RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race
Yara's doing it wrong. Plus, Manila Luzon has no regrets!
While some viewers may have hated to hear them say adios, the general consensus on the internet is that the members of Team Yarlexis were the rightful losers of last night’s episode. Though their #CheerReading routine was clearly the best (relatively speaking—all the queens could use some more study-time in the library stacks), the final lip-synch didn’t work. And really, though it wasn’t a complete mess, I have to agree with Jason Sweeten’s assessment of their earlier lip-synch as well: “Their look? So fierce! Unfortunately they made the tragic decision to dumb down their choreography in rehearsals. (Yara’s brilliant theory: ‘This is a rehearsal—it’s the time to change everything!’)”
When Yara offered that little gem of artistic advice, all the queens (in boy drag at the time) in my living-room groaned. That is exactly the opposite of what rehearsal is for—check the meaning of the prefix “re,” girl. And that wasn’t Yara’s only misstep: recappers, including Vulture’s Julie Gerstein, roundly agreed that her use of the She-mergency Button was unnecessary and ill-conceived. But, as Slate commenter Syzygy pointed out, you could tell she was itching for it from the start: “I knew that Yara was going to hit the button before they even started singing, and so did she. It didn't matter what Alexis was doing, Yara was going to get her time on the stage.” Turned out to be her last time up there, too.
My new favorite reviewer this week is Ruth Boulet in Channel Guide Magazine, whose salty observations have a charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent all their own. She throws excellent shade on the totally random “celebrities” we’re meant to find impressive: “Pia Zadora’s daughter is less coordinated than the rest of Team Rujubee. She does not mention any other talents, which is unfortunate.” Ha. And I’m living for her read of the totally awkward opening catch-up scenes:
Why do the queens who’ve been in the final 2 ask the other queens who were in the final 2 ask what the experience is like? Is it really that different for one team to be in the bottom 2 than another team? Can we stop with this little bit of filler that starts each show? I can’t imagine there isn’t more compelling film in the Drag Race cameras.
I have a tip for Boulet—check Untucked. That’s were all the real tea has always been.
TV Club Bonus: A Few Questions for Manila Luzon
Lowder: In our All Stars Drag Race TV Club, a few people have criticized the show for having you all face challenges that increasingly have nothing to do with the skills that a good drag queen needs and is prized for in "real life." Speaking of last week’s episode, taking a Grindr photo and playing games with people on the street seems kind of removed from the drag I see in New York every weekend. What do you think about that criticism? Did you find the challenges odd?
Luzon: Although I tend to agree with this argument, we've already have had challenges that cover the broader drag queen things. Now we can get challenges that are much more focused for example, getting strangers to do whatever we tell them to do. Come one, that's a great skill to have as a drag queen. How many drag queens have you had stand in front of you with an open hand until you reach into your wallet and give her a dollar? And as for Sexy boy picks? Well, we are all still men at the end of the day, Ru just is making sure we can still attract some trade, hunty!
Luzon: I don't think being Latin queen is a disadvantage. I live in NYC; Latin queens are sick'ning! Alexis makes a big deal about not being able to read or write in English on the show, but she is able to use that to her advantage as a way to make her an underdog. Everyone wants to root for the underdog. And it worked for now. Besides, I can barely speak English, let alone another language.
Lowder: That lip-synch against Jujubee was pretty close! What was going through your mind during that number? Any regrets?
Luzon: I always get nervous when performing. Always! And it's even more nerve racing when you're doing it in front of RuPaul and the rest of the world. It was kind of a blur. But Juju and I had a little fun together during the number briefly. No regrets ever!
J. Bryan Lowder is the Slate editorial assistant for culture.