Maybe I’m beating a dead, eliminated, potentially boring horse here but I can’t stop thinking about Jaymes Mansfield’s elimination. It’s not that I’m shocked (I’m not.) but something seems afoot here, an unshakeable oddity of situation.
After finally watching Untucked thanks to whoever uploaded it for international viewers, I was able to see the missing pieces in the conversation: Jaymes was essentially scooted out, no other queens batting an eye, some of whom again went out of their way to disparage her.
This is normal. Until it hasn’t been normal.
What makes this not normal is the ripple effect we’re seeing: if Jaymes’ presence inspiring bitchy attitudes and turned up noses is the cause, the effect is a clean mopping of attitudes to say that Jaymes is the best and the underdog we all deserved and that everyone—Including and especially the former haters!!—can vouch for that.
Let’s start from the beginning.
After Eureka O’Hara’s initial rude reading of Jaymes in the first Untucked, she quickly made a public apology that she has since deleted. You can now catch O’Hara Tweeting out Jaymes’ praise and performing with her, a potential sign that she (and Nina) are out soon considering queens perform in groups of similarly ranked queens. Following this week’s Untucked, Alexis Michelle did the same thing, apologizing for saying Jaymes should be on “season one” via a Facebook Live.
This stuff isn’t adding up to me—and Jaymes’ publicity is only exacerbating this. First, her talk with The Observer.
That line from Eureka about you being fake seemed mean but could easily have come off as fun teasing in real life. How did you take it?
I took it as her trying to be funny and the joke not landing. As a comedian, I know sometimes things don’t come out the way you hoped they would.
Do you wish you had waited a few years, getting more experience, before appearing on the show?
I feel like I was actually very experienced going into the show. When you’re in those circumstances, under that time crunch, you pull out what you can. I have no regrets.
If you had to lip sync against anyone except Kimora, who do you think you would have excelled against?
Harping on how she was ready, deflecting any Eureka or Kimora tea. Interesting.
The same thing happened with Vulture.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I probably would have slept through the whole cheerleading routine. Like, the minute they said, “Go,” I would have just laid on the floor and took a nap. They wanted more character, and I could have used it.
That would have been a good gag!
And I love me a good gag. That’s my only regret. I should have just slept in. I am really dedicated to method acting.
When they were picking teams, it seemed like your confidence was shaken by the comments that you were an underdog. Did you feel thrown in that moment?
It threw me for the fact that I didn’t believe it, and it kind of shook me that people thought that about me. But you break it all down in your mind: Being a sane person you realize, oh wait, these people don’t actually know you. So this is actually your first impression. I guess I’m just so comfortable with people that I don’t really realize they’re making these preconceived judgements of me.
But the minute I got handed the script, I was really happy with what we were doing because I’ve always loved the idea of cheerleading, and I thought I could have rose to the occasion as far as being optimistic, bubbly, and campy. It’s something that I felt like I had all the tools to make a success.
Obviously this is prepared and a repackaged response similar to The Observer thoughts. Obviously.
Then Jaymes prattled the same thing off to The Advocate.
How does it feel to be a contestant on Drag Race as well as the first one eliminated this season?
It feels … brief. It was so wonderful being part of the supporting cast for RuPaul’s Drag Race. As far as being eliminated, I realize it is a competition and they need to let someone go. I was just far too talented to be allowed to stay.
Why did you want to be on Drag Race?
It’s the top of top of drag. It’s the WrestleMania of drag. It’s the place you want to be to showcase your talent, and I think most drag queens aspire to be on the show for that reason.
I do like that WrestleMania drag. I really do like Jaymes!
Then, to twist this all up, you have Carson’s Kressley’s exclusive People episode analysis. Wait for it. Underlined for emphasis.
And poor Jaymes Mansfield. I get it, but at the same time, I also don’t get it. I know she’s a great performer and has a solid platform — Ru herself said her audition tape was amazing — but personally, I know that sometimes when you get on set with all those queens, it can be intimidating. It seems like her performances have been tentative and that’s the kiss of death. Once you get to Drag Race, you’ve got to go all out. She’s overwhelmed and I just wanna slap her like Cher did in Moonstruck and say “Snap out of it!”
Jaymes herself even released her own public announcement of her situation. It’s both a window into what could have been and is so coifed to deflect any actual emotion.
That is a great Rebel Wilson.
So. What is missing here? Clearly we’re not getting the full story, the truth, etc.
To end this conspiracy, I see two things going on that we will have to understand since the elimination of Jaymes Mansfield felt both unnecessarily mean while entirely appropriate. Unlike Porkchop or Magnolia or Venus D-Lite or Penny Tration or Kelly Mantle, there was a poise that Jaymes did not have. She wasn’t ready. Last season, the unpreparedness of Laila McQueen—a similarly rough, young queen—was softened by the double elimination with Dax after the shock of Naysha Lopez getting axed. (And, still, Naysha was appropriately prepared.) This is all covered up in the ruse that Jaymes’ casting tape was “amazing” and that she is so talented. Don’t get me wrong: Jaymes’ is a fierce YouTuber queen. But look at that line: “fierce YouTuber queen.” Not actual performer. A handmade tape—That you DIY yourself, like a good YouTuber.—is not a killer club performance. They aren’t the same. Thus, the excuse was created that her audition carried her despite an obvious and immediate fizzle.
This is all to say: until that casting tape surfaces, this is a really adorable get-out-of-jail-free card. This is a washing of the hands of a bad choice that everyone—Even Jaymes!!—is in on. No one is admitting fault here. Moreover, it represents how the show has changed likely for the not-better: everyone is so coifed and constantly on camera, apologizing, hiding their true feelings, a mask atop of a mask atop of a mask.
I discussed this with some friends on Facebook but it feels like everyone is playing nice to protect their brands. Today’s queens are too aware of the opportunity this show provides before and after the show. It’s now on VH1. They can’t afford to tarnish a Midwestern queen for being less-than. It’s strangely smells of respectability politics all around, where queer people on the main stage of life have to appear calm and nice and not catty unless an LOL is added in as a period, to show everyone that it wasn’t actually intended to hurt feelings.
Jaymes’ elimination is more symbolic than anything else. She is the bone removed in all the growing pains. It’s not as sad as it’s an excuse. There is a deeper story here. We’re not being told it—but the clues are everywhere.