Hello hello hello! Welcome to the glittery-est corner of Jetspace Mag, where you can see weekly ru-caps of each episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. This is where you can catch up on the T throughout Season 8 of one of the gay community’s most beloved, most catchphrase-exhausted, most talent-rich reality TV competitions.
Here’s your very first Ry’s Ru-minations ru-cap, beginning with episode 1 of Season 8, which is also episode 100 of Drag Race (yes, it’s been around that long). Since this was our first introduction to the new queens inducted into RuPaul’s lipstick Thunderdome, we’ll start things off with a quick glimpse into each contestant before we dish the deets.
The New Queens
Per usual, the queens entered the giant pink workroom one by one, each desperately trying to deliver a catchphrase they can make famous with a hashtag. And true to form, they all tittered and threw side-eye shade right off the bat until RuPaul entered with the predictable, “Hello hello hello!”
This season’s cast, already poised to be much more memorable than season 7’s (not hard to beat), includes:
Naomi Smalls, the runway model and Instagram celebutante. She weighs one pound for every year she is old, and the bitch is only 21 years old. But she works that heroin-chic body in some beautifully draped garments.
Acid Betty, a salty New Yorker whose fashion, makeup, and personality can each be described as “in your face.” Slated to be this season’s aggro-bitch.
Bob the Drag Queen, another New Yorker who proclaims herself a comedian, and seems to deliver. She’s already a favorite of mine with her sarcastic humor, so long as she doesn’t play out the same one-liners she delivered in the trailers and in this episode. Calling it right now: top 3 for the finale!
Thorgy Thor, yet ANOTHER New Yorker, who refreshingly doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s a camp queen, she’s got an infectious laugh, and she’s already sashaying her way into my good graces.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine, originally from Puerto Rico but now residing in Texas. She brings the high energy and kooky humor that Drag Race viewers have come to love and expect from our PR queens.
Kim Chi, from Chicago, is this season’s only plus-size girl, and notably the first Korean American drag queen to appear on TV. But even from her first entrance in an anime-wet-dream ensemble, it’s clear she’s a conceptual powerhouse.
Naysha Lopez, yet ANOTHER Chicago queen, is a head-to-toe pageant girl. (But we learn later that she won the Miss Continental drag pageant, so bitch has earned the right to brag!)
Chi Chi Devayne, the country bumpkin. She came into the workroom in a smock made entirely of black plastic trash bags. I’m guessing she’s a good performer?
Dax Exclamationpoint, the cosplay queen. Dax entered the workroom in a Storm outfit snatched for the gods. Be jealous.
Robbie Turner, the vintage starlet. In a silky, feathered mauve robe, Robbie sported her most lustrous auburn wig and dished equal parts charm and sass.
Laila McQueen, the soft-goth-punk-pinup tatted queen from New Hampshire. Her Beetlejuice ensemble didn’t do her any favors, and those shoes. Quoth Robbie Turner: “Let me tell you a little story about flats. No.”
Aaaaand Derrick Berry, the (incredible) Britney Spears impersonator. Based on teasers, trailers, and the first episode itself, we are all led to believe that she’ll be the star of the damn show. She got tons of air time in promotional videos before the season premiere, and she was inducted as the 100th queen to enter the workroom—which means the producers told her to enter the workroom last so she could be the 100th queen to enter the workroom.
The T This Week
Ru revealed the cast’s first challenge: to outshine all past 7 seasons’ winners in a photo shoot. Well, all except Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio, who apparently couldn’t make it. Instead they hired an overweight circus clown with a rainbow afro to stand in for her—and let’s be honest, we all had that moment when we thought, “But wait, is that Bianca?”
We saw excellent photos from Derrick Berry, Robbie Turner, and Naomi Smalls (despite what Violet Chachki referred to as her “cliffhanger toes” dangling outside of her open-toe heels), while Laila McQueen and Kim Chi were sheepish on the set.
After the mini-challenge, and getting what we can assume was a solid twelve minutes of sleep that night, the queens reentered the workroom the next day for the main challenge of the episode: to create a runway look that each queen must replicate from a past season’s challenge. (I.e. the producers are running out of ideas.)
Robbie was named the first authority of the season, picked to assign the girls their looks from the ghosts of Drag Race past. And though she cleverly set some queens up to struggle, she forgot to assign herself a good option, and was left with the “Bitch Ball” assignment of having to create and model a runway look with a dog in tow.
The queens got their first taste of RPDR stress with a tight turnaround and limited supplies. Chi Chi’s panties ripped, Kim Chi shredded wigs for her “Hair Ball” assignment while trying to avoid looking like Cousin It, and Robbie was literally left with a dog bone. It was always going to be a rough runway ride.
But ride they must! They appealed to the panel of judges, including Ru herself, her busty henchwoman Michelle Visage, sometimes-judges Carson Cressley of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and Ross Mathews from “Chelsea Lately,” and this week’s guest judge, Nicole Ritchie—which was tolerable.
As usual, the queens were summoned to stand execution-style in a row onstage and await the deliberation. Acid Betty’s “Money Ball” construct, which gave Michelle Visage “a thought with every inch,” landed her in the top, along with Derrick’s (predictable but funny) Britney holiday getup and Naomi’s sleek Pride Float look. But Kim Chi’s haute couture hair ensemble won her this week’s challenge title and $3,000. Thanks for playing, everyone else who didn’t dress entirely in wigs!
Now, a word on Chi Chi Devayne. Sure, her makeup may be a little caked. Sure, her first outfit to be seen on national television was constructed from trash bags. Sure, the gown she constructed ripped apart in the workroom, she says she only pays $1 for foundation, and she admitted to eating possum and squirrel.
And that’s all you need to know about Chi Chi.
With that in mind, this is where it gets tough.
Robbie Turner’s look was easily the worst executed in this challenge. I fully expected her to be in the bottom 2, but when Ru asked her if she felt she deserved to be up for elimination, Robbie wisely said, “No.” Why? Because Ru sends self-doubters home. Based on Robbie’s confidence and her excellent photo shoot performance, she was saved from elimination.
Naysha Lopez and Laila McQueen weren’t so lucky. Naysha had never sewn before (girl, have you not SEEN this show? Sign up for a Groupon sewing class the minute you hear you’re cast!), so she crafted a WWF-esque belt that made her look, as Adore Delano put it, “hog-bodied,” while Laila’s soot-and-fire outfit was read to filth by Carson: “To me it’s like Wynona Judd just opened the oven door too quickly.”
The two lip-synched FOR THEIR LIVES to Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” but Naysha took things a little too literally and just clapped and pointed onstage for a while. Per Kim Chi, she was “dancing like a soccer mom.” Laila didn’t blow anyone’s socks off, but she served some sex on the floor and out shined her rival.
In the end, Naysha was the unenviable first queen eliminated from Season 8, but she took the news with the poise of a real Miss Continental pageant queen.
Was Robbie turner the undisputed focal point of episode 1? Yes. Did she demonstrate wit, charisma, and talent? Absolutely. Am I biased as a Seattleite? Mayhap. Yes, episode 1 was a bit of a rocky start for our Emerald City favorite, with a puffy hodgepodge dress made under-the-gun with challenging materials. But with Acid Betty and Derrick Berry poised to become the bitchy queens this year, I anticipate Robbie will be portrayed as the “project” who gets to demonstrate her growth and range throughout the season.
Tune in next week for another Ry’s Ru-minations!