Mabuhay! Welcome to my review and power rankings of the debut episode of Drag Race Philippines Season 1 – Mabu-Heeey!
This episode was utterly packed with content: entrance looks, a Dragna superhero photo shoot challenge, a Totally Exciting Talent Extravaganza, and a runway based around the Terno – the Philippines national dress.
That gives us more to discuss in this episode than we get in a typical Ball challenge, and this is with all twelve queens!
That’s a lot to put queens through in the first episode of a regular season. However, it also served to effectively stratify the cast, giving them plenty of opportunities to show their quality across different situations – and, leading to a relatively obvious and fair first elimination.
There’s not much else to say before we get down to ranking all of these queens through each of the four hurdles of the episode, which definitely shifted things from my speculative Pre-Season ranking. Even though the show premiered two episodes at once, I am 100% spoiler-free on the second episode as of this writing! I’ll be back with that second ranking early in the week.
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Readers, start your engines! And, may the best Filipino drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Drag Race Philippines Season 1, Episode 1 – Mabu-Heeey! Power Rankings
Before we get into the extensive Power Rankings for this episode, let’s take a moment to appreciate this glimmering red-white-and-blue meets Mother Mary runway from our host Paolo. Not only is the outfit great, the make-up is next level. Check out that “v” of her cut crease creating a uni-crease that merges down onto her nose.
I guess when you’re the new host in the franchise you want to go hard on the first episode. Damn.
1. Minty Fresh (Pre-Season #3)
Minty Fresh (Instagram | Twitter | YouTube) might be a fresh-faced ingénue, but she also proved herself to be a carefully-calculated performer with one of the most full-realized talent shows we’ve ever seen from Drag Race and an utterly perfect runway.
Minty Fresh did what needed to be done in this entrance look: she gave us “pop princess at a TV awards red carpet.”
The dress is gorgeous. The make-up is right. I love the bouffant of pink hair.
Personally, I feel like when a queen is going with a flat chest in drag she needs the bust-line of her dress to be slightly higher than it would be with breasts or contour. Usually, a lower bust-line is being accentuated by the downward slope of cleavage, whether that’s physical or from contour. When you have neither, the low bust-line of a dress just makes your chest look too tall and broad, which can mess with the proportion of your look.
Basically: the dress should’ve fit her an inch higher. Also, burn those shoes in a fire, immediately.
Minty Fresh repeats her Pre-Season thesis statement that drag shouldn’t be work. If it turns into work she might ditch it.
This is a very 18-year-old way of looking at her art, and from that perspective I can appreciate it. I was 18-years-old once on this very blog saying something similar. [Ed. Note: Apparently she’s not really 18 and I missed the joke!] However, that’s an odd thing to hear from the lips of someone who wants to be Philippine’s next drag superstar – which is definitely going to involve some hard work.
Luckily, Minty proved this isn’t a paradox as the episode wore on. She’s happy to do plenty of hard work for her drag as long as the end result is fun.
It’s amazing how much power and control Minty Fresh summons in moments of performance compared to her slightly meek boy persona. As soon as she was lifted up into her flight harness for the Dragna superhero shoot she turned on the full force of her personality. It’s not that she became another character and more like she became more herself.
The same was true for Minty Fresh’s talent show performance. This was some Lady Gaga level pop star shit, but it never felt like Minty was impersonating a pop star. It felt like we were watching an actual pop star deliver her new single.
It’s fascinating to me that
an 18-year-old a queen who doesn’t even enjoy performing in clubs could deliver a performance this thought-through and controlled. Like… how? Where did she acquire these skills? How did she have the confidence to unleash them without dozens of live iterations to work through?
I seriously cannot understand it. It feels like Minty Fresh has supernatural powers.
Minty Fresh’s runway was a total SHOOT for me.
It’s hard to render an outfit in white or beige scales or feathers, because the pattern of them being overlaid on each other gets lost in the stage lights. Minty Fresh solved this issue with texture (note the different ways the feathers overlay at different parts of the dress), but also by stoning the everliving fuck out of the entire garment. She made sure you’d be able to see every single feather standing out from the next one as she moved.
Minty Fresh has an uncanny eye for detail and a superheroic amount of stage presence. While many of the Drag Race franchises have begun by crowning a veteran rather than an ingénue, it will be hard to argue against Minty Fresh capturing the crown if she brings this level of pop star perfection to every episode.
2. Eva Le Queen (Pre-Season #1)
Eva Le Queen (Instagram | TikTok) was the narrator of the episode, gave a strong showing in the mini-challenge, and was comedic enough to score strong marks for her talent show. Even if she didn’t ultimately win the week, she emerged from this episode as one of the main characters of the show.
I can’t imagine an entrance outfit any more on-brand than what Eva Le Queen is wearing here. This is”Disney evil queen but make it fashion” glam camp, which is Eva’s entire brand.
It also looks amazing. The hem length is right. The warm purple lining perfectly offsets the black vinyl exterior. The massive neck piece works because we can see plenty of bust below it and some of her neck above it.
If I could change one thing, I’d make the hair a bit taller. It took me a few looks to realize it was distinct from her headpiece.
Clearly Eva Le Queen is already well-known to her competitors, but to walk in looking this good really puts the rest of these queens on notice that Eva has come prepared to play on a global stage. Few others came close to touching this entrance look.
I’ll confess, I wish Eva Le Queen went a little bit more evil for her Dragna character, even if it took her slightly off-theme. It felt odd to have her walk in selling us cartoon villain only for her to immediately transform into comic book superhero! She was slightly challenged by the flying and the wind, but ultimately persevered to shoot a strong photo.
I didn’t entirely understand Eva Le Queen’s spoken word performance. Both spoken word talent presentations seemed to go over better with the judges than they did for me so it’s clear something was lost in translation (either linguistically or culturally). What I think she was doing was talking about how the relationship between her boy self and her drag self is like a doomed romance.
Even if I didn’t entirely understand the story or the format, she was clear and confidant on stage and she looked beautiful. I think it was wise to pivot to this soft, ruffled, romantic fantasy when she often looks slightly more severe.
This leafy lettuce dress combined with deep purple victory roll hair is full comic villain glamour. In the 60s and 70s, comic villains were often distinguished by wearing secondary colors rather than primary colors. Joker, Lex Luther, Mesmero, Annihilus, the Skrulls – they all shared this green-and-purple palette. If a hero wore purple, like Hulk or Hawkeye, it was meant to give us pause and make us consider their motivations.
I love that Eva didn’t pull in the contrasting purple into her tights or shoes, which would’ve taken this down a tick from full glamour to something more cartoonish.
Was this actually a “Terno” look? I don’t understand it well enough to say, but I’ve seen some folks say it was not – that big sleeves do not a Terno make. For me, even if it isn’t Terno, it’s high drag.
Of all of the veteran drag artists on this cast, it feels like Eva Le Queen has the talent and self-awareness to make the deepest run on the show. Her main challenge might not be showcasing any one skill, but the ability to show she can be surprising in her choices rather than delivering the expected level of perfection every time.
3. Precious Paula Nicole (Pre-Season #2)
Precious Paula Nicole ( Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) is a queen who understands how to use the power of her silliness to keep people engaged while she delivers commentary on culture – and that will always take you far on Drag Race!
I don’t have many feeling on Precious Paula Nicole’s entrance look. It’s tiny and emphasizes how tiny she is. She can move in it. I feel like the bust is a little low and the skirt could be a little bigger, but given her reputation I feel like this was her attempt to not go as over-the-top as Eva did with her look.
Also, consistent to what I saw in my Pre-Season Power Ranking, her make-up is absolutely stunning. It doesn’t come through as much in the photograph, but just try looking away from her mug while watching the episode. You can’t.
I cackled at Eva Le Queen narrating that “any gay person in Manila knows Precious Paula Nicole,” as if the first time you feel same-sex attraction she pops up next to you like a fairy godmother.
I enjoyed Precious Paula Nicole in the Dragna photo shoot. She took a moment to get acclimated, but once she understood her surroundings she immediately began pushing the boundaries of what she could do with her flying harness set-up. I feel like that’s a metaphor for her approach to drag, in general!
Precious Paula Nicole repeated that in her cultural folk dance. I don’t have the background to fully appreciate the context of this act. What I will say is that her level of intention and control was obvious. And, the other queens commented that she was dancing a feminine part of the choreography, which is apparently groundbreaking and slightly taboo.
I have to admit, I was expecting something much … stupider? … given Precious’s promo look. Yet, she also spent a lot of time in her promo expressing a reverence for what came before her. I appreciated seeing this other side of her, which was echoed again in her runway.
This runway presentation is so lovely. The patterns, the layers, the headdress paying homage to women carrying their wares to their families or to market. This is a beautiful cultural artifact that also functions as high drag.
Precious Paula Nicole was one of the brightest stars shining in this highly-competitive episode. If Minty Fresh is the ingénue and Eva Le Queen is the veteran, it feels like Precious Paula Nicole will be the queen to carry the flag for culture and national pride – as well as having the most consistently polished make-up in the entire cast.
4. Viñas Deluxe (Pre-Season #5)
Viñas Deluxe (Instagram | TikTok | YouTube) is a high-charisma, high-volume, highly-entertaining queen who knows how to pull focus in every situation. She might have the biggest personality in this dozen queens, but she also knows how to mind her details. That makes her a major threat.
Has anyone every brought their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent so hard as Viñas Deluxe entering the workroom in an actual towel? Like, no embellishments, no stoning. An actual towel.
You have to possess major charisma and nerve to attempt to pull this off, and you have to have the uniqueness and talent to back it up.
Viñas Deluxe appears to have all four in great supply.
Viñas Deluxe was one of the least-successful queens in the Dragna mini-challenge for me. Her outfit was over-engineered and came off as “Wonder Woman, but frumpy” (though, I do want to acknowledge some of that is likely down to the size of the harness belt beneath her drag). And, for all of her goofiness, she had a hard time harnessing that into a compelling image for the camera.
Viñas Deluxe’s talent show act was so unbelievably stupid that I found it impossible to look away. A comedy monologue about romance between a pair of bottoms could easily fall flat, but she delivered it as a Broadway musical “Call to Adventure” song with ridiculous physical comedy. I went from being nervous to laughing along with the judges, who were living for it even more than I was.
I am on the record as thinking that sunflower appliqués on the runway almost always look horribly cheap.
Viñas Deluxe somehow bucked that trend. I’m still trying to figure out how. I think it’s down to a few factors.
First, she rooted the sunflowers with other colors. They are lined with red accents on her bodice and green on her sleeves. We’re used to seeing sunflowers as the center of massive flower arrangements or in rows upon rows on their green stalks, so combining them with other colors allows them to be more of a hero of a color story instead of a drab, uniform yellow.
Second, there’s the texture. These aren’t just a few appliqués, or a stripe or band of flowers. These are different flowers of difference sizes nested at different depths, intersecting and overlaying with each other. That creates visual interest.
I don’t think the look was perfectly successful. I debate if the flowers on the skirt were effective or if they would’ve been better as a green or red pattern or stoning to carry the color story of the bodice down the dress. And, I think swept back black hair may have been the wrong choice for such a bright costume. It slightly washes out Viñas’s face. I wonder if a red or a straw-blonde would’ve fared better.
Viñas Deluxe absolutely kept the promise of her Pre-Season ranking for me – she was a beautiful firecracker all episode long. I’m still interested to see what kind of competitive edge she brings as the field tightens, because based on her charisma and her attention to detail she feels like a possible contender for the finale.
5. Brigiding (Pre-Season #4)
Brigiding (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) wasn’t too visible in the edit this week compared to some of the queens giving the most narration. I was impressed by her intelligence and strategy, but it will be interesting to see how she distinguishes herself as the weeks wear on.
I was pleasantly surprised that Brigiding took such a classic glamour approach to her entrance look rather than coming in with some sort of fierce reflective bodysuit. That’s what I was expecting from a queen who is already very much in the Drag Race model.
To instead come in wearing a lovely dotted and frilled robe and tied-up hair was a real breath of fresh air for me. She looked like an adorable pin-up girl.
While Brigiding’s execution in the Dragna photo shoot was slightly messy, that can be forgiven since she came out with such a spectacular photo. This mini-challenge seemed to emphasize that even if her costumes aren’t the most-polished, she has a tremendous awareness of her body.
Brigiding’s magic show was another unexpected twist. Her performance was slightly rote, but she could only insert so much flourish given the compressed timeslots for the talent show. Again, I loved that despite being a Drag Race superfan, she didn’t give us an obvious Drag Race approach to this challenge. At this point in the episode, I was starting to really appreciate her intelligence.
Brigiding’s runway was pure opulence with a beautiful color story and a real rooting in culture. For me, it stands out among all the runways at the only one to hold a candle to Minty Fresh’s feathered dragon dress.
I feel like I lack both the fashion and the cultural vocabulary to dissect this in any way. Is the actual cultural version of it this intricate and layered? Possibly so, and maybe for that reason I’m giving more credit than is due. However, I can’t deny that this took my breath away and stuck in my head.
Also? It’s yet another surprise from Brigiding! I was worried that we see her roll out a sort of “Drag Race’s Greatest Hits” approach to challenges and runways given her reverence for the show, but every choice she made in this episode was a surprise. That’s the true secret of cracking the code of Drag Race – you can’t only do what’s expected. If Brigiding keeps that up all season long, she could easily make it to the finals.
6. Marina Summers (Pre-Season #6)
Marina Summers (Instagram | TikTok | YouTube) showed off her prowess as a marketing professional and as a drag queen in an episode where she was a dominant force in the conversation (and sometimes also the competition).
We learned one thing from Marina Summers’ entrance look that proved to be true all episode long: she doesn’t like to wear tights, and she doesn’t like to tightly tuck, either.
While the queens and judges had various appalled reactions to her lack of tights, I found it refreshing. Why would you not show off your actual legs if they look this toned?! On the other hand, a lack of tights likely means a lack of padding, which means Marina isn’t giving us much in the way of curves in any of her looks this episode.
I think the other potentially controversial story here is the lack of stoning and embellishment. Again, I’m fine with that. This outfit has an engaging color-blocking story, and the poof of the sleeves and the bustled train give it plenty of visual interest. I don’t find the cut of the bathing suit especially flattering, but I almost never like one-shoulder stuff, and the color is great.
To me these points are all interesting because Marina has been positioned as somewhat of an outsider queen. She still has a full-time job. She’s a marketing professional. She fell out with Xilhouete, her mother and former employer.
It will be interesting to see how that outsider narrative merges with the idea that Marina does drag her own way. That can either be spun as powerful individualism, or a lack of detail.
Marina Summers fully transformed into an actual superhero in the Dragna mini-challenge! It was like she became an entirely different human being. I couldn’t believe some of the poses she was able to achieve in the flying harness. No one else came close.
That chameleonic quality can cut both ways on Drag Race. It’s great to be able to transform for challenges, but if you transform too much and too often the judges can lose a sense of who you are.
Case and point: Marina’s talent show. It was proficient, but it felt as if she was going through the “drag queen dance moves” motions. I couldn’t remember it at all – not because it was bad, but because it wasn’t unique. You couldn’t possibly put her in the bottom for it, but it didn’t feel especially linked to her own identity, nor did it have any real flow or climax.
If we were ranking runways purely on “Best Sleeves in Show,” Marina Summers would take home the top spot. Each sleeve is wider than she is!
Yet, this look shares some issues with her entrance look. I personally don’t care about the lack of stockings, but there is some sort of odd proportion going on with her crotch and her tuck that was evident in her entrance as well. Also, between the sleeves, the neck frill, and the high neckline, it was hard to find Marina’s shape inside of this gorgeous garment. I don’t think that makes the look bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I think with more separation between the sleeves and the body it would’ve been more successful.
I am so curious to see how Marina Summers leverages her “outsider queen” status across the fullness of this season. Is she going to be endlessly critiqued for her lack of stockings and padding? Will she become the villain of the season? Or, is her outsider perspective on drag going to make her a queen full of surprises who knocks the other queens off one by one?
No matter what the answer is, it should be interesting to find out.
7. Turing (Pre-Season #7)
Turing (Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) brought a lot of beauty and heart to this episode, but her Terno runway suggested that she might be a queen who is undone by the details.
I almost love Turing’s entrance look.
I think a lot of the argument against bodysuits on Drag Race is they tend to have a “yes, okay, we’ve seen it” quality to them. You can only do so much to change the color and design of what is essentially a one-piece bathing suit to make it look original.
Turing’s suit looks original. That’s because she is playing with a unique textile. I cannot tell if the fabric is knit with the gold woven through it or if that’s all -hand stoning and embellishment, but it looks amazing. To back it with a shinier gold in the lining of the split cape gives it even more motion and visual interest. Wrapping the boots ties it all together.
The one thing holding back my live is Turing’s hair. While I don’t think an updo would be right for this look, having her curls brushed forward over her shoulders is squashing her neck and head. Maybe if some of it was worn down but some was in a pair of twists on her head it could’ve extended her proportions a big more.
(It’s amusing to me to make this comment because this is almost my exact hair, worn exactly how i am wearing it as I write this, and I’ve had almost that exact purple/silver ombré before!)
Turing immediately clicked with the Dragna mini-challenge, showing a “can-do” approach to maneuvering in the harness and a terrific awareness of creating shape and motion with her body. It really emphasized her athleticism for me.
That was driven home by Turing’s beautiful talent show performance. It can be hard to sell contemporary dance in a setting full of other, showier talents, and especially in a time slot this short. Turing was up to the task. Her fluid choreography told a powerful story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. She used dance as a language for communication rather than just for entertainment.
Turing had the misfortune to present one of the worst runways of the night, but she was rightfully not at any real risk for elimination due to her talent show.
Even if you took away the truly hateful silver lamé pants with a chunky black pump, the top half of this look had its own struggles. The idea of one giant sleeve and one sash of sleeves is brilliant, but the execution looked like a pinned together draft rather than a final execution. Also, rendering it all in dark blue and black against the black of her top made it hard to read, even with the silver linings on the sash.
I think Turing is one of the most memorable queens in this line-up, and that’s not because she’s the only bigger queen. Her positivity and the way she carries herself shines through in every moment she is on stage. However, against the tightly-packed top half of this cast, Turing will need to bring more than positivity and performance chops. She will need to show some thoughtful detail and styling on the runway to reach the latter-half of the season.
Her entrance outfit tells me that’s possible, but her Pre-Season promo look tells me it might not happen. I’m interested to see which is telling the truth.
8. Gigi Era (Pre-Season #10)
Gigi Era (Instagram) is the queen in this cast who will always turn it up and turn it out in a performance, but can she bring just as much confidence to the more cerebral moments of the season?
Gigi Era kept things streamlined with a red-on-red-on-red monochrome entrance look where some things worked and others didn’t.
The lace bodysuit was gorgeous, the long sleeve trains were impactful, and I loved the touch of sparkle in her make-up.
On the negative side: The visible support garment for her breastplate was distracting. The wide vinyl belt with huge gold grommets was cool, but that was the only gold detail on her look – the buckles on the boots looked silver. The red panty didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t understand the need for a random poof of feathers around her neck, which didn’t tie into anything else in the look. And, finally, the ponytail could’ve been much higher to give her a taller silhouette and to separate it from everything happening around her neck.
I wouldn’t be so concerned about this hodgepodge of elements in an entrance look, but I think these finishing details were a problem for Gigi Era throughout the episode. She strikes me as a queen who has worlds of experience just doing the damn thing to make it up on stage looking polished, but some of those “damn things” might not stand up to the scrutiny of HD cameras on an international television show.
We only caught a brief glimpse of Gigi Era’s Dragna mini-challenge, but from what we saw she briefly struggled with flying but then delivered one of the most dynamic poses while giving the camera major face. To me, that shows that when the chips are down and she has to nail a performance, she’s capable of doing so.
That was certainly true for her talent show! Giga Era’s music track was slightly nonsensical (was it to the remix of “Category Is”?), but she opened with a huge stunt and used the full width of the stage to show movement and narrative in her performance.
Through both challenges, there was a real sense of her coming alive as soon as there is an audience in front of her, no matter how small.
I think Gigi Era had one of the most successful runways of the evening… except for one thing.
I love that she took the Terno theme to high glamour, I think the dense stoning is impeccable, and I was transfixed by the fringe sleeves. However, what was going on with the nude illusion on the top!? Not only was the illusion color wrong for Gigi’s skin tone, but that would be a very odd and revealing cutout for a dress on someone of Gigi’s size with her voluptuousness.
Looking back at my Pre-Season ranking, I think Gigi Era has already cleared the first hurdle I saw for her, which was finding a way to be explosive on camera. Check! The next question is if she has the same force of personality as she has force in performance. If she does, I think she could surprise us by outlasting one of the more obvious top contenders above her in the ranking. However, right now I don’t see a path for her into the finale.
9. Xilhouete (Pre-Season #9)
Xilhouete (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | Weobsite) is a seasoned professional who is the boss of several of the other queens on this cast, which is why some of her choices in this episode were so confusing. I expected a lot more than the awkward stumbling we saw from this drag veteran.
I want to be honest with you: there is something about Xilhouete that makes her distinctly unlikable to me, which makes it challenging to write about her. That was true even from her Meet The Queens, before we got into her conflicts with the cast in this episode.
This isn’t a situation like Miss Fiercalicious on Canada’s Drag Race, where there is a specific behavior I can critique. Some aspect of Xilhouete’s manner and approach to drag doesn’t click with me, and that could represent a culture difference or a personal one.
Since I know I’m already receiving her negatively, I’m going to try to keep my write-ups brief and factual until I figure out the root of my problem and resolve it. I don’t ever want to treat a queen badly just because she doesn’t meet my arcane standards of like-ability. That’s a me problem, not a Xilhouete problem.
Xilhouete had one of the most-striking entrance looks, but I think it could have struck harder with different hair. Also, the boots coming up so high robbed the short skirt of some of its impact. I think we needed to see more of a window of leg.
Xilhouete struggled in the mini-challenge, not only with the physicality but with giving variety in her face. Every photo had the same mild expression.
Also, it looked like she had the same flat black wig on for her entrance, her Dragna look, and her runway – maybe also for her talent show, with a few extra pins in it to keep her headdress affixed.
I loved her talent show look, which felt like a natural extension of her entrance look. As a talent show routine, it was flat. The “drawing a secret image” gag can work, but the image needs to be bold and obvious. This was a subtle, hard-to-see picture. Also, the voiceover had some of the worst sound design of anything we’ve ever heard a queen bring from home for a talent show. The breath noises and clipping were unbearable. The production team did her dirty by not cleaning that up more in post.
(I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been cleaning up my own badly recorded audio files for over 20yrs now. It can be done.)
I generally dislike runway looks with writing on them. They’re bad fashion. Unless we’re talking about an entire dress pattern filled with letters or words, my feeling is “show, don’t tell.”
This isn’t isolated to Xilhouete – I haven’t liked it on Eureka, or Jan, or Cherry Valentine. I just barely tolerated it on Monét X Change due to good typography. The only time I can recall it really working for me was on Symone’s “Say Their Names” look – and that was because it worked as a design element even if you didn’t read the words.
So: I hated this runway. The return of a (or is it, “the”) flat wig for the fourth time (fifth if we count the promo) didn’t help.
I think Xilhouete showed off a few remarkable fashions over the course of the episode, but I think we’ll need to see more out-of-the-box concepts and different kinds of looks for her to last very long in this cast.
10. Corazon (Pre-Season #11)
Corazon (Instagram) seemed to confirm my Pre-Season read on her – Drag Race is another pageant to win, but going through the same pageant motions won’t score you a crown on Drag Race.
Corazon’s entrance look was fine, but I’m not sure if it had the right kind of impact. What does a lace dress with a showgirl headdress tell me about Corazon and her brand? It mostly seemed to suppress her natural effervescence as she tried to keep her headpiece carefully balanced on her head. It made her come off as much more tentative than she did in her confessional segments.
Personal branding aside, it’s a clean look. I could maybe do without the large, dark neck piece.
This is an example of how and when to wear smaller, flatter hair in drag. there was no reason for a massive nest of a wig with that showpiece on top. Plus, even this slightly more natural “beauty hair” has some major volume in the front and on the sides. It’s not big, but it’s not thin.
I think Corazon had one of the coolest Dragna Superhero costumes. It wasn’t just a riff on Wonder Woman and there was a lot of exciting detail across the entire piece. I loved that she came with a bruised and bloodied make-up look and seemed ready to fight. She really seemed to relish the idea of playing hero.
As opposed to her Dragna success, there was something uncomfortable about Corazon’s talent show performance for me. There was a certain lack of rhythm to it, and her stunts all felt like they include an odd moment of wobbliness where she wasn’t quite sure how to get out of them. Add to that the rictus she had fixed on her face the entire time and there was something downright unsettling about it.
Again, I have to wonder if this relates to Corazon’s pageant background, where grinning madly through everything is a major plus. It plays oddly on Drag Race, which is more about uniqueness and which involves playing to the cameras.
Corazon’s military Termo look was high camp, which I didn’t expect from her! This is the one time she really broke out of the pageant box for me all episode to show what else she was capable of. Sure, she still wore her constant grin, but here it was an element of the camp of putting on a military parade (complete with guns and grenades) on the main stage.
(Clearly this would never happen on most other Drag Race franchises. I don’t know enough about Filipino culture and its relationship with militarism to critique this more fully.)
I think there could’ve been some improvements. I think the dark vinyl boots didn’t work with the rest of the costume. I would’ve loved them in the lighter of the camo colors, or the canvas green of the belt. Then, without the dark books, I think we’d need lighter hair – maybe a sandy color. But, that’s all optional – the look worked as is.
This runway was the first time I’ve been shaken free of my doubts that Corazon could last farther into this competition, but given the strength of her fellow castmates I feel like she’ll be fighting a war of attrition. Might she outlast a few of them? Yes. Can she score challenge wins of her own? I’m not so sure.
11. Lady Morgana (Pre-Season #8)
Lady Morgana (Instagram | Twitter) would’ve been fine this episode if she hadn’t opted for a poorly-conceived and decidedly unglamorous talent presentation. Was that choice a fluke, or a sign of other wobbly decisions yet to come?
Lady Morgana’s entrance look is strong. It’s the “merry widow” version of Eva La Queen’s Disney Villain. They could be sisters – one who married rich and the other one who ruled with an iron fist.
This looks rich, but it also trends older than a lot of the other queens. That’s not down to any one element, but to all of it – the all-black, the diamond bling, the dark make-up. Without knowing Filipino culture and the trends of their reality TV, I’m not sure if positioning yourself as being more aged than the other contestants is a good thing or a bad thing. It doesn’t seem to line up with Mindanao and being “on pak” with high energy at all times. I would’ve expected something younger and brighter.
I hate the silver shoe with the strip up the middle. That has never looked good on anyone.
Lady Morgana was one of the few queens to be seriously challenged by the Dragna shoot. Part of that was her costume involving so many immovable, molded pieces, but I think there was a touch of being overwhelmed by the situation as well.
Morgana’s news reporting was one of the few fully cringe-worthy moments in the entire episode. It was one of those acts where I kept waiting for it to really start right up until it ended. At first it seemed like it might be a comedic roast, but it wasn’t. Then it seemed like there might be something funny or tricky about her repeatedly switching between languages, but there wasn’t. And, finally, it gave hints of being a quick change routine, but it wasn’t that, either. I caught her imitation of the national Philippines radio broadcasts (I think), but that’s not enough to hang an entire talent upon.
It wasn’t anything.
The thing that’s so dispiriting about that is that it was so close to being all three things! If she had slightly sharper political humor, if she had played with switching back and forth between languages more, and if she had more of a sequence of major quick-changes, this could have been a memorably weird presentation instead of a weird and forgettable fizzle.
This runway was the one moment of the episode that made me think, “Ah, maybe there’s more to Lady Morgana!”
This is a gorgeous, flattering merger of culture and glamour that plays her older character without aging her quite as much as her entrance look. The emerald color, the boatneck wrap, the Cruella streak on the giant bulb of hair… I wouldn’t change a single thing about this look. It might be my third favorite of all the runways, after Minty Fresh and Brigiding.
I’m rooting for Lady Morgana to show us the same charm and positivity she has in her confessionals in her drag, but she might not have long to do that after bottoming in the first episode.
Eliminated: Prince (Pre-Season #12)
Prince (Instagram | TikTok) was my pre-season prediction to be the first out, and that prediction came to pass. It gives me no pleasure to see her depart, but it seemed clear she was daunted by every aspect of the competition in this episode.
Prince was the one queen with an entrance look that could stand up to Eva La Queen’s opulence. The layers, the black-on-black textures, the glittering antennae continuing up into her hair. This look was absolutely cool.
Yet, when the other queens questioned her about it she didn’t have much to say. She was also immediately nervous about the idea of a talent show, and her final runway was full of clever ideas but had many unfinished details. It felt like she knew she was in over her head from the minute she entered the workroom.
Prince had so many good ideas in this episode that simply weren’t pushed to their fullest extent in execution.
She definitely has a slightly more science-fiction approach to her looks, which helped me to understand why she talked about wanting to be a “creature” in her Meet The Queens interview. Yet, to pull off that kind of drag you need to be utterly dripping with nerve and charisma to sell your choices. And, you have to do twice the work on the details compared to a queen that is presenting a standard, glamorous approach, because they’re bringing something expect while you are presenting something unique.
It feels like Prince was simply a few years too early in her journey as a drag artist to do well on the show. Hopefully the added exposure and fans from being cast on the show will help propel her forward to the next level of her artistic evolution.
Minty’s not 18, that was just a joke! She’s actually a very youthful 31. Love your DR recaps and glad to see you covering PH!
Thanks, Mel! In trying to take notes as I watched the episode I completely missed that it was a joke, and Minty is so baby-faced that I believed it!