Welcome to my review and power rankings of the first episode of Drag Race España Season 3 – “Spain Is Different.” This tourism slogan title applied to all three aspects of this episode – a farmyard mini-challenge, a talent show, and a runway meant to show off an aspect of Spanish cultural identity.
Over the course of its first two season, Drag Race España distinguished itself as a fan-favorite franchise and a certified ratings hit in Spain. Part of that is down to the over-the-top performances of its competitors. We’ve seen some of the most glamourous drag out of all of Drag Race from España, but also some of the most fantastical costumes and jaw-dropping talents.
This Season 3 premiere felt a bit small compared to España’s well-earned reputation as the juggernaut of the international Drag Race franchises. I think that may have been an intentional – or, at least, the result of intentional choices in casting. The cast of queens this year is heavy with comedic queens. I’d say as many of nine of them have a comedic bent to their drag, even if they also serve fashion and face.
That was reflected in the interminably long barn animal mini-challenge that kicked off the episode. Between the selection of the animal identities and the subsequent photoshoot, it felt like it went on forever while producing only one memorable moment. Both the queens themselves and the editors seemed confused about if the challenge was about shooting the best photo or being the silliest queen on the farm.
Perhaps the show is chasing the idea of having someone like Season 2 competitor Samantha Ballentines as a winner since she plays well across other Spanish-language media. Ballentines had the star-power of a practiced comedian, but often proved ill-prepared for runways and lip syncs. Many of this year’s queens feel like they are in a similar mold, but with slightly stronger fashion instincts.
However, can a cast full of funny queens defeat a core of stunning fashion queens who are ready to make a statement with their drag? The Talent Show was a fascinating proving ground for this question. We saw several character queens stumble and several fashionable queens were fierce, but three queens in particular distinguished themselves as crossover talents who can compete on both sides.
Even if this episode didn’t feel as massive as prior España seasons, it maintained the show’s track record of incisive, fair-minded judging. Supremme De Luxe has a reputation with fans as the best of all the franchise hosts because she is warm and caring towards her contestants while remaining razor-sharp when it comes to her wit and her critiques. Her fellow judges Ana Locking, Javier Calvo, and Javier Ambrossi have similar temperaments, and that was on full display this episode.
There are several remarkable queens in this cast who surprised me with their talents and “Spain is Different” runways in this episode, which allowed a few of them to climb much higher than I had them in my pre-season Meet The Queens rankings. We also had a first elimination of a queen I thought might be a frontrunner, though clearly I had my signals crossed. I’m intensely curious to see if the crowd of early frontrunners who emerged from this talent show will maintain their dominance all season, as was the case on the just-concluded Season 15.
(Want to watch Drag Race España outside of Spain? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Lectores, start your engines. Y que gane la mejor drag queen!
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.
Drag Race España Season 3 – “Spain Is Different” Power Rankings
Before we get to the power rankings of our 13 queens (yes, we’ve added one since the pre-season!), let’s take a moment to admire a delightfully floofy and vivid runway look from our Supreme Queen, Supremme De Luxe!
#1. Bestiah (was pre-season #3)
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Bestiah entered the workroom saying, “Afilen sus colmillos, nenas, porque el día de la Bestiah ha llegado.” [howling]
Both subtitles and a literal translation of this catchphrase are the same: “Sharpen your fangs, babes, because the Day of the Bestiah has come.”
I don’t feel like there’s anything to judge about this punk rock, motocross, transparent jumpsuit covered with patches. Combined with the icy blue mohawk it’s perfectly rock and roll in a way that feels like it’s exempted from adhering to any “drag rules,” such as they are. When she takes off her glasses her eye makeup is a total SHOOT – I was gasping along with the other queens.
The first thing I have to say is… I did not expect Bestiah to be so cute out of drag! She definitely gives a harsh, somewhat androgynous face in drag. She looks more overtly feminine out of drag, with round cheeks and a small chin. And, we see a lot of her, because she gives some of the best confessional reactions throughout the episode!
Bestiah spends a lot of time talking up her rocker roots, which makes it even more puzzling that her social media is devoid of music when several of her castmates have their own Spotify discographies. However, she gives us more context here, saying that though she went to art school, she also plays piano, viola, and trombone.
Luckily, Bestiah used her talent show to put that on display. She was giving Lady Gaga realness… including Gaga’s sometimes approximate relationship with melody when she is breaking down one of her songs to an acoustic piano version. Bestiah’s live vocal was shaky and out of tune both at the bottom of her range and at the top. In the belting refrain of the song she just could not get to the top of any of the notes. The show was doing her as many favors as possible with the mixing, but it was just a bad vocal performance from a singer who is clearly capable of better.
Then, when the lip synced rock portion began, it seemed to me that anytime the camera got close to Bestiah she was missing her words. I was convinced Bestiah would be in the bottom for this performance (as were the folks I watched with – shoutout to my Dramarinas).
However, here’s the big positive of this performance – and, why I understand that Bestiah was high for it: she made it feel like a concert. There was Gaga realness. There was a rock show. There was impressive feats of having her body manhandled by her dancers. Even if I was nitpicking the vocal and the lip sync, I was doing that FULLY BELIEVING I WAS AT A BESTIAH CONCERT.
I don’t think any songwriting performer has achieved that at any prior talent show. That’s why Bestiah won.
Her “Spain is Different” runway referencing Serrano Ham was chic and just glam enough to work on the runway. I enjoyed how the white-streaked fabric read as strips of bacon, and how the careful draping of each piece sold the illusion of Bestiah being wrapped in meat rather than wearing a garment. I’m not convinced it was best-served by wearing it over a black vinyl bodysuit or pairing it with a bald white head with harsh (and somewhat roughly applied) pink makeup. I suppose it took the meat dress to a somewhat scary place with the suggestion of Hellraiser, but for me it took the look out of being editorial fashion and made it felt closer to cosplay.
Also, I can’t help but see this as a reinterpretation of Lady Gaga’s meat dress but with actual fabric. That’s a lot of Gaga for one episode; Bestiah will need to bring some other references to the rest of the season to keep things fresh.
Bestiah completely sold me (and the judges) on her glam rock fantasy this episode, even if I was left with some questions about her attention to detail and styling choices. She was rewarded with scoring the first win of the season. I’d love if a rocker queen could take the whole competition, but Bestiah will have to show off other aspects of that identity if she wants to maintain her dominance across a long season of Drag Race.
#2. Pakita (was pre-season #1)
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Pakita entered with a suggestive double entendre, “De tanto batir la leche ha acabado montada.”
The subtitles translate that as “I beat my milk so much, I got whipped cream,” which I think is an improved take on the literal translation of “From so much beating the milk has finished whipped.” Either way, it’s clearly a masturbation pun.
Pakita’s entrance look is giving me flashbacks to Scarlet Envy. Here is a queen who is gorgeous and can easily deliver a feminine illusion, but she is deliberately showing a flat chest and exposed nipples to give a sense of androgyny. I think she makes up for the plainness of her corset with the absurd drama of her flowing tulle robe, but I wish her high vinyl boots were a red pump instead to complete her high glam boudoir illusion. I’m not sure where she is supposed to be with those boots, and their shininess vibrates against the more matte textures in the rest of her look.
Her face though. Both in and out of drag, Pakita’s face is transfixing, easily morphing from beautiful to handsome with some androgyny to each. I noticed that her contour is very dark in drag – there are literal blacks in the contour of her cheek. It’s too dark over too wide an area – it’s giving “dirt smudge” rather than “cheekbones.”
Pakita says she’s like if you “stick Falete [a famous singer] and a Furby in a cocktail shaker,” and given how wild and borderline terrifying Furbies can be I’m more than a little curious to see her behavior this season. She certainly has one of the best off-the-cuff lines in the episode, with “Darlings, yes, I’m short. So what? All the better to reach your dad’s balls.”
Pakita took a major risk with her Talent Show. Multiple risks, really. She made it about her non-binary identity, appearing half in drag and half in a bare chest. Also, sang live and a cappella. Singing a cappella isn’t easy, especially a big rangy vocal like this one. We all remember Phi Phi and “find the note, girl.” Yet, Pakita never lost the note, and she never lost the powerful throughline of “I was born this way… I’m not a man, not a woman… faking it every night.”
I was hypnotized. And then the pole routine started.
I don’t know that we’ve ever seen a truly successful pole routine on Drag Race. I’m not a connoisseur, but times that I’ve been really impressed with a pole routine it has been longer than 60 seconds. It needs time for rhythm and to build up to big moments. Otherwise, it’s just, “climb the pole, split! climb the pole, drop! climb the pole….”
Pakita stunned on the “Spain is Different” runway with another risk that paid off.
She presented an “iconic look from Ocaña,” which was a dress comprised entirely of multicolor ribbons. Though they may have given the impression of being torn and shredded by the way they moved, upon closer inspection they were all of a uniform shape and size. That makes the shape of Pakita’s dress even more impression. She achieved it with the careful placement of each element, never altering one.
I couldn’t figure out the exact reference. There is a massive paper maché “moon of Ocaña” from a 1982 art exhibition which Pakita is clearly referencing, but it doesn’t seem to relate to her ribboned look. My Googling is failing me, even when looking into the festival of Seville.
Looks like this can be risky. We could have easily lost Pakita’s shape. It did not tell a uniform color story. And, she wore smeared, impressionistic makeup to emulate the famous moon, which she also wore as a head dress. Yet, all of it worked together because it was thoughtfully assembled and modeled with seriousness and drama. It was by far the most-impactful look of the episode.
Pakita is clearly one of the queens to watch in this competition. Her take on fashion and on non-binary drag really excites me. I love that she is inspired by herself but that she finds ways to bring us in to her vision rather than keeping us at arm’s length. She took several risks this episode, and I think she will have many surprises for us in challenges and runways alike.
#3. Pitita (was pre-season #7)
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Pitita enters with a silly line we’ve heard before, “Totó, parece que ya no estamos en Kansas, ¿sabes?”
Both the subtitles and a literal translation are the same: “Toto, it looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore, you know?”
Pitita comes in delivering exactly the level of French vanilla fantasy I expected from the bonkers performances on her social media. Yes, I am comparing her to Valentina, because I get the sense she lives entirely in her own world. She is in a glamourous dress, carrying a stuffed dog, with absurdly exaggerated make-up, and a whipped confection of blood-red hair. It’s A LOT to take in all at once. Then, in her confessional look she is in an adorable blouse and a large-brimmed hat so huge it cannot be contained within the frame.
She is feeling the fantasy. She is also full of absurd tangents, like the one about her anus being “under construction – refurbishing.” Also, she says she makes everything she wears. If she made this herself, she is going to be an extremely formidable queen to contend with in the design challenges. However, she’s also sporting a fractured finger, and even a 10-episode season isn’t going to give that much time to heal by the end.
I absolutely loved Pitita’s mime act because she dressed up something so simple.
She basically did a handful of impressions. It’s the same Talent Show that got Derrick Barry sent home first. But Pitita built a show around it. She was a mime. There was a spinning wheel of impressions (which she stopped herself everytime). She had boxes of props. She spilled things all over.
It was A SHOW. It reminded me of Michael Caine’s character in The Prestige explaining that people don’t know how to react if you just show them magic. You have to tell them how to feel. Pitita told us how to feel about her act.
We’ve seen a number of queens on Drag Race present memorable trash bag looks, including All Star luminaries like Alaska and Chi Chi DeVayne (may she eternally rest in power). There’s a risk of being repetitive or derivative with another take on trash. However, Pitita’s version of McQueen-inspired trash bag couture for the “Spain is Different” runway was striking and immediately memorable!
I loved the shape of the dress. The bustline was fascinating, the back of it showed off her figure while still having some interesting texture, and the massive train that included inflated bags to give it shape was brilliant. I loved that she carried a bouquet of similarly-inflated bags which she popped to shower trash over the runway.
The garment was absolutely brilliant… which is why I have to take some exception with the hair and makeup. Pitita’s face was harsh in this, with an awkward and uneven sharp nose contour and acid green accents. I guess she was going for “green = toxic = trash,” but I think there was a way to do that with a more standard beauty mug. Also, her hair felt like a helmet that was just perched on her head. Yes, it was giving me Alaska Thunderfuck, but it looked as though she tilted it forward on her forehead and it was shadowing her face.
Pitita comes across to me as one of the smartest queens in this competition. She has her own fantasy full of references and injokes, but she has the wit to communicate that to the judges and to make it funny. I think she will be strategic in her approach to challenges, but I question if that might sometimes lead her astray into a joke where the punchline simply doesn’t land.
#4. Hornella Góngora (was pre-season #8)
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Hornella focused on her sex appeal in her entrance line, “Me trataste como un trapo. ¿Quieres papo o me lo tapo?”
The subtitles translate that as “You treated me like a hussy. You want pussy, or are you too fussy?” It translates literally as “You treated me like a rag. Do you want pussy or do I cover it up?” [Papo has several meanings, so there could be a double entendre at play here.]
I can’t say that Hornella Góngora looks good here. Her red satin dress is “fine I guess,” but her proportions look square which really emphasizes her shoulders. That’s exacerbated by her wide, flat wig, which devourers her neck. It’s giving me very “basic drag.” However, her make-up is stunning in close-up shots, which is consistent from what I noticed from her pre-season social media. She honestly looks like someone has applied an airbrush filter to her actual face. Also, her wigline is impeccable – I can spot the lace, but only if I squint hard.
Also, extra points for the simple red pump. Get into it, queens – sometimes you just need a plain high heel to complete your look.
She introduces herself as “the queen of the electro-cabaret.” (“Electro-cabaret is a fusion between cabaret and… whatever my pussy pleases.”) While that might take her far in the talent show, I’m not just convinced she will have the suitcase to survive this season based on her promo look and this entrance. She’s amongst the worst-dressed of the cast.
Hornella Góngora quickly sold me on her comedy chops with her mini-challenge performance, which was truly the only one stupid enough to be memorable. She took her cow character all the way to a “Maureen from RENT” place and it was totally delightful. Even if her photo wasn’t very good, she understood the challenge – which is why she was awarded the win over Visa, who took a better photo.
I feel like I have been waiting for a reason to really love Hornella, and her Talent Show took me there. She performed Robyn by way of Bonnie Tyler, and I ate it up! I loved her vocal control, her changes to the phrasing, and the absolutely perfect switch into her falsetto. Clearly Hornella is a veteran of live performance. While I’d agree with Supremme that the dancers didn’t feel connected to her act, I “Dancing on my Own” is a song where you can get away with a visual disconnect – especially when you have such strong, unusual vocals.
(I mean… ideally you’d have the two dancers dressed as Raven and Jujubee, spinning in circles and crying.)
Hornella’s “Spain is Different” runway is the most chic we’ve seen her look so far… and I still don’t love it. She said this exaggerated sequined take on a matador costume was Goya-inspired. I didn’t get that at all. I enjoyed how densely sparkled the look was, but it fit oddly around the crotch and the shiny red vinyl boots looked absolutely awful with it. They were the wrong everything – the wrong red, the wrong texture, and the wrong cut on her leg.
Even if I had disputes with her fashion choices, Hornella Góngora’s talents are obvious when it comes to makeup, comedy, and singing. That makes her easy to love, as we saw in the judging tonight. I suspect she will be a powerhouse who accumulates several high marks in challenges (and she’s a potential Snatch Game winner), but I wonder if she can avoid being read on the runway for her penchant for mismatched styles and textures.
#5. Visa (was pre-season #2)
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Visa put the focus on her identity in her entrance line, “Tequila, chilito y calor, la reina Azteca ya llegó.”
There’s nothing here to mistranslate: “Tequila, chilito, and heat. The Aztec queen has arrived.” However, given how much the subtitle translations have fluffed up other queen’s lines with rhymes and things, I’m surprised they left this one so plain!
Visa is obviously always an event, but I’m not sure how well this entrance look holds up under closer inspection. It’s a lovely carnivale headdress, bra, and panties, but the unlined red cape feels like an afterthought. And, once you stop being hypnotized by the green and gold of the outfit vibrating agains the red, it comes off a lot more “costume” and a lot less “drag.”
In the interview chair, Visa comes off surprisingly masculine. She gives very “dude,” with a face that she completely obliterates with her drag makeup.
Visa stuck out as one of the only queens to understand how to make impressive lines with her body in the farmyard mini-challenge. Many of the queens went for silly comedy, but forgot to deliver a striking pose for their photos.
Visa’s Talent Show was aerobic and fun, but not funny. Funny isn’t a requirement, especially on España, but it certainly helps to sell an act.
Visa’s aerial routine was an impressive feat of athletics, especially since it was all using her arm and wrist strength to suspend herself. Yet, there’s wasn’t any particular narrative or theme to the routine that connected it to the dancing at the end. Not that everything has to be fast and upbeat, but I think if there was some more rhythm to her aerial performance it might have been more memorable.
Visa is always going to be an event, and her “Spain is Different” runway was no exception.
Her dress referenced “the four jeweled towers of the Sagrada familia,” a Barcelona cathedral from Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, and revealed to the Park Güell Salamander (which is Barcelona’s symbol). Every element of both costumes was perfectly considered, with so many sumptuous details to drink in. Yet, it was hard to not focus on Visa’s gold-painted face, which completely lacked contour, and her limp, blue, Party City wig.
I think if Visa served face to match the glamour of her runway she would have been the top in this episode. It gives me a worrying message about her attention to detail in her over-the-top explosions of fashion. If she repeatedly serves glamour in her outfits without matching her hair and makeup to the look she will be read by these perceptive judges, who might assume she is more of an aspiring fashion designer than a drag queen.
#6. Vania Vainilla (was pre-season #4)
Vania Vainilla sold a blend of sexy and funny from the start, with a sassy entrance line, “Soy Vania Vainilla y vengo a que lo paséis de maravilla.”
The subtitles translate this as “Hello, I’m Vania Vainilla, and with me a good time is a guarantee – yeah!” However, the literal translation seems to simply be, “I’m Vania Vanilla and I’m here to have a great time.” I’m just not seeing where “guarantee” is in there.
Vania is wearing everything all at once. It’s hard to look at. It’s a sort of Lady Gaga “Marry The Night” era dance costume with massive shoulder pads, but between the massive chest pads and a lumpy belt I feel like there’s no waist to it at all. However, I love the shock of her frizzy platinum mohawk.
I wasn’t expecting Vania to be one of the older cast members or one of the plainer-looking men out of drag. She really transforms her face, not only in this entrance but across all of her social media. I’d never be able to pick her out-of-drag self out of a line-up after only seeing her in drag.
She doesn’t have too much to say for her drag. She wants us to have a good time. That’s unspecific for a queen who wants to be Spain’s next drag superstar. I’d expect more vision and ambition.
We’ve seen a lot failed “humorous monologues” similar to the one Vania Vainilla delivered in the Talent Show. Hers worked. Why? The same reason Bestiah won: control. Vania remained in control of the narrative the entire time. She kept up the rhythm. She had a funny sight gag with the bed and the disappearing lovers. Maybe it was funnier and punnier in Spanish, but I felt safe with her as a performer the entire time.
Vania walked the “Spain is Different” runway as a “violet vendor.” I liked aspects of this look, even if I was not on board with the entire thing. I loved the color story. I enjoyed the texture of the fabrics, which almost looked like a shiny tight corduroy. I dug the massive puffed sleeves.
Yet, on the whole I kept losing the shape of the garment (and of Vania’s body) as she walked. I think the shawl draping from her arms across the rear of the dress was making it hard to find her waist in the look, even though it was adorned with the awkward pop of a white flower on the belt. Also, though Vania’s legs looked great (and I loved the yellow pumps), the hem of the skirt felt a few inches too short and a few inches too broad – which added to the confusion about Vania’s shape.
Finally, I hated the purple, flowered breast cups. They were a texture that was different than all of the rest of the outfit, which always screams “here comes a reveal.” Then, the reveal was… breasts. I enjoy when queens pad and wear a breastplate in drag to give the illusion of a feminine shape, but I am completely worn out on reveals where the gag are bouncing rubber breasts with exposed nipples. It has grown tacky. Also, many queens like Vania pull this out in a way that doesn’t relate to their runway character or outfit at all. What about her runway said, “woman who will flash you her breasts”? This wasn’t a burlesque character.
There is something unique and uniquely-fascinating about Vania Vainilla, even if I felt like her fashions were often in a fight with my eyeballs. I appreciated the confidence that she brought to everything in this episode. She achieved the near-impossible by doing well in the Talent Show with a comedic monologue. I think the way she dressed her act up with comedy trappings was the best signal of her potential out of everything in this episode, but I worry about her ability to deliver a clean silhouette on the runway.
#7. Clover Bish (was pre-season #9)
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Clover Bish gave us both bold rebel and demure coquette in her entrance, saying “Vengo a saltarme todas las reglas. Bueno… [blinking innocently] casi todas.”
The subtitles and the machine translation agree on this one: “I’ve come to break all the rules. Well… almost all of them.”
I thought Clover Bish was going to be a queen who would annoy me based on her somewhat braggadocious “Meet the Queens,” but I loved both the energy and the look of her entrance. This outfit is so fugly it comes back around to being pretty again. The clashing plaids, the hip-cut-outs that make the effective waist of this garment below the crotch, the dishwater blonde hair that’s almost a green – it’s a lot, but it’s a lot from someone who understands styling.
Clover Bish introduces herself in confessional as “the first cis woman of color” on España, but she’s also the first cis woman of color on any Drag Race in the world – and only the second cis woman to compete, after Victoria Scone.
Both me and some of the queens in the cast can’t help but side-eye Clover a bit when she mentions she has been doing drag for less than a year. That feels a bit insulting to me. No one who has done drag for less than a year is going to be the next drag superstar. It’s amazing that she’s already at a high enough calibre to make it onto the show, but it feels like a waste if she could’ve spent another year leveling up her skills.
Yet, both Pitita and Bestiah seem to have a healthy fear of Clover Bish’s abilities. Maybe she is a truly precocious drag queen with skills beyond her years.
It’s certainly obvious that Clover Bish is a trained dancer. Her talent show performance showed she can ably handle both choreography and tricks, which will make her a formidable lip sync opponent as the season progresses. I felt like the performance was a lot of the same – the level never changed. At one point she whips off her wig to reveal a long ponytail, the music, builds, she lands a big split… and then things simply continued back to the original chorus.
This was solid, but I’d venture to say that Clover is going to have a pacing/editing problem at some point this season.
(She did have a few terrific lines, like “Can’t handle me, you fucking misogynist?”)
I was surprised that Clover Bish delivered such a plain, subtle “Spain is Different” runway. I appreciate that she packed some full-coverage glam looks if she also plans to present us with a lot of dance costumes and nudity. Yet, this black sequined dress didn’t say anything. It is impossible to call it “plain” because it was lovely and glittering, but even with its back panel of clock gears it simply felt like “evening wear realness” rather than eleganza.
I think Clover Bish is going to hit every challenge this season hard, but a baby queen of nine months simply won’t have the fashions to go all the way in this competition.
Also, there is a slightly more controversial aspect to her baby queendom. Many times, women who do drag (both cis and trans alike) are accused of simply dressing as beautiful versions of themselves rather than delivering transformative high drag. To be clear, this is misogynistic gatekeeping that comes not only from drag queens who present more masc out of drag but also from fans of all genders who associate drag with “erasing” a masculine face. Yet, you cannot possibly argue that queens like Kylie Sonique Love, Victoria Stone, and Sasha Colby don’t erase themselves to present a heightened, exaggerated version of themselves when they are in drag.
I worry that Clover Bish may be too inexperienced with drag to give us that heightened version of herself every week, which might play into those gatekeeping opinions. There is no question in my mind that Clover is a drag queen and I think the judges will treat her fairly, but there are some drag tricks you simply cannot pick up in just nine months of performing.
#8. Kelly Roller (was pre-season #6)
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Kelly Roller wants us to know about her hometown and her roller skates, entering with, “En Torremolinos se puede ser travesti e ir en patines por la calle. Preparaos, que ha llegado la primera travesti patinadora.” (entrance quote)
The subtitles have this as, “In Toreemolinos, you can be a queen and skate through town. Get ready, because the first roller-skating queen is here.” However, machine translation points out that “travesti” isn’t “queen,” but more like “crossdresser” or “[t-word]” as a (slightly pejorative?) slang word for drag queen.
So many of España’s queens give either couture or some form of camp fantasy that it’s refreshing to see a queen delivering basic Barbie drag. Yes, that’s a read. Kelly Roller looks good, but she also looks like she’s on a different show than most of the rest of this cast. Her neon roller-skating Barbie look is a much more American take on femme drag than we typically see on España.
I loved the epic levels of shade both Hornella Góngora and Pakita were casting on Kelly. It seems as though she’s not so popular outside the show.
Kelly says she sings, dances, and acts, and in this episode she played the role of Loosey Laduca, fucking up while performing the talent she is most known for. Honestly, she didn’t really mess up all that badly. While turning backwards at the edge of the stage, Kelly’s skates were right on the edge so she hopped down and then back up rather than risking a fall. It was a brief moment of chaos, but if you rewatch it she had control over the entire movement.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to win back the trust and confidence of an audience once you’ve lost it. I know I spend the rest of the routine in an anticipatory wince, waiting for something else to go wrong. Ultimately it was a fine number with plenty of fun tricks in it – she did a cartwheel in roller skates! The challenge is that if you bring an unusual talent to a Talent Show, you’ve got to show your mastery the entire time so the audience feels safe.
I enjoyed Kelly Roller’s “Spain is Different” runway. But, maybe I was just relieved she wasn’t on roller skates!
To me, this black and gold evening dress with a high side slit was a notch above the black dress worn by Kelly Roller. I especially loved it with the bold, dark, beauty makeup and shaggy red curls. It gave me 80s Academy Awards glamour in a way Katya often emulates. 80s film stars often gave a certain smokey-eyed, red-lipped fantasy that Kelly is referencing perfectly here from head to toe.
I also think Kelly was wise to pair this somewhat “femme realness” take on the category with the absurdly oversized newspaper prop to create a reveal. It made the dress seem more like an event than if she had simply walked out wearing it. I do think the dress could’ve been taken in at the waist another inch. I don’t even think it was a matter of Kelly corseting any tighter; the dress just looked a little baggy at the waist.
I think Kelly may wind up with a similar arc to both Loosey Laduca and Katya, who were both fifth-place finishers on their season. I think she will show off some strengths and maybe even notch a few wins, but she may also have a self-defeating tendency that produces unforced errors in her performances like the one we saw tonight. These little slips aren’t disasters, but they accumulate in the eyes of the judges – who don’t want to crown a queen who is a gaffe machine
#9. Pink Chadora (was pre-season #11)
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Pink Chadora was the first queen in the workroom, bleating and saying, “Soy yo, la Pink Chadora, la reina del gallinero. He venido a soltar perlas y a llenarme el monedero.”
The subtitles translate that as “It’s me, Pink Chadora, the queen of the henhouse! With wisdom to disperse, soon I’ll get to fill my purse.” However, a direct translation is “It’s me, Pink Chadora, queen of the roost. I’ve come to drop pearls [of wisdom] and fill my purse.”
Pink Chadora is giving me “that rural girl,” which is an archetype we’ve seen on Thailand and Philippines that doesn’t quite translate in the states, because smalltown American queens don’t necessarily come from farming communities. Several queens point out her non-stop chatter. She claims her strengths are comedy and improvisation, but she’ll need to be something other than zany to make her mark on this season.
I absolutely adore this hair and hate this outfit. It’s almost giving me Ms. Vanjie Season 10 design challenge. That’s par for the course from what I’ve seen from Pink Chadora’s social media. Every wig is stunning, and every outfit is slightly shapeless. Also, she could draw much bigger lips for TV, though I love how hot pink and glossy they are!
I don’t know what I was expecting from this rural queen in the Talent Show, but it wasn’t the downbeat, droning vibe of the song she brought. It was… fine? Wearing bunny ears and swaying beside some carrots is a campy bit with potential, but it never felt like a complete performance to me. I wanted to more of a push-and-pull with her dancers, something like Madonna doing “Human Nature.” Then, in the faster section she… also became a carrot? And then it kept going.
I loved Pink Chadora’s “Spain is Different” runway – actually, I think it was my favorite of the entire episode! Yet, I think she walked it badly.
Chadora wore an oversized leathered jacket over a dress with endless frilly tiers that refused to give up, continuing into a train that gave the impression of more skirt that was chasing Chadora down the runway. I think every element of this was executed beautifully. It felt like high fashion to me, and the blend of streetwear and glam gave me a mix of masculine and feminine.
However, Chadora’s presentation of it was wretched. She was trying to sell a tough, confrontational vibe, as if she was an extra in the video for “Beat It.” The comedic take grated against the loveliness of her garment, as did a frumpy mullet of dark 80s hair.
On the whole, this runway gave me a message about a queen who does not know how to take possession of her own beauty when given the chance. This was a moment where Pink Chadora had all of the elements in place to serve a high-impact, high-glam look. She could’ve even made the hair work with the right kind of modeling. That she gave up that chance doesn’t send strong signals about her longevity in this competition or her ability to adapt.
I think Pink Chadora will give us some very funny, potentially memorable moments on the show. However, I think her inability to shift out of comedy into dance performance mode or high fashion strut is a sign of the difficulties she will have as the field narrows. I think Pink Chadora has the talent to give us more than just “rural Funny Girl,” but she needs to have the vision to match.
#10. Chanel Anorex (was pre-season #12)
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Chanel Anorex gave us alien cowgirl saying “Si vais a ponerme verde, ya lo he hecho yo por vosotras.”
The subtitles have this as, “If you’re going to badmouth me, I’m going to smash you.” However, the machine translation is totally different! “If you’re going to turn me green, I’ve already done it for you.” Maybe “turn me green” is idiomatic for “badmouthing,” but I’m not seeing where the “smash” comes in.
Was this green look supposed to be a Hulk reference? There’s the “smash” in the subtitles translation and one of the other queens mentioned it. Obviously the green bodysuit is giving a certain She-Hulk vibe, but none of the Hulks walk around wearing chaps and cowprint. As your resident major comic book fan reviewing Drag Race, I wasn’t getting “Hulk” at all.
That said, I dig this look. The green of the bodysuit is painted and highlighted incredibly well, and Chanel’s facepaint matches the tone of it perfectly. It’s a seamless illusion better than most flesh-toned nude illusions on the show. Also, I can forgive the flat hair since the hat and horns give her some height.
In confessional Chanel Anorex says her version of being a monster is “not dark, depressing, or sinister – I like it to be colorful and fun.”
Yet, Chanel’s Talent Show was dark and sinister. Or, it attempted to be. It felt like a budget version of Bestiah’s show with fake blood. I didn’t get the sense that she is an especially talented dancer, and since the routine never felt like it had any buildup the big climax of being covered in blood never felt like a payoff.
Chanel Anorex’s “Spain is Different” runway mashed up a trip to Gandía with My Fair Lady. It was a clean presentation, but it didn’t feel like enough for the Drag Race España runway.
There were two potential ideas here that could work, but Chanel did not push her look all the way in either direction. Leaving it in the middle was confusing. On one side, there was the gag of wearing a tacky tourist shirt on top of a glittering, glamourous drag look, but… that required wearing a glamourous look. On the other side, she could have made her entire outfit out of tacky gift shop shirts but still gave a big, exaggerated, over-the-top drag silhouette. There was a hint of that in this look, since the skirt of the dress did seem to be made of stretchy T-shirt fabric, but I couldn’t tell if that was intentional. And, the overall silhouette was too small to sell the gag, if that was the point.
As a result, the look failed in both directions and simply came off as plain and tiny. At least Chanel Anorex could have worn a bigger hat!
Queens who focus on cosplay don’t often go far on Drag Race. The demands of being yourself and delivering eleganza are often at odds with the instincts of a cosplayer. Chanel Anorex also claims to have a monstrous quality, but prancing around in a partial fursuit while being slapped with fake blood doesn’t make you a Dragula queen. Chanel Anorex may be talented, but she can’t win with the branding we saw from her this episode. She’s going to have to undergo a metamorphosis into something more glamorous to survive this competition.
#11. Macarena (not revealed in the pre-season)
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Macarena is our surprise returning queen, but the biggest surprise was how unprepared she was to make her second entrance, with her flubbed line, “¿Qué pasa, maricones? Este año no he traído chicharrones, que da mala suerte.”
The subtitles has this as “What’s up bitches? This year I didn’t bring pork scratchings, they’re bad luck.” However, “pork scratchings” seems to be equivalent to “pork rings” (why would you not go with that?), and “maricones” is “f-word,” or perhaps “queers.”
Macarena definitely sets the record for the biggest wet fart of a returning entrance. After all the smoke and lights, she has a moronic entrance line and she totally bungles the timing.
That’s the story of this entire episode for Macarena. There’s no sense that she has improved very much since her first-out elimination on Season 1. She immediately seems hopelessly outmatched by all of the other queens amassed in the workroom, and that feeling only grows as the episode wears on.
Also, her entrance outfit is horrific. No. No, no, no. No. Maybe the top and the skirt, but with none of the hair, the guns, the arms, the fuzzy boot covers, the tiny pink chains
Here’s the thing about Macarena’s Talent Show: the song was great. It was just more than she could handle as a live vocalist. The breakdown portion came at the perfect spot in the song, but whether she was nervous, out of breath, or just trying to sing out of her range, it got away from her. It didn’t help that her vocals were doubled on the track, which made her missing notes even more obvious. It was like watching someone play Rock Band badly.
(Watch as Pakita winces along with smiling eyes, knowing one of the bottom spots has already been confirmed.)
I’m certain that Macarena’s “Spain is Different” runway look protesting matadors and bull-fighting is a divisive one. I enjoyed it. I think the dress was flattering, although I wish the top tier of the ruffled skirt was slightly smaller and the bottom was slightly larger. I also really loved how her words, “tortura no es cultura” [torture is not culture] were stoned across her chest. A lot of times words on a drag look can look crafty and detract from the glamour, but Macarena made sure her message also worked as a design element. (I think it was built onto a semi-nude panel of the dress rather than stoned on her chest, in a rare example of successful nude illusion.)
Yet, I think Macarena failed this look with her shrieking, shivering runway presentation. The impact would have been greater if she walked it as stoic high fashion with a dead-eyed stare at the judges. Sometimes you have to be confident enough in the fashion to let it speak for itself.
I don’t recall a think about Macarena from Season 1, so I can’t say if her runway this episode was a level up from the one we saw from her before. However, what I can say is that I saw an unsure queen who doesn’t have good timing and doesn’t know how to get herself out of a challenging situation on stage. I think it wouldn’t look good for the show to eliminate their returning queen in the second episode, so she’s probably safe for one more week, but it’s hard to picture her winning any of the major Drag Race challenges against anyone else in this cast.
#12. Drag Chuchi (was pre-season #10)
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Drag Chuchi is all about her body, entering on the line, “Hagan sus apuestas que Chuchi viene dispuesta. ¡Bu!”
The subtitles say this is “Place your bets, ‘coz Chuchi’s come… to get you wet. Boo.” However, the literal translation seems to be simply “Place your bets that Chuchi is ready. Boo!” There must be something idiomatic about “viene dispuesta.” It seems that “dispuesta” translates to “willing,” so maybe there’s something about “ready and willing” there that has a sexual connotation.
Sometimes there is one queen on a season of Drag Race with whom I absolutely do not vibe. That queen becomes my “bitch eating crackers,” a queen who I will be annoyed by no matter how bold, safe, or utterly innocuous her choices maybe.
Folks, Drag Chuchi is my cracker-eating bitch of Drag Race España Season 3. Every time she is on screen there are flames. FLAMES. On the side of my face. It doesn’t mean she is bad at drag or that I should be cruel to her. I’m going to enjoy reading her about every possible detail for just this one episode and then I will try to be more balanced in the future… that is, if she survives another week!
This entrance look is ugly. What is it doing for her body? The high boots are cool, but we know to expect that from Grand Canaria queens. They don’t quite match the gold of the corset. It’s cool that it extends out to huge spikes, but… where is the shape? What is it doing for her body? They just sort of jut out awkwardly. I want them to be taller and to either stand up ramrod straight our curve downward like banana peels. And, the less said about the black crumbled sleeves that creep up to be a neck cuff, the better.
She describes her drag as “androgynous” and “artist,” but we’ve seen better from both categories in this cast.
Drag Chuchi certainly has a hot and flexible body, but I feel like that is all she gave in her talent show. There was a ballad and then she did a lot of somewhat awkward splits while wearing a truly hideous dance costume that did nothing positive for her body. Like, you want to show off your bare nipples and that you don’t tuck… okay! But what was the shape of the cutout doing for her? What was the hood doing for her? It didn’t feel like anything in the performance was communicating anything. It was all a bunch of stock moves.
Drag Chuchi’s “Spain is Different” runway was similarly ugly and unflattering. She came out as a disco ball in an obvious reveal coat, immediately revealed without creating any drama or anticipation, and what she revealed was hideous. She basically had super-sized Christmas tree garland draped asymmetrically over one shoulder and one hip. Truly, I have this exact garland for our tree.
I’m not going to directly compare Chuchi to the two Gran Canaria queens who came before her. What I will say is that in both of their cases they maintained a specific Canary Island viewpoint on fashion while still presenting inventive, attractive drag. So far, Chuchi is not doing that. She seems to want to sell sell nudity at all times. She certainly has an attractive, lithe body. but her costumes aren’t doing anything to frame or accentuate her figure.
For each look in this episode, I can envision a version with cleaner shapes and better draping that really makes a part of Chuchi’s nude form pop. Instead, they were a series of frumpy costumes with holes in them that didn’t look good or seem practical to perform in.
Or, maybe this bitch is just eating crackers. I can’t tell if everything Chuchi did this episode was as bad as I feel it was or if she just annoys me on some underlying level.
Either way, I’m quite certain she will be making her exit in the next two episodes. A reserved personality and frumpy partial nudity won’t make it far in the coming challenges and runways against the strong perspectives of the other queens in this cast.
Eliminated in 13th Place: María Edília (was pre-season #5)
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María Edília gave me a false positive on her Meet The Queens (just like Halal Bae did on Canada Season 3). She seemed like a queen who could speak to the camera endlessly and without hesitation, which can be a big positive on Drag Race. However, rather than be an indication of confidence, it was a sign of the inability to edit. María exists in a bubble of own fantasy world, and she couldn’t pop it to leave a good impression on the España judges.
“Desde niña soñé con este momento. Soy María Edília, de edad y dimensiones desconocidas, y gracias a Drag Race España hoy puedo gritar… ¡Venezuela!”
Both the subtitles and a machine translation give the same interpretation of this ramble: “I’ve dreamt of this moment since I was a little girl. I’m María Edília – age and measurements, unknown. Thanks to Drag Race España, today I can shout: Venezuela.”
From the very first second I laid eyes on this lumpy mashup of a Venezuelan flag with Snow White cosplay and heard that entrance quote I knew María Edília was going to be in trouble this episode. There’s a subtle difference between feeling your fantasy in a way that draws us in (see: Pitita) and feeling your fantasy in a way that keeps us at a distance. María was the latter. It felt like she was always so eager to stuff a lot into every moment that none of it was great.
I know that feeling all too well. It can be hard to edit yourself, especially if you often rely on your force of personality to make you a one-person show. I think María was trying to do too much all at once for a lot of this episode, and the result was a lot of missed details.
I appreciated that the show gave María’s hectic, off-pace talent show performance the best possible edit and an impressively-applied black and white filter to sell it. Apparently this is a version of a well-known comedic routine, akin to miming a I Love Lucy bit like the chocolate factory. However, I think María was just too deep into her soap opera fantasy of being in the scene without remembering it was a performance with specific timing that had to be played outward to the judges.
María Edília showed a similar lack of attention to editing on her “Spain is Different” runway. There were elements of her polka-dot dress that flattered her, but also details that fought against her. I found the straight vertical stripe of fabric to be especially hateful. I think if that panel was curvy and gave a shape illusion it would’ve have altered the impression of the entire look. (It still would be two inches too short, but it would’ve been better!)
I don’t think María Edília is the worst queen in this cast but I do think she unquestionably had the worst performance this episode. I think it would have been fun to have a longer glimpse into her world as an imaginary soap opera star, but if you want to sell your imagination to an audience you need to know how to sell that to the camera.
[…] couture, there’s not much to discuss about individual queen placements this week, though it did introduce some major shakeups compared to the premiere episode Power Rankings. I did correctly call our second elimination, and I suspect I have the next one right… but […]