RuPaul’s Drag Race is my favorite show: not my favorite reality show or my favorite kitschy gay extravaganza, but my favorite TV show, period. I watch Mad Men and Girls and all the shows that are supposed to be good for our brains, but Drag Race is candy-coated brilliance only capable of being sprung from the mind of RuPaul. Not a lot changes season to season on Drag Race except for the contestants, meaning that the success of the show is always dependent on the entertainment factor of the queens. Season 4 was my favorite due to the holy trifecta of Sharon Needles, Latrice Royale and Chad Michaels, while season 3 was probably my least favorite just because Raja seemed to be the only queen with a legitimate shot.
The other major key to success for Drag Race is that it takes it self seriously. That may sound like an absurd statement about a show in which a 40-year-old drag queen with a paper-machete head named Ornacia glued on top of her actual head dives into a pool of foam cubes, but it’s the truth. RuPaul says that all you need to be the next drag superstar is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, but really, you also need solid makeup skills, fashion sense, and the ability to effectively translate your creativity on the main stage. It doesn’t matter how adorable you think you are or how fishy of a face you were born with; if you can’t get your shit together when it counts, then you don’t deserve to win.
I mention this because the first judging of season six didn’t live up to that standard. I’m not the type of person who will write off a show for one bad decision (I’m still watching American Idol), but I can’t possibly understand why Adore Delano wasn’t in the bottom two. Let me be clear: I like Adore as a person. I remember watching her on American Idol back when she was a “lesbian Jonas Brother” and how she really didn’t give a shit about Simon Cowell’s disdain. I think she gives good face and seems like a genuinely fun person who you could do eight shots of Absolut Vodka with and read everybody in the room, but her runway look was one big steaming hot mess. If the first thing you say upon your introduction into the Drag Race Werk Room is that the other girls may think of you as unpolished, then you’re probably too unpolished to be there. Also, she only brought four dresses. She’s seen this show, right?
The werking theory—and the only one I can think of that would make sense—is that producers want to keep her on the show for a while because she has a built in YouTube following. Attention Drag Race producers: if someone’s subscribed to an amateur drag queen’s YouTube page, they’re probably already watching Drag Race. The only other reason be that producers want a little bit more focus on the young, fishy girls this season, which, given the premiere, seems about accurate.
The fishiest—and the one who will probably mention her fishiness every chance she gets—is Gia Gunn. Let me say right now that if Gia’s persona is an act, she already deserves to win. Her affectations are so grating, the sounds coming out of her mouth so stupid, that she had to have been constructed in a lab out of the forgotten parts of Tara Reid, Paris Hilton, and a bowl of glittery butter. I’ve never felt such an initial love-hate feeling towards a queen in six seasons, which means she’s doing it right. She’s a character, one solidly defined by the giant-ass hoola-hoop purse and vapid face she walked into the Werk Room with. In many ways, she’s the polar opposite of Adore: she seems to be good at the aesthetic part of her craft, but I would rather shine Santino Rice’s head than spend five seconds in a room with her. She’s just so goddamn stupid and I can’t wait to see more.
Similarly bitchy and young , yet not as aggressively insipid as Gia, is April Corrion. April is this year’s Puerto Rican queen, which is great because she can actually speak English fairly well. I have nothing against Puerto Rican girls, but when they can’t communicate with the other queens, it’s impossible for them develop any chemistry. (see: Lynesha Sparks, Lil’ Kenya Michaels) I was actually a big fan of hers in both challenges, despite Ru’s hesitancy towards her butcher looks. I think because she’s so naturally fishy, she was able to pull off the buzzcut in her Duck Dynasty look. (Do you think the season was filmed before the whole “Uncle Duck Dynasty hates gays” thing happened?) Also, I just like his sailor’s cap. I get why Adam Lambert was so in to him. He may be young and insolent, but he’s like a refreshing mojito next to Gia’s sour electric blue Red Bull and vodka.
Somewhere between Gia and April is Laganja Estranga, a try-hard with actual talent who doesn’t know when to shut up. As annoying as Gia is—and yes, I’m going to bring her up a lot—she has a kind of delusional quiet confidence. Nothing she says has any value, but she says it like she believes everyone should find her endlessly fascinating. Laganja’s affectations feel more desperate. Laganja really, really wants everyone to like her. Gia really, really thinks everyone likes her. Her initial look was probably my favorite, and she deservedly won the mini-challenge, but her runway look wasn’t executed very well. The idea was there, but her headpiece looked like it was made out of tin foil. She wasn’t even close to the worst, but Mike Ruiz—whose lack of funny actually detracts from his hotness—was right to be annoyed by her mannerisms. There’s a time for a well-placed “that’s right, honey” but it can’t be your entire dialogue. If the previews and Untucked are any indication, look for Laganja to be the biggest emotional mess of the season.
The judges seemed irritated with a bunch of the girls this week, while Michelle Visage threatened to eventually become irritated by Ben De La Crème. First let me say that I get it: while her character might be fun for hosting a drag variety show at your local dive bar for a couple hours, a whole season of her shtick might grow tiring. But De La is a squirrel friend of Jinkx Monsoon, and therefore, probably chock full of talent. Her presentation on the main was by far the best, as she showed off both De La’s kookiness and her sexiness in her “Golden Girls meets Carmen Miranda” ensemble. She’s like Kitty Foreman but without the alcoholism. Cheesecake!
That leaves us with our two bottom queens, Vivacious and Kelly Mantle (who I predicted would be the top two of the season, but, whatever). While it’s hard for me to defend Kelly’s elimination—her makeup was a mess at every turn—I’ll miss her presence. Her casual humor was a nice contrast to some of the more abrasive queens. She’s a classic queen, but one who probably didn’t have the uniqueness to take it all the way. Vivacious, on the other hand, was robbed. What both her looks lacked in polish, they made up for innovation. Yes, her hemline was a nightmare, but her crow accessory, her Carol Channing wig, and THAT WALK all should have kept her safe. Adore was literally holding up her dress as she walked the main stage. If I was RuPaul and the drag race producers, I would have cut Adore and then brought her back next season like they did with Shangela in season two. Give her some time to learn how to sew and acquire more than four dresses. I predicted a Vivacious win last month, and while I’m not backing off from that, I’m worried that she might falter underneath the horde of young bitches they brought in this year.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I’ll be back next week for a look deep into Ru’s other big opening!