IT'S SEASON X, BITCH (RPDR RECAP)
Let’s talk about legacies, brands, families, and references. We’ve never had so much Drag Race in our lives. All Stars season 3 wrapped up LAST WEEK, BITCH, and we are immediately jumping into season 10. I remember a time when I pined for Drag Race: when the sweet returning birds in the newly budding trees were all singing the song of Drag Race’s return. Now, we are gagged on an excess of Drag Race. Like, we have Drag Race coming out of most of our orifices (YMMV).
We’ve had ten seasons of regular Drag Race, and one thing this show has always enjoyed is jumping up its own ass. Ru is the ultimate eco-queen, because this bitch loves to recycle. We see many of our favorite queens return for the mini-challenge, and the maxi challenge is a repeat of the very first challenge, ever, Drag on a Dime. Characters start to emerge, feuds and villains begin to reveal themselves, and we have some legacy players in the game.
Speaking of recycling, Eureka O’Hare is the first into the workroom. Eureka was injured during season nine’s cheerleading challenge (the most dangerous and stupidest of all challenges) and Ru promised her a spot on this season. Eureka is endearing to me, and coming in first is uncomfortable because speaking your little cute phrase into an empty room is awkward. The girls parade in, and we have a lot of New York queens. We have some very very young queens: Boy Blair St. Claire looks like she should be in middle school. There is even a queen from NEW MEXICO! ABQ in the house! Of course I have my loyalty to my NM sister, Kalorie. Everybody looks fine, but The Vixen comes out in a very Chicago outfit (seemingly biting the first challenge of season nine) that is super literal. Like: Bulls horns! Literal. Extra literal. The Vixen is also interested in being confrontational as a reaction to season nine’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants vibe.
Drag Race has been around long enough to shape the younger queens--I mean, if they are 21, they were 11 when the show first aired. I was in fucking grad school ten years ago. WTF. This season has a strong storyline about drag daughters. Miz Cracker is Bob the Drag Queen’s daughter, and she is funny and quick just like her mom. Aquaria is Sharon Needles’ daughter, and while she is as sleek and stylish as a fancy greyhound, I’m waiting to see the Needles influence. Vanessa Vanji Mateo is, of course, season three’s Alexis Mateo’s drag daughter. She’s from Tampa, Florida, and I invented a joke about it being Tampon, Florida, and I’m very impressed with this joke. Just so you know. We also have a drag mother, Asia O’Hara, but she doesn’t mention her daughter...Phi Phi O’Hara. Mayhem Miller is part of the Southern California dynasty that birthed Morgan, Delta, and Detox, and a legendary queen in her own right. This season is a real family affair.
The mini challenge is a runway in front of the Drag Race alumni and of course we like to see our girls, because they are our friends. I have warm and personal feelings to many of the girls: Ongina! Manila! KATYA. (Okay, sidenote: Katya has returned. I listened to her podcast, Whimsically Volatile, this week, and she was up front about her mental health struggles, her relapse, and her time at rehab hunting scorpions, among other things. She also had her witch on as a guest and I was entranced and may have told my editrix that I wanted to email said witch. Katya has always been on the level about the things she’s faced, from her addiction issues to her anxiety, and she is basically the eternal queen of my heart. I hope sincerely that she is ready to return and takes care of her health. Listen to the podcast.)
Anyway, the girls prance in front of our familiar favorites and it’s fine. Bob is hilarious, hollering at her girl. The Vixen starts deteriorating in front of our eyes and Jujubee is not impressed. Ms. Kasha Davis and Tempest Dujour are both unimpressed and perhaps constipated. Adore was there! Jinkx got accidentally slapped! Weird how I’m just talking about the old girls, huh?
The Drag on the Dime challenge is actually kind of adorable and exciting. I love watching queens construct outfits out of weird materials, and it is very that. Recycling can be a good thing! This type of challenge is classic Drag Race, and it’s the sort of thing we’ve strayed from in favor of questionably funny parody challenges. As with all construction challenges, some are rightfully confident, some are shookth, some are setting themselves up for a fall. Monet X Change makes her outfit out of sponges and has a very intense storyline about it. She’s a standout in the talking head segments for sure. Kalorie builds a money dress (RECYCLED MULTIPLE MULTIPLE TIMES) and it is not great. Vanessa is lost, and Eureka tries to help her a bit.
During makeup time, we are introduced to the Miz Cracker vs. Aquaria FEUD by Ryan Murphy. Apparently, these tiny young people have been chasing each other around New York City, copying each other’s lewks, for apparently, eons. I mean, eons? Anyway, Aquaria is very serious and she feels like Miz Cracker has been copying her so much and she is very unhappy about it. We see Miz Cracker flipping through her own lookbook when she’s deciding on her makeup, and she seems to come to her makeup decision independently. Aquaria, though, does not agree with this assessment. To be honest, I think Miz Cracker’s makeup made more sense for her outfit and was executed better, so I guess I’m 100% #TeamMizCracker. Aquaria wants to throw down about it for sure, so give it four or five episodes to percolate, ala Ryan Murphy’s FEUD Coco Montrese vs. Alyssa Edwards. These two do look a lot alike, in that they are tiny and white and fetusy. More to come for sure.
The runway is great. I think most queens do a fine job with the challenge. I’m not a big fan of Aquaria’s titless Boo Peep outfit or The Vixen in her pool noodle/balloon animal get up, and Asia’s Party City extravaganza was okay, but not great. The thing about this first episode is that there are so many girls! It’s hard to keep track of it all.
Vanessa Vanji Mateo in her fake flower ball outfit, Dusty Ray Bottoms in her reflective sun visor Tin Man fantasy, and Kalorie Karbashian Williams, repping the 505 in her tired money dress and Kris Jenner wig, are sent straight to the bottom. (FYI 505 is Albuquerque’s area code. NEW MEXICO BWAH BWAH BWWAAAH!) Also, all of these girls have three names. Too many names! Michelle despises the dots on Dusty Ray’s face that are her signature, and I feel worried for her.
The tops are Blair St. Claire, also using some sun visors, Miz Cracker in a straw hat 1930s sad widow fantasy, Mayhem Miller in a truely striking outfit made of rubber gloves that is both elegant and slightly gross, and Yuhua Hamasaki brings up the middle in a nicely constructed but derivative Caution tape dress. Also, Michelle Visage loves the word Ankh and says it so much. Mayhem Miller wins! It’s very moving, as she has auditioned many times. Ross suggests her stars have aligned because Ross is wise and the producers are working that narrative right now.
Dusty Ray Bottoms is safe, and that means my home state girl, Kalorie, and Vanessa Vanji Mateo are lip syncing. Isn’t great to have a lip sync for your life, as opposed to for money? There is so much more energy and spark. At home, I was on pins and needles. I did not want my New Mexico girl to go home first. What shame it would heap on my state! And I had a bad feeling about her odds. Vanessa is a legacy--the drag daughter of an All Star queen who is one of the most memorable contestants ever--and I felt sure that she would take it. But I was gloriously wrong, mostly because my girl Kalorie is a straight up hooker with a butt of gold. Poor Vanessa is waaay in her head, troubled by her wig and that enormous piece of tulle, while Kalorie owns every inch of the Xtina song and pumps her ass to such a degree that it actually frightens Carson. At the perfect moment in the song, Kalorie reaches into her tits and pulls out wads of cash, which she flings into the air like a true raptress, then leaps into a fantastic split as the bills rain down. Now, that’s a stunt! Kalorie wins, and poor little Vanessa must sashay. The Land of Enchantment for the win (or let’s be honest, for the middle episodes when she’ll go home.)
Drag Race is an institution in its own right now, and it’s never been afraid of being self-referential. I do think, though, by sending home one of its prime legacy girls in the first episode, this season may be about expanding the brand while accentuating all the things we love about it. Fingers crossed, at least.