RECAP: RuPaul's Drag Race Episode 4
By Mark Peikert
“We were on uppers, downers, and candy corn,” Sharon Needles cackled last night on RuPaul’s Drag Race, in perfect character as Michelle Visage. A contestant sending up one of the judges? It must be the best episode of the season, Snatch Game!
That’s right, this week’s Drag Race found the queens revealing the depths and shallows of their pop culture knowledge. Those with a masters degree in diva included Sharon, Chad Michaels (an unsurprisingly awesome Cher, making it more like an episode of Natch Game) and Willam as a dead-on, blank-eyed Jessica Simpson. Guest judges Ross Matthews and Loretta Devine cheered their efforts, but only crickets sounded for the rest of the dolls.
After declaring that this is the year of a “big bitch” winning the competition, Latrice turned in just a so-so performance as Aretha Franklin, eating food like she was Stacy Layne Matthews as Mo’nique and totally missing the obvious opportunity for an outlandish chapeau. Milan’s Diana Ross was more than a mountain high enough, coming across as a drug-addled lounge singer. Ditto Phi Phi O’Hara as Lady Gaga, struggling to make the enigmatic pop icon into a joke machine, settling for talking about her little monsters instead. (Phi Phi was also thrilled when Sharon Needles called dibs on Michelle Visage, incorrectly assuming that The Lady Visage doesn’t have a sense of humor about herself.) Jiggly was a mediocre Snooki and Kenya was… well, Kenya claimed to be Beyoncé, but the jokes about her meds and the fart joke kind of worked against her. I don’t think Beyoncé even urinates.
The next day, as the girls get ready for the runway Latrice reads the entire first row for filth. “Romper room” was hurled down from on high, and the guilty girls are suitably chastised. Jiggly even apologized! It’s hard not to agree with Latrice in her embarrassed rage at the amateur hour that threatened to derail the challenge, but she also shut down a little as things spun out of control.
On the runway, Sharon Needles gives Upper East Side housewife realness with facial bandages and a syringe, proving once again that the future of drag isn’t reliant on Liza and Cher impressions (sorry, Chad Michaels). Kenya works the runway like a champ in a sequined, sexy boxer’s outfit, but that’s not enough to compensate for her messy Mary routine as Beyoncé; Ru tells her that impersonating B is not “your destiny, child.” Chad looks fabulous in a yellow wig and a giraffe onesie; Phi Phi’s shoulder pads are out of control; Latrice looks regal in royal blue; Jiggly serves us more quinceañera; Willam is all slutty black lace and thigh high boots; and Milan makes the grave mistake of giving you Janelle Monae. A drag queen serving drag king realness? The judges are not impressed.
During the critiques, the judges tell Willam that they need to see some vulnerability; she delivers after Ru tells her she is safe by breaking down in tears, and beginning a touching speech about making drag queen friends for the first time in her life. And it makes her so sad that one of them has to go home so she, Willam, can win! The moment seems sincere, which makes it all the more delicious.
Chad Michaels is declared the winner for her impressive and thorough Cher; Kenya and Milan must lip sync for their lives to Madonna’s “Vogue,” which is shooting fishy fish in a barrel, if you ask me. Milan rewarms last week’s lip sync performance, sliding her taint all up and down the stage, while Kenya whips her hair and focuses on giving face. In the end, a clean stage is most important to Ru, and Milan gets to stay. At this point, she can see her reflection in that shiny, shiny stage. Kenya, however, must sashay away, proving that Billy B. was wrong; Kenya turns out not to be the one to beat.
Meanwhile, if Beyoncé had time to watch TV when she’s not buying boomerangs, do you think she’s writing a song about Kenya’s impersonation? You know that Taylor Swift would.