Whoa, children. We’re now at the Top 5, and the competition is steep!
In this week’s 90-minute episode, the queens clashed and bickered about whose esthetic was better than whose. Basically, “My drag is draggier than your drag will ever be!” And of course, Derrick Berry was in the middle of the mayhem. But it wasn’t Bob the Drag Queen who butted heads with her this time; it was Naomi Smalls.
Show Me On the Doll Where Michelle Visage Touched You
Ru entered the workroom and introduced this week’s mini-challenge: to throw shade at one competitor using a puppet to imitate them.
Each queen “randomly” pulled a puppet from a hole in a wall (or as we suspect, a producer was behind this wall handing a pre-selected puppet to each queen in an orchestrated plot to illuminate conflict points).
Kim Chi got Chi Chi DeVayne’s puppet, dressed her up in a rendition of Chi Chi’s cheap “Dorothy” outfit, and imitated Chi Chi’s self-deprecating humor about being broke.
Meanwhile, Bob pulled out Kim’s puppet and, as always, was a comic genius. “Kim Chi, you were at 350 pounds but you lost weight! Where are you now?” Puppet Kim: “349. The camera adds 10 pounds… and I ate, like, 7 cameras.” Cue Puppet Kim lisping and Bob using a water bottle to spray “spit” onto his face.
Derrick and Naomi both pulled each others’ puppets from the wall and leaned in hard. Derrick called Puppet Naomi untalented and gave an impression of Naomi’s monotone voice in her (admittedly terrible) Snatch Game performance. But Naomi cut right back into Puppet Derrick. “Does it hurt to have my hand up your ass?” Puppet Derrick: “No, I’m used to sitting on two dicks at once.” This of course being an allusion to Derrick’s 3-person relationship, or “trouple” as Derrick calls it.
Chi Chi finished with Puppet Bob, drawing attention to Bob’s non-stop talking, especially about his bookings, jokes, and that tired old purse that just won’t die. With this hilarious schtick, Chi Chi won the challenge, and this week, that win actually meant something!
Reading is Fundamental
This week’s Maxi Challenge was something new for RuPaul’s Drag Race: a Book Ball! Ru tasked the queens with creating three different looks that tell the story of their lives. First, a “Baby Drag Realness,” then an homage to their own mothers with “That’s My Mama Realness,” and finally an “Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza” couture look—crafted entirely from books. (Because Ru had some extra copies of her book, Workin’ It, lying around unsold.)
But as the queens prepared in the workroom, Derrick couldn’t wait to jab at Naomi.
Derrick: “Remember honey, I paint for the Las Vegas stage, where you actually have to look like someone. You just have to look like Raven.”
Naomi: “Bitch I have tough skin.”
Derrick: “It looks like it.”
Naomi: “And Derrick has thin… hair.”
The two argued about what constitutes a refined drag queen. Naomi stated that female impersonation was a lower form of drag because it doesn’t require the facial contouring and brow blocking that drag paint often requires. Derrick, a famous Britney Spears impersonator, disagreed and pointed out that Naomi’s chief talent is modeling, and “it doesn’t take talent to take a good picture.”
Tyra Banks disagrees, Derrick, and she’s coming for you.
The episode then shifted to something that actually matters, and Bob described to Ru how her mother was recently diagnosed with a form of chronic pneumonia. Bob became tearful in her confessional interview as she described her mom. “All the things in my life that make me a good person are because my mom taught me to do it. My mom showed me you can do anything, and most importantly, come through anything.”
Ru then asked Kim about her mom, and Kim told Ru what Kim had already told the other queens earlier this season: her mother doesn’t know she’s a drag queen. When Ru asked if Kim would tell her soon, Kim said she didn’t want to broach the subject. “I don’t like being vulnerable with my mom, because she might think I’m a weak person.”
Rough stuff, folks. And if that wasn’t rough enough, Ru threw a curveball to the queens. In addition to their three Book Ball looks, they were also required to create an opening number to Amy Sedaris’ famous cult classic TV show, Strangers with Candy.
Dance, Work, Repeat
Since Chi Chi won the mini challenge, she was tasked with choreographing all five queens for the dance number. Predictably, Kim struggled with the choreo and plodded around the stage with eight left feet, looking for the damn beat.
Back in the workroom, all the ladies expressed difficulty with the challenge, using unconventional materials to create their couture looks.
And again, Derrick’s overwhelming insecurity and gimping self-esteem manifested themselves as preemptive cat scratches against the other girls. She read Bob for not being “glamorous” enough to be the winner, and laid into Naomi again for being pretty.
Derrick: “But why would I carve my face when I paint to impersonate a woman?”
Naomi: “That’s why it bugs me, because we’re coming to this competition to represent ourselves, not a celebrity.”
Derrick: “If I have to change myself to be myself, I’m not being myself.”
Naomi: “It bugs me that you are here discovering yourself when we all came here with our own fucking esthetic.”
We’re getting into deep RPDR Season 8 philosophy here, kittens! Is a female impersonate a representative of High Drag? Does a queen need perfectly glued lace-front wigs to be the best of the best? And must you have a fully developed sense-of-self as a performer to compete in the Olympics of Drag?
Naomi said she felt guilty about snapping at Derrick, so she offered an olive branch in the form of makeup feedback. Derrick accepted Naomi’s tutorial and painted her eyebrows differently, which was wise since Ru had criticized her makeup.
On the Catwalk
This week’s judges: RuPaul of course, Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews, and the hilarious Sedaris siblings, Amy and David. Each of these five judges shamelessly plugged their books—and that’s when we realized this week’s challenge was all just a marketing ploy.
The queens opened the festivities with Chi Chi’s choreographed Strangers with Candy number, each contestant serving her most awkward Jerri Blank caricature. The performance was pretty damn funny, with Bob and Derrick delivering the best characters.
Next, the queens each came down the runway in their ensembles to embody Baby Drag Realness, That’s My Mama Realness, and Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza.
Kim created a fully realized concept from beginning to end. Her baby drag was in a huge oversized mumu gown, giant shoes, an enormous strand of pearls, and a cute fascinator in her wig that looked like a seedling sprout. Her motherly look was completely spellbinding in a pristine white Korean hanbok, which she said her mother would wear, and a wig adorned with white blossoms. Kim’s look was gorgeous, but her portrayal was demure and heartbroken, as if to convey her disapproval of Kim being a drag queen. This is why Kim’s last look was so powerful: her mermaid-cut dress was constructed entirely of paper, with enormous shoulder pieces to represent leaves, highlighting Kim as a gorgeous flower in full bloom.
The judges loved her concept, her looks, and seemed to turn a blind eye to her clunky dance number. “I think once her mother gets to meet her, Kim Chi will fully blossom,” said Ru.
Naomi gave us a hodgepodge Baby Drag Realness look with what looked like a diaper, a cut-off tee, a towel hair wrap, pacifier, and the same giant heels as Kim Chi. Not inspiring, but her beautiful and modest white A-line gown served up some Mommie Dearest throwbacks, and she carried two baby dolls of different races to pay her respects to her mother, who birthed and adopted 12 multiracial children. And Naomi’s crumpled paper pouf dress was a real triumph.
Michelle gave Naomi glowing praise. “Miss Underdog 2016! At 20 years old, listening to direction.”
Next was Bob, whose baby look was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen in your goddamn life. Teetering out in those same giant heels and oversized pearls, Bob was swimming in a huge leopard print sweater, donning a long side ponytail. Now, apparently Bob’s mother is Viola Davis, because his Mom look gave us straight up executive Annalise Keating à la “How to Get Away With Murder.” And bitch, I’m not mad at it. Lastly, her cardboard cobalt and yellow two-tone princess-cut dress was really beautiful, accented perfectly with a wig coiffed for the gods.
Michelle Visage read Bob’s dress for not having any actual book pages on it. (The irony!) But despite it not meeting Michelle’s glamor expectations, she recognized that Bob’s Jerri Blank impression was certainly the best. David Sedaris (David fucking SEDARIS) complimented Bob as a comedian: “The humor just rolls off of him.” So we can all go home because Bob just basically won.
Well, then Derrick took the stage. Her Baby Drag look included the same giant shoes we saw of the other queens, a beautiful Ariel-esque wig circa The Little Mermaid, and a confusing turquoise-and-sea-green slip. Now, as she promised, Derrick’s brows were blocked, glued down and painted over. But they didn’t do her any favors, clinging so high on her forehead that she look surprised the whole time. Those same brows followed her into her other looks: in Derrick’s mother’s 80’s hair and churchy blue dress, “reimagined as a nightgown in which I was conceived,”—YOU HEARD HER RIGHT—and her final look, another fucking leotard silhouette with hip attachments. The corset and fin attachments were constructed of Ru’s book, with some basic panties to “complete” the outfit.
Girl, the judges finally pulled the gloves off with her after an entire season of mediocrity. “I thought it was way too plain, too basic,” said Michelle. To Ru, Michelle said, “She glued your book to a corset, and put panties on, and was done.” When Ru asked if anyone was trying harder than Derrick, Michelle hit the nose on the head: “This is not the place to find out who you are.”
And thus we have the answer to our philosophical quandary: Drag Race is in fact not a self-discovery journey, but a place where the actualized experts of drag represent their own esthetics, not the image of a celebrity whom they impersonate. Take a page out of Chad Michaels’ book, Derrick.
Finally, Chi Chi wrapped things up. Her Baby Drag look was basically an off-the-shoulder purple sheet with gigantic purple bangle bracelets, but her Mom look included a short blonde bob and a sleek, sleeved leopard print dress, giving Nene Leakes a run for her money. And Chi Chi’s short shredded paper dress was surprisingly fantastic, with sharp paper fascinators in her hair and cuffs at her wrists.
Ross was a big fan. “Your mom look gave me Real Housewives of I Hope My Neighborhood,” he said, and David Sedaris complimented her writing ability for her runway’s narrative.
After all the feedback was deliberated, Chi Chi and Naomi were both deemed safe. Kim Chi, in a beautiful performance of vision and execution, was named this week’s winner!
This left Derrick and Bob, the season’s constant rivals, to duke it out in the bottom.
Performing to You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) by Sylvester, Bob and Derrick had to bring their Soul Train A-game.
Bob’s short dress served her well while she dished out disco moves and charismatic character. Derrick tried so hard to give every bit of choreo she knows, but her “look-what-I-can-do” performance lacked connection to the judges.
Bob was saved from elimination, and upon hearing this news, expressed her respect for Derrick. And this means that Derrick. Was. Finally. Sent. Home.
Rejoice, children! For this season’s Top 4 are now named! Naomi Smalls, Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi, and Chi Chi DeVayne will duke it out in next week’s episode to see which one of them will be ousted just shy of the season finale, and which of them will make it to the final round of competition!
Who do you think will make the Top 3? Comment and share!