We’re back! 2022 is here, and with it another season of, as Ru called it, “original recipe” RuPaul’s Drag Race.
14 queens are here to prove who has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. With a show that’s been around (and successful) this long, it’s tempting to follow the advice of, ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but Ru has brought the twists, turns, goops and gags from the moment the first queen enters the werk room.
This season, like last season, gives us a chance to get to know all of the queens a little better before one has to sashay away. We have another split premiere, with the first seven queens competing this week and the remaining queens hitting the runway next week. Our first queen enters, Puerto Rico’s own Alyssa Hunter, followed by Bosco, Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, Willow Pill, Kerri Colby, June Jambalaya and Orion Story. These entrance looks ran the gamut from gals with glam to queens of questionable taste. The entrance MVP had to be Kerri Colby, clad from head to toe in the colors of the trans Pride flag. I straight girl gasped when she entered the room.
The queen’s first challenge is the signature photoshoot, which usually leaves the queens facing somewhat perilous situations. (Side note: I miss Mike Ruiz.) Ru tells the girls to serve face while being spun on the “Smackdown for the Crown” wheel by the Pit Crew guys. The photos were fun, but, not surprisingly, Ru declared Kerri the winner (she is gorgeous.)
Next up, the main challenge. It’s talent show time, as the dolls bring out their best to the runway. For the CNTs (“Charisma, Nerve and Talent. All that’s missing is ‘u’”). Before the queens take the stage, they get a visit from guest judge Lizzo, serving a Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome fantasy. Kornbread, the self-declared number one Lizzo impersonator in LA, was delighted but felt the pressure.
After Ru hits the runway, looking glam and gifting us a full performance of her new single “Catwalk”, the CNTs begin. June gave us an African dance while battling her slippery headband, Bosco delivered a burlesque striptease performance that rivaled Dita Von Teese, Alyssa did a rocking lip sync and air guitar rock number and Kerri danced and did some jump roping to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.”
Orion introduced us to the top aerobics instructor in “all of Whispering Oaks trailer park” for a quick (and odd) workout, Kornbread performed and totally sold her own original song and Willow gave us a truly unique show and made us ponder the world’s weirdest bath time ritual.
On the runway, the theme is “Signature Show Stopping Drag.” June was glowing in a sparkly gold, lacy jumpsuit, Bosco served devilish magic in a Mugler-Lovecraftian ensemble with huge horns, Alyssa served a glittery Eliza Doolittle at the Ascot Races, Kerri had a fur coat with bedazzled lion heads and a dress covered in Ks.
Orion was a “sexy weird cartoon fantasy”, mixing polka dots the three-boobed (true) star of Total Recall. Ru joked that Kornbread was coming for Lizzo’s gig, as she also was channeling Ms. Turner in a mesh leotard. Willow wore Michelle’s despised green in an 80s pop star ensemble.
Ru picked Kornbread as this week’s winner and declared Kerri, Bosco and Willow safe. The bottom three are June, Alyssa and Orion and I think Alyssa’s elegant look saved her from the lip sync. It’s down to June and Orion, facing off to Lizzo’s “Water Me.”
It’s pretty obvious this week who won the lip sync and who won my heart as this week’s Drag Race MVP…Kornbread. I mean, one episode in and she is already the go-to for fabulous reaction shots and witty confessional interviews. For example:
On being nervous: ”I had butterflies in my stomach, no tea, no Asia O’Hara.:”
On her runway look: “My drag is fat, black and uncomfortable, and I am every one of those things right now.”
Her talent performance had the judges (and us) howling, from her chicken wing necklace to the photo of Merle Ginsberg on a milk carton in her bag of groceries. (If you don’t know, you need to bone up on your Drag Race her-story.)
One side note: I love Willow Pill (who happens to be Yvie Oddly’s drag daughter) but if she goes far in this competition, we are going to have to hear Ru utter, “She’s not a big pill, she’s a willow pill” every week. Just saying…
Another side note: don’t sleep on Bosco. Kornbread and Kerri are (deservedly) fan favorites, but Bosco really made an impression on me this episode.
So, let’s pour out a little SERV Vodka to Orion Story, the season’s first eliminated queen. Next week, we meet the rest of the queen-testants, find out who will join Orion in the Porkchop Loading Dock and see if Ru delivers the first twist of the season. Until next week, remember that if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?