We’re inching closer to the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race (literally: next Monday is going to be a repeat episode because . . . who knows), so it’s time for Ru to separate the frontrunners from the also-rans. This week, the queens have to create a signature fragrance as well as an ad campaign in order to show off their marketing skills. So let’s look at the shit that worked and the shit that shat . . .
The queens return to the workroom after Roxxxy Andrews’ and Alyssa Edwards’ non-elimination, and for once, everyone is borderline civil toward each other. Since they’ve all just had their one Mandatory Ugly Cry of the Season (presented by Absolut Vodka!) no one really feels the need to act bitchy toward each other. Even Coco Montrese temporarily downgrades her usual “blind, screaming rage” to “seething, all-consuming contempt” for the occasion. Roxxxy, however, apparently riding high on the endorphins of her cry, apologizes to Jinkx Monsoon for singling her out all season for being funny. This will mark the first and only time someone will ever unironically apologize to someone else for being less talented.
The next morning, the queens receive a SheMail from Ru in which she drops a whole bunch of thinly veiled scent references before she brings in the Pit Crew, as well as 17 hot Andrew Christian models and one ugly one. (Guess which one I’m talking about?) For the queens’ mini-challenge, they have to play a matching game, which is somehow not as much fun as it sounds. If the queens all got to do it together, maybe, but everyone does it one at a time, and you can only watch seven drag queens misremember underwear so many times before the thrill wears off. So the editors glaze over most of it and just give the win to Ivy Winters, who scores herself a phone call home.
And now, on to the challenge that actually matters! RuPaul tells the queens that they’ll have to create a signature fragrance, and ad for it, and then do a runway inspired by said fragrance. For those of you who like to keep score, this is one of the yearly marketing challenges (see: Season 1’s Oprah, Season 2’s autobiography and Season 4’s Dragazines) designed to test out how business-savvy the queens are. It’s one thing to be talented, but in order to make it as a Drag Race alum, you need to know how to get your name out there and how to get yourself booked. Otherwise, you’re just a very talented homebody.
These challenges are usually a good way to seperate the chaff from the wheat, and this week proves no different as Alaska, Detox and Jinkx all manage to infuse their personalities into their work while the other girls flounder in fragrances. Neither Ivy nor Alyssa seem to have any idea what they’re doing, as Alyssa spends her time knocking over bottles of scented oils and basing her perfume off her own tuck, while Ivy decides to name hers “Poisoned Rosebud.” Draw your own conclusions.
Coco and Roxxxy’s problems, on the other hand, stem from the fact both are stuck in personality ruts. Roxxxy has been coasting on serving sass and ass for the past couple weeks, as evidenced by her choice to make a perfume that smells like food. Meanwhile, Coco has been playing Jekyll and Hyde with Ru: when Ru’s in the room, Coco will kiss her ass relentlessly (to the point where she names her perfume “Ru Animale"). When Ru’s not there, however, Coco is just flat-out vitriolic to everyone around her. While neither one will end up bottoming out this week, neither one is likely to make it through the next few weeks.
When it comes time to film the ads — as directed by Michelle Visage and Aubrey O’Day’s bushbaby eyes — the queens with committed concept end up doing the best. Jinkx Monsoon designs a perfume for the delusional masses by having a threesome with the Pit Crew in a Paris penthouse. Detox sells her fragrance (appropriately named Heroine) by making allusions to drug abuse, a thin concept that she fills out wonderfully. Alaska kills it by going self-referential, mocking old-school perfume ad tropes and getting a few digs at herself along the way. Nothing, however, can trump the shot of her going down on Shawn Morales while he looks into the camera with a 1,000-yard stare. Shawn has seen things. Horrible, horrible things.
The rest of the ads suck all the ass. Alyssa sits in a sterile white room, talking about her penis while shooting crazy eyes at the camera. Coco makes the terrible decision to wear a cheetah-print catsuit while reclining on a cheetah-print recliner in front of a cheetah-print background. The final product looks like a disembodied head floating in a cheetah abortion, yet somehow this isn’t the worst. Roxxxy’s commercial is fairly boring and once again features a scantily clad Roxxxy talking about how thick and juicy she is. The biggest misstep, however, goes to Ivy, who makes a perfume called Dress Code, presumably to capitalize on the smell of clothing.
With the ads filmed and the scents bottled in decorative storage units, the editors decide to edit together storylines for this week’s winner and loser. If you can’t tell who wins and who loses at this point . . . Really? You can’t tell? Really? Anyway, Alaska finds a photobook featuring her drag family, while Jinkx reveals a possible burgeoning relationship with Ivy. Apparently, there’s been talk of a relationship blossoming between two of the queens this season, and while I’ve been shipping Rotox for the better part of the season, Jivy may be the dark horse here. Either way, I’m sure someone will turn this into an erotic fanfic.
But now, on to the main-stage, with Ru, Michelle, Santino, Aubrey O’Day and Joan Van Ark. Top honours this week go to Alaska, whose commercial, fragrance and punk-rock/businesswoman runway ensemble finally earns her a win. Detox and Jinkx round out the top three, as the judges are actually quite fond of Detox’s heroine-chic but aren’t thrilled with her lingerie look. Jinkx meanwhile wins kudos for her use of humour in her ad, as well as for her vintage Hollywood-glam runway look. Coco, despite a horrid ad, lacklustre zebra gown, and a fragrance that Santino describes as “mating time at the zoo,” is dropped into the safe category.
And so our bottom three this week is, surprisingly, the same bottom three from last week. Who knew? The judges are no longer buying Roxxxy’s “I’m thick and sassy!” routine, and although this doesn’t bode well for her survival odds, the judges give her a pass this week and send her into the safe zone with Coco. Which means this week’s lip-synchers are Ivy Winters, who’s blended so seamlessly into the background that even her dress looks like wallpaper, and Alyssa, who has about as much awareness of surroundings as she has chin.
The lip-sync this week is slightly less exciting then it was last week, as Ivy and Alyssa lip-sync to a number that no one has ever heard of. While Alyssa does a serviceable job, she doesn’t really bring much to the table other than splaying her limbs around. But despite that, Ivy somehow does even worse, choosing to stand in one spot for the entire number. While this worked for Latrice Royale last year, Ivy is no Latrice. And so we bid adieu to Ivy and to the potential kai kai that was Jivy. Or Ivinkx. Jivynkx? Either way, maybe they’ll keep in touch on Squirt or something.