
Raja may have been the winner of Round 1. It was perfection.
(Since Madame is a character and not a person, Raja explicitly sought approval from creator Wayland Flowers’ estate prior to filming the season. Flowers was a trailblazer as one of the first openly gay performers on television. He died in in 1988 of AIDS-associated Kaposi’s sarcoma. He was 48.)
The Vivienne as Joanna Lumley
The Vivienne made a brave attempt as Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous (a show I used to be OBSESSED with).
Unfortunately, Viv was missing the blithe, vulgar, upper-class frivolity that Lumley always brought to Patsy. Honestly, it seemed like she was begging for a Chanel sponsorship the entire time. It didn’t work as a central gag for the actress or the character. Patsy was endlessly above-it-all and a barely-functional alcoholic.
That didn’t come through at all. The laughs were mild, at best.
Trinity The Tuck as Lucifer
Trinity The Tuck played Lucifer as a shrill, “yaaass queen!” shouting, catchphrase-spouting gay man and… this takes some explaining.
A lot of explaining, actually.
First, the rules of the game.
Generally, production does not allow for fictional Snatch Game characters. That’s not just for copyright reasons, but because the queens are meant to impersonate someone real. Some queens have skirted that, like Kim Chi doing the semi-fictional Kimmy Jong Un and Gigi creating Maria The Robot’s personality from whole cloth.
Based on both Lucifer and Yvie’s entry in the next round, it seems that those rules were relaxed for All Winners.
Second, the meta commentary.
A Reddit user named SheDevilByNight was a regular Trinity supporter, defender, and cheerleader for several years. SheDevilByNight was a Trinity superfan who knew a lot of shockingly specific details about Trinity and other queens. She also plainly stated that she was a trans woman, and often used black emoji in her comments.
SheDevilByNight vehemently defended Trinity during a blowout on Reddit partly having to do with her performing maskless early in the pandemic. Afterward, Trinity said on Twitter that she had been SheDevil all along.
(FYI, out of drag Trinity is trans non-binary. Still, impersonating a fan to defend yourself isn’t a great look.)
Was her offhand Twitter confession a joke or the truth? Trinity later walked it back, but some folks don’t believe her. Reddit has a massive Drag Race community (it’s one of the biggest and busiest subreddits) and ever since this incident Trinity has fallen completely out of favor there. SheDevil is a meme, as is referring to Trinity as being both trans and black.
Whether or not she was actually SheDevil, her playing the actual devil on Snatch Game is rhetorically hilarious.
Third, the hand of production.
Snatch Game is a heavily edited, heavily manipulated challenge. Even if a queen does well in the room, all it takes is skipping one of her best answers, editing out Ru’s laughs, or adding a shade rattle sound effect to make it seem like she tanked. Similarly, using all of her best answers and adding laughs can make her look extra-amusing.
There are also ways to prop up a queen live in the room. One of those is obvious: Ru laughing uproariously at everything she says.
Another is more subtle: picking Snatch Game prompts that obviously lend themselves to a certain character or their catchphrases. Look at the prompts Trinity received as Lucifer: one about Lil Nas X (when the “Montero” video had Lucifer in it), and another about Bianca del Rio (whose primary catchphrase is “Not Today, Satan”)
Production served Trinity this round on a platter, and she didn’t even catch the Bianca joke they were setting her up for!
Final verdict on Trinity: a hilarious bit of self-parody, but even while delivering laughs she missed enough big swings that it felt more like a generic gay demon than Satan themself.
Jinkx Monsoon as Natasha Lyonne
Jinkx Monsoon anchored the bottom row as Natasha Lyonne.
It was a wise move from Jinkx. Lyonne is someone she has met, who Ru has met and worked with, and who has been on Drag Race as a judge. Lyonne is also an inherently funny human being, with her intense New York accent and frequent non-sequitur stories on talk shows.
Most importantly, she’s really not all that different than Jinkx herself – right down to the hair.
Jinkx starts out strong, bantering with Ru and joking that she can’t remember the name of their shared project (“Don’t Tell Mom… the babysitter’s a lesbian?”). Later, she hits a common Snatch Game snag that takes her down a notch: she leans into jokes about drag from a non-drag character. Clearly Lyonne is a fan of drag! Yet, Jinkx jokes about tops and bottoms and name-checks two of her fellow contestants on her way to the punchline.
Don’t get me wrong, it was her funniest punchline! Unfortunately, it broke the illusion of Jinkx as Lyonne. This was just Jinkx doing an accent, as bawdy as ever.
Yvie Oddly as Rico Nasty
Next on the bottom row was Yvie Oddly as rapper and social media influencer Rico Nasty.
Yvie runs into a common problem queens have with social-media-famous young celebrities, which is that you wind up spending a lot of time explaining to Ru who you are. Sometimes Michelle is more plugged in and offers encouragement, but if Ru has no idea who you are you have to be several times funnier than a familiar reference to capture her attention.
Yvie’s impersonation was surprisingly solid, but her answers feel like exposition rather than jokes. She promised in the workroom she would be yelling at Ru, and her volume was the most memorable part of this performance.
Shea Couleé as Elsa Majimbo
Shea Couleé does slightly better with Kenyan social media comedian Elsa Majimbo.
Shea doesn’t waste time explaining “I am an Instagram comedian from Kenya.” She gets the point across through the casual vibe of her bathrobe costume and the “wow, look where I am” demeanor of her character. That leaves her plenty of time to land jokes. She even scores some cross-character banter. Unfortunately, Majimbo is a subtle character. Shea never breaks out with a major moment that makes Ru cackle uncontrollably.
Jaida Essence Hall as Prince
Finally, we have Jaida Essence Hall as the iconic purple one, Prince – playing him in his infamous assless tights MTV VMAs outfit.
Playing an effete pop star as a sultry pansexual had the potential to be a repeat of Kennedy Davenport’s success with Little Richard. The challenge is that, off-stage, Prince was somewhat soft-spoken. He wasn’t nearly as showy as Richards (one of his inspirations). Plus, onstage, Prince was mostly distinguished by his talent, his aerobics, and being a sexy beast.
Long story short: there’s not a lot of character there.
That leaves Jaida to deliver a Prince impersonation purely on the power of sex appeal. It’s hilarious… just not as a great impersonation. It takes an absurd, almost surreal turn as Jaida mechanically performs “sexy” by repeatedly licking her lips and tracing her thumb down her chest, all while giving incredibly obvious answers. (“I was dreaming when I wrote this… answer: old,” she responds to the challenge of adding a new world to Lil Nas X’s “Old BLANK Road.”)
It keeps building and building in a “so bad its good” way, similar to Alyssa Edwards’ ridiculous Joan Crawford, Eventually Jaida derails her absurd momentum with a joke about hair color. You can almost feel her, Ru, and Michelle deflate like a popped ballon when the magic spell of her silliness is broken.
Snatch Game, Round 2
The Vivienne as Catherine Tate
Leading off this round, we have The Vivienne as British sketch comedian Catherine Tate – specifically as her recurring character Nan.
This is a solid entry. Viv has this impersonation on lock, from the voice to the odd little mannerisms. It can be hard to do someone known for their humor on Snatch Game without simply repeating their best lines. Viv takes ownership of it by punctuating her punchlines with Nan’s obsession with food.
She’s also the best in this round at inserting bits of crosstalk and physical comedy when it’s not her turn to answer.
Viv could’ve handily won the first round with this impression, but she’s up against much heavier hitting choices and winds up stuck in the middle of the pack.
Yvie Oddly as The Boogeyman
Second on the panel is Yvie Oddly as the completely fabricated Boogeyman … or, should we say, Boogie-Man?
Yvie was wise to use the lax rules of this double-header Snatch Game to invent her own character. That’s where her acting chops really shine. The Boogeyman is supposed to be something creepy under your bed, but Yvie transforms him into a deeply sexual soul brother who is going to seduce you onto his dark side.
Yvie landed every joke, including a brilliant volley with Ru about alliteration. It shows that she has plenty of comedy chops. She’s just not interested in portraying a specific other person.
Trinity The Tuck as Leslie Jordan
Still on the top row is Trinity The Tuck playing the diminutive comedian, actor, and gay icon Leslie Jordan.
Like Jinkx in the first round, Trinity was wise to choose one of Ru’s colleagues who happens to be a walking, talking cartoon character.
Trinity’s vocal impersonal of Jordan is uncanny. Beyond that, Trinity manages to make original jokes that work within Leslie Jordan’s tossed-off, borderline-cringe brand of humor. Her riff on wearing a condom she bought at a bodega as a raincoat is brilliant, and the final tag she puts on the round was one of the best cross-talk bit we’ve ever had on Snatch Game.
More on that in a moment.
Jaida Essence Hall as The Lady Chablis
Finishing out the top row of Round 2 is Jaida Essence Hall as The Lady Chablis, a famous transgender actor and performer.
Jaida offers a shockingly exact impersonation of Lady Chablis’s look and mannerism. She has her upright body carriage, her “gives no fucks” attitude, and answers full of equal parts innuendo and self-deprecation.
It’s fun to see Jaida deliver such a strong performance after struggling with Prince, but she’s too stuck in the exacting impersonation to find the funny within it.
Shea Couleé as Miss J. Alexander
Shea Couleé leads off the second row as runway coach Miss J. Alexander. (Alexander uses he/him pronouns despite using the “Miss J.” moniker, often presenting himself in subtle drag.)
This is a tricky character. The deadpan Alexander is often an anti-beauty anecdote to the glamour of Top Model, just as likely to offer a curt cutting word as a rambling anecdote. Shea leans heavily into the anecdotes, all of which are amusing and in character, but none of which get to the punchline fast enough.
It’s carefully-considered and a strong entry, but – just like her first round – it never finds a way to stand out.
Raja as Diana Vreeland
Next we have Raja as famous fashion editor Diana Vreeland.
Every aspect of Raja’s performance was an absolute revelation. Her age make-up and receding hairline wee eerily realistic. Her body carriage and exaggerated accent remained consistent the entire game. Her way of playing with Vreeland’s love of language and wordplay was easy to understand and consistent through every sentence.
Raja’s Diana Vreeland was all of that, and it was funny. Really funny. Her calling Kandy Muse “a girl with a Rubenesque figure” on the way to delivering a match to Michelle’s answer is an all-time classic example of how to vamp before revealing what you’ve written down on your card in Snatch Game. That is always a better strategy than shouting out your answer and then trying to land a joke before Ru moves past you down the table.
Monét X Change as Martin Lawrence
Monét X Change is Martin Lawrence as his iconic character Sheneneh Jenkins.
This is another solid Snatch that would be better than safe on a regular season, but doesn’t manage to break through the stranglehold that Trinity, Raja, and Jinkx have on the round.
In any other line-up, or even this line-up with Jinkx removed, Monét might’ve wound up in the Top Two. Heck, even if Jinkx was just farther away from Monét things might’ve worked better for her. But, it felt like Monét kept getting sucked into the gravitational pull of Jinkx’s comedy.
Also, did Monét make Sheneneh a little too pretty? I’m not sure how to call that. Martin always played her as just barely in drag compared to his male presentation, but as a character Sheneneh would tell you she was a beautiful lady. Monét wisely leads with this joke, which in a way turns the entire performance into a joke about showing a more full-realized version of Martin’s low-effort and often down-punching crossdressing.
I love it when the queens get meta.
Jinkx Monsoon as Judy Garland
Finally, we’ve arrived at the standout moment of this episode, which is guaranteed to live on as memes for years to come.
Jinkx’s Judy Garland was utterly hilarious. It wasn’t just a good Snatch Game impersonation. This is a performance that could work on the Saturday Night Live stage as easily as it could sustain as it’s own one-woman show.
Jinx has always excelled at these old Hollywood impressions, as her live tour Snatch Games of Liza Minelli and Bette Davis have confirmed for years. She has a knack for playing up kooky character ticks without turning them into cruel caricature. She also has mastered how to sketch Judy’s personality in the late stage of her career with a recurring gag – in this case, asking if she’s got the right camera and fussing with an endless microphone cable.
This is a masterclass in Snatch Game, from acknowledging that she herself is dead, to taking Ru’s question about what’s over the rainbow too literally, to the uncertainty in pronouncing Ru’s name (“Broom”?), to the repeated “is that my camera” gag, to breaking in the middle of the game to tell a filthy story and sing a jazz version of “Don’t Be Jealous of My Boogie,” to her final chanteuse version of the Drag Race theme song.
But, the real viral moment is her reference to “a veteran named Dave” who thinks he killed Judy Garland. This was hilarious all on its own, but it’s also the kind of Drag Race in-joke that sends the show to the apex of its hilarity. Dave was Jinkx’s partner in a classic Season 5 makeover challenge, and in their workroom interactions it comes out that Dave honestly believes he started Judy Garland on the sleeping pill addiction that would eventually cause her death.
(Dave has later doubled-down that he thinks he gave her the actual sleeping pills, even as recently as this week.)
For Jinkx to make this deep cut reference to her own run on the show without having to make it a joke about drag queens (as she did with Lyonne) and to do it in such a genuine, heartfelt way is truly one of the best moments in the history of Snatch Game. I was laughing, gasping, and wheezing so hard that my family did a wellness check on me in the middle of the episode.
On rewatch (and I have rewatched a supercut of just Jinkx’s performance many times – several dozen, at least). I am struck by how much of this material is extremely rehearsed. Her “I get the sense you want me to say something filthy / Sinatra story” banter and her “sandwidge” answer are both prepared responses from a supply of potential answers, as are her problems with Ru’s name, the singing bits, and the “Dave” sequence.
I suspect Jinkx is only working entirely off-the-cuff with her initial “rainbow / it’s just a set” banter with Ru and and her “last name” answer leading into the “something filthy” sequence.
Please understand me when I say: There is nothing wrong with any of that. But, insisting that Jinkx was great because she was so in the moment as Judy is not how any of this actually works.
Being able to rehearse blocks of loose material and knowing how to insert them during a live performance is a master-level improv skill! It’s the exact thing RuPaul is looking for in Snatch Game. Many successful Snatch Game players, from Alaska to Gigi Goode to Trinity The Tuck, talk about how much prep time went into their characters. Jinkx has even done it before as Little Edie – why do you think she had that unmarked can and magnifying glass with her?!
(It’s also a sign of someone who has toured Snatch Game characters live on the Battle of the Seasons tour, which Alaska often did by Jinkx’s side prior to winning All Stars as Mae West. When you have different audiences every night, Snatch Game becomes less like improv and more like scripted comedy – but there’s no reason you can’t bring that same approach to the actual Snatch Game.)
Yet, Jinkx absolutely has the power to play with Ru and the judges live, and that’s what separates a totally canned, over-prepared Snatch Game from a lively one. She did it on her original Snatch Game by asking about “real celebrities” and with her unforgettable “quite the scandal” cross-talk when Ivy Winters missed an easy set-up about voting while playing Marilyn Monroe.
It is much rarer to see someone be able to come up with all their material totally off the cuff and have that be funny. Jinkx’s Seattle compatriot Ben de la Creme managed it twice. The OG Snatch Game winner Tatianna did it as Britney Spears, since she had no time to prep. In this round, I’d say both Trinity and Raja did slightly more of that due to the nature of their answers.
As proof of that, look to who got the final word in this Snatch Game. Jinkx boldly grabs the final throw-to-commercial from Ru to sing the Drag Race theme song, but perhaps out of old habit she ends it with “and may the best woman win.” Not missing a single beat, Trinity’s Leslie Jordan cocks his head to one side while resting it in his hands and interjects, “They changed it to drag queen.”
And that is why Jinkx and Trinity just barely beat Raja at Snatch Game.
Runway: Pleather Principal
Tonight our judging panel is RuPaul, Michelle Visage, the hilarious Ross Matthews, and style super-maven Daphne Guinness with whom I am now completely obsessed.
RuPaul is looking lovely in a seafoam and silver dress with wide neckline with a poofy fringe. The hair color and style gives this a bit of a matronly tilt. I think the silver V belt is doing the lion’s share of the work in giving an illusion of proportion and making the otherwise-fussy pleating at the waistline look cool.
Monét X Change is in a skintight dress just slightly off from her skin tone, with a massive bow at the waistline and a muscled bustier. Apparently, it’s a very near neighbor to a Schiaparelli 2021 line of “six pack couture.”
I was a little bit underwhelmed by the slick monochromatic nature of it at first glance, but the more I examine it the more I enjoy it. Monét’s drag has an endearing duality where her more-casual looks can be incredibly soft and some of her “high drag” is harder and more muscled. Compare her gorgeous ensembles hosting The Pit Stop to something like her motocross-inspired Boots runway. I love how she maintains that balance – drag queens don’t always need to be svelte to be fashionable.
Seeing her in this bold, powerful dress really works – and, it looks like real leather, so mission accomplished!
I spent much of my high school years in a variety of vegan leather, so I have to put my foot down on this one: Yvie Oddly isn’t wearing pleather, she is wearing vinyl!
Vinyl is great – I’ve worn a ton of it, but it’s a higher shine, lower-stretch fabric than pleather.
My quibbling over materials aside, this look is more on the costume/cosplay side of runway looks. That’s not automatically a bad thing, as we’ll see with Jaida in a moment, but there’s nothing particularly memorable about this. It’s a oversize skirt, and a crop top, and suspenders, and a jacket… all waving behind Yvie and battling for attention.
Yvie was lucky to burn it off on a week where she didn’t need to secure a win.
Trinity The Tuck‘s outfit is a muddle.
It’s a multi-color pastel puffer jacket turned into a Michelin Man dress, and nobody looks good with two rubbery spire tires wrapped around their mid-section. It just… stops after that with a deep V bikini bottom, which makes the look even weirder.
This color scheme would’ve killed on an actual puffer jacket slung over a slinky pleather dress, or even an actual bikini. Which, come to think of it, is pretty close to her lip sync look.
Instead, it looks like a designer got confused and only rendered it halfway.
Raja‘s outfit is a serve. It’s hard to explain, but she’s in a slinky snake-skin patterned teal pleather dress with tiers of ruffles on its skirt, and a similarly ruffed 3/4-length red jacket that actually goes all the way down to the gloves. Raja tops it with another unmatchable beat and a tousled grey shag haircut.
It’s phenomenal, high-fashion drag. There are some details that either confound me (the feather fascinator) or annoy me (the pop of pink in the front of the skirt), but Raja is about maximalism. She is going to give you a fully-realized, fully-rendered look from above-her-head down to her toes every time, and we get to drink that up for 10 more episodes.
I can’t imagine a bigger delight.
The Vivienne is the runaway winner of the week for me. She is wearing an exaggerated shoulder pads look rendered entirely in a single color of red pleather, right down to the boxy platforms shoes that mirror the shape of her shoulders.
It’s fashion to the max, it’s camp, and it’s perfectly detailed right down to the half-brimmed hat and the wet-styled hair. Note the way the sleeve pleating gives way to a smoother bust, the elegant and tall wrapped belt around her waist to nip her figure in, the fingerless gloves emerging from under the sleeves, the peek of skin above the boots…
It’s all perfect. No notes.
(I used to have a pair of flair-legged pleather pants in this exact color.)
Jinkx Monsoon is in a late 1800s bustled dress rendered entirely in duo-toned pleather.
(If you don’t know your exact fashion references (like I don’t), this might be giving you My Fair Lady or Mary Poppins, but the massive back bustle places it earlier in terms of popular fashion.)
At first I found this to be more impressive in scope than execution – that is a fucking ton of pleather to be dragging around the stage hanging from your body! However, the more I look at it, the more I appreciate the detailing – like all of the perfectly colored pleather buttons. It would be so easy for an element that is slightly off-color to slip into some of the fastenings or stitching, but the two-tone coloring is flawless. It makes it look like Jinkx has been wrongly colorized from an old black-and-white movie by an animator on a mild acid trip, which is the perfect effect for her.
Jaida Essence Hall delivers The Matrix as high drag. It’s gorgeous.
She perfectly toes the line between pleather and vinyl with materials that have a shine but clearly still have texture. She also has a gorgeous satined lining to her floor-length jacket, which is absolutely what pulls this look together and makes it pop so much.
Is it drag enough to separate it from being filmic or cosplay? Perhaps not quite. I think she could’ve exaggerated the cut of the pants a little bit more, or gone for more height on her hair and still topped it with the bantu knots.
Still, it’s a stunner. Jadia is not going to walk the runway and give you less than perfection.
Shea Couleé struts the runway in a puzzling pale pink update of Catwoman’s costume (complete with a fully functional whip!) covered with Basquiat-inspired handwritten graffiti.
It’s an interesting idea, but it might be mashing up too many references all at once to fully work. Also, there are a few details about it that don’t seem quite right, like the few loose laces connecting the high boot to the edge of the suit compared to the more fully-laced collar.
(And, while the bust looks awesome from the front, it’s always a pet peeve of mine to be able to see space between the bustline of the garment and a queen’s chest when looking at it from the side.)
Judging, Lip Sync For Your Legacy, & The Platinum Plunger
There’s nothing particularly shocking about the judging panel: it’s another lovefest.
(We do get Trinity giving me my favorite Drag Race catchphrase of all time, with “I call shade” after Ru re-explains the blocking rules.)
Michelle loved Monét’s Mike Tyson, and RuPaul and Daphne are obsessed with her look. All of the judges thought Yvie’s Boogeyman was hot, and Daphne is a surprise anime fan.
Michelle and Ross rave over Raja’s Madame, Daphne loved her Vreeland, and Ru loves her look. All of the judges loved how gay Trinity’s Lucifer was, but you can tell they were unenthused over her look – only Daphne offers a comment.
Viv gets overwhelmingly positive critiques, so maybe they left some of her first round performance on the cutting room floor. Unsurprisingly, everyone gushes over everything Jinkx did this week. Michelle especially is giving proud mom vibes (remember, they toured together for years).
The judges clocked that Jaida’s Lady Chablis was Looks 10, Humor 3, and they loved the stupidity of Prince once Jaida leaned into that stupidity. Shea gets a mild split decision, with Michelle and Ross liking opposite Snatch Characters from each other, but everyone digs the mixed references of her outfit.
In private deliberations, the Jinkx gushing deservedly continues. All of the judges go to bat hard for Raja, but Ross and Ru rightfully point out how much actual live-on-her-feet improv she was doing and how much of a point of view she brought to both characters while never using the humor. Ross manages to make some apologies for her look.
Everyone loved Monét’s Mike Tyson, and Ru proclaims her muscle-dress her favorite outfit of the night – but there’s dead silence about her Martin Lawrence. Viv doesn’t warrant a mention.
Based on that, it’s no surprise that Trinity is called the winner over Jinkx. Personally, I think Raja gave a little better than Trinity and spanked her on the runway, but I can’t deny that Trinity managed to lock in at least one truly ICONIC moment on each of her characters in a way Raja didn’t.
That leaves them to lip sync to Adele’s “Rumor Has It” and I HAVE SOME OPINIONS.
This song is a camp sandwich. The drums, the underpinning pentatonic bass that’s just a hyped up version of the “I Spy” theme song, the way it almost literally unleashes a bellowing “ah-OOO-gah” like a freight train once it gets underway… all of which evaporates for the tasty middle sectoin of balladry before slapping some more ridiculousness over the end.
Of all Drag Race queens, I’d expect Trinity and Jinkx to nail that vibe for me. They… did not. I think it’s because in my head that first section of the song has such a hard STOMP to it. I wanted to see some knees-high strutting back and forth to the stage! Neither of them made good enough use of the rhythm. It’s like they’re bodies are fighting against the beat.
I think Trinity was better than Jinkx at finding the more ridiculous moments, but once her wig came unpinned any chance she had of holding off Judy Garland… I mean, Jinkx Monsoon, was over.
This left Jinkx with an intriguing dilemma when it came to blocking. She didn’t have any reason to retaliate against Shea with a block the way that Trinity did, so she could’ve easy gone with Monét as the other queen with a star.
Instead, Jinkx chooses to block Shea (much to Trinity’s devlish delight).
Did she make the right choice? I’m not entirely sure. All Stars is usually heavy with comedic challenges, and Monét tends to have an edge on those in general. But, coming off of a comedy challenge, it feels likely things will swing in the other direction next week – which means Shea is more of a risk of growing her lead.
Jinkx hands out the plunger, and it turns out her instincts were right: the preview for next episode shows it is a ball challenge with a construction element, in which Shea is one of the top queens of all time and Monét has struggled in the past.
The name of the game in this week’s Power Rankings is “how soon can you pick up your next star.” With next week’s challenge being a ball and one of the top contenders being blocked, not all of these queens are on equal footing. Who is looking the strongest right now?
#1 Shea Couleé – 1 Star from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #1, 2)
Shea served a fine Snatch Game and what was likely one of her weaker runways, and got blocked headed into one of her strongest challenges.
While that might seem like a bummer, it’s actually a slight advantage. If she doesn’t win Episode 3 next week, it would be utterly shocking for someone to block her a second week in a row with Jinkx right there looking so tempting. And, if Shea does win, she’ll be spared from getting a second star so early in the season so she won’t become a weekly blocking target. Either way, Shea can continue hauling in badges starting from Episode 4.
#2 Jinkx Monsoon – 1 Stars from 1 Win (was #2, 1)
Jinkx secured her first win on her strongest challenge, with many more areas of strength ahead.
Except for next week. Her surging power will be in other queen’s hands next week on a design challenge, and any smart queen will block her for the following week. That means Jinkx is potentially out of Legendary Legend contention until Episode 5, which seriously cuts into her badge potential.
#3 Trinity The Tuck – 0 Stars from 1 Win, 1 Block (was #4, 3)
Trinity was masterful in Snatch Game. She won on what I suspect may be one of her weaker runways… but was blocked from getting a star.
Now she’s heading into a ball, a challenge where she has been dominant in the past.
Even without getting a badge for her win this week, Trinity is still a major threat. She’ll be looking to score a Legendary Legend badge next week in Episode 3, and with Jinkx as the wisest possible block to make next week that leaves Trinity free to try for win Episode 4 as well before anyone has a reason to block her again.
#4 Monét X Change – 1 Star from 1 Win (was #3, 4)
Monét served a pair of decent Snatch Games that receive dpositive notice, had Ru’s favorite runway of the night, and avoided a block from Jinkx.
However, design is one of her weakest areas, so she’s not likely to snag a second badge next week. That means her next chance to score is likely in Episode 4… if the winner next week blocks Jinkx and not Monét!
#5 Raja (was #7, 5)
This week showed that Raja has the competitive edge she was lacking last week. She came through in a major way, showing unexpected power in a challenge that isn’t seen as her strong suit. And, now we’re heading into her most-powerful challenge!
If she notches a badge next week in Episode 3, she’ll be squarely in contention – especially because it’s unlikely Monét or Jinkx will win a second star on a design challenge. Plus, a win in Episode 3 would mean a chance to go unblocked in Episode 4.
#6 Jaida Essence Hall (was #5, 6)
Jaida came through with two strong characterizations here, but neither of them were very funny. That’s a dangerous place to be when so much of All Stars relies on comedy. It could be that Jaida’s best comedy comes from being thinly-veiled versions of herself.
Luckily, Jaida wasn’t expected to win either of the challenges in the first two episodes. Unluckily, that means she has already burned off two skip weeks where it wouldn’t be critical for her earn a star. It’s too early to count her out, and she might come out on top next week in Episode 3. And, if she doesn’t, a more-personal improv challenge likely looms on the horizon.
#7 Yvie Oddly (was #6, 8)
Snatch Game was the biggest hurdle for Yvie on this season. Now it’s behind her, and all of the future challenges are things she has done at least okay in, if not great. Plus, even without being in contention for a victory she landed some solid laughs as Boogeyman, which bodes well for her ability to hold her own in future comedy challenges against some of these powerhouses.
Yvie has the ability to pull out an insurgent DIY surprise in a design challenge. Can she shock her way past major seamstresses like Shea, Jaida, and Trinity in Episode 3 to score a star?
#8 The Vivienne (was #8, 7)
While The Vivienne certainly didn’t crash and burn this week like she did last week, her Snatch Game performance showed how much trouble she is going to have breaking through the huge personalities of this American cast.
She has a shot to get back in the game with a design challenge next week, and she still might do well in a proper acting challenge, but seeing her be so thoroughly dominated in her best challenge leaves her without any momentum. A shocking win next week would be huge for her.