Toronto Diary
4 min

The Drag Race Rutrospective: Ow! My Balls!

Phi Phi O’Hara. Roxxxy Andrews. Pretty much everyone in Season 3. There have been plenty of bitches in the history of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but they all owe due regards to the original bitch, Rebecca Glasscock. Once again, Rebecca spends the better part of this week’s episode making her rise to the top three as inconceivable as possible, so let’s get to the shit that werked and the shit that Rebecca was responsible for.
If you’ve ever seen more than one season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and have a basic understanding of pattern recognition, you know that the final four queens are going to be competing in a ball this week. Yes, this week is a reflection on the herstory of the ballroom scene, and as such, the queens are starting off with a voguing mini-challenge. Bebe Zahara Benet and Shannel are both perfectly serviceable voguers, although neither of them really nail down the timing as well as they could, while Nina absolutely floors everyone else. Rebecca, on the other hand, moves like a dude. I said it before and I’ll say it again: she may be pretty, but she carries herself like a lumberjack that just shit his pants.
So Nina scores herself a much-deserved win, and Ru drops the main challenge on them: they’re taking it to the ball, in three looks — executive realness, swimwear and an evening gown — based on a flavour of Absolut Vodka. Nina picks a green-mango colour palette for herself and gives raspberry to Bebe, mandarin to Shannel and citron to Rebecca. At the risk of sounding like Nina Garcia, none of the fabrics look particularly expensive, but then again, this is Season 1. You take what you can get.
And of course, there’s one little twist just to fuck with the queens one last time: they have to actually incorporate the fruit itself into their dresses. As Nina points out, there’s a very good reason why you never see a mango hanging off an evening gown. The girls are obviously being set up to fail, but that’s okay because Ru brought in Charo and the Pit Crew for an inexplicable 30-second conga party! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and breakneck segue back to working.
Having the queens spend most of the episode sewing means that interpersonal drama is kept to a minimum; the biggest fight of the night involves Rebecca refusing to tell Shannel where the pens are. Me-OW! What this episode lacks in queen-on-queen fighting it makes up for in internal strife. Each queen’s neurosis is whipped into a delicious meringue of self-doubt, with Shannel in particular about to immolate herself in the biggest way possible.
For now, let’s take it to the ball room. Bebe’s the first one up, and while none of her looks are terrific, they’re all perfectly nice. Her executive realness is just her look from the Oprah challenge resurrected, and her swimsuit look is nicely criss-crossed together. What really sells her, though, is her evening gown, a beautifully fitted mermaid dress that would look perfectly suitable for Diana Ross and accented with raspberries clipped into Bebe’s hair. The trim on the arms and shoulders is a bit much, but it’s nice.
Nina is second, and while she has some of the best tailoring skills of anyone in the competition, her executive realness is a touch dowdy. Her swimsuit look, a one-piece with a flowery headpiece and a gorgeous cape, is a knockout and easily the most expensive-looking ensemble of the night. Her evening gown is gorgeous, flowing and well executed (the mango’s rind is incorporated in both the collar and belt), although the belt “buckle” could do without the feather trim.
Shannel is up third, and while she starts strong, she loses steam over time. Her executive realness is clean, simple and gorgeous, but it’s followed up by a swimsuit look that ages her by about two decades. (Accompanying it with Hannibal-style tongue slurping does not help at all.) Her evening gown isn’t terrible, but her decision to add a voluminous, orange-wedge shoulder pillow makes no goddamn sense and kills what could have been a really fantastic look.
Whereas Shannel’s looks lost their lustre as she went on, Rebecca was just awful across the board. Her executive realness starts off nicely with a well-fitted pantsuit before she removes the blazer and shows off an absolutely hideous top that looks like streamers. Her swimsuit is a yellow one-piece, which … woohoo. You made an unexceptional one-piece. Have a medal. But her evening gown is where it truly goes to shit, as the detailing around the waist looks like corn and gives her the silhouette of a linebacker. Oh, and she just shoved a bunch of lemons in her hair. DAZZLING.
Before the winners and losers are announced, Ru gives the queens one final question: who deserves to go home? Bebe and Nina both call out Rebecca for looking like a cornfield and lacking the experience necessary to advance. Rebecca throws Shannel under the bus, and Shannel decides that the person who should go home is — *record scratch* —  Shannel! Apparently, Shannel can’t understand why she never won a single challenge (especially last week’s makeover challenge) and feels she might as well just bow out.
Bebe is declared the winner of the challenge, which I can’t really argue with, and Nina is safe. Of course, this means Shannel and sworn enemy Rebecca are lip-synching this week to . . . whatever the hell a Mary Mary is. Seriously, “Shackles"? I know they’re on a budget, but really? Either way, Rebecca delivers another boring performance and is saved again. I’m guessing Shannel’s onstage freak-out was enough to send her packing, but still, it feels like a cop-out given how bland Rebecca has been.
And so, we have our first-ever top three: Bebe, the modelesque globe-hopper. Nina, the genderbending glamazon. And Rebecca, the beige-faced mall queen who can’t walk in heels. I’m not saying that one of these queens doesn’t stand a chance in hell, but if you think jeans and a T-shirt are appropriate drag attire, maybe you should have stayed home.