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Monday, January 11, 2021


They say in fashion, one day you’re in, and the next you’re out. Well, in drag, one day you’re in, then you’re out, but then you might be in again? And then some more wild stuff happens and you may ultimately end up out. Or in.

Suffice to say the swerves keep coming in the thirteenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. After a wild, lip-sync smackdown of a premiere, the second ep kept the gals split, but their fates continue to hang in the balance.

Picking up where we left off last week, the eliminated queens in the Pork Chop Loading Dock have been tasked with eliminating one of their own. With nothing else to go on but first impressions, the gals make their way to the lipstick vote.

The vote splits between Utica and Elliott with 2 Ts. (Though there is also some great shade from Denali about Joey Jay’s chicken feathers, which is exactly the level of petty I’m here for.) Then we get thrown to a RUN-OFF VOTE, which, lord, haven’t we been through enough this week?! What’s next, a Steve Kornacki makeover challenge?

Eventually, Elliott (let’s all agree the 2 Ts are implied in print, ok?) is voted out.

Or is she?

In the Werk Room, last week’s winners are greeted by Ru, fresh off the fracking farm in a cowboy hat, which, honestly, works on him. Ru reminds everyone of Victoria “Porkchop” Parker’s legacy: The very first queen eliminated (13 years ago!) is an icon. Other early exits like Vanjie and Shangela, have gone on to international fame.

With that said, Elliott enters, immediately raising Tina’s suspicions that Elliott is … a spy? (Not this again.)

This week’s mini-challenge is one of my favorites, the runway show. They’re tasked with serving two lewks, demure daytime and lady of the night. I’ll pop in some more thoughts on each queen’s ensembles in the rankings below, but highlights include Gottmik’s note-perfect sunny day latex presentation and asymmetrical, goth evening gown; Olivia Lux’s fun, fierce, feathered frock looking straight out of the closet of Amber from Clueless (As if! Like she would really wear something from Judy’s!); and Symone’s incredible striped suit (with cape!).

Not so hot to trot was Kandy in a red Elizabethan-esque gown and white wig (inexplicably for daytime) and her devilish, latex suit with a bizarre hole in the back. Oh, honey.

Of course, that’s just the beginning. This episode’s real challenge is going to be a group performance of Ru’s latest track, “Condragulations.” You know the deal: Original verse, choreo and a big group lip sync number.

When they get the chance to rehearse, no one is leaping to take the lead on choreo. Elliott reveals to camera that he is a choreographed dancer. Instead of seizing the moment to showcase all his talents, he hangs back. Well, until Tina’s suggestions are too bad to allow. Eventually, Elliott steps in, but it only makes him more suspicious to the other queens.

Gottmik struggles in choreo, but for different reasons. He wrote lyrics about his gender, but hadn’t had the chance to talk about it with the other competitors. Hearing the lyrics is upsetting for Mik, and it throws the whole practice time. Later, at the makeup mirror, Gottmik confides in Olivia in a very touching scene. (See also Untucked for more of this conversation with the other queens.) The important thing is Gott’s got the confidence back and is ready for the runway.

On the mainstage, Jamal Sims joins the judging panel for the big group number. The song is not one of my favorite Ru tracks. Don’t get me wrong, Mama Ru has some bangers, but this is not one I’ll be adding to my pre-summer playlist at the conclusion of the season.

The performance is pretty lackluster overall. Kandy clearly misses some steps, Gottmik seems a bit distracted. However, Lala, Tina and Symone shine. But the real star is Olivia. Not only does she have the most polished voice, but her sync is full of personality and she embodies every move.

This week’s runway theme (yes, another runway) is “LamΓ©, you stay.” More below, but Gottmik nearly steals the show from the start with incredible gold body armor. Iconic. Symone takes an unexpected tact and comes out like a boxer, complete with robe. Tina had the judges in awe of her Tin Man-inspired presentation, including an axe purse and a bedazzled heart inside her jacket. I mean, incredible. Wonderful.

The judges agree, but choose Symone and Olivia as the top two of the week. In yet another twist, the winners lip sync for a $5,000 tip to Dua Lipa’s “Break My Heart.” Olivia goes for it, but Symone just knows how to PERFORM. She does so much more by doing less.

In the end, Ru decides to give the tip to Symone, and no one is going home.

But what about the other lip-sync losers from episode one? We’ll find out next week!

Before we do, we have one more order of business. I stuck to ranking only this week’s featured queens, so these could be shaken up easily over the coming weeks. Disagree? Leave your rankings in the comments!

1.      Never have I wanted to crown a queen out of the gate as badly as I do Symone. Gorgeous, talented, clever, everything I want in a Drag Race queen. She always looks incredible on the runway, but both her daytime lewk and her lamΓ© interpretation were, well, knockouts. She carries herself like a star on stage, and she leaves us no choice but to treat her similarly.

2.      Nipping at the number one, Olivia is just barely in second, for now. Her smile and charm are infectious. She was one of the few redeeming elements of the group performance, and both of her runway presentations, day and night, were fantastic. We mentioned her day look above, but the night outfit was also beautiful. I even enjoy the tiny purse schtick. (If you have to have a schtick, don’t let it steal too much focus.)

3.      Tina was smart to ditch her hot dog color palette for the lamΓ© on the mainstage. Her Tin Man outfit was flawless, from head to toe. It was the perfect mix of glamour, camp, surprise and delight, and it was the most I’ve liked Tina so far. Michelle rightly clocked Tina for playing to the stage, not the screen; a great note and a reminder what a good judge does.

4.      OK, there’s no doubt Gottmik can bring it to the runway (runway), but will performance be a hindrance? Mik was the first to admit being short of a lip sync assassin. Still, I adored every garment, especially the latex rainbow/sunshine number. Then, to be hit with that jaw-dropping gold lamΓ© body suit? Wonder Woman wishes.

5.      Ooh, I want so badly to put Lala Ri higher in this list, because I adore her personality. However, damn, some of those outfits are tough. Her daytime ensemble looked right off the rack, and I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the night one. Still, she turned it out for gold lamΓ© and was one of the few standouts during the performance (even though she was wearing another lackluster leotard for that).

6.      I’m not sure how to say this nicely, but Elliott is neither likable nor exciting enough to convince me she’ll be around for the long haul. Again, the judges were more enamored with her night runway than I was. It just felt a little out-of-the-box for me. Not like a Duane Reade Halloween costume, but certainly like a Mary Shelley cosplay. There’s a spark there, for sure, but she needs to develop more. Initially opting out of choreographing the group number, despite her experience, is not what this show is about. A superstar takes the spotlight. You’d think someone eliminated three times already would appreciate how precious this time is. Never hold back.

7.      Aw, Kandy. It pains me to put her all the way down here, but there’s no way around it. She dropped the ball during the performance, and her runway outfits were pretty but did not feel appropriate for the challenge. Her lamΓ© was also mostly lame, and the low point on stage. She can bounce back, I think, but she should be very grateful no one was chopped this week.

How would you rank the queens?


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