Just about two and a half months ago, 13 drag queens began the Race to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. And over 11 episodes, we watched as the bewigged ranks lost all of the exciting big girls from this season and, last week, were pared down to just four glamorous contestants: Puerto Rican wacko Yara Sofia; the curvy (and also Puerto Rican) Alexis Mateo; the sassy Filipino Manila Luzon; and the ever-exotic Raja. Last night, we watched as — SPOILER ALERT — Yara Sofia bit the dust (remember, she was saved before!), revealing a finale-competing trio of Alexis, Manila, and Raja. (See: the photo for the trifecta’s final looks from last night. Dresses made from dollars!)
The offing of Yara, while totally one of my faves amongst the remaining queens, wasn’t surprising: Despite winning last night’s mini challenge with her Pop-It-On hair pieces, Yara was sort of a mess this week (err, every week?), when you consider her runway looks: Her entry in the Swimsuit Body Beautiful area was fine, but her Cocktail Attire After 5 looked like she was going to “Liberace’s funeral,” remarked one judge (so true), and her Evening Gown Eleganza was fittingly summed up by Raja like this: “If she were to sit down in it, it would look like a pile of garbage.” I dare say it looked kind of like one even standing up.
Still, it was sad to see Yara go. Not only because she has such much personality, of course, and that crying jag from Alexis when the news came down, as well as her take-off-my-clothes, lie-on-the-floor, near give-up while lip-syncing to LaToya Jackson’s “I Wanna Dance.” But also because of her plea near the end of the hour, which found her (and the rest of the queens) explaining why she should be America’s Next Drag Superstar, that made her so endearing: “I’m so broke,” Yara said. “I don’t have anything in my bank.” I mean, you wanna talk about serving realness? That’s realness for you. And why Yara’s presence was so beloved on this competition.
The other gals were less blunt and emotional: Raja made an appeal for wanting to be a role model for young boys who don’t know how to express themselves; Manila offered that she’d be perfect since she was “the product of a loving and supportive family”; and Alexis talked of her “desire to continue” to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. Raja’s speech, natch, seemed to touch the judges the most, especially Mike Ruiz, who identified with Raja’s feelings.
But, alas, it wasn’t Raja who won the “Make Dat Money” challenge: Manila, increasingly a saucy competitor, took home the top prize for the second week in a row. But truly, she deserved it, if only for her Cocktail Attire After 5 outfit, which was slingy and a delightful mix of Mahogany and Studio 54 style. (I want my girlfriends to wear this look when we go out.) Her crumpled-dollar look for the Evening Gown Eleganza was beautiful, too, but truly, not as beautiful as Raja’s singular delight. And Alexis’? Hers was so — well — her, but it just was so not competitive with the other two. So it really came down to Raja and Manila.
I’ve said this before, but having Manila win so much here near the end of the season makes me think that the crown will ultimately go to Raja. It’d be no fun if Raja took home the final couple challenges and then also the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, too. It’s pretty clear that, despite her truly winning personality, Alexis will not win (especially after that breakdown and her “quitting” the competition for a few minutes last night). The show has all but set up a Raja vs. Manila cage match for the finale. Right? Right.
Oh, and just a note, but the finale doesn’t air next week, but instead on April 25. Next week, we’ll be treated to “RuPaul Rewind,” which is described as a “look back at the highlights, ‘low-lights,’ and previously unseen footage from the first 12 episodes as we race toward the climactic grand finale!” Read: filler! But it’ll probably be a blast to watch, still.
But this is where I throw it to you, faithful Drag Racers: I’ve given you my thoughts on who will likely win, but who do you think should win? Vote here:
And just for fun, let’s do a second poll of who will win. As we all know, who should win and who will win are two very different questions.
Vote! And then tell me what you think below. Be controversial! Get some debate started! Revel in Drag Race!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky