RuPaul’s finale runway look.
Sweet mother of RuPaul, we’re down to the final episode. This is the ultimate payoff of the investment we’ve made for weeks, some of us several seasons: the crowning of the redemptive queen who returned to take her rightful place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Get us a hankie, we predict blubbering in our future.
Perhaps you missed us last week—we were on the gonzo whirlwind known as #Rihannaplane, where television, time, and internet did not exist, so here’s a brief recap of last week’s pre-finale. The remaining queens—Chad Michaels, Shannel, Raven and Jujubee—were enlisted to play a game of FISH, Ru’s queen version of beloved sixth grade hoops game HORSE. Then she flipped the switch and had her girls dress in good versus evil superhero costumes, the best of which was Chad Michaels in a flame-themed cape and bodysuit as Firecrotch. Raven and Jujubee were forced to lip sync against each other to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” (ugh!), but the end result was so emotional, complete with Jujubee hyperventilating, that Ru bucked her own rules and kept them both in the competition. Also, Michelle Visage was wearing a necklace in the shape of home state New Jersey and Ru goes, “You put the HO in HOBOKEN!”
The queens in their secretary-interviewee looks.
So now we’re down to the final four, in which the teams were split and given the ultimate challenge: a day in the life of a true all star, in which each contestant had to perform a stand-up routine at the Comedy Store, be interviewed by “celebrity reporter” Marc Malkin, and show in the final runway round—all in different outfits. Ayeee! Guest judge Cheri Oteri helped them with their comedy, in which we learned that Jujubee’s government name is Airline (hell-yeah-immigrants.tumblr.com), and Shannel thinks she is a black woman trapped in a white man’s body (groaaaaan). That was all fine and dandy, but they ran into snags when RuPaul sent them out for their interviews. Riding around Los Angeles in “dragmobiles”—which were dad-grey Ford Econo Vans, the farthest cars from dragcars we could imagine, hilariously—the queens’ interviewee day drag was painfully secretarial, and it hurt us to see. Chad Michaels looked the most gorgeous in a sleek black dress with a peplum waist, shoulderpads, and a demure blonde wig, but like, what’s good with the black-and-white Limited sale rack patterns on Shannel and Raven? They are both too gorgeous to be looking so trife in V-neck shift dresses, which look okay on everyone but also turn most figures into those of Based Matrons. Do not do.
Fortunately, they had to change in the vans en route to their next challenge, where Hamburger Mary’s would be devoting new menu items to each of the queens, and they all got to demonstrate their abilities to fondle beef, oh my. This time, Chad Michaels was showing off her Joan Crawford in a lovely patterned bronze lame bodycon dress, but good god, didn’t Santino read her one time for her discontinued-shade pantyhose? It’s a tragedy to see such a gorgeous woman looking like she has developed jaundice from the waist down, particularly when said woman is so unashamed about all the work she’s had done on her face? Does she have deep vein thrombosis we don’t know about? These things matter. This is the final four! Chad Michaels, do not do this to yourself, you may be 41, but you have the legs of a 22-year-old! They want to be liberated!
Unexpectedly, all the contestants slayed their stand-up routines, but then a drag queen without a sense of humor is the saddest thing in the world. Jujubee, dressed in mall-cute turquoise jeans and a black tank with a cheetah on it, was the funniest talking about her family: “I was born a drag queen, and the afterbirth was glitter.” Good god yes. Chad Michaels made up for her medical-issue gams in a neon-patterned giraffe dress reminiscent of Ru’s first-episode gown, looking ever-fierce giving those ’09 Balenciaga cliffhanger shoulders in a gilded pad while riffing on her plastic surgery. And Raven! Raven joked about being a “slut” while looking like a super-cute poodle in a turquoise wig and striped hotpants. “My relationships usually end unconventionally,” she quipped. “Last call. Security flashes the light in your face. Or the warden comes and tells you you’re being released.”
But the runway round was where the girls really needed to impress, particularly with ultimate-fabulous guest judge Beth Ditto of the Gossip, who’s been doing drag make-up contouring of the face since 1996 or something. She did her damn thing, giving so much tattoo and sensual arm out a sleeveless, pink floral vest, plus enough black eyeliner to land her in reform school on the strength. Michelle Visage wasn’t a wilting daisy, either, wearing a nameplate necklace that read “Hunty” with another face-eating, animal-print lame collar and ice-blue lightning bolt earrings. You know that thing where Coco Chanel wants you to flip around in the mirror and remove the first accessory that catches your eye? Michelle Visage does not subscribe to that method. Meanwhile, RuPaul dazzled in another Zaldy sequin special, giving copper-penny realness with an off the shoulder neckline and fishtail silhouette. Whenever she wears a corsage in her hair I feel like calling my prom date, I swear (and not just cause my prom date was my gay best friend, hiiii Steven!!).
Chad Michaels’ runway look.
Once again, Chad Michaels was a step above on the runway, looking insane in a rubberized holographic catsuit with one leg exposed (and in an acceptable shade of opaque black pantyho, thank goodness). So when Jujubee emerged right after wearing a ruffled aqua party dress and nude platform Mary Janes, it was a little anticlimactic: you don’t wanna give Kardashian when the invite calls for Cinderella, my dear. Shannel brought the drama, though, in her first finale appearance worth mentioning: a showgirl-worthy Ursula gown with a chandelier headpiece in fiery crimson that she called “Cirque du Soleil realness.” Here’s a question: would you wear that if you weren’t a drag queen or employed in Vegas? If you answered yes, you are Lady Gaga.
Jujube’s runway look.
Despite Shannel’s shock factor, Raven was the next-best thing on the runway, embodying the “hussy” she defined herself in her runway, continuing a theme in high-end lingerie that looked right off the racks at Agent Provocateur, which the judges perfectly characterized as Donatella Versace at the boudoir. The remarkable thing about all these looks was how quintessentially they embodied the queens’ personalities, each with their own fabulousness. “I feel like my four favorite actresses are up for the same award,” Ru said, and it was so right. But with the ferocity of Chad Michaels and Raven ramped up to radioactive degrees, Jujubee and Shannel had to be eliminated out the gate. When weighing their pros and cons, Beth Ditto called Shannel’s comedy routine a “con con con con con con” in the rhythm of Sisqo’s “Thong Song.” I mean, can we just give her the award?
Raven and Chad were up for the lip sync, to RuPaul’s divacious single, “Responsitrannity.” Both gave everything, but it was really a test between classic drag with a long history in the game—Chad, with 20 years of experience—and the new energy of a generation less beholden to the rules—Raven. In the end, experience won out, and Ru crowned Chad the next Drag Race All-Star. Though we were secretly hoping Alexis Mateo would fly in out of nowhere and steal the tiara, Chad Michaels really earned it—she was so close to winning the last season, and her poise, beauty, and grace is more than worthy of carrying the torch. When Ru announced her name, she collapsed on her heels and flapped her arms around. You have to love it! And so until next season, we wish you all the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent it takes to live a fabulous life. In the words of Ru: if you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anybody else, can I get an amen? Also, make sure your pantyhose is the shade of someone with a pulse! Amen!