“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Recap Realness: You’re Born Naked…

I can’t believe that FebRUary came and went without a premiere! The long wait was worth it, though, because Miss Charles has selected some of the best and brightest for her sassy seventh season. (There are a couple clunkers in the mix, too, but in the immortal words of Manila Luzon: someone’s gotta go home first.)

rpdrs7e01 01Clearly in no danger of such a fate is the first entrant into the workroom, YouTube sensation Miss Fame. She’s delivering alien goddess fashion diva, though I’m sure she’d have preferred a live audience for her grand entrance. Who’s she going to judge in an empty room? Filling that void is Ginger Minj, who wastes no time assuring the viewers that she isn’t much to look at. The editors seem to take that message to heart since she barely features in the rest of the episode, and thus probably won’t appear again in this recap. Jaidynn Diore Fierce follows, letting us know that one big queen is never enough, and neither is one incorrectly spelled name.

You should also never have just one pretty, skinny, haughty villainess, which is where Violet Chachki fits in. Her outfit is on point, but attitude rarely looks good on a young queen. Her direct counterpoint, it seems, is Max, who comes across as equally youthful but a hundred times less crabby about her craft. Of course, weird, arty characters almost always rub a couple other contestants the wrong way, and this time is no exception: Miss Fame immediately dives in with a “helpful tip” that sounds alarmingly like a read. Maybe she’s a dolt and legit doesn’t realize how she sounds, but my guess is that she knew exactly what she was doing.

The girls don’t seem to have a lot of reaction to Katya, which is weird because I scream with delight every time she’s on screen. It’s pretty off-putting for my neighbors.

If you’re wondering who has the best abs this season, it appears to be Jasmine Masters. You build some serious muscle attaching 30 pounds of metal to each ear. Violet tries to throw her some shade, but Miss Masters has built an impenetrable wall of bubbly charm. Baby queens don’t understand how to love life sometimes. Mrs. Kasha Davis enters like every leading lady in every community theater production of Gypsy I’ve ever seen, and yet somehow manages to make almost no impression for the rest of the week. She’ll probably do better once we don’t have what feels like 50 clowns wandering around all the damn time.

rpdrs7e01 02The next entrant, Trixie Mattel, is hard to forget even when she’s not talking. There’s dolled up and then there’s dolled up, you know? There’s not much to say about Kandy Ho except that, as of right now, she likes herself more than I like her. I’m at least interested in Pearl, though it’ll take more than a painted-on chin strap and a hot out-of-drag face to take her to the finish line. The most interesting thing about Kennedy Davenport’s appearance is Jasmine’s reaction to it. Seriously, that lady’s overflowing joy is contagious. I need for her to narrate my whole life.

The final two: Sasha Belle, who doesn’t seem to have anything new to offer this already overcrowded room, and Tempest DuJour, who becomes the first queen in Drag Race herstory to give birth on camera. Even if, as Kandy is kind enough to highlight, she’s a little past her fertile years.

Of course, the real final entrance is RuPaul herself. After a weird video message from a baby, the never-to-be-dethroned supermodel of the world enters to explain that the first challenge won’t be a photo shoot like it has been for the past six seasons. (Mike Ruiz is suddenly unsure of how he’s going to pay next month’s rent.) Instead, the ladies will have to put on a live two-part, two-season fashion show. Being asked to deliver so much look in so little time is stressful for many, but Miss Fame is already a runway regular in her own mind, and thus lets her confidence and stank shine through.

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Here’s the thing: an hour-long episode doesn’t leave much room for us to process the results of everyone’s efforts. As a recapper, it makes my job almost impossible. Like, I want to give you all the info, but I also want to keep it quick. You’re not here to read my debut novel. And truthfully, this whole sequence is so rushed that it’s almost not worth mentioning. They don’t even introduce guest participants Alaska and Mathu Anderson. Plus, even though the episode already feels bloated, we still have another runway coming up. The week won’t end in an elimination, but a death from exhaustion. The main takeaway: I want Violet’s transforming sequin/tartan onesie with all my heart and soul. I would wear that thing to the supermarket.

rpdrs7e01 05Back in the workroom, there’s a whirlwind of activity. The ladies have to take off all their paint and then, it turns out, prepare to take off all their clothes, because the main challenge this week is a tearaway nude reveal. As you might imagine, this proves worrisome for a few people. Like Jasmine. Not because she’s ashamed of her sculpted physique, but because she doesn’t need that kind of immodesty from some of these other dump trucks. The lady gives brilliant talking head.

Other important reveals: Tempest used to be nearly 400 pounds, but came to the conclusion that her children are more important than fried chicken. (Note: nothing is more important than fried chicken.) Fame is married, Trixie has a boyfriend. Kandy can’t sew and Ru is all shocked by it, but girl calm down. No one believes that at this point in your career you’re up late stitching your own dresses.

And then the runway. Again, there are too many people here to even keep track of, and on top of that everyone’s blurred out anyway. They look pretty much how you’d expect a naked drag queen to look. Other than my persistent screams for Katya (sorry, neighbors) and the clever advent of painted-on hinges for Trixie, there’s not much to report here. (Well, we could talk about Sasha’s deeply unfortunate dispay, but I don’t like to dwell on the ugly parts of life.)

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The judges have a lot to say, but I don’t have a lot of space to summarize it all. The only real shocker is that the contestants were already asked some version of “who should go home?” before deliberation. I guess the producers were worried that people might get along next week.

rpdrs7e01 07How Sasha made the grade, I’ll never know. The girls who least impress Ru this week are Kandy Ho (who aims for pretty and misses the mark pretty widely) and Tempest DuJour (who isn’t really aiming for anything in particular, she’s just glad when she hits something). Sadly, it’s tough for someone who just gave birth yesterday to compete on the dance floor, so the Puerto Rican twerk robot pretty easily dismisses her. It’s a shame. If we’re only going to have one older queen this season, I’d honestly rather see Mrs. Kasha Davis get eliminated. But no one asked me.


Chris J. Kelly performs under the drag name Ariel Italic; in addition to this recap, he hosts weekly Drag Race viewings at the 9th Avenue Saloon in New York City.