Twelve Thoughts On RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season Nine, Episode Three

Well. Something happened this week with this season. I’m not sure what it is but something switched, from everyone being so happy and lovey to everyone being happy and lovey and dramatic. I’ll take it!

Swallow a handful of Tums™—and let’s digest.

12. Trinity Kills
The episode started with this immediate faux villainess tone around Trinity that has repeatedly been thrust upon her as she repeatedly doesn’t live up to the hype outside of her interviews. The drama was framed around her and Valentina battling at the top with Valentina always stealing the prize. Clearly this was foreshadowing to their duking it out in the end and, well, Trinity finally won. The strangest thing about Trinity’s tiffing was that it gave you the feeling that this season been on for two months already. A storyline like this takes months to earn but has only been done in…two weeks.

11. Unsocial Digital Girls
Remember Jaymes Mansfield? Well, she’s gone and barely anyone remembers but someone like Shea Couleé is building a grave next to Mansfield for someone else: Instagram queens. Her delicious read of some queens needing to rely on FaceTune and similar apps to fix their busted makeup and looks was both incredibly shady and a foreshadowing in multiple directions. For a queen like Kimora and Aja to succeed, they have to get out of the way of the filters to actually be talented. There are no excuses on drag race and, for those hiding behind them, ample queens are there to point out this fact. You can see this storyline getting bigger and bigger with each coming season: the IRL queens versus the digital, social media monsters.

10. English Sucks Language
Did these queens go to school? How does Kimora not know what an adjective is? Why was Farrah Moan struggling to come up with the word “proficient”? There were some sad moments of Americana where the queens fumbled over language before stumbling onto the stage. May the smartest woman win?

9. The Cucu Backstory
Cynthia kind of brought it this episode. Not to the main stage, no, but in the personality department. From her expertly playful read of dumb ass Kimora (“Come on english lessons!”) to her diagnosing other people’s cucus, she was great to have around. We also got the origin story of the cucu (“What do you call this in your back?”; “Cucu mama caca pee pee.”) which was delightful. One thing that also happened? We got sick of the fucking cucu conversation. Cynthia is now the small child who learned one joke and won’t shut the fuck up with it. Jesus, Princess Cuculina: give it a rest.

8. Fairly Good Tales!
For all the drama (There was a lot of drama this week, in the episode and on Untucked.), the runway showing was pretty great: Charlie’s Climaxica was well done while Eureka’s wasn’t as good as she wanted but was still fun; Peppermint was adorable and revealed herself this challenge; Sasha gave some good bullshit that was an art fart you can roll your eyes at while clapping; and the children like Aja and Kimora rightfully fell with bad outfits and bad sidekicks. However, the real standout—The one who should have been top three.—was Nina: everyone attempted Nina greatness with their sidekick makeup while Nina herself wiped the floor up with them by creating the most dazzling, effortless alien couture. Her story was one of the most straightforward and fun (An alien seeking love? Great!!) instead of the convoluted messes that most queens were. This challenge was also great because it was a covert acting challenge buried within a sewing challenge. This is great because, as we learned in the dreaded season seven, too many acting challenges spoil the punch. No one cares if a queen can act! Thus, this was a good tying in of talent without saying as much.

7. Only Judy Can Judge Me
This was a strange judging lineup. First, Todrick was a guest judge when he is an All Star judge. This and RuPaul’s appearance on Todrick’s latest album suggests something otherwise: Todrick is Ru’s favorite. He skipped the line of competing on drag race to get all the benefits—And then some!—of Mama Ru, cherry picked in and out of her universe with love. Does Santino get that? Nope. Dude has not been asked back and I’m so curious what’s in that cup of tea. Second, who the fuck is Cheyenne Jackson? Yes, I “know who he is” but does anyone care? Is he one of those gay actor types who is just everywhere because they’re gay and handsome and can talk without their foot emerging from their mouth via their ass? He’s so boring. Third, both Todrick and Cheyenne had such a tenuous connection to the challenge. Where was that connection? Everything about this episode was so fabulous save for the judges. They were just [Insert Gay Male Media Body]. Also, random: will Lucian Piane be making a comeback or is he banished for losing reality? Probably banished.

6. Bye, Kim Kardashian Kimora
Kimora. Where to begin? I think we can start by blaming Kim Kardashian. “Would Kim sew her own outfits?” the fucking brat complained as she struggled with the challenge, going on to make scraps to accentuate her ass that the judges rightfully read to hell for being “her struggle.” Boo hoo. Beyond this, Kimora seemed to be on the show to just try to win a non-existent “I’M PRETTY!!!” prize that she clearly would have lost to Valentina (or even Farrah). The thing that gets me about Kimora is that she’s so that kid who is insecure about their possessions via socioeconomic standing that they try and try and try to cover everything up by appearing “rich” just for it to be revealed that they are the exact opposite. Gloating about not stoning a dress one week to having Yara Sofia make her dresses another week atop of not being able to actually do anything is a sign that she’s just a real sham of a queen. I know this for fact: in the first grade, I lived in a trailer in the park next to my school and I did everything I could to prevent people from knowing by pretending I was rich. Did it work? No. The tea gets served regardless and no one cares except for you. Kimora is that for drag. She also lacks an attention to detail that yields trend atop of trend atop of trend looks that are as confused as they are messy. Remember her initial interview? She gloated about being detail oriented and luxe but her fucking lips weren’t completely done. We should have seen this coming. Beyond this, her post-show story has been a fucking mess. In her exit interview and Untucked, she blamed her entire failing on not knowing how to play a monkey which, as we know, is bullshit because her Funky Monkey Justin Long looking sidekick was the least of her problems. “They want the villain, I can give them the villain,” she told Vulture pleading to come back on the show to play the villain that she clearly wasn’t. (She was just helpless and in her own way.) Then she goes on to tell Vice the exact opposite. “A bitch and a villain?” she said. “They haven’t even seen one yet. I didn’t even cut anyone’s hair off.” The latter of which is a line she used in her Vulture interview too. What sucks about Kimora is that she is nice as was showcased on Untucked, pre-elimination. She does have a heart. She’s just trying too hard. She needs to be more vulnerable and slurp some humble soup. You—Like Kim Kardashian.—should learn something for once, boo boo.

5. Say No To Vegas
The exit of Kimora and bottomness of Farrah combined with both of their general braindead auras paired with Derrick Barry on last season says one thing: Vegas queens suck. We’ve come a very, very long way from Shannel.

4. The Most LOL Lipsynch
Guys. This was the funniest lipsynch because Aja looked like such a mess and Kimora was just pathetic. Kimora doing a death drop by way of falling down as Aja actually death drops literally upstage of her? Genius. I have never laughed so hard at an episode. Kimora: thank you.

3. The Great Aja Meltdown
For those of you who did not watch Untucked: who are you? Why are you reading this? You clearly need to be doing your homework. Anyway, Aja fucking had a huge meltdown that rivals Alaska’s “I’LL GIVE YOU $10,000 BEFORE TAXES!!!” explosion in All Stars during Untucked. Aja is so hungry to be loved for her 1990s avant garde cool kidness when she’s too busy making a fuss over herself for anyone to notice. She’s no Kimora and has talent and does the work but is setting herself up for failure. As her peers said in Untucked as well, take the note. Stop being a baby. Grow up. You are here to be judged. Don’t get mad and not listen when you get judged. Clearly, Aja hasn’t learned how the show works by watching at home.

2. Valentina Suprema
Valentina. My queen. She really is ruling this kingdom, isn’t she? She’s gotta win, right? She truly did look like Linda Evangelista and has this spunky vulnerability that makes her not annoying. She shaved her brows off and dressed up as Joan Collins in a turban to hide it!! How cute is that?!?!?!1 That kills me. She also is so nice and bubbly and genuinely trying. Pair that with impeccable taste, style, and talent and you have a fucking superstar who will be difficult to take down. I love a lot of these queens but Valentina is on another level. I want to eat her up.

1. “We Are Orlando, Straight People.”
The time has come. We knew it was coming from the day the cast was announced with Trinity being from Orlando and, alas, we got our “We are Orlando!” moment this early in the season. It wasn’t because Trinity was going home nor was it because the subject needed to be talked about: it was because the show is now on VH1 and this is a great opportunity for straight people to hear about what it means to be queer a gay man. The conversation wasn’t as relatable (It was a devastating moment no LGBT person will ever forget.) as it was a strange ambassadorship designed for straight people to felt tugged at, to sympathize and connect with. Sure. I get that. “Drag is therapy.” Sure. If you have never seen this show ever, good for you. For us all who have gone above and beyond with our fandom? It felt hollow. It felt like a NewNowNext blog post attempting an earnest observation but filling the post up with photos of hunky white men between paragraphs. No, thanks. This explainer moment made me realize a sad truth about Drag Race now: it’s not for us. It’s like when America’s Next Top Model morphed from being about models actually walking real runways to models being Instagram stars who can smize with whatever hashtag Tyra Banks came up with. It stopped working because it stopped being itself. The show became a gimmick and sad and really frustrating for long term fans. Drag Race? Not exactly the same but it’s hinting at some sort of selling out from a queer celebration to queer exploitation. The soul is dying, becoming educational for n00bs, rather than a keeping up the canon in the direction of LGBT oddity. Yes, you can say that’s what Untucked and Fashion Photo Ru-View are for but we shouldn’t have to seek out extra credit to feel fulfilled especially when the main attraction is paid for. Like Kimora, I want everyone to be themselves, pushing themselves for themselves—not for others. Be the ambassadors you are for queer culture by not apologizing or faking it for the camera. By compromising and appearing nice and pretty only try to reframe the showing as a wilder presentation than it actually was is bullshit. We can see through it.

Apologies: I got a little ranty this week at a few points. I just want everyone and everything Drag Race related to stay beautiful and perfect. Don’t mess with a good thing!

Here’s the updated breakdown of who is where!

14. Jaymes Mansfield
13. Kimora Blac (Maintained. Called it!)
12. Farrah Moan (Maintained. Should be gone soon.)
11. Aja (Maintained. Same.)
10. & 9. Alexis Michelle & Charlie Hide (Collectively maintained / down one. These two are great background cacklers, sitting around and making comments but never actually doing anything. They’re great but not necessarily memorable.)
8. Cynthia Lee Fontaine (Down one. I’m over the cucu. Well, actually, I’m over the word cucu.)
7. Eureka (Down two. She’s deflating a bit, isn’t she? People are over her trying to be so shitty.)
6. Peppermint (Up two. Here she is! She made it out of that middle pack to show us who she is. Expect her transgender backstory to come any day now, revealed over tears of identity for VH1 viewers.)
5. Trinity Taylor (Up one. I don’t like her but she is turning it out. I agree with everything Michelle said but she can’t be top three because she’s kind of basic.)
3. & 4. Shea Couleé & Sasha Velour (Collectively maintained. Shea may surpass Sasha’s “You’re almost annoying me.” self-important artistry but, hey, what do expect from a queen like her?)
2. Nina Bo’Nina Brown (Maintained. My peach.)
1. Valentina (Maintained. Mi corazon.)

What do you think? I know I was hard on Kimora and the show but I do it because I love them. Everybody say love!

Photo via.

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