RuPaul’s Drag Race S8 E1: Keeping It 100

Bryony Bates

Who’s excited? I’m excited! Not because RuPaul’s Drag Race is back: after the last couple of seasons, I was concerned that this centenarian needed some gentle help towards the light. But this, the 100th episode, showed there’s life in the old girl yet, so you can put the pillow down now, no need, no need.

I have neither the time nor the patience to go through all of the queens’ entrances, so here’s what you need to know:

1.Naomi Smalls is reminiscent of a young RuPaul; Robbie Turner is reminiscent of Jinkx Monsoon before she learned about good wigs and make up.

2.There is a strong New York contingent with Acid Betty, Thorgy Thor and Bob the Drag Queen, but don’t expect a Heathers/Rolaskatox situation any time soon as Betty and Thorgy clearly hate each other.

3. Thorgy Thor is a white man with dreadlocks so Betty may be onto something there.

4. Chi Chi DeVayne wore an actual bin bag for her entrance to the Work Room, which is impressive at least in the sense that it made a big impression.

5. Naysha Lopez says she’s flawless but I can see her underwear.

We have a little herstory lesson for the first mini-challenge as the contestants do a photo shoot with all the former winners – minus Bianca Del Rio, who has been replaced by a clown. I miss the humiliating first mini-challenges of yore, when the queens got dunked in water tanks or blasted with wind machines, but this at least provides some prime opportunities for shade.

Robbie Turner apparently has a death wish as she tells Sharon Needles to move out the way.

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‘Sharon, did she try to come for you?’ asks Bebe Zahara Benet.

‘Yeah she came for me,’ replies Sharon, with the fury of a thousand exploding suns.

Kim Chi is terribly sweet but still turns out a great photo, proving you don’t have to be a bitch to be a drag queen. Kim Chi is honestly too good and pure for this world, and should exist only on Instagram, being double-tapped forever by adoring fans.

Laila McQueen is intimidated by such illustrious company, and betrays her true feelings by posing like she’s about to shit herself. Honestly if she had, her photo would have at least been interesting. Consider it next time Laila, you can say it’s an homage to Divine.

It’s a recycled maxi-challenge, as the queens have to take on a classic challenge from a past season. Last season was lacking in design challenges, so hopefully this is a good omen for things to come.

Robbie Turner assigns themes, having been chosen for the task by way of a ping-pong ball fired from Morgan McMichaels‘ arsehole. That sounds like something I’ve made up for comic effect, doesn’t it? It’s not.

Robbie chickens out and gives everyone relatively easy challenges. Why oh why would you not give Derrick Barry the Rupocalypse challenge, and force her to work bloody severed limbs into her Britney outfits? Why give Acid Betty free rein with the money challenge when you could give her some dowdy curtains to work with instead?

And did Robbie honestly forget that she had to assign herself something? She seems pissed at getting the dog challenge so memorably won by Sharon Needles back in season 4, which – really bitch? You’re supposed to be all old Hollywood glamour and you can’t work a poodle into your look?

In case you couldn’t tell, I am seriously unimpressed by Robbie Turner.

I am, however, more impressed than expected by Chi Chi DeVayne: not with her outfit, which despite some manufactured drama about it breaking just before she’s about to go on the runway turns out fine, but her attitude. This woman turned up in a trash bag and tells everyone without shame that she’s eaten dog treats and possum.

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Behind that pretty exterior she is all kinds of weird and that is what I want from this show. That and more of Bob the Drag Queen pissing off Acid Betty with her ‘Naomi Shambles’ impression. Just stick that on a loop for twelve weeks and I’m grand.

Kim Chi and Acid Betty offer up the best looks on the runway. Acid Betty has a high fashion dollar bill dress, though I’m surprised no one called her out on her questionable choice of tights – I think they were supposed to be gold, though to me it looked like someone had tried to make vomit look appealing in Photoshop.

Kim Chi takes some not entirely promising materials – a bunch of beige wigs – and turns out an incredible Givenchy-inspired lion outfit, let down slightly by the way she clumps down the runway in a somewhat orthopaedic fashion.

Expect that to come up as a critique in the weeks to come, probably from Michelle Visage slapping her hand on the table repeatedly and telling us yet again what she does and does not want from a drag queen as if we must care about her opinion. She wins the challenge, though, so maybe it’s fine.

Side note: Kim Chi says her mother doesn’t know that she does drag, despite having seen some pictures of her in drag.

‘She thinks they’re just a make up job I’ve done, she doesn’t know it’s me’ says Kim. Anyone else get the sense that Mrs Chi perhaps knows more than she’s letting on? Let’s hope so, I really don’t think appearing on national TV is the best way to let her know.

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Naysha’s underwear is visible once again in her runway outfit, and once again this is not intentional. This is the first dress she’s made, because apparently seven previous seasons’ worth of sewing challenges weren’t enough to warn her this might be expected.

Robbie Turner looks sad in a fluffy white pillowcase, and Laila McQueen, though she looks just fine, hasn’t quite done enough to secure her place. Some might think it’s unfair to put her in the bottom when she made her own jacket and looked fine, but if you’re a spooky queen and you get an apocalypse theme, more is expected of you than a blazer over a pair of thigh high boots, sweetheart.

Robbie Turner scrapes to safety – undeserved but she’s too good at doing her bits to camera for the producers to let go of her just yet. So it’s Naysha versus Laila in the lipsync, and Naysha, despite her sexy ‘boomshell’ looks (thanks for that word, Cynthia Lee Fontaine) doesn’t have the personality to go with it.

Laila owns the stage, though she keeps, like, almost doing a death drop and I can’t tell whether this is an actual dance move which is similar to a death drop or whether she just can’t do actual death drops but keeps trying. Time will tell, I suppose.

Naysha sashays away and – oh what’s that? Why yes, I did predict that Naysha would be the first to go, thanks for remembering. And I also said that Laila would be next, that’s right, and she was in the bottom two this week so – sorry if there are any Laila fans out there, but my predictions do have a 100% success rate so far, so…

And there we are. The queen I liked the least has gone first, and the rest have more than enough personality between them, so Season 8 is looking good to me.

About Bryony Bates

Bryony likes reading, writing, glamour and anger. @Bryony_Bates