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Monday, August 23, 2021


Well, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season six really done did it. After weeks of teasing a “game within a game” — and a lifetime of reality-TV conditioning — it felt nearly certain the eventual reveal would disappoint. Instead, we got one of the most truly exciting, emotional episodes in the show’s run.

Everyone loves a lip sync, and there’s something inherently exciting about watching this, essentially, non-contact sport. It’s combative, offensive and defensive, and beautiful art. Most folks assumed the game within the game would yield a lip-sync heavy episode, that was never in doubt. It’s the stakes that left some fans feeling flazΓ©da.

As they say, “previously eliminated queens rarely make herstory,” or something. So, even though the prospect of some kind of lip-sync round robin sounds entertaining, the top four feels fairly locked. But, sure, we’ll go along for the ride. In fact, one could argue, the fans prefer it this way. Why should some queen come sashaying back down that runway without having to spill her guts on Pink Table Talk or designing Drag Tots? It just doesn’t seem fair.

That’s where this Drag Race All Stars season’s twist comes into play. Instead of merely winning a round or two of syncs, the eliminated queens have been battling week after week. The earlier they were eliminated, the more gals they have to beat. The structure acknowledges it’s not just about returning to the game, but earning a spot in the Top Five. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one. (I could see future iterations that also have them walking off in previous runway categories or mini versions of maxi challenges.)

There’s also the great visual of seeing Ru in her past lewks and the previous guest judges. It lends a really nice reminder that this game has been playing out under our noses.

In terms of this here recap, I have to say: Lip syncs are a visual medium, mama, so I’ll spare you the full blow-by-blow, but you should make time to watch them all.

Anyway, all I want to talk about is Silky.

Here’s a queen pilloried by the fandom. Someone whose big, confident personality might not have exactly matched her skillset, but generated such nuclear heat on social media, it even played out in the comments here. But after tonight? How could you not be a fan?

The elusive Ru-demption of Drag Race All Stars is the reason we’re watching. I didn’t expect to see any queen plow through six lip syncs, let alone so many iconic moments. Silky made her return in the second sync of the evening (after a rather “fine” face-off between Serena ChaCha and Jiggly). Silky smartly takes her first win from Jiggly, using the bouncy, easy tune of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to prepare a full cocktails — glass, ice, all — made only using supplies hidden in her chest. It’s a classic Silky move, but more complex than the milk and cookies we’ve seen. That slight play with expectations elevates the bit even more, and it secures Silky her first win.

With Yara up next, it feels like this will just be a progression of one-offs as the queens move forward basically in order of elimination with maybe a twist or two along the way.

The song is “Point of No Return” by Nu Shooz ExposΓ©, an underrated bop if there ever was one. It’s cheesy and campy, but sexy with a good beat. My money is on Yara, but I soon regret it. Silky reveals a pair of pants that alone are worthy of the win. They’ve got these massive stripes of fringe running down the outside of the legs. They’re stupendous. But, Silky also cranks up the energy, shimmying those sparkles like her actual life is on the line. It’s another notch for Silky.

I mean, Silky probably doesn’t need to bring it as hard as she does against Scarlet in the next round to Cher’s “Song for the Lonely.” Scarlet’s performance is the least hungry of all the comeback queens, but Silky continues to give enough for two. This time, she’s got a big, ol’ color guard flag to wave dramatically at just the right moment. Another one bites the dust, and Silky presses on.

At this point, it’s tough not to root for Silky. She’s clearly working her ass off out there. Now, she’s built some real momentum. Now, there’s tension. How much longer can she keep it up? Who will be the one to stop her?

Not, A’Keria, sadly. It’s the first twist in a one-two punch, showing A’Keria refusing Ru’s invitation to the game. It really did feel like A’Keria was drained by the time she went home, so I get not wanting to do yet another incredibly difficult thing when you’re already low. (I mean, after the last year, who can’t relate?)

If that wasn’t a gag enough, when Ru breaks the news to Silky that she gets by to the next round, Silky instead asks to perform her lip sync anyway, solo. Y’all. I’m losing it. Fully screaming, hands waving in the air like Kermit, three snaps in a Z-formation, all of it. I’m sweating Astroglide. It is a great, gay moment only made all the sweeter by the absolutely bonkers performance it is! First off, the track is Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” Already good. Silky serves season seven split-gender realness, painting half herself as a slinky showgirl and the other as a tracksuit-wearing f***boi.

She performs the dialogue like a TikTok filter come to life. I’m howling, the judges are howling, the entire queer community is howling in some shared consciousness 101 Dalmatians Twilight Bark. A legendary performance. An absolute KWEEN move to demand to perform anyway. Someone put this in the Library of Congress.

OK, you may be thinking, how long can this run last? Jan is up next, and you know she is coming with lethal peppiness. We get Goth Jan, which is my favorite Jan, because it’s so obviously incongruous with her personality. She risks it all (including spinal slippage) putting everything into a passionate performance of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” another excellent lip sync choice. It’s still no match for Silky once the good doctor somehow procures a mostly full-scale guitar prop that she uses for a solo that would make Pete Townsend himself tuck a sweaty $20 bill in her bra if this were in a bar. She ends it perfectly with a Phoebe Bridgers-esque guitar smash that seals the deal.

If you thought the stakes were high before, I’m starting to get lightheaded thinking there’s just two more girls for Silky to beat. She already beat four. Is she really going to pull this off?

Next up is Pandora, and it’s to an Ariana Grande song, so not exactly something she could sink her teeth into (like, I don’t know, Dolly Parton’s “Me and Little Andy”). Still, she does better than I would have guessed, successfully selling sexy while still leaving some room for funny faces. Silks gives us a more direct Ariana interpretation and hits one of her signature back bumps that always look like they MUST hurt, right? It’s a solid outing for both, and Silky, again, moves forward.

JUST ONE DOLL LEFT. It’s Eureka. And the track is “Since U Been Gone,” maybe one of the most universally beloved, definitive pop songs of the 21st Century? Do you know anyone who would, like, CHANGE THE STATION if it came on? Moms, ironic hipsters, cheugy PR account managers, former frat bros … it’s irresistible. And it’s tailor-made for iconic performances. Eureka is coming in hot, giving it her all. She’s even wearing her late mother’s LifeAlert for inspiration. Ticking all the boxes here for a well-earned win.

Silky is prepared, too. Maybe too prepared. She’s telling a story about her mother’s weightloss. (I mean, is this the time?) It involves a sort of Missy Elliot trash bag suit, some light calisthenics and then a reveal to a sexy little number underneath. Unfortunately, the reveal snags, she’s stuck in the bodysuit, and the whole triumphant run sort of crumbles.

At least that’s how it seems. You know Mama Ru isn’t letting us all off the hook that easily. We won’t learn the winner until nexy week. Yes, that’s cheap (and very expected), but I don’t mind it here. It feels as if Eureka is going to take this win, and a week removed from watching Silky’s thrilling lip sync dominance will take the sting out of it, a bit. I also think it’s within the realm of possibility they bring back both Eureka and Silky for the next challenge, but two girls will be sent home.

According to (my) All Stars Rules, rankings are suspended for the week, but since I am a completionist:

1.      Silky.

What did you think of the episode? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments!


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