The constant bitchiness of drag queens never ceases to amaze me. It was but a few minutes into last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race that found the increasingly nasty Manila Luzon sniping about last week’s sashayer Carmen Carrera: “In the workroom today, there’s a huge, huge void,” Manila started, sounding like she was going to lament Carmen’s exit. But then she brought it home: “That used to be taken up by Carmen’s giant a–.” Zing! Yes, and we’re off at the Race.
Last night’s theme? Hair. “It just takes one bad blowout,” Ru warned the five remaining queens — Shangela, Raja, Manila Luzon, Alexis Mateo, and Yara Sofia. “You could be hair today, gone tomorrow.” The mini challenge required the gals to create a headpiece out of materials, as Ru put it, “swiped from the gay beach,” in just 20 minutes. The whole exercise didn’t yield anything too delicious, except for a hilarious one-liner from Ru responding to Raja’s crab-inspired headdress. “Now have you had crabs before?” she asked him. “Yah, I actually pulled these right out of my panties,” shot back Raja, who also took home the win during the challenge.
The main challenge was an “opportunity to really wig out!” Ru told the gals: Create three distinct hairstyles, one classic look from another era; a modern look worthy of a red carpet; and one far-out fantasy hair extravaganza. Yara spent a little time seemingly stealing ideas from other girls in the workroom; ‘fros proved their popularity, as always; and Ru told Alexis, who was creating what she thought was a look from the 1940s for her classic look, “Now, during the ’40s there was a rationing on latex titties.” I challenge you to try not to laugh during this show.
Then came the surprise: Ru forgot to tell the queens that they also had to create a look that was built entirely of hair. Genius! “Listen, the competition is getting really hairy in here,” Ru said, in a twist on her usual bon mot, “so don’t f— it up!” The gals went to work. So much to do, they’re spiraling out of control! During this timeframe, though, the most hilarious question was posed by Manila: “If you guys had a chance to kill one of the other queens in this competition, who would it be?” Only Alexis replied: Yara was her answer. Why? Who knows. Maybe because she got a reprieve two weeks ago?
During makeup time, Shanglea provided the comedy, during a conversation about whether everyone should be able to do drag. “I think everybody should have the right to do drag if they want to,” she said. “Even if they look busted!” It’s that self-deprecation that really sucks me into Shangela, I think? Maybe? Yes.
I don’t usually comment on the judges too much, but Wayne Brady? Really? Why? Love the guy, but like, he’s so random for Drag Race. I will say, however, that he was pretty good, especially when all that stuff came up about Yara looking like a Who from a Dr. Seuss book. “A Who ho!” said Ru. Santino returned, in a big ol’ hat, and added a great line about Alexis Mateo’s extravaganza look: “The hair was kind of budget RuPaul.” That’s already a classic in my mind.
The other guest judge was American Idol winner Fantasia. (In case you wondering why she was there, her VH1 reality show Fantasia For Real is produced by World of Wonder, the same production company that produces Drag Race. The nice word for it is: synergy!) She didn’t provide much beyond the lip-sync-for-your-life song of “Even Angels,” but Michelle Visage, after last week’s boobie-viewing, offered up a few good moments. My fave is when she dinged Alexis at that 1940s look I mentioned above. “That ’40s look? There was nothing ’40s about it. Maybe 40 dollars!” Ouch. I actually sort of feel like a $40 would be a rather big budget for a look on this runway? Or am I crazy?
Yara inexplicably won the night, it seems maybe because of her Who-inspired look and probably because she hadn’t won a challenge yet this season. (Or maybe because Raja can’t win them all?) And then up for elimination were Shangela and Alexis Mateo. “Wow, I’m back here again,” said Shangela. The lip-sync — again, it was to Fantasia’s “Even Angels” — was kinda boring. Shangela tore off her wig, bringing that old Drag Race trope back to the forefront, but ultimately she went home: “Shangela, no one can say you didn’t try your hardest, and it’s that drive that will take you far,” Ru told her in a farewell moment. “Live your dreams, mama. Now, sashay away.”
To her credit, Shangela kept her head held up: “It’s a sad feeling because I definitely came back into this competition wanting to win. And it’s not been easy, but I’m leaving a winner,” Shangela said. “And it’s just a lesson for everyone who’s ever wanted to pursue a dream they’ve had. Live your passion, and live it to the fullest. Halle-lou!” Shangela: You will certainly be missed, by me, at least.
I mentioned her self-deprecation earlier, but I think what I loved about Shangela was what she got to here in her final quote: Like, Shangela was totally, for real trying. She wanted to do drag, despite not being the best at it, despite having the judges discuss her “5 o’clock shadow,” despite most of the other queens being nasty to her. She was real and true and just a hell of a lot of fun. And she had a fun catch prhase: “Halle-lou!” Indeed. I pulled photos (see: above) of the never-palsy Shangela and Raja right after the elimination news was announced. Look at Shangela looking happy, and Raja, wearing a totally evil grin. I’m sad to see this played-up-for-the-camera drama to go, but more sad to see Shangela sashay away.
Finally, in the bombshell of the night, RuPaul announced that next week, one queen will return. (And raising the question: Will this season ever end?!) So, now we’re all wondering: Who will it be? Honestly, there are so many directions Ru and the producers could go with adding someone back in. But likely, methinks it’ll be one of the three big girls — or even Shangela herself. (What a twist that would be!) So in the meantime, while we all ponder, why don’t you readers vote for who you would like to see return next week in our nifty poll? Do it here:
Did you vote? Good! Vote again! And then sound off about the episode: What are your thoughts on the Final Four? Who are you rooting for to win? Tell me in the comments below, please! Halle-lou!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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