'RuPaul's Drag Race' premiere recap: 'Born Naked'
Oh, thank Maude!
RuPaul’s Drag Race is back for its seventh season, and for a reality show—a genre that typically ages in Lohan years—it’s looking refreshingly UN-saggy, unlike some of its contestants (more on that later). In a surprising twist, Drag Race didn’t come up with an unnecessary opening twist and just let the latest batch of snatch speak for itself. And this gaggle already has a few characters that have risen to the top like the thickest of cocoa butter moisturizing creams.
So let’s get right into it! I love this part of every season when the new queens strut in and announce themselves to what I imagine is a silent Werk Room that’s totally empty except for a few hairy-necked cameramen. The first queen to land is a purple alien named Miss Fame, and I have a feeling she’s going to be sticking around for a long time. “Greetings, Earth queens. I come in peace,” she says. Does she? Cause she’s got a shade-thrower on her that’s definitely going to cause some trouble this season.
Next comes Ginger Minj, a plus-size queen who describes herself as an “overweight asthmatic cross-dresser from Orlando, Florida.” I was with her until “Orlando.” Let me make a SAFE bet here: Ginger Minj has more than likely played Ursula at Disney World.
Other highlights: Violet Chachki, who shows off her incredible humility with statements like “I’m very visually appealing” and “I don’t have any fat to push together,” referring to her lack of chesticles. Then there’s Max, who breezes in looking like a royal (and also a lot like Gabe from The Office) flapping a custom-created British tabloid, which Miss Fame promptly uses as an oil-absorbing sheet. I love the side-eye Jaidynn Diore Fierce shoots Max when she says she’s from Wisconsin in a faux British accent. (Seriously, the editors at RuPaul’s Drag Race deserve an Oscar for Best Editing. Even though it’s a TV show and not a movie, the Academy should make an exception. These editors do God’s work.) Jasmine Masters cranks up the energy and volume of the room, and it’s way too much; she freaks out over fellow queen Kennedy Davenport, and instead of looking flattered, Kennedy’s face is all, “Get this crazy fangirl off of me.”
But the true showstopper, in my opinion, was Pearl, who brings an energy (or lack thereof) never before seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. This queen stumbles in wearing a Sharpied-on RoboCop chinstrap that’s part of her “Robot Stepford Wife Bitch” motif. She clearly downs a smoothie of horse tranquilizers and Xanax every morning and needs to be propped up throughout the day just to function. I love this doped-up disaster of a queen—the epitome of tragic glamour. When she croaked “Sup?” in her butchest voice, I about died.
We also get our first feud within the first five minutes! The oldest queen, Tempest Dujour, walks in serving up some Phyllis Diller and pulls a tired old gag by having a plastic fetus fall out of her on the runway. Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of fake drag births in my day, including one in the East Village involving a dozen Ping Pong balls, a gallon of Kool-Aid, and a couple of soggy Beanie Babies, but this one was tres déclassé. The moment Tempest joins the other queens, Kandy Ho straight-up asks her, “So how old are you?” which does NOT make Tempest happy. It’s a bitchy thing to ask within seconds of meeting someone, for sure, and Kandy seems bratty, but I have to agree that Tempest needs to freshen up her style. I love a mature queen, and Tempest isn’t actually old, but she just doesn’t have that undefinable quality that makes a star.
But you know who does? Ru. And Baby Ru, her bum slathered in baby oil, flashes on the Werk Room screen to announce the first challenge. The first Mini Challenge is straightforward but daunting: Each queen has to show her best spring and fall fashions on the runway. As Katya, who’s already becoming this season’s most reliably witty one-liner generator, says, “This is not a Mini Challenge. It’s a Maxi-Mini Challenge… with wings!” Oh, Katya, you’re going places.
In reality, this challenge is all about which queen packed the most stuff—or, more accurately, which queen has the most credit card debt. Violet Chachki, for instance, clearly has no food budget but a giant budget for fierce reversible tartan capes.
Some highlights of Spring/Fall: Kennedy Davenport as a classy-but-not-boring diva; Michelle Visage’s quip about Miss Fame’s getup: “I see a red bottom and it’s not a shoe”; Katya’s fur trapper outfit with a dead beaver on her head; Pearl’s don’t-give-a-shit runway stagger and headphones. Lowlights: Tempest’s quilted poncho and lumberjack-ian wide-legged stance; Sasha Belle’s gross red dress, which the judges compare to a lobster, but I think is more reminiscent of Snarf; Alaska as a witless Anna Wintour impersonator.
NEXT: A whole new panel of judges
After the Maxi-Mini Challenge, the queens take of their makeup for the first time, surprising each other with their male identities. Pearl is actually super-cute—the sort of guy you see rocking jorts at Metropolitan in Williamsburg—Trixie Mattel is the long-lost fourth kid from Roseanne, and Tempest is a dad who used to weigh 400 pounds. Katya shoots off a great zinger about one queen’s transformation: “Ginger Minj goes from Kathy Bates to Bob Hoskins.” But what Katya doesn’t acknowledge is Bob Hoskins’ undeniable sexual magnetism.
There isn’t much time to stop and meet the girls, but Trixie reveals that her boyfriend’s parents don’t approve of his drag. “His mom said, ‘Trixie’s clown drag makes me sick to my stomach.’” Of course Miss Fame had her shade locked and loaded: “They were right about SOMETHING!” Priceless.
Ru makes her rounds in the Werk Room after she announces the Main Challenge, which is to design resort wear that tears away to reveal a nude illusion. She comes upon Kandy Ho, who’s the requisite queen who doesn’t know how to sew this season. She says, “You could sew, but you could have the worst taste ever.” Cut to a shot of Tempest Dujour’s face. Again, these editors deserve a prize.
Back to the runway for a THIRD time in one episode! Guest judge Kathy Griffin joins Ru, Michelle Visage, and new judges Carson Kressley and Ross Matthews, who already fit Drag Race like a pair of opera-length gloves. Carson brings campy, punny one-liners “It’s Cirque du Sogay!) and Ross brings humor and heart. I knew I’d be agreeing with Ross a lot this season the moment he said he liked his drag “with a little stank.” Thank you, Ross. That’s why I’ll take a little Ornacia over Courtney Act any day. (Please be warned: I’m obsessed with Ornacia and will mention her at least once in every recap this season. I once had a dream-within-a-dream that instead of a left nipple I had an Ornacia growing out of me).
I never thought I’d ever say this, but I started feeling a bit of runway overload at this point. Katya bends over and displays her nearly-nude ass, Pearl barely has the energy to fully step out of her dress, Jasmine Masters emerges from a cocoon made of a tacky shower curtain and a hula hoop. Violet Chachki takes the first win by going down the runway naked without the help of much body contouring makeup or flesh-toned hosiery. Sasha Belle somehow avoids the bottom three even though her black bra was showing, and Kandy once again calls out Tempest’s age—seriously, what’s with Kandy’s preoccupation with age? It’s hilarious, though, that Tempest’s horrible body suit led to everyone, in fact, talking about her age. Her body suit was sagging in all the wrong places. She had so much excess skin she could go base-jumping naked.
Did you know there was a contestant named Kasha Davis all along? Not surprising her name sounds like a brand of flavorless cereal.
Of course, the two feuding femmes, Tempest and Kandy, are the ones who must lip-synch … FOR … THEIR … LIVES. Unsurprisingly, Kandy’s hideous attitude translates into some muscular hip-hop moves, and Tempest dances like one of those inflatable squiggly men in used car dealership parking lots. It’s truly pathetic—which ends up getting her eliminated. If you’re going to go on Drag Race, maybe learn to do a goddamn split. Or maybe even a little twirl.