Mabuhay! Welcome to my review and power rankings of the fifth episode of Drag Race Philippines Season 1 – Miss Shutacca, a realistic beauty pageant with the queens dancing and improv-ing stereotypical beauty queen roles.
For me, this episode is terrific example of what Drag Race can be. It had everything: a cruel choreographer, technical difficulties that crossed over from being annoying to be just as camp as the challenge, a strong runway, and a terrific set of judge’s critiques.
I found “Miss Shutacca” to be a fascinating challenge because it asked a cast full of reality show contestants to fake being beauty pageant contestants in a very real pageant. When Race Race had done this in the past, the pageant itself was deliberately satirical – as on Canada’s Drag Race Season 1.
Here, the pageant was played incredibly straight, save for some of the hosts’ banter. It was also very long – one of the longest sequences of improve we’ve ever seen on Drag Race, with four distinct segments plus choreography. That meant at points the queens couldn’t help but let their inner competitors shine through their characters – especially in the Q&A portion.
It was fascinating to see how some queens broke character in that moment, while others used it to dive more deeply into it. Similarly, I was entranced by how seriously real life Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach took this fake pageant full of drag queens. She was resplendently beautiful and a natural as a judge; I wouldn’t be surprised to see her return to the show. Meanwhile, KaladKaren got to show off her absurd side as a co-host of the pageant.
The competition to stay entrenched in the Top 3 is really heating up as we approach the halfway mark of the season. Of the remaining seven queens, five of them feel entirely possible as finalists. That resulted in a shake-up at the top of the ranking this week compared to last week’s ranking.
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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 5 – Miss Shutacca, Power Rankings
Before we get to an incredibly strong “Pink Pak Boom” runway from our contestants, we must once again pause to admire Paola’s weekly domination. Even if this holy mermaid dress isn’t as surprising as her past looks. she still looks jaw-droppingly good. Her make-up is divine tonight, and THOSE BANGS. I could not stop staring at her face.
Also, I think we also have to appreciate an actual Miss Universe walking the Drag Race runway. I loved every second of Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach on this episode. She had undeniable star quality, and her make-up was transfixing.
1. Precious Paula Nicole – 1 Win (was 2, 6, 3, 3, Pre-Season #2)
Precious Paula Nicole (Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) delivered a laugh-out-loud performance as a perfectly empty vessel in the pageant, and just barely missed notching another win.
This runway look was confusing. It has a showgirl shape but with a fake, Halloween costume quality to the bodice? Plus a strip of black editorial make-up over the brow-line. What is it trying to say? The elements don’t really go together. There may have been a story here about the “showgirl as drag as artifice” but it was lost in the details.
We’ve seen many queens saddled with playing “the dumb one” in many Drag Race challenges, but I’m not sure anyone has ever delivered such a hilarious version of complete vacancy as Precious Paula Nicole as Ms. Airhead. Instead of running through a set of planned gags, she was doing true improv – living fully as her character in each moment of the show.
That escalated to a level of utter farce at the show’s conclusion, with her coming forward during the wrong name-call, then being hilariously confused about winning, and then wandering the stage aimlessly when he win was stripped away.
It feels like Precious Paula Nicole has the fullest character arc of everyone in the cast. We’ve seen her succeed in front of the icon she impersonated, we’ve seen her have a vulnerable moment on stage, and now we’ve seen her deliver a commanding comedy performance. While there’s certainly the possibility she could flame out in the the next few weeks, to me it feels like she has already done enough to qualify herself for a spot in the finale – and, at the moment that makes her the favorite to win.
2. Marina Summers – 1 Win (was 3, 2, 5, 6, Pre-Season #6)
Marina Summers hit the challenge+runway jackpot this episode, pairing a sexualized character with runway where she was literally covered from head to toe! There was a way that this concept could’ve have come off a bit dowdy, and Marina completely avoided that in her styling and presentation.
I was completely in line with the judges on this look. I loved every detail of it, especially the wide, blocky hips adding to the illusion of an ultra-cinched wist. and I loved that Marina gave it an air of a mysterious housewife instead of her typical runway stalking. I loved the pink underskirt beneath the hip panels and how it perfectly matched the stockings and shoes.
Slutty characters aren’t always easy. (HA!) I think many people make the mistake of playing this stereotype as having to flirt with everyone and everything at all times. However, there’s more to an over-sexualized stereotype than hitting on people. The character themselves needs to have an amplified, over-the-top sensuality to everything they do.
I think Marina Summer nailed that with Ms. Skanky. She wasn’t too much of any one thing. Her character seemed fully realized, like she could’ve reacted to anything within the context of a scene. And, she sold that with her face the entire time.
Marina feels like she has settled into the perfect rhythm in this competition – a strong start, a brief fade, and now a surging performance. If she can navigate Snatch Game with the same deftness she showed this week, Marina might have a clear path directly to clinching the second spot in the Top Three. And, even if she winds up in the bottom, I sincerely doubt she would lose a first lip sync to anyone else remaining in this cast.
3. Xilhouete – 1 Lip Sync (was 5, 9, 7, 9, Pre-Season #9)
As soon as Xilhouete stepped out on the runway I said, “It’s a SHOOT!”
This look is perfect. It’s a potentially-confusing nude illusion done right. I love the massive structured rim of the bodice. The skirt is shaped so smartly, continuing the spiral of the wrap from her collar down and around her right side to create a train that hits the floor just enough. And, this blonde look with dark eyes is so compelling on Xiloute’s face shape and fair skin.
I think the judges nailed it: you don’t have to be covered in rhinestones to present high-drag. Sometimes your styling and the way you carry yourself can sell it completely.
I didn’t think Xilhouete’s dark magic Ms, Upstager was the best character in the pageant. I would have expected a character more full of stunts and trying to pull focus from the other queens. However, that’s just one conception of a scene-stealer, and one that could’ve come off as rude and overpowering in the scope of the challenge. (Think Milk in “The B*tchelor.”)
However, what Xilhouete did wisely was mock herself the entire time. She amped up the witchy qualities of her actual drag character and suggested that she does it all for the attention. Somehow, she transformed an improv challenge into a commentary on if she is being “real” in her own drag, capping it off with a valedictory Q&A speech that felt like it merged Xilhouete The Character and Xilhouete The Queen into a single version of herself that felt entirely true.
It was a subversive way to play the challenge. I was worried it might be too subtle for the judges, but they understood it completely.
I’m happy to finally found an appreciation for Xilhouete and her drag. I admire a queen who can play with darkness but can also step into the light. And, this runway shows she can do high-fashion was the best of this cast. Can Xilhouete extend this ascent to a win in Snatch Game next week? It’s certainly a challenge that rewards cerebral queens, but there’s always the risk of overthinking it. Xilhouete’s top strength isn’t always brevity. It will be interesting to see if she manages to subvert the Snatch Game format as well as she did in the pageant this week.
4. Viñas Deluxe – 1 Win (was 1, 1, 1, 4, Pre-Season #5)
Viñas Deluxe was marked off for lacking nerve on the runway, but I think this look needed more narrative rather than more nerve.
I actually found the closed bathrobe version of this look a lot more compelling than the swimsuit version. But, I’d agree that the point of this look felt like it was supposed to be about the transformation from backstage ugly duckling to stage-ready beauty.
Maybe Viñas was feeling held back by the fact that even if she stripped off her wig and robe, she’d still be in her pink glitter face. However, I think the face was so spectacularly rendered that it wouldn’t have been a distraction.
I absolutely loved Viñas Deluxe’s ultra-anxious character. I think she played the first two thirds of the pageant perfectly, especially coming out for the Swimsuit Competition wearing the wrong outfit! It was such a great gag because it was a chance to subvert the “rules” of a Drag Race challenge in the service of her Ms. Nervous character.
However, the problem with Viñas great early gags is she didn’t give herself room to continue to develop her story. Having established her nervous character, how should she have handled being in the Q&A portion? How should she have dealt with losing? Would it make her sad or leave her feeling relief?
I think Viñas delivered one of the stronger performances, but the three queens above her in the ranking who got positive notices from the judges didn’t leave me with these questions.
I don’t think Viñas is suddenly in trouble because she had one low placement, but after this week she doesn’t have an “untouchable” quality any more. Precious Paula Nicole bounced back from a similar moment after “Pop Off Ate,” so this could be only a minor speed bump for Viñas’s drive towards the crown. However, if there was ever a Drag Race challenge that takes a lot of nerve, it’s Snatch Game – and as one of the top impersonators in the cast Viñas is sure to be under a lot of scrutiny.
5. Eva Le Queen (was 5, 3, 4, 2, Pre-Season #1)
Eva Le Queen (Instagram | TikTok) couldn’t quite find the right characterization for an overseas queen flying in to compete in a local pageant. She handled herself ably with some good punchlines, but it feels like she’s slightly sinking in this competition just when she needs to be surging.
Eva Le Queen’s runway was giving “She-Ra villain,” which is absolutely on-brand for her drag. However, she wasn’t the most-impressive version of that. I loved her hair and make-up and the bodice of her look, but the draped half-cape and skirt seemed like an afterthought and I found the clashing pinks distracting.
Eva Le Queen wasn’t bad in the beauty pageant, but she wasn’t good either. She started her Ms. Stateside strong with a “I just flew in” attitude, but she didn’t seem to understand where to take that as the show pressed on.
I’m not familiar with this particular version of a the stereotype of an expat returning to the Philippines. Without knowing the specifics, the way I’d play it is treating everything local as very quaint. “Oh, this is such a cute little pageant you are putting on. It reminds me of some of the bars I visited in the states.” “Is this the biggest backdrop you could afford?” Honestly, just think about how Gia Gunn reacts to… everything. That’s the kind of energy this performance required.
(Also, I think this character is about being a tourist in your own home town because you don’t understand how it has changed while you were away. In Philly, I’d talk about my favorite restaurant being something that’s already closed down. Eva could’ve brought this into her Q&A answer.)
I remain as huge a fan of Eva Le Queen as ever, but it really felt as though this was the week where she needed to break through. With Xilouhete surging as the older and more-unusual queen, Eva needs to pump up her “Evil Cartoon Character” energy to the max in the next two weeks to stand out and score a win by the time we reach the top five or else she will become the obvious next out. If there was ever a challenge for her to win, Snatch Game is certainly it!
6. Minty Fresh – 1 Win (was 6, 4, 2, 1, Pre-Season #3)
Minty Fresh (Instagram | Twitter | YouTube) is losing a battle against the judges, as their “sleepy” comments are getting to her and she was called safe without a critique for her bitchy pageant queen.
This was one of the most-successful of the punk runways, and it could’ve carried Minty Fresh to a win with a stronger challenge performance. We’ve seen a lot of these “layers upon layers” poof dresses, but there was something so compelling about the wrinkled, folded, almost-organic quality of pink on pink. I loved that her boots were pink and she didn’t show any leg, keeping the focus on her face and the skin of her shoulders.
I think Minty Fresh had the base of her Ms. Biyatch character down, but then she never took it anywhere. Her “totally over it” attitude was great, but there were no jokes and no escalating levels of bitchiness. The moment I felt this most acutely is when she “lost” the pageant. That was the perfect moment for a bitchy queen to throw a major tantrum to show that she wasn’t actually “over it” it at all and was expecting to win! I wanted her to go totally feral for just a few seconds, maybe even throwing her phone at the judges.
For me, this was the kiss of death for Minty Fresh in this competition. So many other queens took this opportunity as a free play to be incredibly silly or to make fun of themselves. Minty swore she would use it to show she was awake, yet her checked-out character seemed like she was playing herself without much satire.
I think Minty Fresh is an amazing drag queen with one of the best senses of style on this cast, but her laid-back attitude is translating to her not playing to win. This challenge was her chance for a making awakening, and she passed it up. I fully expect to see her lip sync next week.
7. Brigiding – 1 Lip Sync (was 7, 5, 6, 5, Pre-Season #4)
Brigiding (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) has all the right talents for Drag Race, but she fought for one of the most-difficult characters in the challenge and then failed to fully-realize it on the stage.
I loved Brigiding’s edgy pop star take on being pretty in pink. In fact, this is one of the first times I’ve seen Brigiding walk out and said, “YES, this is who she is.” I loved the duality of trying to decide if she was an edge queen who loved pink or if she was a pink princess going dark. I thing this “pop star drag” spot is perfect for Brigiding even more than it is for Minty Fresh; it doesn’t feel like anyone else in the cast brings the same sense of youthful energy to the runway as Brigiding does.
I understand the direction Brigiding was taking with her Ms. Tacky character. She wanted to play “tacky” as “embarrassingly trying to be trendy,” stuffing it full of meme dances and dabs. I think given the restraints of a Drag Race challenge, this was a solid play, but I agree with the judges that it read a little bit too “fake hip hop” on the whole.
Being tacky is such a niche combination of blithe behavior and bad styling. I’m really not certain how you can do “tacky” without being a prop queen pulling out lots of tacky gags over the course of the show. Perhaps you could constantly inquire about how much things cost, or ask if you can take home props like the headphones? But, even that comes off as “cheap” or “thrifty” rather than tacky.
I’m surprised Brigiding didn’t leap for the overseas queen, which seemed custom-made for her as a queen who tours to the states. She was probably the best-equipped to make fun of the kind of label-wearing, name-dropping, queen who seems disconnected from local culture at home in the Philippines.
In my recaps of Drag Race Down Under I came to the defense of the young Beverly Kills as she was labeled as being inauthentic. Yet, I can understand how Brigiding is getting that label, since I felt that way from her Meet The Queens to the present. She reminds me of an American drag queen on Drag Race, in that it feels like the sum total of her drag career has been getting onto some version of the show and now she’s just… here. It doesn’t feel like she has anything left to prove.
That sometimes works for US winners. For a first-time season like Philippines, I think the show is looking for a queen who has much more of a personal brand and a unique story. Unless Brigiding has been keeping that under wraps all this time, I think she only has another episode or two before she sashays away.
Eliminated: Lady Morgana (was 8, 8, 8, 11, Pre-Season #8)
Lady Morgana (Instagram | Twitter) has all of the charisma a queen needs to win Drag Race, but she was challenged by the show’s demands to transform into someone new every week. This is a queen whose true power comes in being herself.
I appreciate a queen who tells us who she is, is that queen throughout the competition, and is that queen in her departure.
That describes Lady Morgana to a tee. It’s not just that I guessed her placement perfectly in the pre-season and had her ranked in this spot for three out of four weeks until now. It’s that I immediately understood from her Meet The Queens that she would bring “a specific regional perspective and a promise of positivity to her drag.”
Lady Morgana always lived to that standard, shining as a beacon of good humor even in her toughest moments on the show. Perhaps that was the problem with her Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes character – she effectively wound up playing herself, and not in the sarcastic way that Xilhouete did.
If there’s something I regret about Lady Morgana’s run it is that she did not use the runway prompts to show off the more unusual side of her drag. She mentioned in the Pre-Season that Davao City drag queens have a specific approach to make-up, and her Instagram is full of unusual drag creature looks.
Did Morgana present a smoothed-over version of her drag for the show, when those details could’ve made her more remarkable? Certainly, she could’ve showed off either of those influences on the Pearl runway rather than dressing as a bride.
I think some queens sashay away from Drag Race feeling as though they had something left to prove, but I don’t think that’s the case with Lady Morgana. She had strong runways and performances, she was a charming character, and she seemed to be beloved by the cast. There’s nothing wrong with showing five weeks of strong drag and leaving for not being able to find the comedy in being too good of a person because that hits so close to home.