WARNING: This post includes details from the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race season 11.
Hey kitty girls! Quick question: What competition was RuPaul judging last night?!
Listen, we truly love Ru here at Out. We do! We may give her a little tough love every now and again, but we truly do love what she’s done for drag and the effect that has had on not only pop culture but queer businesses and queer creatives. But we need to know what, exactly, she was watching last night because baby … it wasn’t the same show that we saw.
The episode was a crossover of two tried and true RuPaul’s Drag Race formats. It was one part drag makeovers, where queens are challenged to put someone else into drag while ensuring there’s a family resemblance, and it was one part “Return of the Queens.” We’ve said before that the latter plot twist rarely provides any substantial change in the competition and it seems this season Ru listened: while the eliminated queens did come back on screen, they were not a part of the competition and couldn’t earn a slot to continue on. Ok, we’re into it, we’re into it.
During work room visits, Ru made sure to keep things spicy, resurfacing critiques from weeks gone by and asking the competitors, as frankly as possible, how they planned on addressing them. Referend doctor Silky Nutmeg Ganache, usually ready with a quick comeback to just about anything, floundered when Ru began interrogating her about preparations. As a side of Ganache that really hadn’t ever been shown in the work room, the other queens seemed to stop their work to lap it all up; the competitor who started off as possibly the loudest and proudest of the bunch was choking. In front of Ru, no less. This was a moment made for television.
There was a bit of drama in the workroom — A’keria Davenport resurfaced whispered conversations surrounding Ariel Versace’s leftover wigs and Scarlett Envy’s opinions of Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Ganache — but the drama we want to talk about was on the runway.
The contestants and their new drag daughters took to the runway two at a time: Yvie Oddly and Envy in dangling denim; Nina West and Shuga Cain in stage-ready costumes styled after the Gay Pride and Trans Pride flags; A’keria and Honey Davenport giving citrus colored elegant curves; Soju and Ganache living a 70’s disco fantasy; Mateo and Versace in well tailored crimson variations of the same look; and Brooke Lynn Hytes and Plastique Tiara giving pageant mother and daughter eleganza. It was a decent lineup with Mateo and Versace re-enacting the now infamous “Miss Vanjie” moment while Hytes and Tiara gave a no-words-needed “that’s not what you’re supposed to be” scene. Hytes went on to win, cementing herself as the season’s runway queen and top competitor. But those, my dear friends were the tops, and we are here to talk about the bottoms.
It was Oddly, West, and Ganache who were quickly sussed out as the worst performers. Ru pulled in another Drag Race classic by asking all of the contestants (and even the eliminated queens) to say who they would like to go home and all of the responses came down to either Oddly or Ganache. So Ru chose West and Ganache for the bottom two. Wait what?
Yes, my dear friends: RuPaul Charles put our dear, darling Nina West in the bottom two because her look was a little more costume than fashion — obviously negating the statement she was hoping to make about the gay and trans communities being family as a part of her ongoing drag activism. She put West in the bottom two when Oddly was standing right there … literally in tatters.
But that’s ok, it’s a game. That happens. There’s always the lip sync. That lip sync.
“This big body can get really high, it can get really low,” Ganache said in the lead in to the performance. “It can split, dip, so I ain’t worried for me. The bitch might as well pack before I even get started.” The comments seemed to echo the spirit of some of some of the Chicago performer’s earlier statements that seemed to make her out into a would-be lip sync assassin. But having seen the performance to TLC’s “No Scrubs” … mawma … Maury!
I’m not sitting on the panel but if I were I would point out that Ganache’s lip sync basically lacked all of the tenets of a performance. There was no sense of musicality, she was visibly flubbing the words, and there was no stage presence or showmanship.The wig reveal felt like an accident or after thought, and then afterwards she got lost in her own hair. Her look itself was falling apart … should I go on?
Meanwhile, Miss West wasn’t doing a lot but she seemed to know the words, seemed to have a sense of the song. Sure, it was no Hytes v. Oddly but she seemed to have a bit of a groove! It was a little Backstreet Boys-esque, but it fit the vibe. Her look maintained its integrity throughout the whole song and half of the cast didn’t just say she should have went home. Plus, West seemed to be going finding her stride in the competition and was on the ascent!
So what’s going on Ru?! Why did you do that, do that, do that, do that, do that to Nina?!