Okay, so scheduling didn’t work out with the queen I had been planning to interview about this week’s ALL STARS, so I was going to host this gig alone. How hard could that be, right? But then this weird woman in green showed up, insisting I needed help, spewing salad based puns at me in a nearly indecipherable lisp.
Chad: So, I guess I’m being joined today by Tasha Salad? Um, welcome? Do you actually exist, or are you just a fictional character created by Roxxxy Andrews?
Tasha: Resht Ashurred Chad, Tasha’s here to shave the day, jusht like I helped Roxxxy in her time of need.
Chad: Oh great, because that worked out well. So do you always magically appear when the desperate and humorless need hosting help?
Tasha: That’sh right, and I often appear before dinner as a light asshortment of greensh and veggiesh and dresshing.
Chad: Right… because… salad. Cool. So, uh, Tasha… this week it felt like we spent a decade or so discussing who was under the bus, who had thrown someone under the bus, who was driving the bus, and where that bus was going.
Tasha: They chopped up that shalad ’til it was cabbage shoup!
Chad: Wait, Alaska??? Did you show up just to punctuate that terrible salad pun? All of you, quiet down and let me talk, because this is my shitty blog. Okay? Now, as I was saying, I have this theory: Alyssa and Phi Phi are like matter and anti-matter, fundamentally opposites, and when they come together, the results are explosive. Phi Phi is super talented, particularly with her cosplay and her more cartoony, creative looks. But she just can’t get a break. She works and works, and she wants that steely determination to win her accolades and acclaim. But that’s not how this game WORKS. Her scheming and quibbling and defensiveness just make her unlikable, with the gleeful assistance of the producers and editors of this show.
Chad: Oh good, I’m so glad you agree. Now, Alyssa is painfully likable. She can’t help it. None of Phi Phi’s colorful cartoon cosplay can ever make her as much of a cartoon character as Alyssa already is. She keeps “coasting” through this season because she’s entertaining and makes for good TV, and this is a TELEVISION SHOW. And most crucially, Alyssa learned an important lesson from her season, whereas Phi Phi has not – ditch the drama. During the fifth season, quite frankly, I didn’t like Alyssa very much. She was tied up in this feud with Coco that didn’t do either of them any favors. Their fighting kicked up such a cloud of Dorito dust that it was hard to see either clearly. But this time around, Alyssa doesn’t let that shit stick – when Phi Phi pulled her aside in the workroom, eager to argue her case, Alyssa, was all, “Girl, I respect you, I love you, there’s no drama, let’s hug.”
Alyssa looks like she’s having the time of her life on this show, living her gig, and the season has been better for it. But you see Phi Phi struggling every minute she’s on the show, second-guessing herself and the other queens. Frankly, I don’t think she committed any grievous sins in the competition to warrant the hate she’s been getting, but she definitely didn’t play the game right. Despite her considerable talent, it was all pretty painful to watch. She wasn’t enjoying it, and neither were we. Except for that badass blue alien costume. I want that in EVERY COLOR of the rainbow every day for the rest of my life.
Tasha: Sho Chad, when are you going to show us shome actual art? Shometime thish week?
Chad: Well, gee, that’s surprisingly hostile. This season, the format of the show seems to have been shifted around to allow the maximum time for drama. Mini-challenges? Nearly none of them. Runways? Not this week! An episode of Untucked tucked right back into the episode proper? Sure, yes, bottom queens, explain to all the tops why you’re the better bottom.
All of that makes for FABULOUS television. But it sometimes leaves this poor drag illustrator without much material. During each commercial break, I kept wondering, “What will the runway theme be? Whose looks will I draw this week? Wow, All Stars has been great!” And then, a good 55 minutes into the episode, I realized, “This is an amazing episode and I have nothing to draw.” HOW COULD THE SHOW DO THIS TO ME????
Tasha: Keep crying into your shalad, asshole, and your croutonsh won’t shtay dry.
Chad: What? I wasn’t, I…. fine, let’s talk about the challenge. I thought it was amazingly put together — how it paired the kicked off queens with the remaining ones, how it gave such amazing drama at the end for the chance to return. It was all tossed together like some perfect, tasty… salad?
Tasha: Don’t pander to me, nerd.
Chad: Okay, I’m just going to hurry along, because I’m feeling really uncomfortable, and you’re looking at me with those hungry, hungry eyes. So, I think Alaska and Alyssa made an amazing team, despite their uneven performance last week. As Baby JJ, Alaska got all the good stuff in that scene, and Alyssa was stuck playing the straight, serious one (more or less). But this time, Alaska has perfectly utilized Alyssa’s “off the cuff buffoonery” and structured it to give herself those perfect, punctuating punchlines, which was, frankly, genius.
Tasha: What did you think of Roxxxshy’s hoshting, Shad?
Chad: Um, I mean, I think Roxxxy said it, herself: “I’m just here to look pretty.” What did you think of Phi Phi and Coco’s surreal fever dream of an SNL skit?
Tasha: It wash an awkward mish-mash of problematic shtereotypes and sheriously unfunny.
Chad: Well said. Detox and Tati made a surprisingly good team, even though I didn’t like that weird, lispy old lady voice Detox was using.
Chad: Ginger and Katya were criminally under-appreciated this episode. I think it’s because Ru didn’t want Ginger back on the show, and she didn’t expect that Ginger would offer a lip sync that could have come close to the legendary, orgiastic one that Tatianna and Alyssa birthed out on that stage.
Tasha: The matching outfitsh! Those shexy movesh! It wash shtupendous!
Chad: Seriously, I’m thrilled to see both Tati and Alyssa returning! I feel like the producers of this show carefully calibrated the last few episodes so that this week’s would culminate in the absolute loudest cheering in a gay bar that is scientifically possible.
Chad: Despite my misgivings about Phi Phi’s performance and depiction on this show, I agree with my friend Melissa’s shouted assessment from the screening party: “Best Drag Race season, ever!” I have plenty of complaints about the show week by week, but I think the producers are making magic this time around.
Tasha: Are we almost done here? Becaush theesh leavesh are shtarting to wilt.
Chad: Yeah, Tasha, I’m ready for my main course, so GO BACK TO HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH WHERE YOU BELONG.
As always, you can find prints of my work at Etsy, though I’m not sure that I’ll be adding any of this week’s work to the shop, because it’s all weird and terrible. (Never stopped me before, right?) You can also support me on Patreon if you want me to keep making weird and terrible things.
Chicago’s own Valentine Addams joins me this week! She’s a colorful, cartoony confection, and she is great. (Photo by Eric Magnussen)
Chad: When I’m thinking about an episode of the Drag Race, I feel like there are three main parts that I’m evaluating: the drama, the challenge, and the runway. This week totally delivered on the drama and runway, even if the challenge was the typical, cringe-inducing acting schtick. What did you think?
Chad: As a queen, are you into the drama? Or does it feel fake, just part of the editing?
Valentine: I’m totally into the drama, but that’s what makes the show so good. The drama sometimes feels a little exaggerated, but who doesn’t love a good “rattlesnake noise”?
Chad: Does Phi Phi deserve all the hate she’s getting online?
Valentine: I don’t think anybody deserves hate like that. I’m not the biggest fan of Phi Phi’s, but I’m not going around threatening her or hating her on the internet.
Chad: What do you think a queen should do if she feels she’s been treated unfairly on the show? Try to set the record straight?
Valentine: I think actions speak louder than words, honestly.
Chad: So, you would advise against tons of angry tweets about the show, then?
Valentine: Yeah, absolutely. This show is the reason you are famous to any extent. So why are you biting the hand that feeds you?
Chad: I mean, I would be totally furious if I felt like someone took my own words out of context and turned them against me. But I guess that’s the nature of the beast!
Valentine: Yeah, I get that. But you know what you’re signing up for. Especially the second time around.
Chad: Which runway looks were your favorite?
Valentine: OMG Roxxxy!!! I literally couldn’t stop myself from just screaming like a girl!
Chad: Everything was SO RIGHT with Roxxxy’s look — the movement, the wild proportions, the fabric.
Valentine: And of course Alaska! I mean who didn’t love Alaska’s look? Katya’s was also amazing.
Chad: Katya’s was kind of simple, but the sheer insanity of her transformation was just… devilishly delightful. Who would even think of snatching their own bangs off??
Valentine: Yeah, I feel like her outfit was simple. But it was those details that just made it sooo amazing.
Chad: I asked my friends, “Wait, where did that pentagram come from? What just happened??”
Valentine: Haha, it was so good.
Chad: I didn’t see that she had snatched her own hairpiece — I thought she had stamped the pentagram on her head just then! I don’t know. Devil’s work. Phi Phi’s outfits were actually quite lovely! Just a little underwhelming.
Valentine: I liked the blue prince look, and then wasn’t as into the yellow dress, myself.
Chad: I thought Alaska’s reveal of Lil’ Poundcake was probably one of the absolute highlights of this season. It was so. Perfect. I found her makeup transfixing! The way she transformed her face to give that “don’t fuck with me” expression was EVERYTHING.
Valentine: Yeah. You couldn’t stop staring at her. And it was obvious that mama Ru couldn’t, either.
Chad: The fact that she was able to lip sync in character so perfectly was the final cherry on top. Phi Phi’s performance was fine, but it fell far short of that kind of genius.
Valentine: Yeah, I agree. It’s hard to top Lil’ Poundcake hahah
Chad: Do you feel like Alyssa had been coasting through the competition with her comedy? Did she get a free pass just because she’s Alyssa?
Valentine: No. I actually think Alyssa did really well up until this challenge. This one was a hard one. It’s getting tougher and tougher to pick out the obvious bottom Queen.
Chad: Yeah, I agree that Alyssa was entertaining and, as she said, she hadn’t been in the bottom as much as some others. I feel like this is a television show, and Alyssa makes for GREAT television, so frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to watch without her on it. But I agree — it’s just going to get more brutal from here! It seems like basically half the queens will be in danger of going home each week!
Valentine: Oh yeah. And it’s hard to say who I want to go home next. They are all really strong and giving it their all.
Chad: Well, I think it’s fairly safe to say that, if Phi Phi lands in the bottom again, she’ll be an easy pick for the others — she just hasn’t been proving as competitive a contender!
Valentine: Yeah, I agree with you there.
Chad: I mean, she’s certainly a competitive person, just not… you know…..
Chad: Of the queens who have been sent home, who are you hoping returns??
Valentine: I’m not gonna lie. I want Tati to come back.
Chad: Me tooooooo! Or Alyssa. But Tati is just really exciting, and I want to see more. Do you have any other favorite drama or T about this episode?
Valentine: Yeah, I really loved the way the had the girls on the other side of the mirror. It was just so good!
Chad: That was ICONIC!!!! I’m wondering if it was awkward for the queens behind the mirror to just stand there silently, looking pissed. Wouldn’t you want to shout something out??
Valentine: Omg yeah! I probably couldn’t help myself from giggling lol
As always, you can find most of this week’s work at my Etsy store if you want to decorate your walls with prints and postcards! If you’d like custom art or sketches, you can check out my Patreon page!
Adam Guerino joins me this week to discuss the history and future of the Drag Race! Adam is a friend, a comedian, and the founder of ALL GEEKS, a Chicago group at the intersection of geek and queer culture.
Chad: Adam, you produce a wide variety of shows for ALL GEEKS. How would you rate the All Stars Herstorical Pageant?
Adam: I’ve seen and produced a lot of group performances, and I thought the level of effort and coordination was excellent. The characters and lyrics were OK, but what I was impressed by was the characterization and choreography shown by the queens. What did you think?
Chad: Anyone who has ever heard me rant about the Drag Race (yourself included) knows that I rarely enjoy the group performance challenges — I prefer when the queens have more freedom to bring their own humor and talents to a challenge, as we saw in the first two episodes this season. That being said, I can agree that it was… okay. I was left feeling like some of the queens really lucked out with particularly fun choreography, and others got stuck with more mundane numbers. Would you agree?
Adam: Absolutely. I think Alyssa was a favorite from this challenge by most, including the judges, but who is surprised that her Annie-Get-Your-Lap-Dance choreography was… killer? She was given a great hand. Conversely, I think Ginger did so much with what she was given, but wasn’t given much. She has real camp appeal and used it to propel her performance, but she wasn’t given the same steps to shine.
Chad: Right, there are only so many bestiality jokes you can fit into a number. I felt like Katya also got stuck with a fairly static performance — whereas others galloped around or danced upon the Pit Crew, she was fairly stationary.
Adam: Katya is one of my favorites, but I think she coasted on charm this time around like a Matthew McConaughey rom com. It was interesting to watch, but you walk away wondering what you saw.
Chad: What historical figure would you have loved to see in this challenge? Frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t see a Cleopatra!
Adam: I think Hillary Clinton would have been such a crowd pleaser. She is as much “herstory” as princess Di, but is still relevant. Imagine what Ginger or Katya could have done with that!
Chad: UGHHHH you’re right! I was all worried that there wouldn’t be time for a runway after the historical pageant, but lo and behold! A fun sci-fi nerdy one!!! I was excited to talk with you about these looks, since we’re both ridiculous comic nerds. Who was your favorite on the runway this week?
Adam: Phi Phi was my favorite. She reminded me of a beautiful Moebius character.
Chad: I agree, Phi Phi knocked it out of the park this week! Honestly, I haven’t found myself very interested in her fashion when she goes for beauty and glamour, but she’s incredibly inventive when she embraces her geekier side. You know what name I came up for her runway character? Thanus.
Adam: Yes! She definitely has a female space pirate thing going for her. In fact, Nebula fulfills that role nicely in the comic books and movie as Thanos’ daughter. She is a blue character that even goes bald with cybernetic parts.
Chad: So many of the other queens went for a similar fembot look, I was worried we would have another kimono-gate on our hands!!!
Adam: I think we did, it was silver-gate this runway.
Chad: Roxxxy didn’t get a lot of attention, but I did think her look was particularly polished and interesting. And Detox’s sleek, minimal look definitely stood apart. What did you think of hers?
Adam: I was confused by Detox’s look. It looked like The Fifth Element, but it was stuck somewhere between an homage and an interpretation.
Chad: Yeah, that confused me, too. I also think, with that wig she snatched off, she was channeling some Blade Runner, too, but of course, the Replicants didn’t have silver skin like that. (god, we’re such nerds)
Adam: I think it was Silver Surfer meets Leeloo meets Pris meets headache meets Advil.
Chad: I thought it was sleek and sexy, even if its references weren’t clear. However, I do think the silver makeup put her at a disadvantage in the lip sync — whereas Alyssa’s makeup gives her huge, expressive eyes and lips, Detox’s were obscured by her Tin Man mug.
Adam: I totally agree. And also with no wig, you can’t whip your hair back and forth.
Chad: Wouldn’t it have been hilarious if Alyssa had performed in her runway look, with the crazy silver horns and moon boots?? What a lost opportunity!
Adam: I’d watch it.
Chad: What do you make of Alyssa? Both as a drag performer and as a reality TV personality?
Adam: She had a terrific lip sync. She’s a hilarious character that doesn’t know how ridiculous she is, which makes it even better. It’s my introduction to her, so it has been interesting hearing her say she was dismissed as a pageant personality in her season, because I don’t get that from her at all.
Chad: Yeah, I think Alyssa has been sheer comedic GOLD this season. Girl is KILLING IT, and I’m just loving every second. I love hearing people’s reactions to the All Stars when they haven’t seen the queens’ original seasons. My boyfriend hasn’t seen Season 5, and he just DOES. NOT. GET. ALASKA. Or maybe he gets her, he just doesn’t like her.
Adam: I hadn’t seen it either, and I love Alaska. I think she’s in the lead at this point.
Chad: I think she’s been in the lead since… the end of Season 5.
Adam: She is this gratifying mix of bizarre and glamour. Her looks are interesting, and her characterizations are so deliberate, yet seem effortless.
Chad: Right, she completely embodies this bizarre alien character to the point where you’re not sure if it’s even an act.
Adam: Her futuristic look was interesting, but it looked like it belonged in a Mac commercial more than sci-fi. She was smart enough to add a twist with the alien-like scream on the runway, though.
Chad: I didn’t think her runway was anything especially exciting, but I always love an off-kilter painted face. Hers reminded me of 70’s Dave Cockrum character designs. Her crazy nail apparatus was cool, but it was REALLY difficult to make out against the busy background of the set.
Adam: It was a great look, but it seemed to me she was compensating for not knowing a lot of about sci-fi aesthetics.
Chad: Right, like Michelle said, I would have liked to see her take it further. At the start of the season, most of the queens seemed to agree that they should kick off whichever queen gets the worst critiques from the judges, but Alyssa seems to have bucked that trend. Do you think there will be any fallout from her decision?
Adam: Undoubtedly. But it was only a matter of time that someone contradicted the critiques. The fallout will be back-stage anxiety for whoever is at the bottom next time, because there’s seemingly less rationale for who goes home.
Chad: I’m wondering if the other queens will give Alyssa shit in the workroom! Here’s my take: the queens should send home whomever they want. Maybe they don’t agree with the judges, maybe they just think one queen is a more interesting performer than the other. They win the right to choose! I am firmly pro choice.
Adam: I am also in favor of a queen’s right to choose. And that is the entire point of the competition.
Chad: Yeah, I mean, in that kind of competition, you might WANT some system based on merit and objectivity, but… that’s just not going to happen. Especially with some of the difficult decisions that the queens will face in subsequent episodes. Do you have any other thoughts on the episode?
Adam: I think Phi Phi is scared and resorting to survival instincts by becoming the villain.
Chad: Honestly, I don’t really think she’s done anything nefarious so far this season. Especially not anything nearly so aggressive as in her original season!
Adam: To me, it seems like basic insecurity. Instead of becoming a better performer, she is trying to bring others down. The only reason someone resorts to that is when they don’t believe they can compete.
Chad: I do think she’s probably wrestling with her confidence amid such a stellar cast of queens, but…. I don’t know — at this point, I’m blaming the editing more than her.
Adam: Really? Two episodes in a row she has literally whispered doubts into competitors’ ears. Even if that’s editing, it’s still conniving.
Chad: But don’t you think they’re *all* talking shit while watching each other rehearse?
Adam: I think there is a lot of it, for sure. But it seems like Phi Phi is trying to get into someone’s head, not just shit talk.
Chad: That certainly may be! I’m just sufficiently skeptical of all reality TV to the point that I try not to think too negatively of anyone based on what I see on the show.
Adam: That’s a great policy, I think you’re right. We shouldn’t judge people for what they do or how they’re perceived on the Hunger Games.
Follow Adam Guerino on Twitter and Instagram, and find out more about ALL GEEKS on Twitter, Instagram, and at AllGeeksHQ.com! ALL GEEKS will be hosting American Horror Story viewing parties every Wednesday at Minibar, and on Saturday, September 24th, they’re doing a Pokemon Bar Crawl in Andersonville at 2pm!
Dixie Lynn Cartwright joins me this week to discuss the All Stars Snatch Game! She hosts screening parties in Chicago at Sidetrack, where she does terrible things to her audience during the commercial breaks. (Dixie is pictured here between Dante Hernandez and Seazerz Peazza at Sidetrack)
Chad: How are you? The screening party was fun!
Dixie: I’m good. Still recovering from attempting to play the Snatch Game with sober white girls.
Chad: Here’s the thing: talking to drag queens is hard. Especially you. On camera in a bar full of judgy gays. Have some sympathy for sober white girls who can’t tickle your funny bone on command.
Dixie: I call them all Megan and give them free alcohol. I don’t see what’s hard about that. Congrats, Megan! Here’s your shitty Blue Moon!
Chad: Ha! So, aside from some underwhelming performances of the Snatch Game at Sidetrack last night, you liked the All Stars’ rendition of it?
Dixie: In the words of Drag Race’s favorite MENSA member…. ABSOLUTELYYYYY. There were duds, but no big whammy’s. These girls play Snatch Game on tour. I’ve drunkenly watched a few on YouTube when I should be brushing my wigs, so I know the girls have had a lot of practice. Alaska, who always kills on tour, was Mae West. And when she initially said it, I was worried. It seemed an obscure choice. But she killed it.
Chad: Alaska completely dominated that Snatch. It wasn’t even close!
Dixie: I love that she just kept pushing the ridiculous sexual stuff. I think that’s what made her so successful. She picked a trait and stayed with it. Her character was focused. Which can’t be said for middle-of-the-road Alyssa.
Dixie: Now, Alyssa Edwards is one of my favorite people to hear words from… but here is what she did for Joan Crawford: Google search “Mommie Dearest quotes,” and then she just vomited them up at random. Her opening talk with Ru was just random quote after random quote. At one point in the game, Ru even said, “well that doesn’t make any sense, but that sure is funny.”
Chad: Well, yes. Alyssa being random is just Alyssa being Alyssa.
Dixie: Which is true. ALYSSA as Joan Crawford was funny because it was like watching a parrot who became a human for a day trying to do comedy. So, did Alyssa deliver a good Joan? No. Was she funny? Yes…because she is Alyssa.
Chad: So, I agree that she didn’t give the same kind of powerhouse performance as Alaska, but something about the look, the expressivity, the absurdity, it left me with much more of an impression than any of the others.
Chad: Yes, Katya is wonderful and hilarious. But I’ve seen a lot of absurdist Bjork impressions before. She did well, but it didn’t feel as fresh and new.
Dixie: She was quick. She focused. It was solid
Chad: It was! I just thought Alyssa’s was more exciting and unhinged.
Dixie: I loved it. AND when we watched her, we could relax. We KNEW she would kill it, so we could just enjoy it. Whereas with someone like Alyssa or Detox, you have a knot in your stomach.
Chad: What did you think of Phi Phi’s Long Island Medium schtick?
Dixie: I think Phi Phi’s Snatch Game MUST have had an edit in there somewhere… how was she safe with that? And wasn’t it Ross who said how great it was? That was incredibly lackluster. She had some good IDEAS, but she didn’t take it far enough. When Ru caught her writing the answer, I got the bit, but I didn’t laugh, because she didn’t take it far enough with Ru.
Chad: Right, I liked the overall concept of playing a fraudster psychic, but the actual performance wasn’t anything exciting. I was shocked she wasn’t in the bottom.
Dixie: I like Phi Phi. I was cheering her on BIG TIME in Episode 1.
Chad: I like her, too, but I just don’t think she’s standing out in this competition. At least she gets SOME screen time, as opposed to poor Ginger.
Dixie: Oh…Ginger. Who was she last night? OH! Tammy Faye. Yeah…it was good. I feel like when Ginger made her comment about the lackluster reputation she and the girls in her season get, she kind of reminded us all of why Season 7 is that season we all agree to just not talk about… She had some good lines, like the “panties filled with God’s love.” But I don’t know… Ginger always leaves me feeling like my panties could use more filling.
Chad: Ha! Yeah, she’s very funny, very talented. She’s very reliable and consistent, but rarely EXCITING.
Dixie: YES! So, so well said. I cannot deny her humor and talent, but she just doesn’t make me cackle. I don’t get excited to watch her. And now…the bottom 3….
Chad: Can we all agree that no drag queen should ever pick Nancy Grace ever again?
Dixie: Oh, Detox. My blessed Detox. WHAT HAPPENED?! She had all the lines down. She had the focus on child murder (ALWAYS a laugh riot). She looked MUCH better than Acid Betty’s version, but it was not funny.
Chad: Now, what about Tatianna? I thought she started out with a few good jokes. But…
Dixie: Ariana, just like Taylor Swift and Pink, is a pop star without a personality quirk to make her funny. Britney was funny because it was early on in the series and playing just a dumb girl could work. SHE LOOKED STUNNING, and when she came on screen, Sidetrack erupted!
Chad: Right, she was legitimately good in Season 2. But girl was off her game this time around.
Dixie: She wasn’t awful, though. I didn’t cringe. I think she thought more about the look than the character. The whistle tones thing was funny, I’ll give her that. When I sing, I don’t kill dogs. I just make cats horny.
Chad: Right, she definitely has a quick wit, but something was just off. She spaced out.
Dixie: WAIT. We forgot the biggest tragedy of all!
Chad: Oh! Which?
Dixie: Doesn’t that say it all? Roxxxy as Alaska.
Chad: Oh, Roxxxy. Yes…… She didn’t even get the voice right.
Dixie: I am a HUGE fan of her this season. The chip is off her shoulder and she’s just f*cking gorgeous. But this was an epic fail.
Dixie: Alaska is incredibly easy to impersonate. She’s everyone’s favorite queen to impersonate in casual conversation. But LORDt.
Chad: Wanna dish on the runway? Do you have much experience with… latex?
Dixie: If I did, I wouldn’t be so well-known at the free clinic. Latex is kind of becoming its own genre in drag. I’m loving it. It makes me sweat just looking at it, but it’s so much fun.
Chad: Is it expensive? Hard to find the right fit? Squeaky?
Dixie: It’s a material that is difficult to work with if you’ve never done it. Katya’s outfit was SO well thought out. It was SO Katya. It made me laugh, but she legit looked amazing.
Chad: Katya’s was definitely a surprise. I don’t think of her as someone who pulls out all the stops for a runway look, but she’s clearly budgeting for it this season. Putting that Miss Congeniality money to good use!
Dixie: It was like her bearded drag from her season, Abraham Lincoln. She met the challenge while also being hilarious.
Dixie: Detox just looked incredible. Nancy Grace should’ve been looking for the bodies of the judges as she walked down the runway, because bitch SLAYED. The body shape. The headpiece. Her thigh gap. It was all so, so good.
Chad: Detox has delivered some of my favorite runway looks of all time. She has an edge and experimental side of her looks that just kills me.
Dixie: She is experimental without being sloppy. That’s tough.
Chad: I sometimes wish she would bring that same precision and polish to her performances, though, right?
Dixie: Detox gets in her head during the challenges. I think she stands in her own way.
Chad: Agreed. I like her a lot, and I LOVE seeing more of her this season. I’m sure she’ll be around for quite a while.
Dixie: Most of her body parts are only a few years old, so she’ll outlive us all.
Dixie: Alaska was also very strong. I LOVED the eyes.
Chad: Yeah, it was somewhat simple, but it worked VERY well. Simple, but impeccably done.
Dixie: Yeah, gold star. Simple and striking. She killed this episode. Start to finish.
Dixie: I know that Tatianna’s was straight out of a catalog, but SHE LOOKED STUNNING. It all worked for me.
Chad: Agreed. She looked absolutely perfect. You think we’ve seen the last of her?
Dixie: I don’t think they’re bringing people back. She keeps saying “revenge.” I think they will have a hand in choosing the winner.
Chad: I feel like if anyone’s going to come back, it should probably be Tatianna.
Dixie: I agree. And she needs it more than the other girls.
Chad: I was legitimately rooting for her after the first episode. They can’t squander that potential! And right, as they’ve brought up several times, she’s not as well known and could most benefit from the exposure.
Dixie: When she was chatting with Alaska, I wanted her to say, “I’m from an earlier season. I need this for my career. Detox and Roxxxy are doing just fine. Let the new fans get to know me.” AND SHE’S INCREDIBLE. She deserves to be seen. Yeah, Sidetrack was NOT happy when she was sent home, not when Phi Phi was safe. The bar ERUPTED.
Chad: What did you think of the lip sync?
Dixie: JUST SO FUN. They are such favorites. When they were the top 2, Sidetrack’s walls nearly collapsed from the cheers and screams. Seeing them lip sync together was just plain fun. We watched our favorite aunts duke it out, and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I LOVE watching the lip syncs this way, because there is no threat of elimination, so THEY are having more fun, WE are having more fun…it’s just watching them show off.
Chad: Ha! Yeah, it was legitimately goofy and unpredictable. Did Alaska cut off her skirt? She had a blade hidden somewhere?
Dixie: Haha, no idea, but I loved it. Her weird final pose. It was all so great.
Dixie: Okay. The time has come. Adore. Where to start? First of all, I want to say that I love Adore. She’s a fan favorite. I was psyched she was going to be on. But we need to be honest here. That was a dick move, dude. SO many queens would have LOVED to be there. Tatianna NEEDED to be there. And you just say, “I’m not getting the positive attention I’m used to… so, bye.”
Chad: Ha! Based on what I’ve been reading, it sounds like she was in a shitty place at the time of filming. I think it’s weird to go from colleagues to competitors, and even stranger to have Michelle go from being a maternal figure to your biggest critic.
Dixie: True, we don’t know all the personal demons and such, but from a TV-only, superficial perspective… it was fucked.
Chad: It sucked. I felt bad for her, and I was disappointed.
Chad: I mean, yes, I agree. She should have known what to expect. But I do think shooting that show is incredibly stressful and surreal, and I’m not surprised that it can bring up powerful emotions, especially if you’re already struggling with a lot.
Dixie: On her season, she was the underdog that kept getting by. As she did better, she played better. But now she is someone who is praised constantly. She comes on the show, is critiqued, and quits.
Chad: I agree, that’s how it came across, and it’s not great.
Dixie: I am SO upset that she won’t be part of this season.
Chad: Well. Maybe Tatianna will come back and take her spot. Party!
Chad: Okay, that’s all the stuff I wanted to talk about! Any other thoughts?
Dixie: Alaska is my All-Star and Jesus is Lord.
If that wasn’t enough of Dixie for you, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also find her this week at Dixie Wins A Talent Show (While Alexis Bevels Stage Manages) Tuesday, September 6 at Berlin. She also hosts Drag Race screening parties every Thursday and Beyonce Night at Sidetrack, September 14.
I should also mention that Sidetrack currently features a TON of my superhero and drag artwork all over their lovely walls, so you should stop by! I’ll be selling my work there during the All Stars finale!
Chad: Alexis, I LOVED this episode! As much as I love meeting new queens each season of the Drag Race, it was a blissful, 90 minute reunion with a bunch of my favorite girls. What were your overall thoughts on the cast and changes to the competition?
Alexis: I am completely obsessed with this cast. Obviously, Alaska and Katya are fan favorites (I am especially loving UUNNHHHHH with Katya and Trixie), so I’m excited to see more of them, but I think I’m most excited about Phi and Roxxxy.
Chad: I agree — I had been worried that the season would feel like it was just dragging its feet until the inevitable crowning of Alaska, but man, it’s going to be a fun ride.
Alexis: Oh, absolutely! Are you excited to draw some of those entrance looks? I like how some of them were callbacks to their seasons.
Chad: I LOVE entrance looks. I feel like they’re often the embodiment of everything the queen is trying to convey, and yes, it was great to see these queens reference their previous seasons. I thought there were a few underwhelming ones, like Detox and Coco’s, but man, I LOVED drawing Alaska’s gown. You can never go TOO crazy when you’re drawing Alaska.
Chad: Were you impressed with any of the entrance looks?
Alexis: Loved Alaska. (Even the workboots underneath. Baby Alexis would have shaded her for that, but now she knows semi long hours in heels, I say kudos) And Roxxxy can do no wrong with her looks. That graduated bob was everything.
Chad: Roxxxy, yes, is totally gorgeous. I was a little miffed with her in Season 5 because of her animosity toward Jinkx, but come on, girl has it going on.
Alexis: Exactly. That’s something that always frustrated me about her. Girl, you are SICKENING….. you didn’t need to be so focused on bringing others down. But I do think things are different this time around. Fingers crossed.
Chad: I have to admit that I adored Alyssa’s giant orange bow. She’s been adopting goofy, cartoony props and accessories sometimes, and those kill me. I also feel like I’m now totally on board with her as the campiest, most outrageous queen to ever be on this show. In her own way. (Her drama with Coco in Season 5 really detracted from that.)
Alexis: I agree, completely. And I loved that little moment of “girl that was so three years ago.” I was watching at Sidetrack, and everyone was lol’ing pretty hard. Also, please somebody make me a Dorito compact. I want one in every flavor.
Chad: Ha! So, I thought it was pretty funny that I ended up scheduling my interview with you for this maxi-challenge, since you’re involved in a local “talent show” every month. What did you think of the queens’ performances?
Alexis: Oh hayyyy! That’s right. As the “Stage Manager” for Berlin’s monthly Dixie Wins a Talent Show *While Alexis Bevels Stage Manages, I do think I know a thing or two about a talent show. (shameless plug over)
Chad: Haha, I should mention that Katya talked in her YouTube series about the fact that Alaska, after winning the reading challenge, was put in charge of the show. Probably just deciding on the order of acts, but still, kind of interesting.
Alexis: Ooooo that’s interesting! Does that mean she saw the acts before arranging the set list?
Chad: I…. doubt it. But I dunno. I would guess it was more like, “Who do I put first? Who follows whom?” (I’m sure Alaska properly uses “whom,” obvs.) I think there was an interesting dilemma for a lot of these queens — do they play to their strengths, or do they try to do something different that will surprise the judges?
Alexis: I think everyone did a really good job of playing to their strengths, except maybe Coco. Who was lovely! But perhaps missed the mark. She is a lip sync goddess, and I wanted more.
Chad: Were there any highlights? Also, how bad was Phi Phi’s pitch? Honestly, I’m asking because I don’t understand pitch.
Alexis: I do think Phi Phi was off. But when she was on, I thought her voice was great! Ginger was so right in saying singing a capella is rough. It’s sooo easy to stray off notes. If you can’t hear yourself, how in the hell are you gonna slay anybody else………. was that funny?
Chad: Ha! I think the other singers struggled with the limitations of the show’s format — it seemed like Ginger and Adore were only allowed to perform brief excerpts of their songs, so they weren’t really able to get to the emotional peaks of them.
Alexis: Oh yeah, plus that’s an odd space to do something intimate or rock related, I imagine. Not quite a concert venue or club.
Alexis: Exactly. For me, the clear winners were Roxxxy and Alyssa. I may be biased because I love that old world glamour, Broadway production numbers.
Chad: I think Alyssa’s was particularly effective because she started it off with that ridiculous giant Ru puppet, and you were like, “Oh god, what trainwreck is this?” But then.. it was totally fun and totally Alyssa.
Alexis: Roxxxy is a showgirl extraordinaire. I LOVED the nod to the wig reveal that put her on the map in her season.
Chad: The wig reveal was definitely the funniest addition to what otherwise felt like kind of a traditional burlesque number.
Alexis: Oooo yeah, but I like that she did that. She’s not a singer or showstopping dancer like some of the others girls, so she did something, maybe a little safe, but she did it so well and she looked fantastic.
Chad: She looked superb, definitely. And I was really glad this first episode featured Tatianna and Roxxxy so prominently, because it really sets the stage for a lot of surprises this season, a lot of chances for redemption and renewal in these queens’ careers. Were you tickled by Tatianna’s performance?
Alexis: I was! Totally unexpected. I think there’s probably a notion of……. oh you haven’t been around for six years. But i was delighted and surprised by what she did. What did someone call it, a beatnik slam poetry performance or something? I loved it.
Chad: Yeah, I thought it was weird and sexy and strange. Tatianna was right — people are always underestimating her. I re-watched Season 2 a few years ago, because I hadn’t drawn it the first time I saw it, and Tatianna was the one I was most surprised by. Like, I didn’t remember her being so funny and resourceful! [I did an interview with her back then about it, in case anyone’s curious!] She’s become the one I’m most excited to see again, because she’s such a wild card. She’s very very good at subverting your expectations and coming out on top!
Alexis: I believe it. I’m excited to see more from her. And hopefully everyone.
Chad: What did you think of the “lip sync for their legacy?” I thought it was pretty epic, but I disagree with its outcome.
Alexis: I loved it, what an incredible twist to have the top two lip sync, and for 10k to boot? I did agree with the outcome. I felt like maybe Tatianna didn’t get all the words out, but maybe it was a delay in the screen i was watching……… or the Remy Martin they were giving away for free. Also, I think I’m just in love with Roxxxy’s face, and any time I look at it, I just black out.
Chad: Ha!!! I think Roxxxy was totally lovely and delivered a very good performance, but I was completely mesmerized with Tatianna’s choreography. Something about the way she moved, the tightness of her performance, completely won me over. Here’s my conspiracy theory — Since the producers (and Ru) know who each of the top 2 plan to send home, that could very possibly affect the selection of the winner. I think Tatianna, planning strategically, was totally going to send Adore home. She knows how popular and well loved she is. And the producers were like, WHOA NO WAY and gave Roxxxy the win.
Alexis: Oooooooooooo that’s good! Omg that’s so good!
Chad: When I first heard about the new system, I assumed the winner of the lip sync would just choose on the spot who goes home. Which would be crazy exciting, but also terrifying from the producers’ point of view. So by “picking the lipstick” ahead of time, they are essentially warning the people making the show what they’re going to do.
Alexis: I thought maybe people would line up Survivor style, and the person with the most votes would get the boot.
Chad: Yeah, Ru does love asking the girls “who do you think should go home,” so I could have seen them voting, too!
Alexis: I love the lipstick thing btw, I wanna know what shades they are. I do think it has gotta be such a bummer to win the challenge, the lip sync, and 10k, but have to immediately dash someone’s chances at staying. Talk about bittersweet!
Chad: Yeah, this season will have ALL THE EMOTIONS! I’m guessing that everyone will be DYING to know who Tati would have chosen, and that seems like the perfect scene to start the next episode with, as the queens disrobe in the workroom.
Alexis: Oh, that’s true. Speaking of workroom……. can we talk about the biggest twist of all that I CERTAINLY did not see coming?
Chad: Which one? REVENGE??? How do you think that will work?
Alexis: Maybe it’ll be like in that one season of ANTM Guys vs. Girls, where they kept all the eliminated contestants separate, and they still did all the challenges, but not with the people still competing. They put all their pics on social media so the public could judge, and then later on, the competitor with the highest social media score got to come back. Maybe Ru wasn’t lying when she said nobody would be going home!
Chad: Huh! I think that sounds REALLY interesting, but also like a ton of work for the poor camera crew! Maybe they allow Coco to spy on the queens from the shadows, make catty comments, and snatch their wigs? She literally becomes the female Gremlin of the show!!!
Many thanks to Alexis for joining me! You should absolutely go see her in Chicago if you can, because her performances are always a treat. She’ll be hosting Truth or Bare: a Strip Trivia night at Berlin Nightclub on August 30th, as well as Dixie Wins a Talent Show *While Alexis Bevels Stage Manages on Sept 6th, also at Berlin Nightclub. You can also find Alexis on Instagram and Twitter! (Photo of Alexis by Sam Probst)
As always, you can find a bunch of this week’s art at my Etsy store! If you want to support my art and get exclusive new RPDR art of your own, you can support me on Patreon! Or you can just follow me on Twitter and Instagram and stuff.