‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Recap: No Guts, No Glory Holes

Vogue

Hello! And welcome back. Is there anything better for soothing a blistering case of the Monday blues than a hot mug of Coco Montrese? I was going to make another joke about Jade Jolie marshmallows, but I get uncomfortable comparing people to food based on their ethnicity.

This was an episode full of big reveals, big hair, and scary disembodied mouths. More on that in a second.

When we begin, the contestants have all gathered around the mirror to reflect on Penny’s farewell message. It’s only a little lipstick, but they look like a bunch of teens gazing upon Seurat for the first time in a museum. Sunday in the Park with My Feelings.

“We’ll miss you Penetration!” somebody yells. Again — this is a lovely group of people. They’ll all be on my non-denominational eCard list this holiday season.

Serena, who was also up for elimination last week, starts fishing for compliments. I guess she forgot that thing about loving yourself first, because nobody really seems to like her right now. It can be difficult to empathize with someone when they are mired down in self-doubt. If any of the queens would like to borrow my Eckhart Tolle, I’m happy to lend it out. I have many, many copies.

Meanwhile, Roxxxy, Alaska and Detox have formed some sort of friendship team called Ro-Laska-Tox, which sounds like a kind of herbal laxative, and twice as cleansing for the spirit. It’s a beautiful friendship and I feel privileged to watch it blossom.

For the first challenge, the queens are charged with lip-synching three RuPaul songs: “Tranny Chaser,” “Lady Boy,” and “Peanut Butter.” This seems like it should be pretty easy, but then again, we started each morning with “Tranny Chaser” at my montessori. They kneel behind a cardboard cutout in teams and stick their lips through mouth-shaped holes, which, admittedly, was not taught  until sometime was in middle school.

It’s very artistic, but I have to say, I’m worried about viewers who are easily susceptible to nightmares in which there are huge disembodied mouths. Ru feeds Ivy Winters a cake pop through the hole, and then declares her, Serena ChaCha, and Detox team captains for the next challenge based on their labial expertise. Labia is latin for “lips.” Just a little fun fact for you.

For the elimination, they’ll be mouthing scenes from last season, which is a fun idea. I could only be more excited about watching a series of backstage drag fights if instead of people, the performers were obese cats. But this is pretty good too.

Alaska’s team gets a clip from Season 4, which includes her boyfriend, Sharon Needles. But instead of Sharon, Alaska opts to play Phi Phi, because, as he points out, “I ‘do’ Sharon all the time.” Oh, Alaska! You scamp. You’re as rich in pluck as your namesake state is in natural beauty.

It makes me only mildly uncomfortable that she dons dark body paint to play Phi Phi, but I have to remember that this is art and not like some kind of barbaric state school party, like the kind I once saw on Dateline. We’re all self-aware here.

In rehearsals, Jinkx Monsoon earns her name, because she starts weeping like the skies of the Indian subcontinent. This is because she has some kind of floppy lampshade hat on her head that makes it difficult to form words. Who hasn’t been there, after a few too many Absolut-brand cocktails?

Elsewhere, team captain Serena ChaCha is still talking about art school and about how drag is like, being a moving sculpture or something. I don’t know, it’s difficult for me to understand.  I’m not an intellectual, I just recap television shows

The rest of the team, which includes Roxxxy, Jade, and Alyssa Edwards, think Serena’s interpretation is “bizarre.” She’s made the choice to punctuate her sentences with a kind of floppy robot faint, and I’m not quite sure what that’s supposed to achieve, but again, I majored in English.

Meanwhile, over on Team Ivy Winters, Vivienne Panay, Lineysha, and Honey Mahogany are hard at work. Well, kind of. Lineysha, free spirit that she is, keeps interrupting the flow of the sketch with a kind of modified Brett Michaels headbang. Vivienne is annoyed, but Ivy Winters is still feeling that cake pop and thinks her whole teams wonderful. I tend to agree. Each one of these artists is like a cake pop for the spirit.

Over on Team Detox, Monica Beverly Hillz is frazzling Coco by speaking her lines aloud and generally being a little “off.” But because she’s a sweet and gentle soul, Coco is worried rather than judgemental.

“I’m not sure what’s wrong with Monica but there’s something on her mind,” she says.

“There’s something on my mind,” confirms Monica in voice-over. If only Coco could hear her!

It seems that Monica is harboring a big secret. I’d worry about her, but there’s no time, because the elimination challenge is here at last. Today’s guests judges are Kristen Johnston and Juliette Lewis, who is dressed like Julie Brown, I guess to delight me even more.

Today’s runway looks are really impressive. Each queen says what they’re serving up, like “fishness,” “glamour,” “Hollywood realness.” You’re not getting these things at any chain restaurant! Sorry, I’m trying my hand at patter.

Then they roll video of the lip-sync sketches, and some are more successful than others. Serena’s unusual interpretation does not go over so well. Team Ivy Winters nails the “Bitch I Am From Chicago” line, which to me definitely felt like some thick-crust deep-dish realness. (How am I doing, here?) Team Detox added a surprise twist ending by adding an impromptu sloppy kiss. M. Night Sashaymalan! (Okay, I’ll stop.)

In the end, Team Ivy Winters takes it. All of Lineysha’s hair flipping has paid off handsomely, as she wins individual honors, scoring a latex dress and immunity in the next challenge.

There are several other critiques, but after Monica Beverly Hillz’s stunning runway confession, I am unable to remember a single one. Wait, that’s not true. Santino made a “Star Wars”-based joke about how Roxxxy’s dress made her look like a glitter Chewbacca. Thank you for throwing me a bone, Santino. I really connected with you today.

But on to the realness realness: Monica breaks down and reveals that she is not a dragging man but a transgender woman. Oh man. I appreciate her candor and her strength, but… That’s kind of cheating, right? I feel like that’s definitely cheating. But Ru just tells her to chin up and bring what she came to bring*. Well, glad we cleared that up! I didn’t want old M. B. Hillz to leave.

The queens head back to the Interior Illusions lounge and the judges deliberate. It seems Monica and Serena are up for elimination. They lip-sync for their lives, and Serena does a split again, but now it’s less of a surprise and comes off as a little needy.  I’m not judging — sometimes I do a split when I’m on a date and I feel things aren’t going well.

It pains me to say it, but Monica ends up wiping the floor with Serena like a spirited Panamanian Swiffer.

Serena is eliminated, and her goodbye message to the other queens is to “pick up a book and go read.” I feel like if this season were a military outfit, Serena would be the one who wore little glasses and got called “professor” by the other recruits. She’s the intellectual, and she doesn’t care who knows it.

See you around the library, S. And the rest of you, I’ll see next week!

*Realness.

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