RuPaul’s Drag Race – ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Style’

Rejoice! Fresh off the stage at Lips, the hardest working queen in South Florida, the lovely and talented Nicolette is back to recap with me! The remaining “Heathers” – Manila, Carmen and especially Raja are still reeling that Delta was sent home last week. I am too. Nicolette, not so much. “I liked her, but she had an attitude. I don’t like this whole “Heathers” thing, but… whatever.” Manila says he had never had as much of a rush than he had last week when he lip synced against Delta – and he has a renewed energy coming into this week’s challenge. Carmen said Delta was “fetch” and Manila told him to stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

Not to be nit-picky, but that was from Mean Girls, not Heathers. Silly young boys! Regardless of what movie they were quoting, Alexis had to ask something many fans of the show are probably asking themselves right about now, “What is the hell with dis Heathers?” Shangela asked Alexis what he thought of the group hug and tear-stained faces that accompanied Delta’s departure and he said it was a “production”. “A ‘We are the world, we are the children’ moment.” (Nicolette agreed wholeheartedly.) The anti-Heathers vow to stay strong which is great – but…gurl! You got She Mail!

Check out lots more of our “Ru-cap” – and videos too – after the jump!

Girl Ru says that she’s dragged her ass all over the world and thinks America is number one and there’s definitely a patriotic vibe going on. Boy Ru appears clad in head to toe denim (a look I can’t stand, even on Ru. I thought denim on denim was a faux pas. Nicolette? “I’m not sure what the rules are!”) and a cowboy hat. This week, it’s all about “T&A”. The “T” is this week’s mini-challenge, where our queens get to bedazzle some black bras. Nicolette suggested a better challenge would have been to bedazzle the pit crew’s underwear! As long as they’re not in them, I think that’s a great idea! One thing about Ru, he can get out of the way really quickly when there’s six drag queens heading straight for him (and the table with all of the glitter and jewels)! Manila immediately cuts the nipples out of his bra. Shangela glues all of his jewels onto the inside of the bra. Halleouch. His concept is to do a representation of Ru’s face on the bra. Nicolette thought it was already looking like a “hot mess”- words you’d never associate with Ru! After their 30 minutes are up, Ru comes in (through that damn squeaky door! Really, World of Wonder, there’s no budget for some WD-40?) and judges the queens’ creations. For having only 30 minutes, the bedazzled bras look really cute. I have never been able to do anything with a Bedazzler, so I’m impressed. So’s Nicolette, “It goes back to what I said a few weeks ago – I’m not ‘artsy-craftsy’!” Puerto Rico represents with solid contributions from both Alexis and Yara. (I actually love Yara’s zebra look, or as he called it, “Yara Sofia’s Secret”.) As much as I adore Miss Shangela, his bra was kind of a hot mess. Nicolette thought it might look better on a refridgerator, “It looks like a kindergarten arts and crafts project!” Ru thought the clump of gold jewels on one breast was supposed to be corn, so he was surprised to learn it was actually his head and that Shangie was hoping to pitch the idea of the line of bras to him. Says Nicolette, “If you’re pitching it, it’s a strike out!” Yeah, not the winner. You can see the rest of the creations here:

The winner of the bra challenge is Manila. Should have been Yara, if you ask me. If you ask Nicolette, “I like the fact that Manila did a little something different. All of the other ones looks too much alike.” It’s time to move on to the “A” and much to Carmen’s dismay, I’m sure, the “A” stands for America and not ass. For the main challenge, each queen is going to make a PSA entitled, “Why I love the USA.” The PSAs will be sent to our troops overseas. Nicolette said what I’m sure a lot of you must have wanted to say about this challenge, “Can you imagine like a platoon of Marines being sat down in Iraq and told, ‘Watch this inspirational message from a bunch of drag queens’? I don’t see it.” It would really be better if the troops could watch the videos from home – I’m just saying….Each queen gets 10 minutes in the studio to shoot a spot, except for Manila, who gets an extra 5 minutes for winning the mini-challenge. Raja’s having trouble putting his script together. He doesn’t want it to be too “speechy” because it’s a short spot. Whatever tension may have been building up in the workroom was released when Carmen pooted. (Just in case you forgot that these were dudes!) I wondered if scripted material is something drag queens do as part of their “job” so I asked Nicolette if she prepared anything for her shows. “In my shows, when I emcee, I have a lot of material that I use over and over, but what I do is sometimes I’ll mingle with the audience before the show and I’ll start picking out what somebody’s wearing or whatever and I try to get material from them. Say, for example, there’s a table of African American ladies and they all had their hair done and I said, ‘Are we at a drag show or at a hair show in Atlanta?’ I don’t really sit and wrote stuff out, I just get my inspiration from mingling with the audience.” Back at the workroom, Alexis is also having a hard time writing his script because of a lot of “things”. They’re so personal that he has a hard time sharing with Shangela. He just doesn’t want to cry during the shoot.

Out of all of the queens Yara seems to be having the hardest time, since speaking English isn’t his strongest skill. Even Alexis thinks he’s still got a way to go as a performer. Yara tries to get help from Shangela, but Shangie isn’t taking the bait because, according to him Yara really doesn’t need any help. Yara’s a little annoyed because he took time out of his preparations to help Shangela in the past with his makeup. Nicolette thought Shangela was being a bit shady; “As many people who have helped Shangela out in the past, he really should have helped.” Ru checks in with the queens. The all-denim ensemble is growing on Nicolette. I still don’t like it, but the boots are pretty cool. Raja says he loves the freedom he has to be able to be a drag queen, strut around in fabulous clothes and get paid for it. Ru reminds him to make sure his spot is uplifting, entertaining and from the heart. Manila loves America because there’s such a wide variety of food, which gets a chuckle from Ru. Nicolette politely says, “That’s an interesting approach.” Manila goes on to explain that it’s a symbol of the diversity that America has to offer. Carmen has family members serving overseas and is making his video with the hope that they’ll see it. Yara says his father is in the Army reserve and has served in Iraq, but he says he’s not going to mention it in his PSA because it’s too emotional for him.  Ru asks to hear a sample of his script and Yara busts out with “If you don’t love America, how in the hell are you going to love yourself? Because, you are America.” Sound familiar, doesn’t it? Let’s hope Ru thinks imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Shangela’s mother served two tours in Desert Storm and also in Bosnia. She would call home and tell him to make her laugh, and that’s the vibe he wants for his spot. And, finally, we get the lowdown on Alexis’ “things” in this clip:

It’s time for the queens to hit the studio. I love that as Raja’s voice over talks about things that make you proud to be an American, they show the pit crew guys. Yup, they make ME proud to be an American. Shangela is up first in a patriotic one-piece leotard/bathing suit. He’s got lots of cheesy props he can use, including a cardboard Statue of Liberty, balloons, parasols, hats and, yes, the pit crew guys. Upon hearing that, Shangela made a face that implied he’d like to do a very different shoot with the pit crew guys! (Hey, who could blame him?) Shangela grabbed a dog and went through some cheesy dialogue, which prompted Ru to remind him about the theme of the PSA. That got Shangie back on track and back to the funny gurl we all know and love. Even Nicolette is starting to come around. She said Shangela’s act was “cute” and added, “I like her personality. I still don’t think she’s right for the competition yet.”  Carmen is wearing a blue bodysuit with red and white stars on it and seems less than enthused about doing this shoot. Every time Carmen comes on cam, Nicolette says, “She’s so pretty.” She really is, I must agree. He spent most of his time talking himself through various scenarios with the cardboard cutout, a mirror and balloons. Oh, and he shook his tush and posed a lot. Poor Yara’s having a little trouble getting his lines out, but he’s quite a snappy dancer. All he wants to do is to make the troops laugh. Manila (in a horrid blond wig) kept the food theme for his PSA – with the obvious jokes with cherry pies and hot dogs (and even a fart joke for good measure.) He did have a great ending though, telling the boys overseas that when they got back, they’d have all the food they could eat – with a close-up on a pit crew package – and then a triumphant jump in the air (delightfully cheesy – look, another food reference!) Raja makes an adorable pin-up girl but comes off really stiff. His non-speaking stuff – like prancing around with balloons and riding in a pit crew-pulled wagon while throwing confetti everywhere – was awesome though. Nicolette said, “I wasn’t expecting Raja to struggle as much as she is.” Alexis, in another skintight bodysuit (“That outfit is so ugly that it’s cute!”), is a little nervous coming in, but the nerves quickly dissipate when the camera is on. He is spinning around with a red lame sheet and screaming “Bam!” with each pose. He really worked it – he worked it so hard that he appeared out of breath, until he informed Ru, “I’m trying to feel where is my genitals right now.” When the shoots are complete, Ru tells the queens to wear their most patriotic outfits on the runway and tells them that this week’s guest judges are supermodel Cheryl Tiegs and figure skater Johnny Weir (who Raja says he’ll lick if he gets anywhere near him.)

The next morning, as the queens got prepared for the runway, Carmen asked if anyone thought it was difficult to be heartfelt and entertaining. Alexis says that “if you’re not putting on an act and being yourself, it’s not difficult to put your feelings out to everyone at the same time.” Not sure if that’s what Carmen wanted to hear. He says (mostly to appease himself, it seems) that thought he was heartfelt in his speech and entertaining in his posing. Shangela asked Carmen if he spoke in English and Spanish. Carmen said no. He doesn’t speak Spanish, but he understands it. Yara calls him out on that and he admits he speaks “broken Spanish”. Yara wants Carmen to embrace his Puerto Rican-ness.

I must say, Ru looks stunning on the runway tonight in a gorgeous red gown and short (for Ru) blond wig. Michelle Visage looks boob-a-licious and – damn – Santino Rice is back. At least he’s playing along and wearing a powdered wig. Cheryl Tiegs looks great, having avoided the too much plastic surgery/Botox route some other former supermodels have taken (cough) Janice Dickinson (cough). Johnny Weir says he’s “tucked in anticipation”. Alrighty then. Let’s see the queens in their “Yankee Doodle drag”!

Manila looks adorable in a red bob wig and a flapper dress made out of money. He’s also got a credit card headpiece and matching earrings. This queen is an accessorizing monster! Nicolette thought it was “very, very cute.” Carmen says his look is “Carmen Carerra meets Dita von Teese in the 1950s” and is sporting a red, white and blue tulle wrap over a white gown adorned with red and blue stars. Love the pin-up gal hairdo too! Nicolette agreed. “Carmen looks absolutely stunning. Very Dita von Teese. She’s breathtakingly beautiful on the runway, but she had the personality of a wet hot dog bun.” Michelle gets line of the night by describing Carmen’s look as, “Star Spangled bang-her”! Alexis is wearing a bedazzled military hat and formal dress jacket over a blue skirt (made to look like pants with the addition of a red stripe down the sides). Clever! Nicolette adds, “I’m not so sure about this outfit. It’s interesting but kind of…the top didn’t go with the bottom…I’m kind of on the fence about this outfit.” Yara is in an all-white traditional Puerto Rican costume with a “surprise” – a sequined leotard with the design of the Puerto Rican flag. He looks like the Puerto Rican Wonder Woman. Shangela – love, love the big hair! The white mini dress, not so much. He says it’s simple, but patriotic and Marilyn Monroe-esque. Not seeing it. Sorry, gurl. Raja gets a chorus of “Oh, wow!” in his rock ‘n’ roll Indian outfit, complete with feathered headdress. For the love of Cher, it’s crave-able!

It’s time for the judges to weigh in on the runway looks and the PSAs. Shangela’s outfit wasn’t well-received, but the PSA got a “halleloo” from Johnny. Carmen phoned her PSA in completely, but kudos to the pit crew for turning in Emmy-worthy performances. Michelle and Johnny both thought he looked bored and Cheryl noted that at first glimpse, she gasped at his beauty, but that his runway charms disappeared rapidly and Santino told Carmen that he looked like he couldn’t give two s**ts to be there. Whatever energy was lacking in Carmen’s presentation, Alexis certainly made up for it (is it me, or was his padding/catsuit combo kind of unflattering?) complete with a lot of “Bam!”, twirls and dancing. Michelle thought it really worked for him. Ru asked if the bejeweled military jacket was his ex-beau’s and Alexis said it was (I hope he doesn’t need it back!) Yara told the judges his costume was the traditional dance costume in Puerto Rico for the bomba and also the country’s religion, Santeria. Ru asked him, You’re not going to kill a chicken, are you? ‘Cause I’m hungry, girl!” Looking at the PSA, Yara has now gone “full Charo“, and Michelle thought it wasn’t “crazy with a purpose” adding that she now expected more from Yara. Johnny also thought it was “jumping all over the place.” Manila described his runway look as “Thoroughly Modern Millionaire” but the PSA missed the mark. Cheryl didn’t like the potty humor – and Santino said the message was lost on him. Michelle loves the runway look but hates the blond wig. Johnny said all he got from Manila in the video was Jessica Simpson and said “I wouldn’t want to be Jessica Simpson.” Ouch! Cheryl loved Raja on the runway but thought his PSA performance was a little stiff. Johnny said Raja was scorching on the runway but “a cold, dead fish” on screen. Wow.

After the queens headed to the Interior Illusions Lounge, the judges contined to deliberate. Santino reiterated how much he didn’t like Shangela’s dress (Nicolette noted, “Shangela’s always weak in the dress area.”) and Johnny said his runway presentation was kind of “wah wah”. Ru thought the PSA was campy and just more of his patented shtick. Michelle called Carmen’s PSA “personality-less”. Johnny got raw saying Carmen was initially lovely to look at, but as he stood on the runway “she may as well have been chewing on a piece of wheat, taking a dump, doing her nails….” He added that no one would pay good money to see that and Carmen could end up flipping burgers. Me-ow. That pretty ice skating girl is mean! Santino’s got a little competition this week! Ru didn’t like Alexis’ somber demeanor on the runway, but Michelle thought it fit the outfit well. Santino loved the PSA (what? He loved something?) Cheryl didn’t like Yara’s “curly frizzy hair” in the PSA but loved her on the runway (I thought Yara’s hair almost looked exactly the same!) Cheryl once again mentioned that she didn’t like Manila’s fart joke, which caused Michelle to blurt out “It’s comedy, people!” and added that not only does she enjoy some crass humor every once in a while, she loved Manila’s runway outfit (who didn’t?) Cheryl loved Raja and Santino thought he made a beautiful pin-up girl – but there was a “disconnect” when he opened his mouth. Michelle added his PSA was as flat as she was “before Dr. 90210″.

Ru has made her decision. Shangela, despite her sub-par runway and so-so PSA (according to Ru – we liked it) is safe. Manila is safe as well. Not surprisingly (well, to everyone else) Carmen is the first queen up for elimination. Alexis made the judges proud and was declared the winner of the challenge. He wins luggage (and the Antler luggage company wins some prime product placement). Alexis gets teary-eyed and thanked the “special person” who told him he needed to love himself first. Wait, doesn’t Ru say that at the end of every episode? Questioned if he’s just “resting on wacky”, Yara is the second queen up for elimination. Ay carumba! The queens must lip sync for their lives to Toni Basil’s annoying hit “Mickey” – the Spanish version (so that’s why they showed the conversation about Carmen’s Spanish-speaking abilities!) Could Yara have this one in the bag? Carmen doesn’t think so. And he proves it – he doesn’t miss a word, but performs it like a romantic ballad, not the high energy song it is. Nicolette and I agreed that the lip sync lacked something. Yara toned down his usual manic energy which would have actually worked with this song. Carmen went down to the judges’ table and planted a kiss on Johnny and his antics seemed to throw Yara off. Uh-oh. I don’t want to see Yara go! Ru’s made the final decision and it’s Carmen who gets to stay. Awww! But wait, Yara isn’t sashaying away just yet – Ru’s giving them both a second chance. Yay, Ru! Now, can I get an “Amen” up in here? See you next week!

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