The 11th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race kicked off on Thursday and it’s already looking like this is going to be legendary. From the minute the 15 queen-testants strutted into the workroom, you could tell the competition is going to be fierce! Let’s get into it.
Your first queen to enter the workroom is, of course, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, a/k/a Miss Vanjie. She proclaims “I’m back, bitch” and proceeds to tell us in the confessional how she was “humil…humi…hulmil…I was embarrassed” after being the first one eliminated last season.
She said that the flood of memes and social media tributes after her most famous sashay away helped her make lemonade out of lemons and now she’s raring to take the crown. She’s so confident that she grabs the winner’s gold RuPaul Maquette off of the shelf and pretends to take off with it.
I kind of love her confessionals. She’s loud and brash (but not the loudest and brashest…stay tuned…) and she’s part of the Mateo family, so I am hoping she’ll stick around for a while.
Alexis hides behind a screen as the other queens enter.
As a matter of introduction, they are:
Nina West, 39, a comedy queen (yay!) from Columbus, Ohio. Fun fact: her legendary “moving dress” was copied by Sia
Shuga Cain, 24 (40), from New York. Fun fact: she’s only been doing drag for a year and a half
Plastique Tiara, 21, from Dallas. Fun fact: she describes her drag as “the 3 Ps: polished, persistent and pussy.”
Mercedes Iman Diamond, 30, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fun fact: she’s from Kenya and moved to the US at age 11.
Scarlet Envy, 26, from New York. Fun fact: she says she’s a combo of “Southern beauty and New York City grit.”
Honey Davenport, 32, from New York City. Fun fact: when defining her style she admits, “I wear Givenchy, but labels don’t fit me.”
A’Keria C. Davenport, 30, from Dallas. Fun fact: she is the current reigning Miss Black Universe.
Yvie Oddly, 24, from Denver. Fun fact: she’s a “conceptual queen” and she’s here “to shock.”
Silky Nutmeg Ganache, 28, from Chicago. Fun fact: she jumped on a US Postal truck and rode off in the middle of one of her shows.
Brooke Lynn Hytes, 32, from Nashville (by way of Toronto). Fun fact: she was a professional ballet dancer for six years (and half her toenail fell off the night before taping.)
Ariel Versace, 26, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Fun fact: she describes herself as “if Lisa Frank threw up on a drag queen” and “a life-size Bratz doll.”
Ra’Jah O’Hara, 33, from Dallas. Fun fact: she is all about the splits and kicks, but can’t seem to keep her enormous earrings on her ears.
Kahanna Montrese, 25, from Las Vegas. Fun fact: her aesthetic is “hip hop showgirl, dance queen.” She’s also Coco Montrese’s daughter.
Soju, 27, from Los Angeles. Fun fact: this self-described “K-pop drag princess” has her own Drag Race recap web series, “Shot with Soju”.
Best workroom entrance: I’ve got to give it to Soju and her karate-inspired costume and nunchuks display. I also enjoyed Mercedes’ odd scream that almost knocked Vanjie out from behind the screen.
Weirdest entrance: Yvie was already putting the “odd” in “Oddly” with her snake look, but her dragging in a toy car at the bottom of her boa was a head-scratcher.
Biggest missed opportunity: Brooke Lynn Hytes, serving up Canadian Mountie realness, failed to incorporate “I always get my man” into her opening remarks. Despite this, I still adore her.
Ru, in yet another fabulous suit, enters, welcomes the queens and sets them up for their first mini challenge. In keeping with the Drag Race tradition, it’s a photo shoot. Sadly, Mike Ruiz has been replaced by (equally famed, but not nearly as charismatic or handsome) photog Albert Sanchez this time around. The set is “Ru’s House” with photos of Ru and the former champions on the walls and tables. The queen-testants get to pose with some of the series’ favorite queens including Raja, Ongina, Mariah, Manila and Ru’s “glam squad” – Raven and Delta Work.
Best shoots: Scarlet and Raja’s olive and rose work, Honey and her “Auntie” Manila paying tribute to Alexis and Krystle from Dynasty, Brooke and Ongina’s “Officer and a Gentlequeen”, Plastique and Sonique looking gorgeous, Silky and Mariah as two girls heading out for a night on the town, Yvie and Adore Delano just being themselves.
Worst shoots: Vanessa completely blocking Farrah Moan, Soju putting Victoria “Porkchop” Parker too far in the background, Mercedes and Delta just looking awkward.
Side note: Jasmine Masters is back again. She must have something on RuPaul. Thoughts?
As Mariah makes everything better, Silky won the mini challenge. So, since the mini challenge was a photo shoot, the maxi challenge, of course, was a sewing challenge. The queen-testants were given trunks packed with fabrics and accessories that represented former queens.
Silky got to assign the trunks and the work began. It’s amazing how many Drag Race queens still can’t sew (I’m looking at you, Soju and Nina.) Silky also managed to grate on everyone’s nerves, as she attempted to grab camera time at every opportunity. Girl wants her own spin-off and she is working hard for it.
Let’s take a moment here to talk about guest judge Miley Cyrus. She’s great. She gets to have a drag king experience, donning a fake beard and a wig to play “BJ”, a male crew member, so she can check in on the queens while they prepare for the runway.
Silky recognizes her and promptly puts her on her back and runs rampant around the room with her. Miley takes this all in stride and later shares some words of wisdom with the queens. Actually, one word…BREATHE. She hugs them all and heads off to judge. She is every Drag Race fan and is genuinely excited to be there. (And if someone could get me that record dress she was wearing, I’d be eternally grateful.)
The runway looks were truly a mixed bag. Some of the standouts included Plastique (using materials inspired by Sasha Velour) who was a floral dream, Brooke Lynn Hytes who stunned in a super hero-inspired latex jumpsuit that would totally work on Detox, and A’Keria’s amazing five-wigged headpiece.
Even Vanjie managed to (almost) make us forget the shapeless floral nightmare that got her kicked off last season. Misses included Soju’s bell-shaped Korean-inspired disaster, Nina’s dress that Carson Kressly said looked like “A rare blood disease” and Kahanna’s peek-a-boo bra and half bodysuit combo.
The week’s winner was Brooke Lynn. Nina, who had auditioned for the show a whopping nine times is also safe, leaving Kahanna and Soju to Lip Sync for their Lives. The song chosen was Miley’s “Best of Both Worlds.”
Sadly, Soju was told to “sashay away.” She feels bad she let down her fans and promises we haven’t seen the last of her. With her rabid fan base, you can pretty much be assured of that.
Gag of the Week: This one is literal. When attempting to defend herself on the runway, Soju talked about her “tendonitis” and a leaking, pus-oozing growth somewhere on her body. When we want the “T”, we don’t mean “TMI”, girl.
Runner-up: Having some of the best queens from seasons past return was great, and I hope they keep this open to Ru’s big runway entrance, because it is EVERYTHING.
Lewk of the week: I agree with Ru and the judges, Brooke Lynn Hytes’ superhero look was amazing. I am so burnt out on the Marvel and DC universes, but I would SO watch a movie about her character.
That’s it for this week. Come back next week for more goops and gags. Everybody say LOVE!