RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 8 Episode One

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 8 Episode One

Just like American Idol, RuPaul is feeling nostalgic this year. So, the introduction to the season is a montage that travels from Episode #1, all the way through to Episode #99. This new one — it’s Episode #100! Start your engines!

The first queen to enter the Werk Room is Naomi Smalls. She’s fishy, in a leotard and knee-high lace-up sandals. Her inspiration is 1990s supermodels, like her namesake, Naomi Campbell. Cynthia Lee Fontaine looks like a 1960s housewife, with her bouffant hair, but she adds a little Puerto Rican cha-cha to it. The third queen is Dax ExclamationPoint, who calls herself a Cos-player. Which explains why she looks like Storm (which I like.) The fourth queen is Naysha Lopez, who describes herself as stunning and gorgeous. Cynthia immediately jumps up to hug her. They are both Puero Rican, which makes them sisters, even though Cynthia is living in Austin, Texas and Naysha is in Chicago.

Acid Betty makes an impressive entrace, wearing a blank metallic masks, which shuts everyone up. She takes it off to reveal an elaborate make-up job and hair-do that seem to be heavily inspired by Ursula, from The Little Mermaid. She is followed by Robbie Turner, a Seattle queen who models her look on old Hollywood glamor, specifically Jean Harlow, and perhaps Rita Hayworth. Kim Chi then appears in a violet baby-doll dress with a silver crescent headpiece. She calls herself “anime fantasy,” and yes she is — with the kind of exaggerated eye and facial shading that Trixie Mattel used. But to better effect, in my opinion.

The next two queens are both from the New York area. Thorgy (rhymes with “orgy”) Thor calls herself a “fashion clown.” She looks a bit like Lucielle Ball, in an episode where Lucy tries to sneak into the ice skating act at Desi’s club. Then Bob comes in, wearing a simple white leotard with the word “UNT” on it. Perhaps she left off the letter “C” so it wouldn’t have to be blurred? They are both hilarious and loud, and Robbie Turner is already rolling her eyes at the hyper New Yorkers.

The final three are Laila McQueen, who is dressed like Beetlejuice, Chi Chi DeVayne, who has made a gorgeous gown out of black trash bags (her aesthetic is “cheap queen), and Derrick Barry, who is famous for impersonating Britney Spears in Las Vegas.

And now it’s on to the RuPaul video message, which is riddled with catchphrases from the show. The queens, of course, scream with delight, especially when boy RuPaul makes his entrance. He informs them about this being the 100th episode, and that Derrick Barry was the 100th queen to compete on the show. Also, that the prize make-up is from Anastasia of Beverly Hills, and someone will win $100,000.

At this point, there’s always some Photo Shoot of Terror, where the contestants try to look good while enduring torturous or dangerous situations. This time they have to take their photo surrounded by past winners of the show. Bebe Zahara Benet, Tyra Sanchez, Raja, Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels, Jinkx Monsoon, and Violet Chachki are all there, looking amazing. Bianca Del Rio isn’t (maybe she was filming Hurricane Bianca?), so the producers hired a circus clown as her replacement. This is a hard challenge, because the past drag superstars are seriously intimidating. But some of the new queens manage to grab the focus of the camera. Naomi Smalls has excellent poses. Kim Chi’s dress is so wide, it blocks the other queens. But even when sits down to prevent that, she still stand out in the finished picture. Thorgy, Cynthia, and Bob crack everyone up. And Derrick grabs a chair and sits backwards on it, creating an image that looks like a Britney Spears Vogue editorial.

Oddly, we don’t get a winner from this mini-challenge. Instead, RuPaul asks to Morgan McMichaels (from Season 2) to help randomly choose a name. I don’t think I want to go into how Morgan does this. But it’s Robbie’s name that gets… um… propelled. So, Robbie gets to assign each queen to a specific past sewing challenge. One such challenge is the Season 3 “Hair Ball” challenge. (In which the queens had to make a costume entirely out of hair. And possibly tulle fabric.) Robbie gives that one to Kim Chi. Acid Betty receives the “Money Ball” challenge — also from Season 3– which Derrick gets the “Queen to Mopped Xmas” challenge. Also from Season 3. Season 3 had some killer sewing challenges. Robbie really does a great job assigning the challenges, giving the most challenging ones to the queens who seem the most creative. But she completely forgets that she needs to assign herself, and thus gets left with the “Bitch Ball” challenge, meaning she’ll need to walk the runway with a large white poodle. Also, the materials for the “Bitch Ball”? Mostly dog treats and large bones.

The Werk Room atmosphere is busy and pleasant. Nobody seems to be majorly annoying yet, and the queens bounce ideas off each other. RuPaul does a quick go-round the room, learning that Bob the Drag Queen was named after her father (whose name was “the Drag Queen”). Bob admits to not being the greatest sewer, but is “f*cking funny.” Thorgy is friendly with Bob TDQ and Acid Betty, but does not work with them. Laila tells RuPaul that she’s shy. RuPaul warns her to get over that, because the other queens are fierce. Laila looks even more frightened after that.

On day two, there’s more stress, but no major conflicts. Naysha has already won the Miss Continental title. She and Chi Chi ki-ki about pageants (which Chi Chi dislikes). Derrick started doing drag, like a lot of men, on Halloween. Bob is a Pride Queen, meaning, I think, that she started dressing up for the Pride celebrations. Kim Chi’s family doesn’t know she does drag (which is interesting, because she’s fairly famous even before doing this reality TV show.)
Chi Chi is using make-up someone gave her.

There is one major disaster, which is that Chi Chi’s dress falls apart just as she’s putting it on. She scrambles to do something with the silver material just as the lights flash and RuPaul struts down the runway, looking like a piece of fancy wrapped candy. Guest judge Nicole Ritchie calls it “very Wizard of Oz,” which may be what RuPaul is going for. Yes, I can see the resemblance to Glinda the Good.

On the runway, Acid Betty is a standout with her Money Ball dress. The bills sweep up into an asymmetrical wing. During her walk, she showered the stage with more bills. Bob has created a perfect 1950s outfit with a wide pink hairband and clutch. Nicole Ritchie calls her “Butterfly McQueen,” which plays on the “Gone with the Window” challenge theme, but makes me think that she’s never once actually seen Gone with the Wind. Dax had the “Hello Kitty” challenge and her dress is pretty but unremarkable. Likewise Naysha with her “Drag on a Dime” dress — except it’s not even really pretty.

And here comes Kim Chi, looking like a high-fashion interpretation of the Cowardly Lion. It’s weird and it’s wonderful. Cynthia got the “Sugar Ball” challenge, and she does better with it than most of the original queens. It does have candy, and she does a tear-away with the skirt. Naomi was saddled with the “Pride Floats” challenge, which means she has to carry a large boat down the runway. She smartly sets it down, so that she can do her model stomp, but struggles getting back into harness in order to haul it off the stage. Chi Chi has managed to drape her material into something appropriate for her “Glitter Ball” challenge. It’s a basic disco look, but not a disaster.

Thorgy’s “Cakes Couture” gown is red and that’s about it. Robbie complains non-stop in voice-over about how lame her “Bitch Ball” outfit is. She’s got a point, even the poodle seems embarrassed to be with her. Derrick Barry has fashioned a bikini with a holly-and-mistletoe decoration just where you’d expect it to be. And RuPocalytic Laila is wearing a cool silver leather jacket (with flames shooting out of one shoulder), a military cap and nothing else.

For their efforts, Bob, Dax, Cynthia, Chi Chi, and Thorgy are dismissed to safety. Kim Chi wins! She gets $3,000 whole dollars from Acid Betty, Derrick Barry, and Naomi Smalls are safe. Robbie is barely safe, but it is Naysha and Laila who have to lip-sync for their lives. To the tune of “Applause” by Lady Gaga, they do their thing. To my eyes, Laila gives a bit more. She’s got that Adore Delano look of determination as she throws herself around the stage. Naysha does a kind of cheerleader choreography, which never goes over well. And, sure enough, it’s Laila who gets to shunt, and Naysha who must sashay away. Naysha cries as RuPaul calls one of the most beautiful women to ever compete on the show. She thanks RuPaul for the opportunity, and leaves an entire essay in lipstick on the Werk Room mirrors.

So, this is our new season! I’m finding all of the queens very colorful and fierce. I think we’re in for a good competition. I hope you’ll join me for the recaps!

Link to Full Episode


Chi Chi is relieved to be safe for another day. Thorgy is proud to have survived. Now, cocktails are waiting in the lounge, which is a bit nicer than last year’s random backstage couches. They agree that Acid Betty and Kim Chi are top two. They wonder if Kim Chi will be the same every week, or will be she be able to show versatility? Thorgy calls Robbie very “Jinkxy.” They think she’ll be in the bottom, but not sent home. They slam Naysha’s outfit, but Cynthia tells them she’s a great dancer and she won “Miss Continental,” which is no small thing. They think Derrick is too locked in to the Britney impersonation. Bob tells Chi Chi that she was shocked by her, because her entrance look was so cheap. But now she finds Chi Chi smart, adaptable, and admirable.

Bob urges them to walk for each other, so they can hear their own critiques. Thorgy is amazed by Cynthia’s ass. It turns out she “pumps” it (with silicone) to get the shape. They talk about the challenges they’re looking forward to. For Bob, it’s comedy. Cynthia wants to do the Snatch Game. She shows off her operatic voice. “There goes my glass eye,” Bob exclaims.

The other queens arrive. “Why do you look over it?” Bob asks Laila. “I’m in the bottom two,” Laila says. Laila admits she threw Naomi under the bus, but Naomi is used to that. Naysha feels like she was the only one torn apart by the judges. She borrows Bob’s ipod to practice her lip-sync. Derrick complains that Michelle doesn’t want her to do Britney Spears, but RuPaul wants more Britney Spears. Derrick explains that she came in as Britney because she wanted the audience to know what she does. And then she’ll break out into something different. However, her face is her face and she can’t change that. Bob counters that make-up can change a face — look at Kim Chi. “I’m not going to turn myself into a cat,” Derrick says. She thinks Bob finds her competition. They criticize each other in confessionals.

Robbie and Naomi compliment each other’s photos. Robbie confesses that her biggest fear is “drowning” in the challenges. She admits that she’s drowning right now. Naysha admits that she’s terrified about being eliminated and what that might do to her bookings. This explains her tears when she’s told to sashay. She breaks down as soon as she leaves the stage. She tells a story about writing to RuPaul as a kid, asking her to make a show for Drag Queens, because she could never be on America’s Top Model. Well, I guess we have Naysha to thank for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Or maybe RuPaul had the idea, and that letter was one of many.

I feel for Naysha. She didn’t deserve to go that quickly and I think, it most other years, she would not. I hope her bookings improve. They should.