Welcome to The RuPaul Re-cap, a weekly series where I will be discussing the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. All-Stars 3 is finally here, and I will be choosing 3 topics to discuss. A SPOILER WARNING is in effect…
First: Entrances. I’ll admit that I saw the first 15 minutes before last night. When I see Drag Race news, I cannot resist! However, my opinion hardly changed between my first viewing and last night’s premiere. This week Milk, Morgan McMichaels, and Kennedy Davenport were all safe in terms of entrance looks. Like most fans, I am rooting for Trixie Mattel. Her entrance was one of my favourites. In a throwback to season 8’s RuCo’s Empire, Trixie entered the workroom wearing rollerblades. She skated more like Bob the Drag Queen than Robbie Turner, but overall the look was successful. I can imagine a Barbie kit with stick-on, pink, Trixie Mattel headphones.
I was impressed with Chi Chi DeVayne’s outfit. As we all know, Chi Chi entered the workroom of season 8 wearing a dress made of trash bags, not dissimilar to an Alaska costume. For AS3 Chi Chi wore trash bags again, as Trixie sardonically noted. But I loved this dress. I loved the colour, the shape, and the hat. I think that this was a great entrance because it showed how much she grew. Same material, better execution.
For the record, I am a fan of Thorgy Thor the fashion clown. But I was not pleased with her entrance, especially considering her hair choice. The hair colour was fine, but the styling added unnecessary height and odd shape. I know that Thorgy loves wearing pants, but this garment lacked oomph.
Aja’s outfit was very interesting. Her make-up has gotten exponentially better since her season, which is impressive considering the timeframe. I was not blown away by her bra and underwear get-up, but the jacket she choose was such a unique material. She really has her own style, and it is unfortunate that she did not show it more in season 9. Alas, here she is and she is looking fierce and performing well!
Next is Ben Dela Crème, another favourite of mine. I was underwhelmed with her entrance look, although she looked beautiful. The reason I was disappointed was because, as Morgan said, Ben’s look was recycled. This is not to say that it is not a great skill to re-use materials, and the construction of the dress was perfect. But recycled in the sense that we have seen it before.. which is not a great opening for AS3.
Lastly, Shangela Laquifa Wadley. Her look was very reminiscent of Alyssa Edwards, who is of course her drag mom. Shangela has entered the workroom three times, as of last night. This was the best she had looked so far. Her make-up, especially the dark eyebrows, reminded me of Alyssa. They also both wore big hair bows in their All-Star entrances. I compared Shangela with Alyssa frequently, but I hope that she starts to think outside of the box (joke intended).
Note: The surprise queen has been revealed as BeBe Zahara Benet. This was a controversial choice, as BeBe was the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Traditionally, All-Stars had not allowed winners to be cast. However, I am not mad about it. BeBe was fierce in her season and the show has evolved since then. I am no more upset with BeBe than with Shangela, who has gotten three chances. I am looking forward to seeing what BeBe brings. Her entrance look was sleek and polished, and she looks great without that absurd season 1 filter.
Second: Mini Challenge. The first mini challenge was a universally loved one: The Reading Challenge. I will discuss highlights, and low points. The library is open!
Firstly, Thorgy. She said in the beginning that she had found ways to focus. This would be an important stepping stone for her because she was so consumed in her own season with Bob that she did not always give her best. However, two of her three reads betrayed the fact that she had not moved on. She called out Chi Chi for going further than her and took a jab at Bob who was not even there. I am worried that Thorgy will sabotage herself if she cannot let things go.
Milk read Kennedy brutally, which was hilarious, and Morgan followed up with a line about Kennedy’s “parent’s little joke” which was also a hit. Shangela’s best line was when she called Ben a “low-rent Michelle Visage.” When the camera swept over to Ben, I just saw a shocked Michelle looking back.
For me, Trixie was the stand-out of this challenge. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen her on “UNHhhh” because she is sharp witted, excellent with puns, and a great reader. Her reads for Aja, Milk, and Shangela were funny as hell: “Wow Milk you put a lot into this look. What? 2%?” She nailed it.
I did not find Aja terribly funny, but this could be due in part to following Trixie. I do not envy that position. Aja’s jokes were a little lengthy and did not pack a good punch at the end. Could be worse though.. could be Roxxy Andrews or Farrah Moan.
On the opposite end, Ben’s jokes always hit the mark. Ben’s reads on Thorgy and Trixie were particularly noteworthy. Comparing Thorgy to Pennywise the Dancing Clown, she said “I usually only get to see about this much as you’re handing out balloons from that sewer grate.” Comedy gold. Next up she read Trixie’s exaggerative make-up by creatively explaining that Trixie paints for the back of the room.. where people are desperately trying to escape through the locked door. Ben finished up with a read for BeBe. Commenting on the possibility that BeBe could get two crowns, Ben delivered the punchline “Which isn’t a lot of dental work as far as those early seasons are concerned.” Savage! Not everyone can have Sasha Velour’s perfect smile after all.
I anticipated that Trixie would destroy this challenge. But Ben really pulled some tricks out and reminded everyone why she is a force to be reckoned with. She is funny, polished, talented, and slays the runway. Did I mention that I like Ben? I am glad that this season has not been as predictable as AS2. Even if Trixie does win, I want some variety concerning who does well and what everyone has to show. I am not disappointed that Ben won the mini challenge.
Third: Talent Show. And now, the main event! First up was Shangela, who choose to dance and lipsync. Her lipsync was so tight that I thought she was singing. Her reveal was effective, but her outfit was underwhelming. She’s still giving us Alyssa Edwards and death drops. I’m not mad, because she was very good. She is showing her improvement.
BeBe truly surprised me. I had the same feeling watching her as I did with Tatianna on AS2. BeBe also chose to dance and lipsync, but her style and inspiration were from a place so different than the others that she was unique. I loved her outfit and her make-up. It reminded me of a wilder version of Bianca del Rio’s animal runway.
A less energetic performance came from Thorgy, who choose to play her violin. The beginning was a letdown for me because it lacked the wacky energy that Thorgy is known for. Her talent was incredible, but I have seen her do better. On this episode I thought that she was good, but it felt safe. If the song were more upbeat and she moved around more, I would have been happier. At least she did not do a dance and lipsync.
There was a stand-out dance and lip sync however, from Aja, who was dressed head to toe in 3 different pastel outfits. Her reveals were great, and I am really starting to get a feel for her brand. Aja has incredible dance skills, and it really set her apart from the pack. Even the classic Drag Race death drop was improved, as she flung herself from a platform onto the stage.
Kennedy was also a fierce dancer, as we all know. The gymnastic portions of her dance were amazing. She does things in heels that most people could not do in flats with a lifetime of practice. Like Aja, she also made use of the platform by landing on it from a cartwheel. Wow!
Next was Ben, who chose a burlesque-inspired act. Although she is not a professional dancer, she knows exactly what she is good at. Her humour is top-notch as she does bra reveal after bra reveal, with more booby tassels and shaking than I have ever seen. She chose something that no one else did, and it was a success.
Considering she is a dancer.. I was not impressed with Chi Chi. Up until the cartwheels and splits at the end, she was mostly stomping around. She could do better. It was also disappointing to know that Chi Chi could dance in heels, as we have seen her do, but she did not. I did not like her costume because it completely hid her figure. Between that outfit, her hair in her face, and her underwhelming performance, I think that she was the weakest.
I like Morgan, but I think that her lipsync lacked energy. This looks even worse when she, like many others, decided to dance and lipsync. Comparatively, Morgan really dropped the ball.
She was followed by Trixie, who had total control of the stage. I felt that she and Thorgy both suffered from not moving enough, but Trixie’s voice and instrumentation was so mesmerizing that I did not care. To see a Comedy Queen choose this act was very refreshing.
The last performer was Milk, whose entrance was brilliant. I loved what Milk did, conceptually. She also did a dance[ish] and lipsync, but she mostly used props. Her hair and make-up were beautiful and did not take away from the cut-out outfits she used. I wish that the song was more exciting. It was very repetitive and took away from what could have been a fantastic performance.
Note: Aja and Ben had to lipsync for their legacy and they were tight as hell. They were both flawless and had entirely different styles. I think that Ben choosing Morgan to go home was not right, because Chi Chi bombed the performance and the fashion portion. I am disappointed that Morgan was first to go home. We have seen Chi Chi in a recent season, but I wanted to see how much Morgan had improved and what she had to offer. Luckily, it looks like it will be harder to kill evil than Ben thought..