Joining me this week is Terry Blas! He’s a cartoonist and a friend — we talk about this week’s episode, missing Trixie, and drawing drag queens.
Chad: So, Terry, how much did you miss Trixie this episode?
Terry: So much I can’t even describe. She was definitely missed and I think she would have really soared in the challenge this episode. I still don’t understand her elimination.
Chad: Yeah, you and I both saw her perform in Seattle last week, and she read the other queens to filth!
Terry: It was incredible to see her perform. Especially the week after her elimination. Her material was so on point and funny. I’m glad you and I got a glimpse of what else she could have brought to the show.
Chad: So, wasn’t it nice that the mini-challenge featured an homage to a dedicated fan artist of the Drag Race? Did your heart skip a beat when Ru was announcing it?
Terry: Yes! I love that so many people do Drag Race fan art now and it’s always nice to see that showcased on the actual show. The paper outfits really are fun and amazing! I especially love the Klaus Nomi Malone Courtney look, and of course the ones the queens made were really fun. I thought they were all really funny.
Chad: Yeah, I was really impressed when I first saw those paper pieces last season! Obviously, none of the queens displayed the same artistry, but I loved Katya and Kasha’s schtick– it convinced me that they were going to dominate the main challenge! What did you think of Pearl this episode?
Terry: You know, I like the looks Pearl has shown so far (especially that bearded Mugatu look), but in this episode, it became really obvious that she has a lot of growing to do. She is still relying on RuPaul and other queens to bolster her up and give her confidence. It reminds me of Ru’s Season 1 rant during the reunion where she yelled at Tammy Brown: “It’s not my job to make you feel good all the time!” During her confessional she had this Laganja moment of: “Back home everybody loves me! I don’t understand!” But really, that doesn’t mean anything when you’re on this show.
Chad: Huh, I can definitely see that. It seems like both Violet and Pearl are these really young, talented queens with a lot of shit to figure out. We saw Violet express that in Untucked, and Pearl dealt with it in the main episode. Honestly, I was pretty stunned at her showdown with Ru in the workroom. She seems pretty much totally oblivious or uninterested in following the rules of reality television or following the prompts of the producers. You saw it in her “Meet the Queens” videos, passing on questions, essentially not giving one shit.
Terry: Right. In one way she is not playing by the rules of the show, but in another way that’s not helping her progress.
Chad: What do you think made her come back to the workroom after her abrupt departure?
Terry: I think Pearl needed a cry and a cigarette, and then she was fine. She mentioned in Untucked that she didn’t want to look back and feel like she had wasted the opportunity she had been given, and I think that was what did it. And probably the glaring looks from Mrs. Kasha Davis.
Chad: Yeah, Mrs. Davis wasn’t happy with Pearl. Did you know that she’s auditioned seven times? Did she mention that?
Terry: She might have slipped it in there a few times. She’s definitely worked hard to get on the show, so I can see why she’d be frustrated at some of the other queens who feel like giving up or going home.
Chad: Well, speaking of Kasha, what do you make of her time on the show?
Terry: I think she could have lasted a bit longer. Again, I don’t understand this week’s elimination. Looking down the road, I don’t see us getting much out of Kandy Ho. I had a strange feeling that Kasha would be leaving, though, when before the intro music she had beef with another contestant… because Tempest did in episode one, and Sasha did in episode two.
Chad: Yeah, I agree that Kasha could probably offer more to the show than Kandy at this point. But I felt like their lip sync performances were both really good, so it could have gone either way. Now, I really liked the Despy challenge. What about you?
Terry: I’m still not sure. It’s all very vague. What IS a Despy anyway? Essentially, it was a comedy/joke writing challenge disguised as an award show. It was presented in an entertaining way, but I did miss the standard runway and runway music. What did you like about it?
Chad: Well, frankly, when Ru explained the main challenge, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. However, once it was underway, I thought it was a cleverly constructed challenge that essentially revolved around reading all the other queens. It was fun to see the queens struggle with jokes in the workroom. However, I felt like Kathy Griffin was instructed to just yell nonsense at the queens rather than be remotely helpful.
Terry: One thing I did like was how it showed us what a good attitude Jaidynn had. Essentially, she said, “I don’t know how to write jokes but I’m gonna sit down and do this!” She’s really growing on me ’cause of her positive attitude.
Chad: Frankly, I love Jaidynn. Ever since her “Meet the Queens” video, I’ve been digging her expressivity and enthusiasm. I’m surprised she’s not a bigger presence on the show!
Terry: It’s always hard for some of them to shine, especially early on when there are so many of them there.
Chad: Yeah, she’s not a “funny queen” in that she struggles to write a joke, but she’s just good TV!
Terry: As I was watching this episode, I was struggling to pick out visually interesting looks that I would want to draw, so I was curious to hear what you thought of the runway looks.
Chad: Well, I mean, there weren’t really runway looks. The episode was like Season 5’s roast of Ru. They just wore the same outfits they had for the main challenge. But I’m doing a similar thing as I did back then — rather than focus on style, I’m featuring my favorite jokes alongside the queens.
Chad: You know who else I really enjoyed this week? Miss Fame.
Terry: Miss Fame and the cuts of all her chicken love?
Chad: Of the three “Glamour Girls,” she actually seems the most extroverted and quirky.
Terry: I think Miss Fame is a bit more goofy than she realizes. I like that aspect of her. She could really be dynamite if she embraces that a bit more.
Chad: You know who her personality reminds me of? Joslyn Fox! In the way that she’s unabashedly goofy and enthusiastic, even if she’s not always in on the joke.
Terry: Totally. Very much like Joslyn.
Chad: Terry, you were raised in Idaho, right? Did you ever raise chickens?
Terry: HAHAH! Yes, I was raised in Idaho. No chickens. There are a lot of sheep and horses and llamas in Boise where I grew up, though. Picture Napoleon Dynamite.
Chad: Excellent. I grew up in central Wisconsin, so it was mostly just cows there.
Terry: Were you surprised to see a video from home for one of the contestants in this Untucked?
Chad: I was, yes.
Terry: I wasn’t sure if they were going to do it. We hadn’t seen one, yet, despite Ginger mentioning that Kasha got one last week, which we obviously didn’t see.
Chad: Especially because it was so abrupt! One minute, we’re having this amazing moment with Violet, and all of a sudden, it was Ginger’s time to cry.
Terry: Totally! This was supposed to be Violet’s moment! From what we are being shown, I’m predicting Ginger in the top 3 at least.
Chad: Yeah, I have this gut feeling that she’ll win this season. And Untucked helped solidify that. I think she’s led a hard life, dealt with a lot of challenges, and she’s emerged as a talented performer with a huge heart! She’s just the kind of queen who can excel at challenges and get the audience to really root for her.
Terry: I really love her. Apparently, she does all these Disney songs which I’d love to see, but I’ll have to watch them on YouTube. Clearly, I don’t think anyone at Logo is getting the rights to songs from Frozen. Which is sort of an interesting point about the show I guess. Sometimes, we never really get to see what makes some of these queens so amazing in their own shows. Ginger can’t do Disney on Drag Race. A lot of these queens who do one woman comedy shows that are brilliant aren’t going to be showcased in that way for television. It makes me feel like it’s really important to still go out and support the queens at their clubs when they perform.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely. And I always hope that the queens use their notoriety from the show to go on and perform in whatever crazy plays, films, or quirky YouTube videos that they want!
Chad: You know who I thought was going to win this challenge? Katya.
Terry: I thought she would win the challenge too! But I also thought Jaidynn would win last week. I don’t understand some of the decisions being made.
Chad: Well, I mean… clearly, the winners and losers, week to week, are specifically chosen to highlight certain storylines and don’t actually result from the merits of the performances.
Terry: I would definitely agree with that.
Chad: It’s been true of past seasons, but it seems to come up every week in Season 7. Queens who surpass expectations are chosen over other queens who may have objectively done much better. I thought Katya’s jokes slayed, especially her Bob Ross “acceptance speech” It was a great dose of her absurdist humor that she highlights in her YouTube videos and her Tumblr.
Terry: Yes, I loved that Katya won a Despy and got to throw out a few more jokes. She is emerging as another contestant I think will go far, and likely be top 3.
Chad: Here’s hoping!
Terry: And frankly, I liked her wig and how “flat” it was. It was a different look from all the big drag hair we often see.
Chad: Yeah, she looked good, girl. It was literally the only complaint the judges had for her.
Terry: She might have been my favorite look from last night.
Chad: I thought Pearl looked especially stunning last night, as did Max.Violet was divine. That gown was ridiculous. As an artist, which queen’s likeness most appeals to you?
Terry: Well, Trixie, obviously. I wish we’d gotten more episodes so we could have had more looks, but for me, she had the most fully realized drag character and used it well in the challenges. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like Max, but I really do, and I’ll be drawing her, too. I’m surprised Michelle didn’t read her for wearing a gray wig again. I actually think Max would looks great as a redhead, at least just once. I also have to admit I like Pearl’s looks. They’re striking.
Chad: Yeah, you know something funny? When Pearl first started performing in Chicago, she only ever wore white outfits. It was really striking, but it was clear that, if you want to have some versatility and perform frequently, you need more variety! I wonder whether Max’s preference for gray wigs will remain when he’s performing every night in the wake of the Drag Race. Because my impression is that he didn’t perform in drag very regularly prior to the show.
Terry: Yeah, after so many performances, you’re probably just tired of doing something similar over and over.
Chad: And eventually the audience (or Michelle Visage) will want to see something else!
Terry: I think Max is probably smart for having this branded gray, black, and white look… but I see her changing it up after a while.
Chad: That being said, aside from the consistent hair color, I think Max has demonstrated a wide range of looks and can pretty much rule the runway. Who do you think would be the hardest to draw of Season 7?
Terry: I want to draw Ginger, but I think she might difficult to draw. She and Kennedy Davenport seem to have striking features I’m not sure I’d capture well.
Chad: Yeah, I find both pretty difficult to draw. Usually, the really distinctive queens are the easiest, but there’s something about both those queens that’s still a challenge! Katya, despite being one of my favorites, is still really hard for me to capture. Because how do you make her look different than the other “Pretty blonde” queens?
Terry: But you still do it well. (Chad’s note: Not this week!)
Chad: Well, I favor her crazy looks, which tend to be easier.
Terry: Yeah, it’s a little easier, I suppose, when she comes out in a Russian military-inspired outfit for people to recognize: That’s Katya. Do you feel less pressure in creating a likeness when there is a crazy outfit, or do you always feel like it’s gotta be perfect?
Chad: That’s a good question! I started drawing the Drag Race in Season 3, where Raja and Manila both wore such distinctive outfits that you didn’t need a good facial likeness to make them recognizable. Which was ideal, since my drawing skills were pretty rudimentary back then!
I do definitely feel more pressure to capture a likeness when the image is all about glamour. Like, with someone like Pearl, who paints her own face so damn well, how do you match that?
Terry: I know. I feel that pressure, but sometimes I just have to tell myself, “done is beautiful too,” and move on.
Chad: Ha! Good words to live by.
Check out Terry’s comics, illustrations, and depictions of Drag Race queens at his website! (Pictured to the right is his illustration of Trixie’s “Jet Set” look!)
As always, you can get posters, prints, and postcards of my Drag Race work at my Etsy store!