RuPaul’s Drag Race – ‘RuPaul-a-Palooza’

It’s a new week on Drag Race and my personal favorite queen, the lovely and talented (and tonight, extra spicy!) Nicolette, managed to take some time out between hands at her weekly poker game to join me as we catch up with Ru and the ladyboys (special thanks to Matty’s on the Drive for providing Nicolette a quiet place for us to chat!) The main topic of conversation in the workroom is Ru’s surprise decision to keep both Yara and Carmen last week (Nicolette thought it was a “nice twist”). Carmen thinks they were spared because they’re both fierce queens and added that the other queens should be nervous because Ru felt he was too good to go. Yara just knows he can’t f**k up again. Oooh, gurl! You got She Mail! Girl Ru says this week the queens have to embrace the past, in the most vague episode intro ever.

Boy Ru, in a powder blue suit which I do really like on him, tells the queens that this week’s mini-challenge is a game of “Ru-sical chairs”. When the music stops, the chair-less queen must sing the next line in the song. If he gets it, he gets to eliminate one of his competitors, if he doesn’t, he’s out. Oh, and they have to wear high heels. Last queen standing wins. Let the games begin! Of course, this being RuPaul’s Drag Race, the music is all songs from Ru’s latest album. Nicolette thought this was a fun challenge and was hoping they’d be using some other music (“Is this the search for America’s Next Drag Superstar or just an hour-long infomercial for RuPaul?”) Carmen is the first queen to miss a chair, but completes the lyrics to “Cover Girl” and sends Shangela packing (I will add here that I love Manila’s knee-high boots!) The rounds continue until it’s down to 2 queens, one chair (Ru says it “sounds like a video you could watch online!” and Nicolette joked, “I think I’ve seen that one!”) and Manila emerges victorious.

Check out more of our “Ru-cap” after the jump!

The main challenge this week has our queens performing a song for “RuPaul-a-palooza” (sponsored by Absolut)! Ru brings out Jeffrey Moran, who, I guess is some big muckety muck at Absolut. Nicolette would like to indulge in a refreshing Absoult cocktail with him. “I like that clean cut, nerdy type of guy.” Each queen is going to record their own version of Ru’s song, “Superstar” in one of 6 distinct musical styles. Nicolette is slightly annoyed to hear this. “Oh, now they’re going to record a song, but it’s a RuPaul song! Shocking! Let me put on my surprised face. I told you I was spicy this week!” Since Manila won the mini-challenge, he gets to pick first and determine the order of the rest of the selections. Manila grabs disco (good choice), Raja picks punk (also a good fit. Nicolette says she knew Raja would pick that.), Yara picks pop, Alexis gets hip-hop, Carmen (who is surprised the boogers were picked over him, a “Heather”. Oh, and according to Nicolette, “booger” is really a thing in the drag world. And it’s getting on Nicolette’s nerves.) picks reggae, leaving Shangela to contend with country. I asked Nicolette what kind of music she’d pick if she had to sing live. “Either pop or country. I’m a country girl…I put the “c**t” in country!”

The queens start working on their songs and performance costumes. I asked Nicolette how she would take on a singing challenge like this one. “I would approach it very optimistically – but knowing that I would be horrible at it. I love to sing, actually  my passion for singing is part of the reason why I do drag. I think that if I had a good voice and could be a good singer, I probably would not do drag. A lot of the reasons I do drag is because I can’t be a singer. I know I have a horrible voice but given the challenge, I would give it my all. I would warble out a tune. I wouldn’t be intimidated by it. I sing in the car. If I ever released a live album, it would be called ‘Nicolette Live from the Honda Civic!'” Carmen hangs out with Alexis and Shangela. Miss Shangie is curious about the way Manila picked the queens he did in the order he did. Carmen just thinks they’re trying to start some drama. Oh, they’d never do that! Carmen asks Manila if he was really trying to sabotage him and Manila said he was only strategizing for himself. Carmen said he wanted to do reggae all along, so Manila asked him, “Then why are you complaining?” (Touche, Manila!) You can get a taste of the queens rehearsing – and why some queens should just stick to the lip syncing – in this clip:

Ru checks on the gurls’ progress. Carmen is excited and relishes the challenge of performing a reggae tune. Raja said he always wanted to be a punk rocker as a kid, but was too glamorous in his head. Ru asks Raja what he’s going to do to break out of his “too cerebral”, over thinking trap and Raja says he’s just going to go “balls to the wall”. Nicolette thinks Raja is going to tear it up and can’t wait to see his performance. Ru offers this very helpful advice, “what other people think of you is none of your business”. Truly words to live by, if you ask me! Manila does the bump with Ru, so I guess he’s ready. Yara says he’s not the best singer, but he’s a good actress and thinks he can sell it. Shangela has two country drag looks to choose from – the plaid and denim “Hee Haw honey” look or the more contemporary Carrie Underwood/Shania Twain glam country look. He’s not sure which one to go with. Alexis says he’s modeling his hip-hop look after Li’l Kim and he is hip-hop. Bam! After a “field trip” to a recording studio to lay down their tracks, they’ll be performing them in front of a live audience and extra special guest judges Jody Watley and Carmen Electra. Manila thinks Shangela (who has decided to go with the “new country” look) is serving “Mystique country realness”. I don’t think that’s a compliment. Raja thinks the look is “tragic”. Nicolette said Shangela’s really in a no win situation – regardless of what outfit he chooses, someone’s going to be expecting something else.

The queens arrive at the recording studio, where they Lucian Piane, Ru’s music producer – and Nicolette’s new crush (“Lucian is really cute! I would take him home to meet my momma!”). Lucian gives Shangela a mini tour of the studio and they get to work. Shangela doesn’t start strong singing-wise, but he really likes producing! Lucian suggests Shangie maybe not be quite so confident. “Bless his heart, he’s trying to be so nice!” Alexis can’t concentrate due to Lucian’s cute boy factor. Bam! indeed. Lucian notes that Alexis sounds “terrified”. Poor Alexis is always terrified. Manila is a little soft-spoken, but to his credit, seems to have the most potential so far. Raja’s naturally deep voice just might work for the punk version of the song. Lucian wants him to make it “prettier” but Raja doesn’t want to compromise his voice. And then there’s Carmen and Yara…check out their sessions here, presented without comment:

The next day, the queens discover mp3 players with their recorded songs on them. They are all thrilled to hear the finished songs – especially Yara, who says he can understand himself, adding “And my English is very well looking darling.” Nicolette marvels, “that’s the wonder of the recording industry – they can make anyone sound good!” Carmen doesn’t like his song and knows he’s going to have to come up with something to make it work. Manila goes over to check out what Shangela is up to – putting rhinestone trim on a cowboy hat. Manila was offering some “helpful hints”, but it was pretty obvious he wasn’t trying to help.

It’s runway time and Ru is wearing the most fabulous wig…ever! I have never coveted a wig as much as this one! (Also love the black gown with the electric yellow dragon design on it.) I, for one, wouldn’t mind if Jeffrey Moran filled in for Santino for the rest of the season. Miss Jody Watley looks fabulous, I’ll bet she can still rock a crinoline skirt just like she did in the 80s (fun fact: Jody was a Soul Train dancer)! And then there’s Carmen Electra. Let RuPaul-a-Palooza commence! Manila has got the sky high afro, a silver and gold sequined mini-dress and gold wings, reminiscent of Cher’s costume from the Take Me Home album (one of my disco faves!) Nicolette loves the look. The song’s not bad either! Alexis has got the silicone fakers out and even throws a little rap in his performance. I liked it. Shangela is energetic and boot-scooty, should have lost the cowboy hat though. His vocals weren’t bad. Yara is a nearly-nude pop princess (Nicolette would have liked to see him in a gown) and, yes, you can actually understand him. Carmen’s reggae song is a train wreck (or a travesty, as Nicolette pointed out) and he’s really not selling it – despite grabbing a boy from the audience. Yeah, not working. Raja’s punk princess was spot-on. Nicolette says, “I like Raja a lot but I don’t see a feminine drag queen. I see a man who wears makeup and outfits. There’s no doubt he’s talented but, since he hasn’t been in the bottom two, we really haven’t to get to see him perform.”

The judges get their say. Jody thought Manila’s lip sync could have been better and Ru was surprised that he went straight to the audience. Michelle loved the authenticity of the song. Jody thought Alexis’ sold his hip-hop performance but Michelle thought it was more like “Hannah Montana hip-hop”. Jody wanted something more “unexpected” from Shangela’s too-poppy country performance. Jeffrey thought his energy was good but he got a bit sloppy. Michelle also wanted more country. Shangela tried to defend himself, but didn’t seem to get his point across too well. Nicolette sympathized – she knew what Shangela was going for. Jeffrey thought Yara should have covered up a bit more. Ru thinks Raja successfully brought his runway style and attitude to his punk princess. Carmen described his look as what would happen if “Bob Marley had a love child with a Puerto Rican girl and she grew up in New Jersey.” Everyone thought he was definitely more style over substance. Nicolette thinks that Carmen’s definitely been coasting on looks for the past few weeks. He’s absolutely freaking gorgeous but people aren’t going to pay to
see just a pretty drag queen. If I want to see a pretty drag queen, all I have to do is look in the mirror!” After the queens went to the Interior Illusions Lounge, the big topic among the judges was boobs. I get the impression that Ru’s not fond of the silicone fakers. Michelle says she doesn’t like the way they look – and then flashes her own pair for all to see. Yikes.

Ru’s made her decision. Yara’s safe and no big shocker, Raja is the week’s big winner. Carmen’s “half baked” reggae landed him in the bottom two. Manila’s safe as is Alexis. That leaves Shangela and Carmen to lip sync for their lives, to Cher’s new drag classic, “Believe”. Shangela was working it and Carmen was basically posing. Do they take your drag queen card away if you can’t properly lip sync to a Cher song? If they don’t, they probably should! So, no big surprise, it’s Carmen’s turn to sashay away. Until next week, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else? Can I get an “Amen”?

Don’t miss a moment of eleganza! Check out full episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race on and get ready for an all-new episode next Monday at 10pm EST on Logo!