RuPaul's Drag Race season 8 premiere recap: Keeping It 100
My favorite reality competition show of all time — yes, I think I love it even more than The Celebrity Mole — has reached an incredible milestone. And Ru won’t let us forget it. That’s right, the eighth season premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race marks the 100th episode in the landmark series’ run. Let’s think back on the show’s incredible history. So many unforgettable queens. So many barriers broken. So many filthy puns. So many Werk Room fights. So many miles of hairy tuck-tape. So many Shangela appearances — hallelu!
I’m expecting this very special season to be mind-blowing and so, so, so much better than that-which-shall-not-be-mentioned, a.k.a. season 7. Judging from this new crop of queens, I remain hopeful that that will be the case. So let’s get right into the first-day intros, which have become one of my favorite parts of the show.
First up was Naomi Smalls, who lived up to her name — she might challenge Violet for the distinction of having the tiniest waist in RPDR history. We’ll see a lot of her little body, though, because she likes showing off her legs, which she said reach all the way “up to her “a–hole.” (Isn’t that true of anyone with no butt?) Cynthia Lee Fontaine is a blast of energy, but she’s giving me a headache, and she didn’t show up alone. She brought along her “cucu,” which she refers to quite often, yet I don’t quite know what it is. (Is it anything like Ornacia?) Next came Dax Exclamation Point, a real cosplay nerd who served up some X-Men/Storm realness and looked like she belongs on the floor of San Diego Comic-Con. Naysha Lopez arrived looking very pretty but slightly basic, like a fishier, more stylish Snooki.
The first queen to really own the room, though, was Acid Betty, a super-scary specter rocking an almost shaved head and bright-bright colors that burned the retinas. She also didn’t give a f— that aerosol spray is terrible for the environment. Acid bragged that even Bianca del Rio wouldn’t f— with her because she’s a straight-up bitch. As the late great Maya Angelou once told Oprah, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Acid, I believe what you’ve told us about yourself, and I will approach with caution.
There were two bitches in a row, though, because next came Robbie Turner, who swanned into the Werk Room in a flowy robe that was very Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her. I hate to judge so early (just kidding), but right now Robbie gets the biggest eye-roll of the century from me. I can tell she’s going to be one of the primary talking heads this season, not because she’s that clever but because she’s so hateful. Acid threw her some immediate shade by saying without any prompting, “You don’t look old.” Which means she thinks you look kinda old. Robbie just got an Acid burn.
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I have to admit something up front: I’m going to be biased already and proclaim Kim Chi as my favorite of the season, partly (or mostly) because she’s a fellow Korean. I love her hilarious, shy sense of humor, and the fact that she said, “Donut come for me because I will destroy you” and just happened to have a green donut hidden in her cooch. Kim Chi, I love you more than the food, which I’ve always found kind of hit-or-miss (that’s Korean blasphemy).
Next up, Thorgy Thor, who reminded me of a cross between Weird Al and an off-brand Muppet. Then came Bob the Drag Queen, who I can tell will be a big contender this season — she’s funny as hell. She showed up in a black and white leo and immediately began breaststroking on a table and joined up with her fellow New York queens, Acid and Thorgy.
NEXT: Meet the final queens
Making a somewhat lesser impression was Laila McQueen, who reminded me a little bit of Mimi Imfurst, only younger and more goth and dressed in Beetlejuice attire and horrible chunky platforms that the other girls immediately zeroed in on like ugly-seeking missiles. Chi Chi Devayne is this season’s country queen, floating into the Werk Room in a trash bag and announcing herself as “the cheap queen.” She may be cheap, but she has spirit.
Last but not least was Derrick Barry, who looked exactly like 2001, Dream Within a Dream Tour-era Britney Spears. Derrick really got Britney’s face down. Ru informed Derrick that she was officially her 100th queen ever, leading Derrick to spout out the sort of nonsensical B.S. you can only find on Drag Race: “I feel like it’s a new chapter — I feel like there’s one to 99 and I open a new door with 100.” What on Gaga’s green earth???!! That sounds like something Miss Fame would have said, which I’m not complaining about because I love me some Fame.
And that’s it! Only 12 queens? I have a theory that Ru really wanted to stick with the 100 queens gimmick for the premiere, and we might be getting up to two additional queens later in the season. I’m just waiting for Shangela to jump out from Latrice’s cleavage or wherever. I hope so, because I need some more “Hallelu!” in my life.
For the very special Mini Challenge, the new queens posed in a photo containing all the Drag Race winners to date — minus Bianca del Rio, who was too busy organizing her Rolodex of Hate to show up, so Ru hired a circus clown with a shocking resemblance to replace her. Some standouts: Acid Betty, Kim Chi, Derrick Barry with her “Stronger” Britney pose, Naomi Smalls (despite what Violet called “cliffhangers” — toes that cling onto shoes like they’re surfboards), Thorgy Thor. A couple queens who failed to stand out were Laila with her Hamburglar outfit and lack of star quality; and Sharon Needles, who kept getting shaded, literally, by the new queens who kept standing in her light.
Now, on to the Maxi Challenge! In keeping with the retrospective theme, each of the queens took on a legendary challenge of seasons past, including the Hair Ball challenge, the Hello Kitty Challenge, and the Bitch Ball. To randomly select the queen who’d get to assign all the other queens their challenge, Morgan McMichaels showed up to pop a ping-pong ball out of her nether regions as a homo-age to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Freeze-frame on Morgan’s face the moment she clenches if you want to laugh for 10 minutes straight.
Robbie’s name was the one that emerged from Morgan’s cucu, and she began doling out challenges to the other girls without a lot of strategy (it’s hard to know the queens’ strengths and weaknesses at this point), but she made the crucial tactical error of forgetting to give herself a challenge, so she ended up with the Bitch Ball, which was the dog-themed challenge. I don’t believe for a second that Robbie forgot to think of herself out of some inherent selflessness. It was a straight-up brain queef.
The first Werk Room session was wonderfully chaotic. Bob the Drag Queen shared a bit about her family name: “It’s my dad’s name. My dad’s name is ‘The Drag Queen.’” Acid threw some Acid-Rain clouds full of shade at Thorgy by talking smack about Brooklyn queens (“Brooklyn drag is unpolished, hairy”).
One of my favorite moments came when Kim Chi tossed some stealth shade at Bob when Bob said, “This purse is hideous, but I’m using it anyway,” and Kim said “I think it goes with the look, though.” KIM CHI IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD. Kim Chi then opened up about the fact that her mom doesn’t know she does drag; her mom just thinks she’s a makeup artist and that she’s just posting photos of a makeup client, not her drag self. Only a Korean mother could muster up that much denial. I hope this burden doesn’t weight too heavily on Kim during the competition because it’s a pretty big deal.
NEXT: Bring on the fierce
Time to “Sissy that Walk!” Nicole Richie was on hand to guest-judge on the Runway, which was fabulous, although I was hoping for a tad more snark.
Some stray observations about the “safe” looks tonight: Bob looked very Scarlett in her “Gone With the Window” outfit, and she even led with her hideous purse; Dax looked lovely in Hello Kitty, which was a perfect challenge for her; Cynthia Lee Fontaine was covered in sugar and what looked like Sweet Tarts — sweet and tart, just like her cucu; Chi Chi’s disco ball look wasn’t that bad, considering she had ripped it right before the runway, and I didn’t see what was so awful about Naomi’s boat look — but maybe her body and crazy legs made up for what it was lacking.
First up, the top looks: Derrick brought a little comedy to her Christmas look by trimming her Christmas tree bush. Ru and the other judges are already warning her about sticking just to Britney, though. Acid Betty really made a statement with her freaky drag, and I loved watching her make it rain with all those fake Ru dollars. But the win went to Kim Chi for her Givenchy-inspired wig-lion dress, which was unbelievable — even though she walked like a drunk linebacker. Let’s hope she was doing that on purpose for some ill-conceived effect.
Now for the bottom: Robbie landed in the losing group for her puffball dress, but Naysha did worse with her terrible gold piece around the middle and Laila for her half-assed apocalyptic look. The lip sync to “Applause” by Lady Gaga was pretty low-energy from the jump; Laila bit her lip a few times and immediately crouched onto the ground, and Naysha did a lame dance move as if she were miming using a clapper on a movie set. It was sort of a tossup for me as to who’d be going home, but in the end, Naysha was sashaying away.
So what do you think about the new crop of queens? I have to admit, I’m living. Here’s my first Fierce List in which I analyze the power rankings of the remaining queens.
Bob the Drag Queen: In her own words, she’s f—ing funny. Her charisma and uniqueness will make up for any lack of sewing skills. Sidenote: there are a lot of septum piercings this season.
Kim Chi: Like any jar of actual kimchi, you never know what you’re gonna get. Kim Chi’s makeup skills are probably impossible to beat this season. She just needs to make sure to really come out of her shell for the performance challenges.
Acid Betty: She terrifies me, but she’d have it no other way.
Derrick Barry: Yes, she needs to move beyond the Britney shtick, but I think she can do it.
Naomi Smalls: We still need to know more, but I have a good feeling about this one. Those legs tho.
Dax Exclamation Point: I like the whole sci-fi nerd vibe. Again, we need to know more.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine: Do I need to make a separate entry for her cucu? Not sure about her, but queens that no one can understand have a pretty good track record on this show.
Robbie Turner: She’s made a bad impression on me so far, but she’s smart. That might carry her through for a while.
Chi Chi Devayne: Not destined for RDPR longevity, but maybe she’ll surprise us all.
Thorgy Thor: I’m trying to keep an open mind, but… just no. I can’t.
Laila: Needs to pick up the energy and tap into her artistic nature, stat.