Drag Race queens becoming 80’s New Wave bands while Debbie Harry herself judges them? Excuse me while I wipe the sweat from my everywhere.
The Supreme Court judicial robes are hung up, the roller skates are tucked backstage, and Cynthia Lee Fontaine has sashayed away. In their place, we’ve got a neon paradise with synth, punk, and a whole lot of shade. Here’s your Episode 4 recap!
Robbie survived elimination last week based on her tried-and-true skating skills and her great lip sync performance. But this week, the skates were off and the stakes were high. In the confessional interviews, Robbie expressed doubt in herself. “I’m feeling really disappointed in myself,” she divulged, based on the fact that she felt so confident in her acting talent, which paled in comparison to her costars.
A New Wave
Ru started off this week’s episode without any preamble. The queens were spared a mini challenge and put to work on this week’s Maxi Challenge: to create 80’s-inspired New Wave bands, develop coordinating outfits, write lyrics to a composed track, and perform their singles to a live audience!
I’m exhausted for these girls and it’s only Week 4.
The self-proclaimed “TeamBestFriendRace” (hat tip to LaShaun Beyond) was comprised of Kim Chi, Robbie Turner, and Naomi Smalls, all of whom seem to get along famously. Their band was called Les Chicken Wings, and they chose to write an 80’s punk song. But when they started announcing such lyrics as “barbecue” and “I’ve got a bone to pick with you,” the other queens were skeptical.
“TeamNewYork,” consisting of Acid Betty, Thorgy Thor, and Bob the Drag Queen, created the band Street Meat. Unlike Les Chicken Wings, the New York queens were at odds with each other while they tried to write an 80’s party song à la the B-52s. Betty and Bob criticized Thorgy’s communication style, and when she became distracted by random compliments and interruptions from Robbie and Kim, Thorgy’s team called her out on losing her focus. (Yes, this was actually a point of contention in the “Olympics of Drag.”)
That left Chi Chi DeVayne, Derrick Berry, and Naysha Lopez to form the band Dragometry as what I will refer to as “TeamLeftovers.” The team had to default to creating a synth song because Chi Chi wouldn’t get on board with her group’s request for a “party” theme. While Naysha and Derrick worked on writing a single and tried to plan their group costumes, Chi Chi excused herself from the work to complain in the Shade Tree confessional.
In the StudioLucian Piane, Ru’s music producer, offered coaching to the girls while they rehearsed in a makeshift sound studio.
While he directed the divided Dragometry group, he called them out on their lack of musical talent. “You’re not… incredible vocalists,” he said, asking them to speak their lyrics on beat rather than sing. But in an upset, he advised Derrick and Naysha to follow Chi Chi’s direction with the group, alleging that she had a better idea how to make them shine.
Next up were Les Chicken Wings. Lucian pointed out that they didn’t sing with enough passion to convey a true punk attitude. Cue the screaming exercises to unleash each queen’s inner rage. Robbie tapped into her angst after being in the bottom a couple of times already, saying to the camera, “I need this win more than anybody in the competition.”
But when Street Meat took to the studio, Bob took out his frustrations with Thorgy on Lucian himself. Bob didn’t understand Lucian’s direction and put up some confused contention rather than just integrating the feedback and moving on. To be fair: Bob was absolutely right—based on what we saw, Lucian’s notes were in the vein of, “Be more like the B-52s, but not like the B-52s.” However, when you have a problem with direction, you don’t start arguing with the person who’s going to be judging whether you win or go home, girl.
Now, a quick aside for character development. After the studio rehearsals, the queens began their usual kiki while painting their faces and prepping their looks. Thorgy disclosed to Robbie that she felt like the Susan Lucci of the competition, always being recognized for her great work but never standing out enough compared to others.
And Chi Chi. Has she worn trash bags? Yes. Has she eaten possum? Yes. Has she smelled brains? Yes. And now, she tells her co-competitors and all RPDR viewers that she has filed for bankruptcy, with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
The struggle is real, but not so real that you have to eat a marsupial.
The PerformancesRu entered the stage and *gasp* offered a different silhouette than usual! Her sapphire jumper ensemble with a ruffle waist worked with her teased mohawk wig and 80’s throwback makeup. It seems she took a page out of Dax’s book and served us some glittery Storm realness.
Joining Ru and Michelle Visage on the judging panel were Lucian Piane of course, and the amazing Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie! (Was anyone else wondering, “Exactly how much coke did it take to lure Blondie onto the Drag Race set?”)
Street Meat performed for a live audience in their neon party clothes. Thorgy’s polka-dotted pyramid hat and Bob’s working girl silhouette overshadowed Betty’s Isaac Mizrahi-esque fur jacket, but the trio delivered a funny performance with some well-executed choreo thrown in for good measure.
Dragometry’s performance delivered some great 80’s synth looks from Derrick and Chi Chi, but Naysha’s ensemble was forgettable. The group’s lyrics were awful and the performances were boring overall.
And then we were served Les Chicken Wings. While many assumed the group’s performance would be an absolute flop, Robbie, Naomi, and Kim blew the audience away with a gritty-yet-polished punk performance. Their vocals were on point, their charisma was outstanding, and their lyrics were fucking hilarious. They sealed the deal when Robbie closed out the number by spewing water onto the audience. Eat your heart out, Joan Jett!
Category Is: Neon Queen RealnessAfter the New Wave performances, the queens were tasked with creating a neon-inspired runway look and modeling it on the runway.
Standouts included Naysha’s butt-centric Cirque du Soleil body suit, Robbie’s Marie-Antoinette-cum-Dolly-Parton frock, and Betty’s neon sea monster fantasy (literally the fishiest queen up there). Meanwhile Derrick gave us a predictable pop getup, Kim Chi channeled Ornacia from Season 6, and Naomi was relying on that body.
But Chi Chi got the biggest read of all. When she admitted to the judging panel that she had disengaged from her group and left them with the lion’s share of the work, she said she’d tried to develop her own outfit independently to take her drag to the next level. Quoth Michelle Visage: “So tell me why you’re out here in a bathing suit with no corset and a belt.” Judge Chris Stein added to the shade: “I watch this show all the time, and you cannot wear the same shoes for the challenge and the runway.”
After all was said and done, TeamBestFriendRace came out on top as Les Chicken Wings were named best in show. And with so much to prove after circling the bottom for the first few weeks, Robbie Turner was deemed the winner of this week’s challenge! Rightfully earned.
All the queens from Street Meat were told they were safe, while Dragometry’s three band members were all in the bottom.
Derrick Berry, based on her vocal performance (which was praised by Debbie Harry herself), was saved from the bottom two for the second time in a row. That left Chi Chi DeVayne and Naysha Lopez to duke it out.
The Lip SyncPerforming Blondie’s Call Me, Chi Chi and Naysha painted the stage hot pink and chartreuse with acrobatic flips and death drops—one might argue too many. Naysha cartwheeled so much that her wig actually flew off, but Chi Chi’s on-point gymnastics in thigh-high patent leather stilettos granted her a sharper edge compared to Naysha’s barefoot performance.
In the end, Chi Chi was allowed to stay while Naysha, for the second time this season, was dismissed from the runway. But Naysha really demonstrated more of her surprising talent and showed us exactly why she deserved to be welcomed back to the show.
And now, ladies and gents, we know what comes next: the episode we’ve all been waiting for.
Tune in for Ry’s Ru-minations next week when I recap the much-anticipated, always-entertaining Snatch Game!