If you thought that RuPaul was done with the gags and twists for season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race, you clearly don't know the producers of the show. After a gaggy first episode where all the performers were forced to lip sync immediately upon entering the Werk Room, and the losers forced to give one queen "The Porkchop," Ru threw another wrench into the format. Well actually, she basically brought back another premiere format.
On Friday's episode, things kicked off with the competitors in the Porkchop Loading Dock voting for a queen to "eliminate." The vote ends in a tie with Utica Queen and Elliott with the 2 T's up for the boot. Ru makes them all vote again with only those two as choices, and Elliott is sent packing. We cut to the Werk Room to find the winning queens preparing for the next week's mini-challenge which is the show staple: a runway challenge with two looks. The surprise, Elliott walks in the Werk Room. It becomes pretty clear to us that the show has brought back the format of splitting the contestants into two groups in order to let them each have a little more time and attention. The first group up: the lip sync winners (plus Elliott) with the losers in the second — the latter group will be the center of next week's episode.
The winners put on a pretty decent mini-challenge: some highlights were certainly Symone and Gottmik. Olivia Lux showed us that she'll be continually bringing back her mini bags (when she's out of drag it will be berets that are her staple) and Lala Ri tripped on her dress. But Gottmik took a moment in the confessionals to talk about the importance of her black evening look. It was a gown with one half of her chest exposed, likely inspired from a variety of Saint Laurent designs.
"She is a spooky seductress and girl, my titty's out," she said on the voice over. "Ever since I got my top surgery, I love having my chest out. I am living for it." Top surgery would have been a part of the performer's gender affirmation surgery as she transitioned. She's spoken about her scars from surgery before to fans on Instagram, particularly when some believed that VH1 edited them out of promotional imagery. She revealed that it was all just makeup that she had put on and that she would never allow anyone to edit them out as she wears them with pride.
Gottmik returned to the topic later on. For the maxi challenge, the performers wrote their own verses to Ru's song "Condragulations" and then had to choreograph a group number and performer. As per normal, the choreography session was a bit crazy as no one wanted to take charge. But when Gottmik's time to practice her verse came up, she found herself overcome with emotions.
"Gottmik was born a girl baby," her verse starts. "Was told that I can't do drag, knew I had something to prove and you're gonna lose."
Her emotions came in as she hadn't previously spoken to the rest of the contestants about her gender. Having them hear those lines without any context evoked gender dysphoria according to Gottmik. But the next day, in the Werk Room, she was able to talk more freely. There, she explained not only her gender but also her pronouns.
"My pronouns are he/him out of drag and she/her in drag," Olivia Lux said, opening the conversation.
"Same!" Gottmik said before explaining that when people use he/him pronouns while she is in drag, she feels "clocked" as something different than all the others in the room. Later in Untucked she was able to open up to the rest of the group LaLa Ri explained that even though she heard the lyrics she didn't actually think about what it meant.
"This week was one of the most emotional weeks of my life, just because when we went into the rehearsal I was just kind of taken off guard because ... I haven't talked to you guys about my gender situation and all of that," Gottmik said. " When I got out there I was just paralized just so not in the moment at all. You know, I'm a transgender guy that does drag." The other contestants responded with words of encouraging, pointing out that the performer was a trailblazer and an inspiration to others.
On the Main Stage, the performers do decently well on the whole. There were a few flubs but it's a really solid rendition of "Condragulations." Lux and Symone shine as clear stars and are named as such in judging, later rewarded with the label of tops of the week. Kandy Muse comes out of deliberations as the clear bottom queen, but judges didn't name a bottom queen, instead the two tops battled it out for $5,000 to Dua Lipa.
Symone, our Ebony Enchantress, took home the cash.