Let the games begin, hunty! RuPaul’s Drag Race is back with a premiere spanning 14 contestants and 90 minutes. There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll skip the small talk and dive right in. (That word choice will seem funny in retrospect.)
From the very start, this season is all about drama. Alaska automatically brings tension, since there’s basically no way she can live up to the standard set by her boyfriend, Season Four winner Sharon Needles. Then there’s Penny Tration, the fan pick. Her interviews reference getting “many” votes but never “the most”—that distinction actually went to Adore Delano (aka Danny Noriega from Season 7 of American Idol), who wasn’t invited to join the cast for undisclosed reasons.
The shadiest shade, however, lies in the valley between Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese: when Alyssa lost her Miss Gay America crown in 2010 (also for undisclosed reasons), Coco was next in line, and the two have been on bad terms ever since.
The first appearances aren’t all doom and gloom, of course: Detox nails her Queen Bee chic, and Lineysha Sparx might be the strongest Puerto Rican export yet. The bar has been set so high that contenders from earlier seasons would need taller heels to reach it.
As always, the gals are immediately thrown into the deep end with a photo challenge. This time it’s literal: perennial guest judge Mike Ruiz will be photographing them underwater. (My “dive in” comment from earlier seems worth it now, huh? No? okay then.) Most surprising part of this exercise? How many people can’t hold their breath without puffing out their cheeks. Least surprising part? How many fish jokes get made. Oh, gay men, when will you learn not to talk about vaginas like you’re ten years old?
Anyway, Serena ChaCha can’t stop flashing her underwear and Jinkx Monsoon can’t swim, so they both have problems. But Alaska delivers the night’s worst shoot by apparently giving up completely. Roxxxy Andrews, Vivienne Pinay, and Ms. Lineysha all turn up the heat, but Detox sets fire to the rain and wins Ru’s wet seal of approval.
From there, it’s off to Beverly Hills! The girls are promised a shopping spree, but not before they earn their keep by rattling off a quick music video for Ru’s track “Hollywood U.S.A.” while riding their tour bus through a series of green-screened celeb cameos. As if that weren’t degrading enough (I mean, imagine being directed to pretend you’re waving at Juliette Lewis for six takes), they’re then denied entry into a store by Camille Grammer and forced instead to rifle through the carefully curated contents of a few dumpsters. There’s 60 seconds’ worth of shoving and whining, and then it’s back to work.
The getting-out-of-drag montage gives the ladies a chance to let loose. For Roxxxy, this means proudly displaying her make-up dress. I cackled aloud. (Continuity note: she really does wear that thing every time she puts on or takes off her face.)
Alaska truly lets it all hang out by dangling and, from what I can tell through the censor blocks, helicoptering her penis. I can’t accurately say that she wandered the workroom naked, however: she was wearing a sombrero. So modest!
As the runway preparations progress, Alyssa finds herself at the center of two intense conversations, though both are at least partially her fault: She and Coco have a tug-of-war over little Jade Jolie’s affections. (I’m surprised they didn’t snap that twinklet like a wishbone.) Later, when everyone gangs up on Alaska to ask about her relationship, it’s Alyssa who pushes the longest and hardest about jealousy possibly tearing Alaska and Sharon apart. Give it a rest, girl! She didn’t even wait for an answer on the top/bottom question, which is what we all really wanted to know anyway.
Meanwhile, in another corner of Bitch Central, Serena adds a giant mouth to her pint-sized frame and starts yapping at the top mamas. I feared for her young life: A 21-year-old art-school graduate who just failed the first challenge is empirically not prepared to step to talent of this caliber.
Everyone (barely) survives long enough to walk the catwalk, however, dishing out some delicious red carpet couture created from the scraps they scavenged. The top of the pack are Ivy Winters with her hand-stitched (as she reminds us two or seventeen times) red gown, Lineysha Sparx serving royal ballroom realness with paper straight off the ballroom walls, and Alaska redeeming herself in a classy cling wrap confection.
It’s Roxxxy Andrews who takes the day, however, using her all-black, literally half-assed creation to propel her to a win—and immunity next week. I personally think Lineysha should have been chosen; Lineysha thought so, too.
Though the ladies are all jealous of Jade’s red sequin fabric, it doesn’t do her much good: she lands in the bottom three. Lucky for her, the bright colors and shrill sounds she emits hypnotize the judges into saving her for another week. This leaves a frumpy, overpainted and lopsided Penny Tration to duke it out against underdog Serena ChaCha. Though Serena seems impossibly outmatched in her amateurish makeup and boyish non-dress, she lucks out this time: Penny never learned the lyrics to “Party in the U.S.A.” and gets the boot.
I guess America can’t be trusted to vote on drag queens anymore. Or maybe Ru should have just gone with the one we actually picked in the first place?
Since the ladies were asked to deliver an event look, I thought I’d validate their efforts with some trophies. Welcome to…
THE AWARD AWARDS!
For her complete lack of awareness, Jade Jolie is honored with the Jiggly Caliente Memorial Baked Potato Wrapper. She earned it fair and square by answering Ru’s question of “What do you think is going on right now?” with the same answer she would give in absolutely any setting: “Um… I’m not sure.” We know, dear. We know.
To Jinkx Monsoon, I bestow the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Basket of Gimmicks. I mean, she’s already a Jewish Broadway-bound narcoleptic MILF with an eyepatch who never learned to swim, and it’s only the first week.
While we’re at it, Most Valuable Player goes to the letter X, without which four contestants (Detox, Lineysha Sparx, Jinkx Monsoon, and most notably Roxxxy Andrews) could not compete.
And finally, the Can’t-Make-Up-Her-Damned-Mind Waffle Iron goes to RuPaul herself: despite her catch phrases “charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent” and “don’t fuck it up,” she does not allow Detox iCunt and Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 to use their last names in the competition.
ON UNTUCKED: There are too many people to even keep track of, but claws are out all around. Keep an eye out for Coco Montrese, though. She’s off her rocker and I’m living for it.