Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the twelfth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “Wigloose The Rusical.” It’s a winking drag lip sync parody of Footloose that arrived at the perfect time, plus an “Everybody Say Glove” runway theme.
Drag Race couldn’t have gotten the timing of the release of this episode any better if they had consulted a crystal ball. This Rusical about outlawing drag comes just as many states in America are passing anti-drag bills that cast drag queens as inherently predatory and indecent.
Of course, the idea that drag is inherently adult or sexual is absolutely ludicrous. Drag and blurring the lines of gender has always been a staple of entertainment for all ages, whether that’s in Mrs. Doubtfire, Steven Universe, or William Shakespeare.
A drag queen reading a storybook to children is truly no different than the reading coming from someone dressed as a Disney Princess. Both are forms of exaggerated femininity, and it’s up to each parent to decide when that’s appropriate for their children.
Really, these bills are a simply an old tactic brought back to life in the ongoing war on transgender Americans and all LGBTQA* people waged by hate-filled Republicans.
Legislating against drag is often synonymous with restricting all forms of presenting yourself in a gender non-conforming way. It tries to enforce gender norms with threat of public shaming, felony charges, court costs, and even jail time.
It’s important as part of this conversation to state clearly that doing drag is not synonymous with being trans. Trans women are women dressing as themselves – they are not doing drag. Not all drag queens are trans women, and not all trans women have done drag. However, if it is illegal to perform in drag, does that also make it illegal for a trans person to perform as themselves? If it is criminal for a drag queen to be seen by children, does that also mean it’s criminal for a transgender person to be seen by children?
Republicans are interested in blurring those lines if it means they can harm more queer people and erase them from being visible in every day life.
If I grew up under one of these drag bans, I would not have been able to dress androgynously in high school. I would not have been able to give one of my first performances in a theatre, which was in drag as Jackie O. And, in the present day, I would be at risk of being charged with a felony as someone who sometimes drives my car while wearing long hair, make-up, and high-heeled boots just because that’s how I like to look.
Of course, these laws are not all about me – and, I don’t even live in America anymore! However, I use myself as an example to show the kind of intentional side effects that come with these laws.
No anti-drag law is truly about keeping drag confined to night clubs or removing children from risky situations. They are about trying to enforce gender norms in all walks of life, which has the side effect of criminalizing being visibly trans or queer.
I often struggle with whether I should be writing about drag on Crushing Krisis. Do people who like comic books want to see these posts? Should I be writing them as someone who is not a drag queen and is not active in a queer subculture? Is it somehow embarrassing or inappropriate for me to be writing about drag as a business professional? What would my clients think?
These laws and their accompanying discrimination is why I write about drag. Drag deserves to be visible. Drag is for everyone. Drag is art just like comics are art. Drag artists deserve essays and analysis written about them just like artists who create comic books, movies, music, and other forms of popular and fine art.
Drag isn’t going away and neither are LGBTQA* people. It’s important for everyone who can safely do so to show their support and resistance to the advance of hate in the world in any way they are able. It felt good to see my favorite television show make its own silly statement about it in a week where any form of queer joy is welcome.
(It didn’t hurt that it may have been their best Rusical of all time.)
This highly-enjoyable, highly-relevant episode of Drag Race slightly shuffled the rankings compared to last week’s comedy challenge. However, it mostly confirmed what we’ve known all along to be our top four, with one very lovely, very loose fourth-runner up.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best 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. Every drag artist in the world deserves endless essays dedicated to their talents and life stories. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it fits the established expectations of this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag and the people who create it.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15, Episode 12: Wigloose The Rusical challenge & Everybody Say Glove runway Power Rankings.
Before we get to gushing over six incredible Rusical performances, let’s take a moment to admire a unique and truly cool look on Mother Ru.
I love when she wears unusual outfits like this! Up close, some of the seaming on this look didn’t look quite as clean as it did from afar, but it’s a visually striking look that creates terrific shape illusions on her body. Also, I’m obsessed with the neon yellow eye shadow and how it matches her shoes!
#1. Anetra – 2 Wins, 2 lip syncs (3.18 avg; was #5, 3, 3, 2, 3, 5, 6, 3, 3, 1, Pre-Season #2)
Anetra leaps from one of her worst weeks in the competition to her best. She conquered this Rusical challenge not by doing the most stunt-filled dancing, but by tapping into the emotions of her performance. It felt as though that was the one element of the Drag Race journey Anetra was still missing.
This was one of Anetra’s weakest runways. There was nothing particularly glove-y about it, and there’s just not much outfit there. It’s not even one of her signature catsuits. Even some bigger hair would’ve helped things. She looks good by virtue of being her, but had she not devoured her Wigloose performance this look could’ve easily landed her in the bottom.
I fully agree with the judges that there was something special to Anetra’s performance in the Rusical. You could take the cynical path of saying that she only got such positive comments because she produced an emotional moment with RuPaul in the workroom (and got the famous “you were born to do drag” comment as a reward). However, I don’t think there is any doubt that Anetra created a real moment during her number, in addition to playing her entire role with impeccable energy. She tapped into a quiet resolve borne from sadness in her performance as Mamma Bacon.
Also, she looked damn great. Queens have confirmed that all of the outfits for the Rusical were provided to them, so we can’t give Anetra too much credit for this look. However, I think it proves that she really out to be wearing bigger hair more often. She’s so tall and lean that hair with some height and width adds real dimension to her drag.
With this week’s emotional victory, Anetra scores her second win and a much-needed final facet of her journey on the show. I feel like her narrative as the chief competitor to Sasha Colby that began in the Lalaparuza has reached its pinnacle here. If the finale were next week, I’d give her even odds for winning against Sasha. I doubt she will stumble in a makeover challenge next week, as she has one of the most obvious, recognizable mugs in the cast.
#2. Sasha Colby – 3 Wins (1.64 avg; was #2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, Pre-Season #1)
Sasha Colby bounced back from a weak comedy performance through pure strategy. She picked the most comedic and unexpected character she could play in Wigloose with Carl, the nerdy, repressed husband of the local conservative bully and nailed her performance.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Sasha Colby handily conquered this glove runway with the best concept and the chic-est look of them all.
Her outfit made entirely of leather baseball gloves was an outstanding idea and it looked incredible on her body. We’ve seen her in some short skirts and bikini tops before – this silhouette is virtually identical to her Beyoncé look! However, the construction, styling, and runway presentation meant it never once made me recall a prior look. There are so many amazing details to notice on her outfit that I kept pausing and rewinding to spend more time looking at it!
(I will say, her smokey black eyes in this look were a distraction. Perhaps the queens didn’t have much time to switch over from the Rusical and so Sasha was stuck with keeping a similar eye to her performance look. No matter the reason, this sort heavy, dark eye was the one weakness I noticed from her in the pre-season – I think it messes with the proportions of her face.)
Drag Race now welcomes trans contestants, but it hasn’t resolved all of its potentially transphobic practices just by leaving behind segments like “clocking” the “biological” women or delivering Ru’s messages as labelled as “she-mail.” For as transgressive as Drag Race can be, a lot of the show is also about praising and enforcing gender norms.
Looking at this Rusical as it was scripted, it seemed obvious that Sasha Colby as a trans woman was meant to either choose the role of Preacher Teacher or Mamma Bacon. They were the two roles which wouldn’t force her to perform as a male, which could cause her to experience gender dysphoria. Something similar just cropped up on Netflix’s Next in Fashion, where a trans competitor was made to reimagine a look from their childhood – before they had transitioned.
I don’t think we should applaud Sasha choosing Carl as being “brave” or expect future trans contestants to make a similar choice. Her choice was contextual to where she was in the competition. She knew that after her performance in the comedy challenge she needed to do something unexpected in order to prevent the possibility of a “stumbling at the finish line” narrative for her. Regardless of his gender, the nerdy, tentative Carl was the most obvious “against type” role Sasha could play – and it put her at the center of the finale at the end of the show.
Sasha’s instincts were right on, as were all of her performance choices. Playing Carl and playing him well shocked her out of any chance of a “stumble” narrative and reaffirmed her front-runner status.
I don’t think Sasha is guaranteed to sail through a makeover challenge next week. In fact, it could possibly result in her single lip sync to dismiss Loosey! However, it would feel more narratively satisfying for Luxx or Mistress Isabelle to face off against Loosey, which might be enough to keep Sasha safe even if she delivers a middle-of-the-road make-up look on her partner.
#3. Luxx Noir London – 2 Wins (3.36 avg; was #1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 5, 2, 6, Pre-Season #3)
Luxx Noir London’s streak of self-confidence continued in this episode as she gave up a lead role in Wiglosse to Loosey with full knowledge she could be stuck with a safe placement in a smaller role. I think that wasn’t just self-confident, but highly-strategic. Lead roles in Rusical’s often backfire, and Luxx knows the show well enough to be afraid of a late-stage bottom placement at this point in the season.
Luxx Noir London was at real risk of a bottom placement with her scene kid runway look. While reimagining a pair of arm casts as gloves is a cute idea, I think this was a rare weak look from a runway powerhouse.
Almost anything is going to look flattering on Luxx’s figure, but I think there were ways to improve the styling of this look while keeping it firmly “scene kid.” Some chunky, high-heeled boots would’ve been a good start rather than these chunky, flat platforms. Also, I think if her top had a lower cut or a scoop neck it would’ve helped with her proportions. Between the high t-shirt neckline and the arm casts, it made her torso look very squared off, which gave her a bit of a “floating head” syndrome.
Finally, that severe bob wig wasn’t it. She needed to wear something more like what Spice was rocking in the premiere!
Luckily for Luxx, the only queen to name her as a “Who Should Go Home” was Sasha, who framed it around her being big competition. While she was pure joy in the Rusical, her part was small enough that the judges could’ve zeroed in on virtually any minor detail about her performance as being a stumble worth placing her in the bottom.
In truth, I’m downright surprised the show didn’t use Luxx to give Salina her sendoff tonight. However, coming off a high point last episode, I doubt production wanted to risk her status as one of the queens who can make things competitive for Sasha in the finale. Loosey made a fine sacrifice for that purpose.
I think Luxx Noir London has a highly recognizable mug, but it’s not one that will work on anyone’s face. That should make her placement next week in the makeover an interesting one. One of our three queens with no lip syncs is going to get on next week, and the drama of pitting Luxx against Loosey against each other will be too good for the show to resist if either of them show a weak spot in the makeover.
#4. Mistress Isabelle Brooks – 1 Win (3.18 avg; was #4, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 4, 4, 2, Pre-Season #6)
Mistress Isabelle Brooks delivered a stunningly gorgeous runway, which easily took the attention off an approximate performance in Wigloose. Extending her continuing a streak of strong performances that keep her clear of having to lip sync is just as good as another challenge win.
This blast of yellow glam from Mistress Isabelle Brooks isn’t anything shocking, but it’s hard to deliver shocks on the eleventh runway of a season! Her dress and its dramatic ruffles were perfectly on-trend for her Texas style of high drag. And, per usual, her hair and make-up were set to stun.
Before seeing MIB’s runway, I was 100% certain she would be lip syncing for her performance in Wigloose. She was good! But, she wasn’t great. I felt like her lip syncing got a little approximate at a few points, and she wasn’t hitting her dance steps crisply. Even with those minor quibbles, this is a performance that likely would’ve won many other Rusicals! However, in this stacked cast all on their A-games, minor quibbles were majorly noticeable.
Both Luxx and Anetra have now had their momentum super-charged heading into the finale with their wins. Will Mistress Isabelle Brooks benefit from a similar boost next week? Or, will she get her first lip sync to dismiss Loosey? I honestly think the show will use whoever is convention between MIB and Luxxy to face off against Loosey. However, it will hurt MIB more to lip sync next week than it will Luxx.
That’s not because she needs a win – wins just don’t matter that much anymore on Drag Race once you’re in the finals. What does matter is having a string of memorable moments on the show – and wins are a good proxy for that. Sasha Velour, Yvie Oddly, and Willow Pill all took the crown with fewer wins than their competitors because RuPaul had a clear highlight reel of their time on the show playing in her mind. Mistress Isabelle still needs to add a few frames to that reel, and next week is one of her final chances to do that.
#5. Loosey LaDuca – 2 Wins, 1 lip sync (5.18 avg; was #3, 5, 6, 7, 4, 4, 2, 2, 5, 14, Pre-Season #8)
Loosey LaDuca was forced to lip sync for the first time after an incredible Wigloose performance. This is one of the few times in the show’s history when it felt like the “Who should go home this week and why?” question truly dictated a bottom placement due to the Rusical being so incredible (but, a dull runway look didn’t help).
Loosey LaDuca could’ve easily had a third win in the bag and a chance to finally usurp Mistress Isabelle Brooks as a finalist. Then… there was this runway.
This was not the right week to underdeliver on the runway in a green, one-piece bathing suit with a hideous ruffle around the midriff and styling that felt like it was fighting against the rest of the look. Why is she wearing a pink-purple lip and short red soccer-mom hair?!
There was a chance to sell this underwhelming runway with a shocking red lip and a mutated Bride of Frankenstein beehive. I can understand if Loosey didn’t want to go full creature-feature after her horror-tinged runway last week, but this look needed something to redeem it. That’s doubly true because we’ve seen this sort of thing done incredibly well on the show in the past (Scarlet Envy’s ball look and Fergalicious’s creature look both come to mind).
It’s a testament to how right Loosey’s proportions are that adding bulk to her waist couldn’t even ruin her shape.
I thought Loosey was spectacular in Wigloose as Heaven Bacon. She was truly acting – I repeatedly forgot that she wasn’t actually saying any of her lines! And, her physical acting as an androgynous was perfectly convincing – she exuded energy and sharp moves without it coming off too powerful or too dainty.
However, once the boys in the cast transformed into queens, Loosey became completely invisible. I rewatched twice, and it wasn’t just camera work. Loosey lost the contagious energy she had earlier in the show. Dare I say… she stopped seeming unique.
I think part of the problem was that once all of the queens were in drag Loosey simply became… Loosey. She completely dropped her characterization (which was very specific and impressive up to that point). Whereas, none of Luxx, Salina, or Sasha felt like they were still doing their own drag characters post-transformation (nor was Anetra at any point in the show). Also, her dancing in the final number felt the softest of all of the queens.
Sometimes the judges aren’t lying when they find a detail to nitpick in one of the queens.
Did I feel like that detail was enough to send Loosey to the bottom over Mistress Isabelle Brooks? Not before I saw the runways, but MIB turned in one of the two best runway looks and Loosey turned in one of the two worst. When several of the other queens named Loosey as their pick to go home, it solidified that she would lip sync against Salina.
I had high hopes that Loosey would have the maturity to turn in a memorable lip sync to Kate Bush’s all-timer “Running Up That Hill.” She started off strong, but after the opening stanza it felt like all of her performance choices boiled down to, “staring up into space.” Loosey could’ve used a decisive lip sync win here to put all of the other queens on notice the way Anetra did last week. Unfortunately, she couldn’t manage it.
I think that leaves us with Loosey as the crushingly obvious queen to depart next week, just as Salina was this week and Marcia the week before. Even if some elements of her make-up will be instantly recognizable on another person, that doesn’t mean they’ll flatter her. I strongly suspect the judges will come down hard on Loosey for making her partner look too old, and we might finally hear some critique of her truly odd lip shape. And, there is zero chance she defeats any of the other four queens in a lip sync – both narratively and in pure performance power.
Eliminated in 6th Place: Salina EsTitties – 4 lip syncs (7.40 avg; was #6, 7, 5, 8, 11, 8, 8, 7, Pre-Season #12)
Salina EsTitties gave an unassailable performance in the musical and delivered a cartoonishly weird runway look that could’ve easily been praised by the judges. However, sometimes it’s just your time to go home.
Salina’s runway look garnered negative critiques purely because that was what the narrative demanded. Even if the catsuit was slightly over-patterned, it was still a high camp look and her body and face looked right. She was also the quiet MVP of the Rusical, delivering perfectly in her moments of focus and nailing the choreography in every second she was in the background.
Unfortunately for Salina EsTitties, these late-season challenges are designed such that almost any queen can get sent to the bottom if the storyline calls for it. As the only queen in the Top 6 without a win and with a mostly-dreadful record on the runway, it didn’t make any sense to reward Salina for a job well done. It was obvious that her story had reached its conclusion in this episode, and her runway wasn’t unassailable enough (like Sasha’s and MIB’s) to save her from her fate.
I often bemoan queens who came to the show without all of the necessary skills, or who arrived too early in their drag development. Salina was on the show with the right talents at the right time, but it’s impossible to predict the X-Factor of whether RuPaul will gag for your drag. As soon as Salina was sent to the bottom for having one of the best looks in the House of Fashion episode it was obvious she had been flagged as filler. That she lasted another seven weeks and another two lip syncs with that target painted on her back speaks to what a threat she is across multiple talents.
I hope Salina EsTitties gets to tour the entire world with her over-the-top, high-volume high drag that reads like a love letter to Chola women. I hope fans are still enthusiastic to see her despite a lackluster reaction from the judges on the show. Drag that comes off as “try hard” on Drag Race is often the exact sort of thing that will compel you to tip well when you see it in a club.