RuPaul’s Drag Race – ‘The Queen Who Mopped Christmas’

I’m as giddy as a kid at Christmas because another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has begun! You’ve had a chance to get to know all of the queens, so now it’s time to see them in action and find out which of these fierce, talented queens will walk away with the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar”! Joining me on this eleganza adventure is my friend – and a fabulous drag queen as well – the lovely Nicolette, who holds court at the world famous club Lips in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – she’ll be interjecting her thoughts throughout the Ru-cap. Enough with the idol chit-chat, let’s strap on our stilettos, start our engine and get this race started!

Our first queen to arrive in Ru’s magical drag workshop is the lovely and talented Delta Work from California. He says he’s heard the naysayers who think a big girl can’t take the crown and he’s out to prove them wrong. Next up is the glamorous Carmen Carrera from the Garden State of New Jersey. (Nicolette:”I love that dress!”).  Carmen says she’s not only the “flyest” on the show, but that she’s “flawless” as well, If you see a flaw on her, you better let her know! Phoenix, wearing the most crave-able spiked heels ever, is here to represent the ATL. She says she’s been raised to play well with others but admits to having a bitchy side as well. Manila Luzon explodes through the door. She’s a creative kid from the Midwest who’s creativity  was too much for Minnesota and she found a home in New York (and she seems to be  friends with Carmen. Manila joked that with her pal that she’s never seen her wearing so much clothing. This will come into play later, trust me!). Manila says she’s her own muse because she inspires herself.

There’s lots more of our Ru-cap after the jump!

And now, fresh from Back Swamp, North Carolina, (Nicolette: “Back Swamp? For real?”) it’s the radiant Stacy Layne Matthews. She’s a self-professed “country queen” – living on a dirt road surrounded by  cornfields – no, you really can’t get more country than that. Someone cracks that with Delta and Stacy, “The Weather Girls are in the house!” I don’t want to see a lot of big girl bashing this season! Venus D-Lite is looking all glam in a fabulous black and white polka dot gown. Loves it! Venus and Delta embrace. They work together in the Dreamgirls Revue in LA. Venus loves Madonna, Grace Jones, Barbra Streisand and Jean Harlow she’s a self-described “blond bombshell ditzy bimbo”. Wow! Yara Sofia has some sickening and intense blue eyes! She’s following in the footsteps of Jessica Wild and Nina Flowers in being “the Puerto Rican one” (to which Manila interjects that she’s “The Asian One”.) Sporting a crazy long ponytail and  gorgeous curves is Mariah – a/k/a Mariah Balenciaga, a/k/a Mariah Paris a/k/a Mariah Successful (Nicolette: My, she’s got a lot of names!) She’s also from Atlanta! The Peach City is bringing it this year! Mariah knows she’s the center of attention – a “6’2″ glamazon with legs like a racehorse.” As an 11 year veteran of the drag scene, she thinks she’s the one to beat. Florida is in the house with the lovely, fiery Alexis Mateo. (Nicolette: “I don’t know her personally, I know of her and she’s really come a long way since she first started out.”) She doesn’t want to be labeled as a Latin queen, which should be some sort of relief for Yara – who, initially, looks less than thrilled that there’s another Puertorriqueña in the game. In walks India Ferrah, dressed and wigged almost exactly the same as Phoenix! Whoops. How delightfully awkward! Has that ever happened to you Nicolette? (Nicolette: “It’s never happened before, but I’d deal with it with humor, like I’d say, you’ve got great taste in clothes!”) Wow, India…nice rack! What’s with the prosthetic boobs (Nicolette: “I don’t use them. They’re really expensive and it’s really hard to hide the seams on those things.”) Back to the Phoenix and India sitch – much uncomfortableness abounds. India (who is just the cutest boy), is from Dayton, Ohio and makes a point to go over to Phoenix and gives her a little ‘tude, remarking, “I love your hair”. Me-ow! Phoenix thinks she’s pulling off the look way better than the “painted” India and says her drag is Old school, adding (rather sarcastically) “It’s nice to see that style of drag still amongst us.” Check…and mate.

Stacy asks if they’ve determined who’s going to be the bitch of the group – any front runners? (Nicolette: “I don’t think so, it’s too early to tell”) Well, there’s no time to worry about that now – but it probably won’t be the spunky Mimi Imfurst, who bursts in with a plate of cookies for the queens. (Nicolette: “She’s a Lips sister from NYC!”) Mariah says of Mimi, “She ain’t so slick, Miss Mimi. Before  Mimi, there was Mariah.” Hmmm…maybe we’ve answered out question! Our next competitor is the lean, lovely Raja wearing a crazy pink cyclops hat over her face. (Nicolette: “Well, she knows how to make a first impression!”) Sutan,  Raja’s alter ego, gets my vote as the most handsome man on the show. In and out of drag, he just oozes elegance. He tells us Raja was doing Gaga before Gaga did Gaga. Raja Gaga? (Raja’s also part of the Dreamgirls, so Delta gets another big hug! It’s all one, big happy family.) Mariah said he thought Raja wasn’t polished, “It looks like she went in granny’s trunk in the attic.” Ouch. And those are your season three queens!

Oooh, girl, you got She-Mail! RuPaul (looking as glamorous as ever) welcomes the queens to the third season of Drag Race (as Ru says, great things come in threes – The Supremes, Destiny’s Child and Mark Wahlberg’s nipples.) Boy Ru emerges (thankfully without the mustache he sported on Drag U. The only men who should ever have a mustache are Burt Reynolds and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. But I digress.) The queen who emerges as fiercest of the fierce and who proves she’s got the most charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent gets free makeup from Kryolan (what happened to NYX? I love that stuff?), a headlining gig on the Drag Race Absoult Vodka tour and $75,000! Ru’s not one to have Christmas just once and year and declares that it’s now Christmas at Drag Race! First of all, Ru’s got a little present for the queens. The Pit Crew bring out a huge box (I was going to say huge package, but looking at these nearly naked, buff men, it was too easy of a joke.) All of the  queens speculated as to what was in the box. Could it be another pit crew member? Beyonce? Lady Gaga?

After the commercial, the big reveal…it’s Shangela! Halleloo! I love me some Shangela! If you didn’t watch season two, Miss Shangela was the first queen eliminated. She’s only been in the game for a short time. (Nicolette: “Getting into drag is like anything else in the entertainment industry. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.”) All of the queens put on their best fake plastered-on smiles when they see her. Did it suddenly get cold in here? She gets her second chance and will be joining the other girls in the competition. Cue fake delight.

It’s time for the girls’ first challenge. It’s a photo shoot with famed photographer (and star of Logo’s The A List), the foxy, funny Mike Ruiz! I’d love to do a photo session with Mike. (Nicolette: “I’d love to do any kind of session with him!”) It’s a shoot for their Christmas card. The challenge part is they have to bounce on a trampoline while posing. Sounds intriguing. Let’s see which of the ladies can, in the words of Manila Luzon (sorry, gril, had to steal this) put the “tramp” in trampoline! Carmen was up first. It was really disconcerting to see a gorgeous model burst out with Jersey-accented “Let’s do this, yo!” (Wow, I just had a Jersey Shore flashback! Do drag queens from Jersey do the GTL and have “t-shirt time” too?) She bounces around riding an over-sized candy cane while the pit crew makes fake snow in a fan. Drag queens and trampolines are not a match made in heaven. They can dance around in 6″ heels, but on a trampoline, the grace mysteriously disappears. Since the next few minutes consists on drag queens on trampolines (kind of like a Man Show for us drag queen lovers!) I’ll just get to the highlights. India was having boob issues – her fakers weigh 12 pounds and she was in danger of pulling a Tara Reid during the shoot. Ru thought they might be throwing her balance off. Poor Stacy was a little nervous being a plus-sized queen on a trampoline but she gamely went ahead. (Nicolette: “I thought that was a cute shot.”) Ru told Mariah that “Your eggnog brings all the boys to the yard.” Mike took great delight in screaming “Ride that candy cane!” A lot. Raja is Mike’s “beautiful elegant gazelle”. You can tell shes modeled before – and I LOVED her photo.

When Raja heads back to the workshop, the queens are starting to get out of drag, and the boys start to size each other up. Yara and Carmen are front runners, but Stacy, still in a bra with no makeup still looks really feminine (Raja asks, “Is that somebody’s mama?”) Back in the photo studio, Alexis is gives Mike “a little Ann-Margret” (nothing wrong with that), Manila pretended to gag on the artificial snow. Delta, another bigger girl was having a problem getting airborne but it resulted in my second favorite photo of the session. Phoenix couldn’t keep her arms in frame and Venus looked like a snow leopard in her flowy gown. (Nicolette: “She really worked  that dress to her advantage”.) Last but not least, it’s Miss Shangela. The girl jumped herself out of her eyelashes! Shangela is fully aware that she’s probably not welcome and Venus flat-out asked her about coming back. Shangela said she had to audition just like every other queen on the show. Venus said Shangela has to prove  that she’s grown as a performer and “she’s under the microscope now, bitch.” Ouch!  Shangela thinks she’s got to watch her back with Venus. I think she’s right.

The pit crew enters with drinks for all of the ladies. Do drag and alcohol really mix? (Nicolette: “Oh yes, honey! I always like to have a little something before I take the stage. It makes me more relaxed and loosens my tongue a little.”) Ru comes in, sees all of the boys and asks “Who are you people?” He also announces the winner of the holiday card photo shot challenge and, to no one’s surprise, it’s Raja. Ru tells everyone that the next day’s activities require them to show up in their best daywear drag because there’s only one shopping day left until Christmas!

The next day, the group, understandably, draw a lot of attention and curious stares as they march down an LA-area street in drag. The gals end up at a thrift store and the usual customers look very surprised and mildly amused at the group that has just invaded their territory.
Ru tells the gals that they have to “ho ho ho it up” and create an outfit from the things they can find at the thrift store. Manila has sushi roll earrings! OMG, I want those! They can use their own wigs, shoes and undergarments (which is good because thrift store undergarments? Ewww….) they can also use any Christmas decorations they can “mop” (that’s steal in Drag-ese) from the workshop. They all get $50 and 10 minutes to shop. Gee, that sounds like Project Runway. (Nicolette: “This is why I can’t go on this show. I do not know how to sew, and I’m really not creative. Gee, I’m really like the anti-drag queen, aren’t I?”) Since she won the challenge, Raja gets an extra $25 to spend. The mad free-for-all dash ensues, with queens grabbing up every piece of thrift store goodness they can. Shangela kicked off her pumps and made a beeline for the paper lantern lamp hanging in the window. She had to have that. Shangela proves to be quite the haggler, negotiating with the store’s cashier to get a bargain! Carmen grabs a gold belt and says it could be her skirt! Mimi knows that at her size, it’s slim pickings, so she goes straight for the fabric section.

When the gals get back to the workshop, they find the halls bedecked in Christmas decorations. Another grab-o-rama ensues, with the girls
grabbing every last string of tinsel, bow, ornament and garland they could get their hands on. Inexplicably, Shangela grabs a huge Styrofoam snowman. Okay… she asserts that she wants to be “Sister Element of Surprise”. Mimi releases the tension in the room by putting an upside down lampshade on her head and channeling season two contestant Mystique, yelling “I am from CHICAGO!” Phoenix thinks Mimi’s constant need for attention is annoying (Tyra was annoying last year, and look what happened to her…I’m just saying…)The girls are furiously sewing, taping and hot gluing their outfits together (Nicolette: “A hot glue gun is a drag queens best friend – and duct tape too!”) Venus got the bright idea of breaking up glass ornaments and gluing the broken pieces onto her vest like a mosaic. (Nicolette: “Wow, that’s really creative. I would have never thought of that.”) Venus looked over and noticed that Phoenix was doing pretty much the exact same thing, Shady!

Ru comes into the workroom in full Tim Gunn mode to check on their progress. Shangela has decided to dress her snowman in an outfit similar to her own. Ru isn’t sure what she’s doing is worth $75K, but Shangela assures him she won’t disappoint. Phoenix gets complimented on her creativity (her jacket doesn’t have as much broken glass as Venus’ and she put ornament balls like epaulets on the shoulders, and it is pretty cool looking.) Mimi is working on what Ru called “manger couture” – her take on a Virgin Mary look. She’s really nervous because she can’t sew and becomes increasingly visibly disturbed about his “raggedy ass dress”. Ru notices a photo of season two’s Sahara Davenport on Manila’s desk and Manila tells Ru that Sahara’s her partner. Awww…Ru checks out Venus’ showgirl outfit and makes note of the crushed glass. Venus says she did it first. Raja’s red plaid confection Ru describes as “Christmas pudding at Vivienne Westwood’s on Boxing Day”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Raja said she wanted it to look like the hodge-podge of presents under the tree. She used a tree skirt for the skirt of her outfit, because “you keep all of the presents under the tree!” Carmen’s having a spicy Christmas – where’s the rest of her outfit? There’s going to be a lot of body showing – and she added a sprig of mistletoe (actually holly, but I’m not nit picking) on the back. Stacy, the shy one, tells Ru it’s her first time in Hollywood and the first time in a plane! Ru announces that the judge for the runway presentation is former Miss America and Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams and the queens freak out! As the queens continue putting their holiday looks together, Mimi breaks down crying. Hey! There’s no crying in drag! He’s really having issues with his dress. He doesn’t want to fail. The other queens rally around and help boost his spirits and confidence (Mariah
and India help her out…how sweet) Yara did not. “Girl, put yourself together, darlin’!”  Mimi knows she’s just got to sell whatever she brings to the runway.

The queens have one last day in the workroom to finish up the Christmas couture. Mimi is praying for a miracle. Everybody thinks she’s going home because she lacks confidence. Mimi thinks he’s the most driven out of the bunch and vows to make it work. Mimi’s Virgin Mary look is kind of pulling together, but Manila called the outfit “a laundry bag full of old sheets”. Snap! Shangela doesn’t look forward to the prospect of lip syncing for her life again but feels super confident this time around. Shangela isn’t taking it lightly that she’s back. Raja talks about his long career in drag and how it helped him overcome his awkward teenage years and being harassed by bullies. Mimi asks Venus about her drag and she says she not only impersonates Madonna, she also got plastic surgery (cheek and chin implants) to look like her. Mariah said she was too young to have all of that “wrong work” in her face. Mimi equates drag queens using plastic surgery to baseball players using steroids. Carmen loves walking around naked. I’m not complaining….It’s a last minute scramble of hot gluing and makeup application because the runway awaits!

Ru takes the runway for the first time this season and she doesn’t disappoint (can  I borrow her stylist Mathu Andersen for just one day? Please?) Since it’s the  Christmas special, Ru introduces us to her own Santa, comedian Bruce Vilanch! It’s time to meet the judges – back again is Santino Rice (if we’ve got Santa, we’ve got to have a grinch, right?) and Ru’s old pal and former talk show sidekick Michelle Visage. Mike is a judge as well as special judge Vanessa Williams, who has also not aged since the 80s. Sick. The gals model their holiday drag looks:

Carmen comes out of a big box wearing practically nothing. I really hate the fact that he’s got a better girl body than me! She’s got on a red bikini top with a red belt, two bows on the side and holly sprig on the tush. That’s it.

Manila is a Christmas princess with her huge muff (the attire, get your minds out of the gutter) and a huge brunette wig. She’s described by the judges as the “Desperate Housewife of the North Pole”. Vanessa says she sees Janice Dickinson, but I don’t.

Yara is a sexy reindeer in a red and gold ruffled dress with her hair styled to almost look like antlers (conceptually) and she takes off her dress to reveal a barely-there  bikini. Really? I need to get to the gym.

Phoenix has on an almost nautical-themed red and white ensemble topped with a curly blond wig. I like it, but the skirt’s so short that Mike says, “I can see her figgy pudding!”

Stacy’s clad in red. She’s a big girl and she didn’t have any problem making a dress…just saying…

Venus had garland woven through her ponytail and I love the vest but it kind of fails to impress after that. I can’t put my finger on it.

India looks really short under big hair and a poufy, ruffly dress (the boobs are super big too!)

Delta Work is bringing her tribute to Kwanzaa to the stage (Nicolette: “She really thinks outside of the box”) in an Erykah Badu-eqsue headdress and lots of green, black and red going on, very regal!

Alexis looks all kinds of cute in her red dress with a ruffled skirt and silver snowflakes all over. She does a model perfect turn before leaving the stage which prompts Ru to joke that she’s a graduate of “El Barbizon modeling school-o”!

Mimi is really selling her Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus in tow. Halo and all.

Mariah’s  modeling a Silver suit with plain looking pants but cool garland on the jacket. (Nicolette: “I like that look, but it’s not really holiday per se.”) She’s even giving a little Wilhemina on the runway.

Raja is rocking her Westwood tribute with a scarf that looks like it’s permanently windblown. I’m not crazy about the wig, but everything else on her, down to her fur topped boots is great. She even makes a snow angel before leaving the runway!

Shangela awkwardly pushes her snowman out on the runway and comes down in a unfinished, kinda sloppy hot mess of an outfit, She had some good ideas like the paper skirt with lights inside, but it’s really not executed that well – the skirt is falling apart in the back.

It’s judging time. Ru calls out Mariah, Delta, Yara, India, Phoenix, Stacy and Alexis they “stood out for not standing out from the crowd” but they’re safe from elimination.  The remaining queens on the stage chat with the judges about their choices. Vanessa said Carmen showcased her assets in her “bows, bows, booty” outfit but Michelle’s concerned she’s relying too heavily on her body. Santa Bruce is concerned about the holly because it’s disconcerting when “something takes root there”. When the judges started pointing out the shortcomings of her photo, Carmen let loose with a lengthy stream of excuses, “I’ve never been on a trampoline before.” “I pulled a muscle.” “My hair wasn’t working.” “I swallowed some snow.” Manila got kudos for her Rockette meets Marie Osmond, “magical, fantastical confection”. Shangela (and Frostgela the Snow Ho) got called on the carpet for her sloppy dress. Vanessa Venus’ ponytail was the best part of her busy outfit and told her to heed the advice of Coco Chanel, “before you go out look in the mirror and take one thing off”. Santino called her a “sad Christmas elf”.

Venus said she was saving the best for later. Bad move. Mimi, who wins best line of the night, “I only weigh 98 pounds, the rest is just liver!” was praised for her delightful and campy concept, but Santino came and rained on the parade by calling her outfit amateurish. Raja, of course, worked the runway and wowed the judges. When the ladies retired to the Absolut Interior Illusions lounge, the judges continued to deliberate. Vanessa wad still mesmerized  by Carmen’s tuck game. Michelle thought Carmen lacked personality. Manila was deemed “winter wonderful” but Mike thought she lacked pizazz. Santino was concerned about Shangela’s consistency. Mike wants to see more of her and would hate to see her go so soon. According to the judges, Venus=”It’s a Horrible Life”. Ouch. Mike said she was inarticulate and not engaging. The judges agreed Mimi’s look wasn’t executed well but that she really pulled it off. Michelle was concerned that Mimi relies too heavily on shtick.

Ru brings back “her girls” for the final judging. Mimi is the first one declared safe. Her miracle arrived! Manila is also safe thanks to “a muff to die for”! Venus is up for elimination. What! Between Raja’s outfit and her fab photo is declared “the queen who stole Christmas” and is the week’s big winner, receiving immunity and $2,000 from (Nicolette:  “Oh, there’s the plug!”)

It’s down to Carmen and Shangela and no shocker, Shangela once again must lip sync for her life. Yikes! The song the ladies must lip sync to is Vanessa’s “The Right Stuff”. The song starts out innocently enough but rapidly becomes a dance fight.  Wigs are ripped off, shoes are thrown and Shangela pops out of her outfit. (Nicolette: “That made me uncomfortable”) It made Ru uncomfy too. Ru did not like these runway shenanigans one bit. Note to future queens: do not make RuPaul angry – I don’t think you’d want to see her when she’s angry! That won’t happen again if they know what’s good for them. Shangela…shante you stay!  Yay! As much as I love Venus, it’s time for her to sashay away. Venus stays classy with her farewell message to her fellow competitors, “Don’t be shady, be a lady!”

Wow! What an action packed 90 minutes – this is going to be a damn good season and  I can’t wait to see who emerges victorious! Until next week, just remember – if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?

Don’t miss the next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Monday night at 10pm EST on Logo!