RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Episode 4: New Wave Queens

Bryony Bates

Debbie Harry is a guest judge on this episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, guys – DEBBIE FRIGGIN HARRY. Also one of the men from Blondie, Chris Stein. I find it quite funny that, throughout, RuPaul refers to Chris Stein as ‘Chris Stein, co-founder of Blondie’ and Debbie Harry as… ‘Debbie Harry’. Some of these queens need to start following her lead in standing out from the group or they’re not going to be around much longer.

No mini-challenge this week, which is a shame, and the runway is done in super quick time too, which means almost the entire episode is focused on the maxi challenge: performing in threes as a new wave group. The ladies get to choose their own groups, so we have the New York girls together, Bob, Thorgy and Acid Betty; the cutey-pie ‘Best Friends Race’ group, consisting of Kim Chi, Robbie Turner and Naomi Smalls; and then the ones that nobody loves, Naysha Lopez, Derrick Barry and Chi Chi DeVayne.

Guess who’s going to do badly?

Well, initially, that would seem to be the New York queens. After a tense stand-off between Team NY and Team Unloved as to who gets the ‘party’ track instead of the ‘synth’ track – because these fine distinctions are really worth fighting over – Team NY gets their party.

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However, there is manufactured drama a-plenty as Thorgy makes a face like she’s just found some cat sick behind the sofa whenever the others dare suggest anything. The arguing doesn’t achieve anything much, except to make Acid Betty fade into the background somewhat, which is impressive in its own way.

Look, I know it’s all editing, but I have to take this at face value.

Bob’s a woman on the edge as they rehearse with resident Drag Race maestro Lucian Piane, and chats back to him something fierce. This is supposed to make her look like a diva, but to be fair Lucian does tell them they’re being too cheesy doing a B-52s-style song.

When Bob’s like, ‘Aren’t the B-52s kind of, you know, cheesy?’ he responds with a complete non-sequitur and tells them to be more cool, like Lorde. Right.

I can only assume that this is a desperate attempt to make it look like they’re fucking up when really, as has been true with all the challenges this season, they’re all doing pretty well.

Case in point: Team Best Friend Race bounce on with their punk track, which they chose to prove they could do something different. This is usually a death knell for any individual or group on Drag Race, but once they’ve had a go at a primal scream or two, they’re fine. And all very well-mannered too.

The other main drama this episode is Chi Chi DeVayne’s naked contempt for her team-mates. She knows she’s better than these bitches, and I have to agree.

Chi Chi may not have the money for fancy outfits, she may take themes rather too literally (as when she suggests their geometry-themed group come out in big geometric outfits), she may not know that New England is part of the United States, but she has that rare thing: star quality. That quickly becomes apparent on the main stage.

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Derrick thinks she’s going to be the pop princess main event this week, but she is not interesting to watch, and she’s really not a great singer. Believing in yourself will only get you so far, Derrick. Also, Britney Spears wasn’t New Wave the last time I checked.

Naysha is also completely forgettable, leaving Chi Chi as the only one worth looking at in Dragometry. The lyrics they’ve written don’t make sense (‘Rectangle girls of the world’ say what?) and their lack of chemistry is obvious.

Compare this to the NY girls as Street Meatz, looking picture-perfect in 80s outfits – Betty gets read by Michelle Visage for looking more 50s, but this is bullshit because they’re being like the B52s – retro as a concept wasn’t invented in the 21st century – and unsurprisingly they get some good jokes in as well (Bob’s big black… beans being the most memorable).

Les Chicken Wings, our punky best friends, actually do manage to show they have range: Kim Chi’s clunky physical presence actually works for her here, and Robbie Turner wins the challenge because… I dunno, someone had to, and they like to let a queen redeem herself after being in the bottom two with a win.

I have to say, I love her saloon girl interpretation of the neon look for the runway. Though we only see it for roughly a nanosecond and a half with the truncated runway section, it’s a different take on what seemed like an obvious theme.

Honourable mention to Kim Chi’s incredible Picasso-style runway make-up, and could do better for Thorgy Thor: her outfit nearly works, but is ruined by some clumsy make up and a wig that doesn’t go. I know it’s her look and her life, but those dreads really limit what she can do with wigs.

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Another misstep from Ms Visage: she tells Bob it’s nice to see her get away from ‘ratchet drag’ but Bob hasn’t done ‘ratchet drag’ for any of the challenges so far. She is black, though, so draw your own conclusions about how Ms Visage sees the queens.

It’s Naysha and Chi Chi in the bottom two, which is clearly unjust – there’s no way Chi Chi should be there and Derrick shouldn’t. Derrick, however, is being kept around for Snatch Game (otherwise what’s the point of her), so she gets off this time.

It’s a foregone conclusion: we’ve already seen Naysha lip-sync, and her dance skills haven’t improved since the last time. She tries pulling out all the usual gymnastic stops, but as Chi Chi can do this and also remember to actually move her lips in time to the damn song, she pulls through.

So it’s goodbye again to Naysha Lopez. Farewell Naysha, we hardly knew thee. Even though you had two chances to make a good first impression.

Next week, it’s everyone’s favourite, the Snatch Game! Tune in to see Derrick Barry doing a Britney Spears impression which won’t be as good as Tatianna in Season 2, even though Tatianna hadn’t even prepared an impression! What fun that will be. Till next time – ciao darlings.

About Bryony Bates

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