Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the tenth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “50/50’s Most Gagworthy Stars.” It’s a spoof of the inimitable Barbara Walter’s celebrity-focused interview specials on 20/20, her Friday-evening news magazine show. Plus, a long-awaited and much-requested “Night of 1000 Beyoncés” runway.
This episode’s challenge impressed me on a conceptual level. I love when Drag Race invents new challenge formats and rumixes old ones.
We’ve had queens host their own interview shows before, as with Season 6’s infamous interview of Georgia Holt and Chaz Bono. However, this talk show boasted multiple formats and multiple celebrities (even if all three of them are long-time friends of the show).
The idea of having queens out on a golfcart and in a kitchen segment was a brilliant way to get them out of the interview chair, and to reflect the range of opportunities that today’s queens receive post-show. Drag is as mainstream as it has ever been even as conservatives try to outlaw it as a way to attack transgender people across dozens of statrs. Queens need to be ready to be visible and vulnerable on either side of these goofy segments of cooking, driving a golf cart, or exercising.
I wasn’t as impressed with the queens themselves as I was with the challenge concept.
Look: interviewing is hard, especially when your subject ranges from easily-distracted to actively-hostile to the idea of being interviewed. Anyone who has a chatty friend with a huge personality knows this feeling. You need to toe a fine line between investigative journalism and improv comedy to keep the conversation on track without it turning into a monologue.
Of the entire cast, it was evident that only Loosey LaDuca had the chops to manage that sort of chaotic situation. While Loosey had the easiest interview subject in Frankie Grande, I have no doubt she would have done just as well with Charo or Love Connie. However, even more than Loosey, Sasha Colby showed an ability to think on her feet to create TV alchemy.
What does that mean for our Power Rankings as the field tightens from eight queens down to seven? Unsurprisingly, our solid Top Four hasn’t changed since last week’s Crystal Ball even if there has been some slight shuffling. The real contest at the moment isn’t about who will make it to the finale, but who will manage to hang on for a fifth place finish!
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!
Reminders: I typically 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 in relation to this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15, Episode 10: “50/50’s Most Gagworthy Stars” & Night of 1000 Beyoncès runway Power Rankings
Before we get to our long-awaited “Night of 1000 Beyoncés” runway, let’s appreciate RuPaul delivering some straight-up glam on the Drag Race main stage. After some sultrier looks and a few less-successful outfits, it’s always nice to be reminded that mother can come out looking like an award statuette anytime she damn well pleases.
#1. Sasha Colby – 3 Wins (1.56 avg; was #1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, Pre-Season #1)
Everything is coming up Sasha as she notches a second win in a row and a third this season. If there was some question of her being at the top last week, this week there was no room for debate – she handily won the combination of this challenge and runway.
Sasha Colby might have scored the obvious win on this runway, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
That’s nothing against Sasha and more to do with the fact that I full-on hate this original Beyoncé look – which Sasha has copied EXACTLY. It was an awkward shape for Beyoncé’s long, lean body – especially the length and multi-level fringe of the skirt.
I think Sasha’s version is very slightly cleaner and better-proportioned than the original except for one element: the gather of her bikini top is pulled tighter in the middle than Beyoncé’s. It’s a minor detail, but it creates an odd shape on Sasha’s mid-section that almost makes it look like her stomach and chest are convex!
Clearly, the woman could not be any more highly toned, so that’s an awkward illusion.
(Speaking of awkward illusions, the hair isn’t quite right, either. It’s giving “curly blonde topper pinned onto my natural hair” rather than “beautiful blonde curls growing out of my scalp.”)
In the challenge, Sasha showed the sort of unflappable confidence of someone who has been in dozens of high-stakes on-stage and on-camera situations. Charo is a whirling tornado of chaotic-good energy, so no straight-forward interview approach will ever work for her. Sasha wisely sat back and let Charo drive the conversation and let the cooking format give it structure.
I’ve rarely seen a clearer “well, she won that challenge” moment than Sasha throwing away her cue cards mid-interview. It reminded me of Bob the Drag Queen’s inane strip tease in her Empire acting challenge. As soon as you saw that moment, you realized she had it in the bag. The same was true for Sasha. Throwing her cards away wasn’t only a hilarious comedy beat. It was also a signal that she was willing to depart from her script to make the segment work. She was there to react to Charo with genuine kindness and enthusiasm, and she managed to slip in a few astute questions along the way.
While I don’t think the quality of the overall interview was the best of all of them, it was certainly the most-memorable.
That meant Sasha Colby scored a third overall win, and her second win in a row. I don’t think there’s a question in anyone’s mind that she is the obvious front-runner of the season. Nor should there be a question that she can beat any of these queens in a lip sync. The question now is simply if Sasha will stumble once or twice between now and the finale to show some vulnerability. Will next week’s comedy challenge be the one weak point in Sasha’s perfect track record? Or, are we looking at another classic no-lip-sync run in the vein of Bianca del Rio, Sasha Velour, or Aquaria?
#2. Luxx Noir London – 1 Win (3.67 avg; was #4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 5, 2, 6, Pre-Season #3)
Now that we have less than half the queens we started with, it seems increasingly obvious that Luxx Noir London is solidly in contention for this crown. She’s an ingenue with a clear perspective who launches herself into every challenge fearlessly. In any season without a Sasha Colby she would be the potential winner – and even with Sasha in the mix Luxx remains a clear frontrunner.
Luxx Noir London absolutely perfected this Bob Mackie recreation runway for the “Night of 1000 Beyoncés.” It’s no surprise that RuPaul had such a strong, emotional reaction to the outfit, which she knows well. The garment looks incredible on Luxx’s shape, and she SOLD it – not just as the whirling dervish of Tina Turner, but as the glamorous but slightly-shyer Beyoncé version.
Also, it must be said: this hair and make-up was extraordinary. Luxx didn’t miss a single detail. I love her eyes and lips, and she slightly toned down her typically-boney nose contour illusion to give more of her natural shape in a nod to the black legends who inspired her runway look.
I think I was the most-impressed with Luxx’s interview segment out of all of the queens. Love Connie was the most aggressively resistant out of all the interview subjects. Throw in that the interview was conducted while driving in circles around the parking lot and I think Luxx had the most-difficult segment out of the entire cast. That she hung on to her wits (and her lunch) while still getting in a few interesting questions was a great example of just how unflappable Luxx has been throughout the entire competition.
It’s like I’ve said before: Luxx Noir London has the perfect amount of delusion to keep her going without it leading to any poor decisions.
Now the critical question is this: can Luxx amass enough momentum in the final four competitive episodes to make a case for her snatching the crown from Sasha Colby’s well-manicured grasp?
To do that, I think Luxx needs to notch another win – possibly two – in the next three episodes, followed by absolutely crushing the final Rumix challenge as hard as Yvie Oddly did back on Season 11. At that point, Luxx will have a complete arc as the shockingly-talented ingenue facing off against the drag juggernaut of Sasha Colby. That will make for a thrilling finale.
That narrative is not guaranteed. If Luxx can’t find a way to win some of these final challenges, either Anetra or Mistress is going to make a stronger case for themselves as Sasha’s biggest competition.
#3. Anetra – 1 lip sync (3.22 avg; was #3, 2, 3, 5, 6, 3, 3, 1, Pre-Season #2)
I think it was obvious that Anetra was having a lot of fun this week, which is a good look for her – as was her runway. She narrowly missed being in the top for this challenge.
Anetra crushed this “Night of 1000 Beyoncés” runway. From top to bottom, this look perfectly captured the original with slight tune-ups for the Drag Race runway.
Note how Anetra rendered the body of the dress more gold than the white of the original. Even if the white pops more, whites tend to get washed-out under the runway lights. Also, note that the gold trim of Anetra’s cape is thicker than on the original so that it will read for camera without looking too sparse. Finally, Anetra’s hair is slightly bigger and frizzier than the original – again, because a drag queen is working with size and proportion even more than a pop star.
I’m honestly surprised that Anetra packed so many catsuits when she’s as good at serving (and constructing) glamour as we saw in this runway and her design challenge look last week. I suppose if you have the body for a catsuit you ought to flaunt it, but if she leaned a little harder into her glam side I think her runway package could be even better than Mistress Isabelle’s.
Anetra’s interview with Frankie Grande was the utter definition of safe. Frankie was less chaotic of an interview subject than Charo or Love Connie, but he has a short attention span and the the gift of gab. The challenge with him wasn’t necessarily in steering him back to the interview, but in being able to react and interact with him while he churned out anecdotes and quips. Anetra kept up with him in their power-walk through the parking lot, but I never got the sense she was entirely in control of the conversation.
With Mistress slipping into the bottom tonight, Anetra is no longer in the weakest position in the Top Four. But, like everyone not named Sasha, she really needs another 1-2 wins if she wants to make the case for herself as Sasha’s main opponent for the crown. I think the positive on Anetra’s side is that Michelle handed her a ready-made narrative last week with her advice to smile more and have fun. Anetra clearly took that to heart this week. It was especially notable in her runway presentation.
If Anetra can keep up the story of “stone-faced queen finds her joy” while snagging another challenge win, she might wind up with the most-compelling story in the finale – and, we all certainly would love to see her lip sync against Sasha again for the crown!
#4. Mistress Isabelle Brooks – 1 Win (3.0 avg; was #2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 4, 4, 2, Pre-Season #6)
This week we witnessed Mistress’s first true stumble of the season. Will this be her sole “low for vulnerability” moment, or are we about to get a “strong start, weak finish” narrative from this delightfully shady queen?
This runway from Mistress Isabelle Brooks was a total hit.
MIB’s dress reads as being exactly the same as Beyoncé’s, even though she has made several clever tweaks to work with her shape (especially around the cut of her dress on her hips). Also, the original dress didn’t have sleeves. Here, the sleeves serve as hilarious doubles for the dresses of the other members of Destiny’s Child!
Which brings us to the Muppets. Mistress Isabelle Brooks built Destiny’s Child Muppet heads. That is one of the most over-the-top design choices in the history of the show!!! Add that on top of the close replica of the dress and you have another stellar entry into Mistress Isabelle’s runway package.
I was shocked to see Mistress Isabelle Brooks seem so lost in her kitchen segment with Love Connie! If anyone in this cast has the strength of character to hold space against Connie’s utter chaos, I would have told you it was MIB before seeing this segment. However, Mistress Isabelle just didn’t seem able to keep up with LoveConnie’s constant stream-of-consciousness on top of a cooking demo packed with blue humor.
I don’t think this one weak spot says anything bad about Mistress Isabelle’s overall chances on the show. It’s always good to have a “low for vulnerability” moment, and this was a great one. The question is how MIB can build back up from this point to have momentum heading into the finale. She is a young queen delivering classic high drag with a near-flawless runway package, which is definitely a narrative that could find her in the finale head-to-head with Sasha. However, right now Mistress is feeling more like a potential beloved All Stars returnee than America’s Next Drag Superstar. She still has more to prove.
#5. Loosey LaDuca – 1 Win (5.44 avg; was #6, 7, 4, 4, 2, 2, 5, 14, Pre-Season #8)
Loosey LaDuca clawed her way back into contention after a bottom-three ball performance, but an underwhelming runway left room for Sasha to snatch the win.
Loosey LaDuca blew her shot at a second win on the runway, and along with it likely any hope to crack into the solidified Top 4 standing between her and the finale.
I want to be clear that I’m not saying that to dunk on Loosey. She is an amazing, accomplished, multi-threat drag queen! I think a complex series of decisions lead her to this runway presentation, which I suspect will ultimately reveal itself to be the pivotal point in her Drag Race run.
Let’s take a moment to break that down.
Yes, Beyoncé revealing her baby bump was an iconic moment in pop culture. I’m sure Loosey was feeling cautious about crossing the line into appropriation with any of Beyoncé’s looks where her blackness is a big part of the look, so this seemed like a safer bet. Plus, Loosey’s drag reads a bit on the matronly “sexy MILF” side anyway, so what could be a better play on that than Beyoncé’s debut maternal moment?
The problem with that is that this Beyoncé look wasn’t really a full look. It was a sequined tuxedo blazer. The whole point of this performance of “Love on Top” was that it was stripped down of the typical Beyoncé spectacular because her vocals are the whole point of the song.
When you’ve picked a relatively simple look to tribute on Drag Race, I think you have to do two key things to make it sucessful.
First, whatever the key detail of that look is, you need to perfectly render that detail. Then, you need to take the details that mattered less and interpret them through your own drag filter.
We saw that last week with the tributes to RuPaul’s iconic racing look. The most-successful version of it had the perfect color, or echoed her exposed black bra, or reproduced the exact racing checkerboard motif in the right proportions. The farther the looks got from touching one of those elements, the less successful they became.
(It’s also true on Mistress Isabelle’s Destiny’s Child look, above.)
I think the blazer was the key detail here, and Loosey didn’t replicate any single part of it perfectly enough. Yes, the cut is very similar to the original, but the switch from purple to pink and the black pockets took it to a totally different place than it began.
Loosey did “drag up” the rest of the look – check out how she coated her white shirt in stones! But, it didn’t have enough of a perspective to it. Add something else to the shirt to make it pop more, especially since we all know white rarely works under the lights of the Drag Race runway. Maybe swap out the plain back pants for long flowing skirt. Or, at least glam them up with a matching sequined tuxedo stripe down the side.
I truly think that if Loosey had walked out in a perfect replica of the purple tuxedo jacket paired with a more interpretative version of the shirt and pants, she could have won this week. The show is disinclined to give queens wins on two back-to-back weeks unless there’s really no other viable option.
The sad part about all this is, Loosey was more than a viable option for this win. She was the obvious choice. As a drag character, Loosey LaDuca is only a hair of difference away from a young Barbara Walters. Her faux seriousness in the interview and the way she reacted to everything with the same exaggerated face of surprise was a perfect send-up of all of Walters classics celebrity interview moments. While Sasha and Luxx may have had more natural charisma in the challenge, no queen nailed the interview and improv moments better than Loosey.
That’s why I think this will ultimately prove to be the beginning of the end for Loosey. It’s not just that she missed out on an obvious win, or that it meant Sasha got another win. It’s not that she spent another week pressed like a panini when she was called safe in her extended redux of what the show pulled on Jan.
It’s that this moment showed that Loosey’s taste level just cannot be relied on when everything is on the line.
Mark my words: that is not a queen Ru will allow into the finale. She has too many better choices to give the illusion of competition to Sasha. Ending Loosey’s journey in heartbreak to set up a potential future All Stars redemption is too obvious a narrative at this point.
#6. Salina EsTitties – 3 lip syncs (7.56 avg; was #7, 5, 8, 11, 8, 8, 7, Pre-Season #12)
The judges didn’t like how Salina EsTitties tried to take control of her interview with a rambling Love Connie. That wasn’t surprising, since they don’t seem to like anything she does this season. The shocker was sending her to the Bottom Two for it and allowing her to survive the lip sync.
I’ve been tough on Salina EsTitties in the past, but this week I am in her corner, y’all.
First of all, this was the best of all the “Night of 1000 Beyoncés” replicas and I will fight you about it. As with Mistress Isabelle Brooks, this is a perfect replica that is updated to work on Salina’s figure. I love the way the hem kisses the ground but her feet can still peek out. I love that she has on Beyoncé’s exact hair, but bigger.
Even Salina’s tendency to add one unnecessary element to each runway turned out okay here, with her substitution of RuPaul heads in place of Grammys. It wasn’t strictly necessary, but part of what makes this particular Beyoncé moment so iconic is her armload of awards. I think it might’ve been more successful if Salina had rendered each Ru-head individually rather than mounting them on a pair of plaques. Part of what makes the Beyoncé photo so iconic is that she looks like she is juggling awards. Still, Salina got the point across.
Then, we come to the challenge. For me, Salina was neck-and-neck with Luxx Noir London in the category of “keeping up with your interview subject.” I didn’t get the sense of Salina talking over Love Connie, just steering Connie in the midst of a spirited conversation.
The combination of runway and challenge performance would’ve made Salina squarely safe for me, or even high. It would’ve changed her narrative in an intriguing way if she had received positive critiques this episode after two lip syncs in a row.
That brings us to Salina’s future prospects. How in the world don’t I have her last in the rankings?! For me, it comes down to how this lip sync played out. I am 100% certain that Malaysia was meant to win the lip sync against Salina and go home next week in comedy, which Production knows is one of Salina’s strongest talents. But, Malaysia wasn’t giving enough in the lip sync to justify a win, so Salina won a rare third lip sync for her life (not counting her Lalaparuza lip sync).
Against the remaining queens in this cast, I think it is crushingly obvious that Salina will go home on her next lip sync. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best lip sync in the history of the show. There are just too many other narratives in play compared to Salina’s.
However, I think all of that will actually keep Salina safe next week. I think she will at worst be decent at comedy. The only queen they’d be willing to throw into the bottom with her is Marcia, but I don’t think Production is interested in Marcia being a lip sync winner.
No. The way this is going to play out is that Salina is going to get a brief reprieve next week (maybe even with positive comments), and then the following week someone in the Top 4 is going to send her packing.
#7. Marcia Marcia Marcia (6.56 avg; was #5, 6, 7, 9, 8, 6, 7, 4, Pre-Season #10)
Marcia Marcia Marcia narrowly escaped the bottom this week after a bland and somewhat-puzzled outing as Charo’s interviewer. I was shocked when she was called safe!
Marcia Marcia Marcia had the worst Night of 1000 Beyoncés look of the night, and you could tell she knew it. Despite giving this green dress a simple, elegant walk down the runway, I feel like the fear read plainly on her face.
I think this dress falls into a similar category to Loosey’s tuxedo jacket. It’s not one of the most iconic Beyoncé looks of all time, so you’ve got to nail the main detail in order to evoke Queen B. In this case I feel like Marcia decided the detail was the high ponytail, but it was actually the asymmetrical peekaboo window of the chest. I think if Marcia had rendered that one detail correctly the look would’ve been 10x more effective
Ultimately it didn’t matter, since the runway was somehow strong enough to save Marcia from what seemed like an obvious trip to the Bottom Two based on her interview. I was truly shocked that the show decided to protect her from a trip to the bottom against Malaysia, who I’m sure she could’ve handily defeated in a “Single Ladies” lip sync.
The question is: Why? Why does Marcia keep getting marked safe and dragged forward? If there was a Rusical next week it would make sense, as it would be the chance for Marcia to either shine or be Janned. However, next week is more comedy. To me, that seems like a death sentence for her. The only two queens in this cast she has a shot of beating in a lip sync (from a narrative standpoint) are Salina and Loosey. And, they seem like the two who are least likely to fail spectacularly at comedy.
I think we’ve reached the end of the road for Marcia Marcia Marcia, who ultimately wound up with a run similar to Blair St. Clair – lots of competent performances, but no chances to show off her obvious talents (aside from the Lalaparuza.) She is going to be eliminated by a member of the Top 4 next week, guaranteed. All four of them are in the right spot in their narrative for a lip sync, and they all can beat Marcia despite her own considerable dance talents.
Eliminated in 8th Place: Malaysia Babydoll Foxx – 1 lip sync (8.38 avg; was #8, 8, 6, 10, 5, 9, 12, 9, Pre-Season #5)
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx managed to hang on throughout this competition by never being the obvious best but never being the objective worst. Unfortunately, she finally delivered a full-on worst performance here at the Top 8 and couldn’t back it up with a successful lip sync.
Malaysia had one of the most successful Night of 1000 Beyoncés looks, but it wasn’t enough to make up for her aimless cooking segment with Frankie Grande.
I think Production handed her an obvious “Get Out of Sashay Free” card with a “Single Ladies” lip sync against Salina in her third LSFYL. This outfit was the best out of all the runways for a “Single Ladies” lip sync. All Malaysia had to do was deliver a high energy number with one or two moments of recognizable choreography thrown in.
I think Malaysia’s inability to snag that lip sync win doesn’t reflect poorly on her at all. Instead, it’s a sign of just how wearying this Drag Race machine has become – especially for queens who can already tell they aren’t in contention for the crown. There are some queens who are “ready to do so” when it comes to lip syncing every week to reach the finale, like Alyssa Edwards or Jorgeous, but that isn’t true for everyone.
It’s easy for us as viewers to say, “The queens should go hard in every challenge! They should treat every moment like it could be their viral breakout meme! They should wring every last ounce of joy out of being on the show!”
The reality is that competing for nine episodes in the “Olympics of Drag” is exhausting. In reality, those nine “weeks” have been more like 18-25 days broken up by weekends. Of those 18-25 working days, the cast has been in full-on drag for at least half of them between challenge performances and runways. You try summoning up the energy to deliver an iconic “Single Ladies” lip sync after being in drag for the majority of four weeks – especially when you have the sense that even if you win the lip sync you’re just going to lip sync again the next week.
Ultimately, Malaysia Babydoll Foxx showed us week after week that she is really damned good at drag even if she isn’t an expert in making entertaining reality television. She knows her face and her shape and she proved that again and again. Maybe this experience (and her near-win for “Daytona Wind 2”) will encourage her to be a louder, bolder queen in the future – but, if it didn’t, that’s fine too. There’s nothing about herself or her drag that Malaysia Babydoll Foxx needs to change.