When RuPaul appeared at the beginning of this week’s episode of Drag Race, she told the queens that in her early years she had no money and “would eat anything.” (sorry for the late recap, I see drag race Tuesday nights on VH1 as we are not fortunate to have LOGO here in the Bahamas). And now, she continued, “that’s what you’re going to do.” Dun, dun, dun! Commence the (rather inventive) game of “Chicken or What?” Where—you guessed it!—the ladies had to put on a blindfold and eat a nibblet of a fried morsel that could be chicken, then decide whether it was indeed chicken or, alternatively, “what.” “What” being, of course, something totally disgusting—bull’s testicles, soy chicken, etc.—and completely not white meat from our feathered friends.
I think Pandora Boxx best summed up the odd situation with her epithet: “I did not know that this was going to be Drag Survivor.” Hello, she said what we were all thinking! I think this particular mini challenge was actually a bit more Fear Factor than Survivor, but the sentiment remains: When did Drag Race go all…gross?
Alas, what was grosser than the actual mini challenge, though, was the egregious pandering the contest seemed to have toward giving one contestant a chance to be on top. Maybe it wasn’t intentional on the producers’ parts (as I’m nearly sure things were planned before the contestants were chosen), but it seemed that the food fest was built specifically for none other than resident big-girl Mystique Summers Madison. And natch, she did win, using her cringe-inducing strategy: “Chew halfway,” she explained, “Fill your mouth with water. Swallow.” Cutie-pie Morgan McMichaels came in right behind her, which pitted the two against each other as team captains for the main challenge.
The main challenge found the queens shooting a commercial for the Crisco-like-but-Drag-Race-ified-and-completely-fake Disco Extra Greasy Shortening. As RuPaul explained: “You’re going to be selling it, country-style.” Mmmhmm. That’s what she said. Indeed. The teams divided out with Mystique picking Pandora Boxx, Jujubee, Tatianna, and Jessica Wild, while Morgan McMichaels ended up with Raven, Sahara, Sonique, and Tyra. The big story producers tried to foist upon us viewers was the whole Jessica-Wild-can’t-speak-English theme, but I wasn’t buying it at all. In fact, using what she had at her disposal (a crappy chicken outfit and a bad script), Jessica killed as the “Disco Critter,” while Raven never seemed to take her version of the commercial’s emcee to the right level.
The point of the challenge was comedy, and I think several of the ladies missed that boat. Some of them, like Pandora Boxx and Tyra Sanchez (who, BTW, pulled off a rather stunning turnaround this week), really did understand that, though, and made their roles funny. Tyra’s baby was just killer, and I loved that Pandora was unabashedly trashy, chain-smoking and grinning through the whole commercial. Raven and Mystique, particularly, didn’t get that they were supposed to ham it up in this instance, even though they were given instruction otherwise by comedienne Kathy Najimy. Bringing in Najimy to work with the ladies, I must say, was a deft move—she actually provided feedback that seemed useful to the gals, even if they didn’t heed her advice. Where’s the campaign to make Kathy a permanent judge/consultant on Drag Race? I’d back that in a minute. Move over, Merle!
As for the runway, Tyra surprised again by putting together an outfit that morphed into two additional looks. (Said Kathy of the change, hilariously, “I’ll change at the gas station, Mama. You won’t even know!”) Like, what? I honestly did not see Tyra delivering so much, especially after last week’s mess with her attitude and all. Jessica Wild, who just as a reminder I predicted last week would be a dark horse contender for America’s Next Drag Superstar, served with some apple-bottom jeans that stirred from the moment they hit the runway. (Santino grossed me out, though, when he said he wanted to mount her because of the jeans. Um, no.) And Raven was darling on the runway. The best, though? None other than RuPaul (pictured above), of course, who seemed to arrive in an outfit made to rival Raven and Jessica Wild’s “Disco Critter” chicken costume.
No surprise, it was Raven and the mess that was Mystique, yet again, who were in the bottom and forced to “lip sync for their lives.” While Raven was bad in the commercial (Kathy rightfully told her that she needed to have a little fun and “realize this is just a bowl full of fun soup”), Mystique was bad in the commercial and on the runway, where the ladies were told to dress in “country couture.” Honestly, Juju summed up Mystique’s mess the best when she said: “She looks like she’s a big girl going out to a club.” For sure, she was just wearing a slouchy top that was once a long dress and some seriously dumpy gauchos. Runway fail, for sure.
Just like last week, the lip syncing was pitiful. It seemed that Mystique didn’t even know the words to the song she and Raven were singing, “I Hear You Knocking” by Wynonna Judd, and Raven, although she looked cute, performed at about the level that she did while lip syncing last week. Which is to say, not very high. Also: Why weren’t they singing a Tanya Tucker song? I suppose none are quite right for the main stage, but still, it seemed weird to have Tanya, who looked adorable I might add, there and not sort of boost her ego a bit.
The truth is, we should have all seen the Mystique offing coming when she wasn’t afforded immunity, even though she’d won the mini challenge and led a group. (Eating her way to win a mini challenge couldn’t save her!) But alas, it was her time. I mean, it seems like the producers had kept her around for just long enough to have her be entertaining to viewers, even though they sort of knew that she’d never make it too long. (If it had gone on much longer, I’m afraid Raven might have murdered someone. She said nearly as much after being spared.) Without a doubt, though, Mystique made me smile for the first three episodes of Drag Race, but overall, Mystique was a mess. During the whole hour, too, I kept thinking about how we’d made it soooo long without seeing Mystique do the splits… and then there it was at minute 59: Mystique’s signature move, as she sashayed away, per Ru.
Well, at least can never say that Mystique was boring. Do you agree, Drag Race watchers? Were you sad to see Mystique go? Who are you pulling for?