RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 Episode 8 – RuPaul Book Ball
Last week, Thorgy had too many ideas, but not enough footage of Chi Chi being drunk, so she went home. Bob was challenged to be more glamorous. Derrick was challenged to be less pretty. Chi Chi was pushed to just be herself. They’re like the three bears of RPDR, except not really hairy.
Thorgy left a long mirror message, predicting the final three and imploring Chi Chi to “take Bob down.” Bob confesses that he still loves Thorgy, no matter how competitive she got. The remaining queens give Derrick a hard time for “pretty” but not “draggy.” Naomi advises Derrick to change the make-up.
Chi Chi says of Derrick, “Bye, Babe.” Uh-oh. Conspiracy theorists say that you can tell a queen is going home when they say that someone else is leaving. Is this the end of Chi Chi? I really hope not.
The next day, Video RuPaul uses a lot of book puns. What? We already had the library challenge and the Wizard of Oz. What gives? Hat RuPaul enters (in a blue hat, this time, and a Life-Saver print suit), to announce the annual puppet show challenge. This is where each queen chooses a hand puppet representing another finalist (in boy drag). They girl-ify the puppet and then make fun of the queen. Why? Because “everybody loves puppets!”
Naomi and Derrick pull each other’s puppets and we get an extended segment of them sniping at each other as they prepare. Bob gets Kim Chi’s puppet and immediately starts making fun of Kim’s inability to walk. In the puppet show, Bob makes fun of Kim Chi’s weight and speech impediment. It’s funny, like everything Bob does, but it’s not great. Kim Chi makes fun of Chi Chi’s hairline and pride at being a “cheap queen.” Derrick talks about Naomi’s looks and voice being the same in every challenge. Naomi, hilariously, has dressed Derrick’s puppet in the Tin Woodsman outfit, and brags about hand-sewing the fabric she tied around her waist. Chi Chi is last, and is clearly the best, as she spoofs Bob’s non-stop joking and obsession with his “purse-purse.” When RuPaul announces her win, Chi Chi’s “Bob” replies, “I never lose a challenge!”
Hat RuPaul then explains the main challenge. It’s a Book Ball. The queens must create three different looks: Drag Baby Realness, That’s My Mama Realness, and Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza (made out of RuPaul’s books).
They start working on the looks, but Naomi and Derrick are putting just as much energy into fighting. The other queens react to the show. Bob: “This is severe up in here!” Chi Chi: “Y’all is going for blood today!” Kim Chi: “Popcorn!”
RuPaul comes back to observe their work. Derrick explains that she is cutting up RuPaul’s book to mix with paintings, because Drag is High Art. RuPaul asks if Derrick can produce an illusion through make-up. Derrick hasn’t ever done that, but is eager to take on the challenge. RuPaul’s advice to Chi Chi is to do herself. “Country is not a bad word,” he says. He asks if Chi Chi can elevate her “cheap” aesthetic. (Did RuPaul forget the dress Chi Chi made in the first week? That was gorgeous and made out of trash bags.)
RuPaul’s talk with Bob is about Bob’s scariest moment. That was when Bob learned his mother was sick, and went home to see her. The photo shows her as a near skeleton. Bob cries about his mother in a confessional — and it’s weird because I keep expecting him to crack a joke. RuPaul reminds Bob that the judges want to see him looking gorgeous.
The last two are Naomi and Kim Chi. Naomi is a bit vague on who “Naomi Smalls” is, but clear that his mother is perfection. Naomi feels that falling into the bottom lit a fire under his ass, which RuPaul approves of. Kim Chi is using her three looks to tell a complete story, about how his mother both inspired him — and suppressed him. RuPaul is astounded to learn that Kim Chi’s mother isn’t aware that her son does drag. (Didn’t we cover this earlier in the season?) But RuPaul wonders if Kim Chi’s emotional response last week is linked to his feelings about his mother.
RuPaul announces the inevitable twist. In addition to their looks, they have to perform an opening number to the runway. Since the guest judges are David Sedaris (of The Santa Land Diaries fame) and Amy Sedaris (from Strangers with Candy), they’ll be doing a song based on Amy’s comic character, Jeri Blank. I’m glad to know that Chi Chi won the mini-challenge, because it means he’ll be choreographing, and he’s by far the best one to do that.
Sure enough, Chi Chi is running the dance rehearsal like a boss. He comments that Bob can “actually” dance, that Naomi can’t help but vogue no matter what steps you give him, and that Derrick is doing some weird “caveman” movement. He says nothing about Kim Chi — probably out of kindness. And he’s created simple choreography (Bob describes it as “walk, walk, turn”) that everyone seems capable of doing.
Back to sewing (or hot-glueing). They talk about the pressure of being in the Top Five. Bob points out that he has the best grades (i.e., he’s won the most challenges). But the others note that his make-up is nonexistent. Naomi can model, but the others wonder if he has any other real talents.
Then we’re back to Derrick and Naomi sniping. Derrick accuses Naomi of not glueing his wigs properly. Naomi replies that Derrick never glues his eyebrows. That simply putting make-up on your face is not “drag.” In order to do drag, you need to change your face.
The next day, Naomi is feeling remorseful. Perhaps thinking about his mother has made him regret losing his temper. In any case, he tries to be helpful when Derrick tries to change his eyebrows, without commenting on the rest of the face — which isn’t looking good. Derrick asks Naomi how his eyebrows look. Naomi tells him to relax. “This is relaxed!” Derrick protests. The power of fake eyebrows.
Meanwhile, Bob is stressing about his eleganza skirt — made out of book pages — because it’s clumsy and ugly. He decides to just wear the top part of his costume, which is made out of cardboard.
On the runway, RuPaul (in a blonde lion’s mane, and a lime-green gown) introduces the judges by plugging all of their latest books. Amy’s is “mostly pictures. Illiteracy is hilarious!”‘
It’s been a long time since I watched Strangers with Candy, but apparently Jeri Blank walked like a Marx brother, because that’s what everyone is doing. It’s a cute song, and I think Amy Sedaris is actually singing it.
The Ball begins. The baby drag looks are cute. Kim, Naomi, and Bob took the term “baby drag” literally, with Naomi wearing a diaper like it was made by Victoria’s Secret, and Kim and Bob both wearing enormous pearl necklaces. All of the queens wear over-sized red heels, which makes me wonder if it’s the same pair and they just exchange them backstage. Derrick was apparently inspired to drag by The LIttle Mermaid, instead of Britney Spears. Chi Chi was inspired by his grandmother.
Each look is accompanied by a voice-over read by the queen, and it’s evident that Kim is doing a storyline. Baby Kim has a sprout coming out of her head, and she keeps making reference to herself as a plant that needs to blossom. In her second look, she comes out in a spectacular traditional Korean dress. It’s white, with a headpiece that looks like a crown of thorns blossoming into a dandelion. She tells of her mother both suppressing Kim’s budding artistry, and inspiring it through her own beauty. Naomi tells about her mother taking glamor shots with each of her (12!) children. She wears a pretty Sunday church dress, and carries two babies in her arms. Bob says that her mother made every outfit look like 5th Avenue, and that she always sacrificed to give her kids the best. Bob is wearing a business pantsuit, looking very stylish and professional. Derrick has Loretta Lynn hair and a nightgown, which she imagines her mother wearing on the night of her conception.. Chi Chi struts onstage like she owns everything, in an animal print dress. Her mother was called Miss Tina.
In the last look, Kim has finally blossomed — visually. Her head is a pink blossom, and she has green leaves sprouting from a white dress. Which is made out of paper from RuPaul’s book. Naomi is also in white, although you can also see the print on her pages. Her dress reminds me of the Ivy Winters headshot dress from Season Five. Bob has ended up with a short dress-like structure. It graduates from blue to yellow, and it looks good. Also, she’s swept up her hair in grand fashion. I’d say she’s glamorous. Derrick has glued stuff to a bathing suit. Okay, a corset and panties, but it’s pretty basic. Chi Chi, like Naomi, has created a short dress out of pages. She’s cut them into spikes. Her hair is a long braid, elegantly wrapped into a bun. It’s beautiful.
In the judging, Chi Chi and Naomi are praised for the way they’ve taken the judges’ critiques and applied them, elevating their work. Derrick is praised for trying to apply the critiques, but Michelle and Ross note that it’s not even close to the level of the other queens. Bob is also praised for trying to look glamorous, but Michelle doesn’t think she’s succeeded. Kim Chi is constant in her artistry, and RuPaul thinks that, once Kim’s mother is aware and accepts her son’s drag, it will fully blossom. David, somewhat more quiet that I would have expected, is Kim’s big champion, saying that her second look was “so closeted, so cultural,” and that it was real acting.
I think it was very close in the Top Three. Chi Chi is called safe, which means she almost won. Kim Chi is the winner (of $2500 from Fabric Planet). And then RuPaul doesn’t even bother trying to create suspense. She calls Naomi safe, leaving Bob and Derrick in the bottom.
Bob looks a little bummed about that, but Derrick is pleased because she wants to send Bob home.
The song is “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester. Bob and Derrick blow each other kisses as the music starts. The camera goes to Derrick at first, and I can see RuPaul looking in her direction. Derrick’s movements are generically pretty. Bob does a cool shuffle across the floor into the chorus, then hits the glory note with a great face. The camera goes back to Derrick as if waiting for a cartwheel or other big move, but there’s nothing. Bob tears off part of her dress and fans herself. I don’t need to hear it. Bob’s won this. Hands down.
When RuPaul announces it, Bob makes a short speech, praising Derrick. They didn’t get along at first, but Derrick was so brave, embracing every challenge, that Bob is giving her full respect. They hug and Bob whispers, “so brave!” into Derrick’s ear.
Derrick starts to cry as she says goodbye, but she strikes a pose at the end of the runway, and calls herself “International Showgirl — of the World!”
Unfortunately, Logo is locking their episodes. You need to have a TV provider to see Episodes Two and Three.
Oooh, Naomi’s dress is both cut and folded.
Bob admits his outfit didn’t look like it was made of books. Chi Chi narrates that she’s getting great critiques, so she hopes that she’s safe. At this point, you want to be safe.
Kim isn’t sure she can sit in her blossom dress, but she manages to perch on the back of the couch. She congratulates Naomi on her good critiques. Chi Chi think they all got good critiques. Kim asks Bob how she feels. Kim suggests that she could have covered her cardboard with pages. She says “embrace the materials” a dozen times.
Naomi praises Chi Chi’s look. Derrick goes on and on about how Chi Chi going beyond — putting paper in her hair, and making earrings.
Kim asks Derrick how she feels. Derrick says she’s on a journey. She stayed up all night. “What were you’re doing?” Chi Chi asks. Derrick explains that she works on the details — and talks about the details in detail. Kim notes that her details don’t add up to a great outfit. Meanwhile, Derrick thinks her dress should go into the RuPaul Drag Race Museum of Pretty Dress. Kim Chi patiently points out that she just glued stuff to a corset. “I didn’t sleep!” Derrick cries.
Bob goes to get duct tape, noting that Chi Chi’s wish was for Bob to get knocked down a peg. “That was Thorgy’s revenge,” Naomi laughs. The interns ask Bob where she’s going, and she replies, “I’m going to get duct tape. I’m not a terrorist!” Bob takes the wig off. “Why is your hair messed up? Because fuck you!”
He and Naomi laugh about having to lip-sync in a “90 lb wig.” Bob congratulates Kim for making it through the competition without lip-syncing. “Why? Because she embraced the materials!” Naomi laughs.
Derrick is complaining about Naomi again. Yesterday, Derrick asked what she did and Naomi didn’t immediately talk about performing. Bob gives a lecture about drag being about blurring the gender lines and creating art. “If Kim Chi never did anything but sit in a museum, she’d still be an incredible drag queen.” In confessional, Naomi explains that she loves to perform, but doesn’t want to be put into a box. Bob tells Naomi that she always says she wishes she had what other people have, instead of realizing how lucky she is. Bob starts crying, and Naomi gingerly hugs her, trying not to spoil her dress.
Naomi’s mother appears in a video message. She misses Naomi and wishes her the best. Naomi starts crying. “She had to tell you who she was. Mom.” Derrick comments. Even when Derrick is sweet, she’s shady. Naomi says that she’s always thinking about her mom, and how much she loves her.
The producer gives the five minute warning, holding up “purse-purse” like a clapboard. They all hold hands and do a kick line. Derrick realizes that she might go home, even though she’s such a winner. “I stayed up all night. I’m so tired. But I’m so here,” she tells Naomi. Bob is getting emotional, worried that she might go home.
Derrick is eliminated and starts crying about hearing the runway music, even before it starts. “This has been such a rocky road for me, and I don’t know why.”
He reads a note from Naomi. “Love you know that.” She wrote. Derrick puzzles over that, then realizes it reads, “Love you. Know that.” And then complains about how kids these days don’t know punctuation. He learned a lot from everyone, even the rachet queens. He leaves, holding two Vegas headdresses in each hand. The producers hug him goodbye, and he apologizes for being tired. His lasts are about the Fabulous Four, not being so fabulous because “they’re missing meeeee!”