RuPaul in her show stopping neon runway ensemble.
Last night, Barack Obama shut down Mitt Romney with a RuPaul-worthy dig, wearing a Presidential tie and telling the governor “the ’80s are calling, they want their foreign policy back.” (Burn!) Meanwhile, a certain well-respected drag doyenne was lip-syncing for her life with half a boobplate bulbing out of an iridescent, Cher-invoking bodysuit, covered bodaciously with a silver pasty. So many bodies got read all over the cable-guide last night. But while the Presidential debates were giving their parade wave, the almost-most important American match up on television last night commenced for its debut. RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, that behemoth catfight of quick wits and huge wigs, paired 12 of the most beloved drag queens from the first four seasons to weed out the best for the ultimate resurrection. If you watched it and DVR’d the debates for after, you’re a true patriot. RuPaul’s cackling laugh track is a goddamn national treasure—half Glinda, half Wicked—as American as a flag lapel pin the size of a cockatiel.
For the last four seasons, Drag Race has closely followed (and spoofed!) America’s Next Top Model, Ru’s supermodel smirk the camp counterpart to Tyra’s unflappable smize. But instead of would-be runway chicas from down-home Texas or uptown Manhattan or whatever, Ru casts the nation’s most glistening drag queens and challenged them to werk (and in some cases, twerk, owwwww). Elimination rounds mean making your own runway costume and if you’re in the bottom two, lip syncing to stay in the game. Some of the structure is the same—where Tyra’s got “TYRAMAIL,” Ru does the AOL dude: “You’ve got SHE-Mail!” Tyra’s practically patented a decade’s worth of inspirational quotes, but Ru’s go-to advice is godly: “Good luck… and don’t f*** it up,” and the more inspirational “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anybody else, can I get an Amen?!” Only it took Tyra 17 godforsaken cycles to get to an All-Star season, which maybe says a lot about how beloved Ru’s drag contestants have become, or maybe just a lot about Ru’s cojones (AMEN!). Either way, if this means Drag Race has a shelf-life, seppuku is on the menu.
Yara Sofia in her crystal cage dress.
For the most part, this season’s contestants are the cream of the non-winning drag superstars, it’s stacked with former Miss Congeniality winners and fan uber-faves—it’s gonna be a grueling several weeks. The real test, though, was what these chicks were wearing when they made their grande dame entrances into the dressing room. Pandora Boxx filed in first and had toned down the camp, her hourglass gown an on-trend wide vertical stripe (invoking equally on-trend Beetlejuice), though she was quickly outmoded by Latrice Royale’s bodycon fishtail dress and extended claws: “I’m waiting to see what bitches lurk behind that door.” Behold Yara Sofia, boricua sweetheart, in an avant-garde diamond cage bodysuit, and Raven giving full Susan Lucci in a crystal-encrusted adult cocktail dress. The looks spanned the gamut…of Nicki Minaj, with Jujube’s Roman-at-a-board meeting professional chic toning down Nina Flowers’ rainbow candy-raver catsuit. It makes sense, considering Minaj and Cassie’s recent video for “The Boys” is in the same neon colorwheel as this season’s Drag Race adverts (and since the video casts Cassie as a drag king).
Alexis Mateo’s “Chanel” doorknockers.
A few queens were feeling black lace with nude undergarments: Alexis Mateo wore it in the form of a catsuit matched with “Chanel” doorknockers and purple sequin eyepatch, Mimi Imfurst went full Cruella Deville, and Tammie Brown’s catsuit complimented her Annie Potts wig. They all looked fab, but when Shannel walked in giving Ursula meets Liza Minelli in a silver davenport paisley with an empress collar, Latrice was like, “That bitch is wearing everything.” Shannel responded, totally serious: “I bought this from the Debbie Reynolds Collection.” Yes you did, honey.
The episode’s title was “It Takes Two,” and it was more than just a call-out to Drag Race judge Michelle Visage’s claim to fame as lead singer of ’90s dance track “Two to Make It Right” (or her implants). Ru announced the girls would be competing in teams—and eliminated that way, too. OMG!, to quote Latrice Royale. Most queens got their first pick and formed powerhouse unions, but last-paired Pandora Boxx ended up with Mimi Imfurst and was not feeling it, understandably so: on season three, Mimi was eliminated during the Lip Sync round after picking up India Ferrah like a hock of ham and spinning her around while India screamed, “Get her off me! get her off me!” It was not a high point, but it was totally a high point.
Latrilla in their Teletubbies looks.
The worst part for ride-or-die Drag Race fans is picking a fave, a high class concern this early in the game but if we can’t be couture in our day-to-day, why can’t we be couture in our decisions? On the runway, Teams Yarlexis (Yara Sofia and Alexis Mateo) and Shad (Shannel and Chad Michaels) were all-nite gagfests, outfit-wise, even though neither one made top two. From a personality standpoint, Yarlexis and Latrila (Latrice and Manila Luzon) are easily at the top—so what’s a girl to do? Do some genetic brain melding? Team Yarlalextrila? Can we graft Alexis Mateo’s lavender sequin eyepatch onto Manila Luzon’s Schiaparelli-inspired hand-hat slash cigarette holder?
One of Yarlexis’ face dresses.
During last night’s runway round, Yarlexis wore black and red taffeta minidresses with a flounce at the skirt, and appliqued with cut-out images of their own faces at the breastplate, like their necklines were some kind of Carvel photo cake. It was genius DIY: surprise, it’s me!, a totally good retort to gross dudes who only talk to your tatas. Ru called it, “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion San Juan.” On the other hand, Team Shad did showgurlz to the fullest, with Chad Michaels giving the aforementioned Cher, as ever—oh yes, the seasoned and classy queen had to lip sync for her life, so you know her opponent got the shank. Shannel and Chad each had extremely complicated head-and-neckpiece situations happening, peacock and gilded phoenix looks making armor of their shoulder-blades. Shannel herself called it “birds of a feather flock together meets Dungeons and Dragons.” Alexander McQueen would not have been mad.
Okay but wait first, can we talk about RuPaul’s runway gown [Ed. note: See lead photo, because, how could we not lead with it]? A floorlength tank-style dress, it was a fairly simple silhouette, which complimented THE TOTALLY INSANE PATTERN, which was some kind of Rorschach print in neon yellow and fluo pink like radioactive bananas and raspberries. The pink hues were stronger at the boobs and ribs, which also made it look made from Hypercolor material, responding to her body heat, or like an oil slick at a rave. WEAR THIS AT LIMELIGHT (RIP) AT 4 AM, YOU WILL GET A FREE RIDE HOME. The electric pudding hue of her wig matched the yellow, and she pinned it up fetchingly at the ear with a complimentary neon green poof of a flower. Does this woman ever not look impeccable? Gag. Gag. Gag. Gag. She called guest judge Rachel Hunter “Hunty,” and the supermodel was so cowed by the entrance she didn’t even really seem to pick up on it. Gag.
Manila’s iPad fannypack.
Composing ourselves, back to the runway: no one topped Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon, who dressed as Teletubbies on fire in crimson sequin bodysuits. Latrice did her usual BBW thing, showing a disco half sleeve and wide-legged pants and oozing with confidence—she is so gorgeous and composed and has never cracked once in the history of this series. But Manila Luzon was a sleeper slayer, her catsuit not giving an inch. The high point wasn’t the triangular Teletubby hanger-hat, though; it was the wide belt, which consisted of an iPad strapped to her stomach like a fannypack. The iPad was showing her own music video. Those LED belts you could cop on Canal Street a few years back look like steampunk shit. Team LatTRILa won handily. We are currently duct taping our Kindle to our waistlines.
Mandora, the eliminated team.
The final lip sync competition went to Team Shad, who didn’t do well in the photo challenges, and to Team Mandora, the doomed Mimi Imfurst and Manila Luzon. The song was Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.” Chad Michaels is a self-professed “drag assassin” and did the Roger Rabbit, so we had to say RIP to Team Mandora and their janky outfits: Caribbean blue gowns embellished at the shoulders and waist with lime green shag fur, endowed to them by “1000 dead Muppets,” as Pandora Boxx put it. She also said, “It sucks to have to go home, but I was an All-Star before and I’m gonna be an All-Star after,” while looking like she wanted to shiv Mimi Imfurst with the sharp end of a powder brush. Ru, it’s good to have you back.
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