RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Episode 6: Wizards of Drag

Bryony Bates

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

Hi gang, I couldn’t do a recap last week because reasons, but for the sake of completeness, here’s a rundown of episode 6.

Ages come and ages pass, but reading is FUNDAMENTAL. The library is open, and this mini challenge is judged, inexplicably, by the guy who writes recaps for E! He says little and picks the obvious winner, Bob the Drag Queen, then disappears in a puff of irrelevance. What I’m saying is, I mean the main takeaway from this is that I was available Ru so – why didn’t you call?

Everyone acquits themselves fairly well, and I actually liked Kim Chi with her jibe about Chi Chi the best (‘Your drag is like turkey neck: it’s cheap and no one wants it’) but hey, I’m not complaining: Bob was funny and polished, and wins several thousand dollars worth of stuff to add to her growing hoard of prizes.

That struck me as unusual given that this week is the makeover challenge, and usually the queen who wins the mini-challenge gets to assign partners, with all kind of shade being thrown in the process. So why not now – oh because we’re doing a Wizard of Oz themed challenge (themed on the BOOK not the FILM – no, no one’s ever heard of a film of The Wizard of Oz which is definitely still in copyright while the book isn’t) and the queens’ partners are the stars of Little Women LA. Assigning these women to partners, leaving the ‘worst’ for the least-liked queen would take this from ‘Um, is this OK…?’ territory (note: the word ‘munchkin’ is not uttered in this episode) to definitely brutal.

Anyway, the women each have a character from the book to theme the outfits and get to pick their partners instead. Everyone has a great time.

Naomi Smalls knows she has to level it up this week, and it is refreshing to see her excited about doing the Scarecrow, rather than bitching about it as lesser queens would have done (cf Robbie Turner with the actually-quite-decent dog challenge from the first episode). On the runway, guest judge Marc Jacobs says her ‘Vivienne Westwood meets Scarecrow meets Vidal Sassoon’ look is ‘perfection’ – and even if he hadn’t, that description shows that Naomi has a bit more ambition than her performance to date has shown. I especially love the sleek hair – totally not an obvious choice for a scarecrow, but it works.

Kim Chi also has a great black and white wicked witch look, but Naomi beats her to the win. Well-deserved, but it would be nice to see Kim win a challenge again.

Thorgy’s Emerald City citizen looks for herself and her partner are great at first sight, but the detail just isn’t quite there – the wigs in particular look like something that’s been clogging up your lawnmower. It reminds me of her neon look with the weird, harsh black lines all over: I get what you’re going for, but there’s a fine line between wonderfully tacky and just plain bad looking.

Bob gets taken down a peg or two when her outfit falls apart just before going on the runway, meaning her partner looks much better than her. The way to win the makeover challenge is to ensure your partner looks good while not looking nearly as good as you, so Bob fails on that front. I do love that she hides the fact she didn’t have time to do her make up properly by just shoving a load of glitter on her face, even though it does look like someone threw a flour bomb at her forehead.

Chi Chi has a heartfelt moment where she considers that maybe, like Dorothy, the power to win has been within her the whole time, and upon realising this power, she half-asses her Dorothy outfit and spends time she could have been working on it shooting the shit with her partner. The look is bad, but she has the charm to pull it off. I get the feeling, though, that tactic’s not going to work for much longer.

It’s not terrible enough to put her in the bottom two: far from it, with Robbie Turner and Derrick Barry (surprise surprise) bringing up the rear. Robbie’s Cowardly Lion outfits are supposed to look regal, but a tacked on bustle does not a Monarch of the Jungle make. She abandoned her original plan to make capes because (and I quote) ‘her fabric just won’t sew’. That’s right – Robbie Turner, employee of the month in the excuses department, fails to consider that she is doing something wrong – it’s the fabric that won’t sew. The internet suggests she threaded her sewing machine incorrectly, but it’s not for Robbie to be the bad workman that blames his tools: she’ll blame the material specifically provided for sewing purposes for sabotaging her efforts to sew. If you can’t tell, I’ve had enough of Robbie Turner’s shit

Derrick Barry is paired with another Britney impersonator, and they spend their time bitching about everyone else and discussing how fantastic they both are in comparison. It’s a testament to Derrick’s iron-clad self-belief that she does not seem in the slightest bit embarrassed to go down the runway with, and I can’t describe this better than Michelle Visage, ‘horse penises’ on her shoulders. Silver horse penises, because she’s the Tin Man. Right.

It’s a low-stakes lip sync, as no one is going to mourn either of these queens’ passing, and it’s a foregone conclusion with the song choice: ‘I Love It’ by Icona Pop. There are times when the show is clearly catering for one queen over the other e.g. Jinkx Monsoon getting ‘Malambo No. 1’ for her lip sync against Detox in Season Five, and when you have a Britney impersonator vs. a vintage queen, giving them a high energy dance pop number is not an even playing field. I feel this is an attempt by the producers to show why Derrick Barry is even on the show, given how dull she is compared to everyone else. She gives a great, if not particularly ground-breaking performance, and Robbie is sent home.

Ah well. She’ll always have the roller skates.

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