In case your racist uncle hasn’t praised Trump or Cruz in a while, or it’s been more than 5 minutes since you’ve heard a Bernie supporter crucify Hillary for not being poor enough, fret not. Look no further than RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 to experience all the slander and soundbite journalism of American presidential election politics!
Last week, Ru asked all the queens, “Who do you think deserves to go home?” Naomi, Chi Chi, and Bob all said Derrick. All the rest said Chi Chi. And while those two received the most scrutiny among their peers, it was Robbie who was sent home.
Derrick, who made Robbie’s elimination his moment to deliver an emotional 3-hour monologue, kept whining in the beginning of this week’s episode. And Chi Chi referenced her competitors’ critiques, too: “I feel like you guys look at me like I’m not trying hard enough.”
Your Bunk or Mine?
Before we got into the meat of this week’s episode, we were given a juicy amuse-bouche to tantalize our taste buds. Joined by Andrew Christian himself, Ru announced this week’s mini challenge: to determine which “bunk” each Pit Crew member prefers.
The queens guessed each crew member’s preference based on their favorite pop divas, pastimes, and their nearly-naked bodies—no complaints here.
And what was more delightful than learning the famous Ginger Pit Crew member prefers the bottom bunk? #callme. It turns out the only top was the hunky Asian guy. Challenge your racial stereotypes of submission, queen!
Derrick won the mini challenge, and as a result got like $2,000 in prize money which can only be redeemed for a mattress. No team captain privileges, no first picks, nothing.
Fem-ocrats Funded by Ru-per PACS
Ru then announced this week’s Maxi Challenge: #ShadyPolitics. Working in pairs to create presidential campaign ads, the queens were tasked with creating political characters for themselves while smearing their designated opponent.
The season was filmed before this year’s actual presidential campaigns began, but the challenge is still topical for the shit show that is the primary election. In the words of Robbie Turner, “Too real.”
The queens were paired up as:
Thorgy Thor + Chi Chi DeVayne (because they beefed)
Derrick Berry + Bob the Drag Queen (because they beefed)
Kim Chi + Naomi Smalls (because they Les Chicken Winged)
Thorgy started off by writing over 30 pages of material (obviously the Hillary of the group), while Chi Chi tried to rein her in. Meanwhile, Derrick and Bob, a normally contentious pair, both united over their disdain for each other by writing the defamations they’d been slinging all season long. Says Derrick: “Well, I’m obviously gonna call you ratchet.” Bob: “I like the idea of us playing up the fact that you’re really stupid.”
In the Studio
The queens recorded their campaign messages—and their B-roll for their opponents’ smear videos—and the results were delicious. Bob was of course hilarious, but surprisingly he also took Derrick’s direction well. Bob’s character? “I’m going for a little bit of Michelle Obama meets Hillary Clinton.” Derrick leaned more along the lines of Michelle Bachmann and Carly Fiorina. Bob did the heavy lifting with the comedy, but to be fair, Derrick rose to the occasion by pretending to eat a baby, serving us cannibal infantivore realness.
Naomi and Kim Chi’s group, on the other hand, struggled a bit. Kim predictably had a difficult time with annunciation and intonation, while Naomi flubbed a bit on her delivery. But Naomi’s model-for-president candidate was a great decision on her part, and Kim’s skepticism of her rival’s skinny, hunger-addled brain showcased her universal sense of humor.
Chi Chi and Thorgy seemingly did well in the studio—or so we thought. Michelle Visage clocked Chi Chi for sounding too much like John Wayne and encouraged her to use her usual country accent. Thorgy camped it up with a hilarious narcissist character (very Trump) but she didn’t have her material figured out before the studio shoot, wasting time and losing focus. Michelle asked, “Do you want a shot of Chi Chi reaching for the booze? Because you say she always reaches for the booze.” Thorgy: “No, I think we’re good.” (Girls, Drag Race editing isn’t rocket science: we know this is coming back to haunt her.)
Runway: Black & White Movie Realness
In a challenge inspired by Detox’s Season 5 finale appearance, Ru tasked the contestants with creating a unique look entirely in black and white, including makeup and hair.
While the queens got ready in the dressing room, they discussed political engagement among themselves. Bob described his activism for marriage equality, and was even arrested for it in 2010—in full drag. He said to the other queens that voting is critical, “because politicians make very real, very important decisions for you.”
In what sounds like a tangent, Derrick asks if Kim Chi grew up in North Korea or South Korea, and Kim had to educate him on dictatorship-enforced murder. “No one can get out of North Korea, girl. And if you try, your whole family gets killed.”
The editing may seem like a random juxtaposition, but this is actually a poignant statement on Drag Race’s part. Convo 1: “Voting is important!” Convo 2: “Countries like North Korea exist!” The message: actively exercise your democratic rights, fair citizens of the United States, or let the GOP turn our country into an authoritarian dictatorship.
Heed Aunt Bob, children. Fucking VOTE this year!
*Collects self.* Okay, so this week, our panel of judges included Ru of course, Michelle (Visage, not Obama), and Carson Kressley. They were joined by the vivacious Vivica A. Fox and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts.
Bob slinked down the runway in a creepy clown b&w look, but it was nicely chic and fitted for the gods. Derrick (admittedly) wowed with a look change, transitioning from black pants and a loose top to a flowing white gown. And he didn’t look like Britney. Naomi paid homage to Season 2’s Raven by donning a replica of her black feathered corset with thigh high boots (it worked before, so copy it, right?). Kim Chi dazzled with a conceptual French mime outfit while Thorgy delivered what she described as “Mae West meets Carrie Bradshaw,” but what looked more to me like “Mary Kate Olsen meets Charlie Chaplin.” Lastly, Chi Chi walked the runway with an Old Hollywood silver sequined gown.
Ru-per Delegates Revealed
After the initial runway reveals, we were treated to the queens’ spoof campaign ads. Bob’s was first, in which she described herself as “a queen for the people,” sucking dick in the bathroom. “BJs for every single American! That’s right, better jobs for everyone in America.” And the perfect quote: “Bob the Drag Queen has one plan: the Gay Agenda. It was designed by lesbians, so you know it works.” The judges were impressed by Bob’s hilarious campaign ad and look.
Derrick’s video was next, as Bob’s partner. She was certainly the funniest she has ever been this entire season, but the video was only a smash hit because the B-roll of Bob’s smear campaign was absolutely wonderful. The judges were fans of Derrick’s out-of-the-Britney-box look.
Next, Naomi and Kim’s videos got their critiques. Carson called Naomi’s feathered corset his favorite look on the runway (*see also, Raven), and Ru complimented the padding. Quoth Vivica A. Fox herself: “Now that runway? She was padded for JESUS.” And Naomi’s video had some genuinely funny moments, throwing shade at Kim’s spitty lisp and Clydesdale runway walk.
Kim’s video followed. She threw in funny remarks about how you can’t trust a skinny bitch to cook for you, but made an even more poignant comment. “Naomi’s profile says no fats, no femmes, and no Asians,” she preached. “As someone who represents all 3, I understand your pain. Say hello to yellow!” Super funny statement, but RuPaul picked up on the importance of the jab. “It was very political,” said Ru. “We’re fighting for fairness [under the law], but on Craigslist, we’re free to be as racist and body shaming as possible.” (Check thyselves, Grindr sisters.)
But when the judges pointed out that Kim struggled with diction, Kim became emotional and recognized her speech impediment. It was obviously a sensitive subject, and Ru pointed out that because the competition is so fierce, the judges must critique the little things now.
Thorgy, who is such an entertaining presence, wasn’t up to her usual A-game in this video. “Thorgy Thor for president, because I’m more powerful than you.” Her fashion didn’t go over well either. Said Carson: “I think you look like a dead Boy George.” And of course—of course—Vivica said she was confused after hearing so much slander about Chi Chi’s character constantly reaching for booze, but never seeing Chi Chi reach for booze in the slander footage. “There was no smear in that smear campaign,” said Michelle.
Chi Chi’s character had some truly funny moments. “I’m making sure every American has a pot to piss in, and a window to throw it out.” But Chi Chi’s fashion was also judged harshly. Carson said, “You were rocking the Wanda-Sykes-as-Jane-Fonda’s-assistant-in-‘Monster-in-Law’ look.” Chi Chi expressed frustration about being told to be more herself with her usual country dialect, saying she feels like where she comes from, successful people shed their “ghetto” communication styles and assimilate to more “educated” speech patterns. This was a very authentic moment for Drag Race history, and Ru responded beautifully by telling Chi Chi she was accepted onto the show for being herself, and that’s exactly who they wanted in the cast.
For the first time this season, the groups were judged together! The top group? Bob and Derrick, who were told they tied for the win. (Meaning: Derrick’s only challenge win is because she had Bob’s help. I wonder how quickly she’ll forget that?)
Naomi and Kim were both deemed safe, which left Thorgy and Chi Chi in the bottom two, up for elimination. This has been coming to a head this season, with these two constantly clashing.
They performed “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” performed by Jennifer Holliday, à la Dreamgirls. And bitch, they took us to CHURCH!
But here’s the thing: no matter how poorly Chi Chi has done in these challenges, how cheaply her dresses were made, how much she didn’t work with her teammates or put her time to good use, she was always going to win this lip sync. Thorgy held her own, but this gospel-inspired musical anthem was likely handpicked just to get Chi Chi into the Top 5, and perhaps into the Top 3.
In the end, Chi Chi wass chosen to stay, and in a truly shocking upset, Thorgy was dismissed. Quite a surprise considering Thorgy has never even been in the bottom 2 this entire season, while Chi Chi has circled the drain like a scrap from a thirsty weave that fell out in the shower. Will she be sent home next week, or will she show us some progress?
Tune in for next week’s Ru-minations recap, kiddies!