Episode 12 – Pretty Old
Katya’s mirror message reassures the surviving queens that they’ll know where to find her if they need her: In the dumpster out back. Ginger cries a little at losing Katya from the competition. Kennedy defensively tells the others that she “not a seamstress.” Funny, it used to be the new queens that couldn’t sew. Now it’s the old ones.
The next day, there’s no RuPaul video message. No RuPaul in his Klein, Epstein & Parker suit. Instead, it’s Michelle Visage (looking very classy) to tell them about the challenge. It’s the traditional video-with-acting-challenge. The choreographer this time round is Kandis Kane. Not to be confused with Kandy Kane. We won’t be confused because Kandis, unlike Kandy, will actually appear on screen occasionally.
We see the dance rehearsal. Ginger is nervous, because, although she spent her childhood doing national Broadway tours, she can’t dance. But Kandis praises her. Violet has difficulty executing the “strong 80’s woman” character of the dance, and Kennedy tells us she’s going home for that.
At this point, we always get the girl RuPaul Tic-Tac lunch. The first to sit down is Kennedy. We find out that Kennedy is grieving her father’s death in 2013, and auditioned in his honor. We also find out that Kennedy is taking care of her mentally challenged sister.
At her lunch, we discover that Ginger’s personal hero is her mother. Dad left them for his high school sweetheart, and Ginger has no real relationship with him. She deals with her pain through laughter and jokes.
There’s a Werk Room interlude. Violet and Pearl play around with fabric like little kids playing dress-up. Kennedy and Ginger are busy being professional wig stylers. They roll their eyes at the care-free children. In return, Pearl informs us that Kennedy and Ginger’s outfits are a mystery, except for the gigantic hair they keep brushing. There’s a fairytale in there somewhere….
Back to lunch. Violet is asked how far she imagined getting in the competition. “I imagined winning,” Violet beams. Her confidence came from herself, she tells RuPaul. It was her sister who got all the attention in the family, so Violet became her own greatest fan. RuPaul warns her about taking her talent for granted. “A lot of people don’t have this,” she says. “You are a star.” Violet beams again.
Pearl has found everything surprising in the competition. She never imagined that she’d shut down the way she did — that she’d retreat into her shell. RuPaul explains that she wasn’t seeing Pearl fulfill her potential early on. They talk a little bit about Pearl’s childhood. At seven, Pearl was scared shitless. She mentions daily mental, physical, and emotional torment. But, like most things Pearl, the facts are mysterious; all we know about is how it felt.
Now it’s time for the dance. Kennedy works it. “Gorgeous!” Kandis exclaims. Ginger is next. At one point, she has a hair malfunction, pulls out a large part of her hair, and tosses it behind her. “I hope that doesn’t ruin the continuity,” Kandis muses ominously. Honestly, with that much hair, you can’t even tell. Violet is a mess, and Kennedy rolls her eyes in a talking head. “We might have got something,” Kandis shrugs. Violet seems unfazed.
Time for acting! RuPaul appears in very bad boy drag as a sneering father. Each queen will play three different characters in a dysfunctional family: Mother, budding drag queen, and weird little sister. Pearl forgets her lines. Kennedy forgets her lines and can’t take direction. Violet flatlines, but does take direction. Ginger is funny, and makes bitchy comments about Violet and Pearl in her confessionals.
Back in the Werk Room, the queens talk about their first impressions. Violet’s first impression was that Pearl was a “stupid bitch.” Kennedy’s impression was that Violet was “full of herself.” That hasn’t changed. Again, we get a clear division between the young, “pretty” girls, and the Bitter Old Lady Brigade.
On the runway, RuPaul is wearing Chinese red, with a wig that defies gravity like a Chinese acrobat. The girls come out wearing their “best” drag. Kennedy has a spectacular rainbow-pride dress that makes her look like a modern lamp. Violet is wearing black trousers, ala Marlene Dietrich with a strange fringed green bra. It’s pretty gorgeous, and not at all pageant. Ginger is in white, looking like a pageant bride. There is much fringe. Pearl is another bride, but flowing and free — and that white might just be very pale pink. I can’t tell. Damn that Pearl, you can’t even tie her down to a specific color!
RuPaul pulls out framed childhood portraits of each one, and asks them to speak to their former selves. Kennedy tells “Ruben” that it’s okay to be different All that crying yourself to sleep will be over soon, and you’ll be appreciated for your talent.
Violet tells “Jason” to be more patient with the world, especially your parents. Keep pushing through the obstacles. And get to a ballet class!
Ginger tells “Joshua” that when it seems like the whole world is against you, you have a friend in yourself. The only way to survive the parade is to make yourself the Grand Marshall.
“I’ve never seen that boy in my life,” Pearl jokes. But then she says she’d start with a warning. “You’re about to enter the toughest years of your life. People are going to fuck you up.” She starts to cry.
The final judgments are delivered: Kennedy’s dancing was great, but her acting was not. Violet’s dancing was “not her thing,” but she did a good job distinguishing her three characters. Michelle and Ross split over her runway look. Michelle thinks it’s not her best, Ross finds it a natural evolution of her style.
Ginger’s characters were the most fleshed out. Dancing is not her forte. This is definitely the best thing she’s ever worn on the runway. Judges express surprise that Pearl has made it this far, and praise her for going out of her comfort zone. However, Michelle points out that she didn’t actually move in the dance.
Yet another question: Why should you and not your competitors be crowned the America’s Next Drag Superstar? Kennedy cites her seventeen years of work, and her professionalism. The others (Violet and Pearl) are not ready for the crown. “What do you have to offer once you become queen?”
Good question, Kennedy.
Violet declares herself the next superstar. “I represent the past, present, and future of drag.”
Ginger is willing to split the title with Kennedy. She disses Violet for having a short temper (which is odd, because I don’t think we’ve seen Violet lose her temper once). She reminds the judges that Pearl almost walked off the show. Her final argument: America’s first Supersize Superstar!
Pearl’s rebuttal is that she has busted her ass her entire life to get everything she has. Every piece of clothing. Every rent payment. She is not defined by one moment on the show. She does not fit into a box. (Certain her hair cannot be contained within a box. It’s bigger than Ginger’s entire body.)
Finally, there is a four-way lip-sync to “Born Naked.” (RuPaul, available on iTunes.) This is the first time Violet has lip-synced, and she acquits herself well. Ginger sits on the stairs, very dramatic. Pearl pretty much does what she always does: waves her arms slowly. But she does use the back runway.
Unfortunately Kennedy’s spectacular gown restricts her movement, so she can’t bust out her fabulous dance moves. She becomes the final queen eliminated before the final. Her face falls, but she comments that she did all she could. “It wasn’t enough, but it was for me,” she decides.
RuPaul informs us that the final decision will be made in two weeks (after a recap episode next week). She urges us to show support for our favorite by hashtagging #teamGinger, #teamViolet, or #teamPearl on various social media platforms.
I’ll be back in the morning to put up the links, and recap of Untucked. Until then, let me know which team you belong to. (Or are you #teamSomeone else?)
The walk to the couches is like a funeral march. Violet and Pearl are especially quiet, like corpses of people who have been thrown under the bus. Ginger asks Violet what she’s thinking, and she says she’s just trying to process it all.
Flashback to Ginger on the runway: Violet has “the shortest temper of anyone I ever met” and Pearl almost walked away from a golden opportunity.
Kennedy and Ginger defend their words, putting it on the rules. They were instructed to say why their competitors shouldn’t win. “I didn’t say anything bad anyone,” Violet says. “I wish I would have.” Pearl objects to Ginger and Kennedy trashing her and Violet, but having each other’s backs.
Kennedy points out that she never understood Pearl’s aesthetic. Ginger deflects by turning Pearl’s statement about showing diversity as somehow dissing Ginger, who has also shown diversity.
Ginger then turns the conversation to the judges. That’s common ground and Violet starts to thaw a little. Ginger and Kennedy talk a little about their history doing pageants and how it taught them to deal with criticism without getting angry. “It’s like drag queen boot camp!” Ginger jokes.
Pearl could not look more bored. Violet dismissively says she would have done pageants if it was the “sixties or fifties.” Ginger snorts. “Read Wikipedia once in a while! Try seventies or eighties!” She snarks in a confessional that these youngin’ need to know their herstory.
Violet finally says she just wants queens to be artistic and not compete against each other. Kennedy points out that they came on the show to compete. Can’t argue with that.
Ginger tries to start a conversation about everyone’s chances to make the Top Three, but no one really wants to think about that. Pearl’s still upset that people think she’s on drugs and has no personality. She finally lashes at Ginger for complaining about something she had thoroughly discussed with Ginger. “I want to win!” Ginger cries out. “That’s fucked up,” Pearl says.
It goes round and round until Ginger stands up and announces she’s going out to smoke and calm down. Kennedy, meanwhile, has taken off her tights, and starts yelling at Ginger to stop apologizing. They said what they said, and if the pretty girls can’t handle it, that’s their problem.
Pearl starts to laugh. She stands up to leave and Ginger catches her arm. “It’s fine,” Pearl says. She leaves Ginger and Kennedy yelling at each other.
“We’ll rehash it at the reunion!” Violet smiles, throwing her arm up like she’s in a drawing room comedy. Ginger and Kennedy turn on her, repeating everything they said before. And adding that, if you can’t take their criticism, just wait until the show airs, and the internet is full of it. Ginger declares Pearl (or maybe Violet) unready for the crown if this is how they react.
Outside. Pearl sits on a bench that never’s been there before. Ginger sits down next to her. “Are you upset?” Pearl tells her she’s not mad, just disappointed in Ginger for following the judge’s instructions, like a mouse.
Kennedy is sort of apologizing to Violet. And Violet tells her she appreciates Kennedy’s art. Kennedy admits she doesn’t feel proud of herself. “I can’t look in the mirror, like you can, and say, ‘I’m sickening.'” Violet tells she is sickening, and, in a talking head, tells us that Kennedy lights up when she performs. Back on the couch, they both want another drink. All they get, though, is the five-minute warning.
Outside, Ginger badgers Pearl into forgiving her. “Hug these linebacker’s shoulders.” They do hug it out.
All the queens refresh their make-up and get ready for the lip-sync of their lives. Kennedy wants it so badly, it’s tragic. Because it probably doesn’t matter at this point. We know that if it did, Kennedy would be in the Top Three.
Bonus Video Whatcha Packin’?