What we all love about RuPaul’s Drag Race is that it takes almost an impossible level of skill in order to succeed on the show (and for all the shade I throw at the queens, I know I could never even come close to doing it). A successful contestant on Top Chef or Project Runway just needs to know how to do one thing. To win Drag Race, contestants need to know how to style wigs, apply makeup, sew, design outfits, lip sync, do celebrity impersonations, perform stand up comedy, follow choreography, and, on occasion, actually sing. There are competition shows for each of these skills, and Drag Race queens have to know how to do every single one of them.
While I believe in life after love, I believe that asking these girls to sing in Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical was a bridge too far for our contestants. Usually in a singing challenge the girls that are tone deaf or can’t carry a tune can squeak by performing a rap or some sort of poetry slam spoken word thing. (We’re all looking at you, Tatiana.) But having them singing live while doing an impersonation of one of the most distinctive gay icons of the 20th century was probably a little too much to ask.
Even those who did a good job, like Monét X Change, Kameron Michaels, and Eureka, didn’t do a great job. Those who did badly, like Aquaria, The Vixen, and Asia O’Hara, were absolutely dreadful. But should we blame these girls because they didn’t have a Cher impersonation in their back pocket when they showed up to a soundstage somewhere in Tarzana to film this season? No. That is a very, very specific skill to have.
Imagine what some of the all time Drag Race greats would have done with this challenge. I don’t think Bianca Del Rio could have pulled it off. Alaska might have been able to, but it probably would have been more Alaska doing Cher than actual Cher realness. Alyssa Edwards, who can only see the world through the lens of herself, would have floundered like a carnival goldfish on a hot sidewalk after it’s plastic bag broke. This was just an absolutely impossible challenge.
However it accomplished something that I have long been waiting to happen: The elimination of The Vixen. This overly-combative queen has sucked all of the air out of the season, focusing all of the attention on her and her outbursts. Last episode all of the queens said she was the one who should be sent home. When she stayed I figured she would be absolutely intolerable this episode. When Ru asks her about her blowup with Eureka during last week’s judging, she said that she likes to take things on and break a few glasses now and then to get her point across. RuPaul was not really having it.
Even worse, the rest of the queens were totally over The Vixen’s antics. Overhearing the conversation at a nearby table, Monét muttered under her breath, “She’s so combative. Calm down.” While The Vixen’s big criticism of Eureka was that she bothers everyone in the workroom, it actually seemed to be The Vixen, with her fuse shorter than a baby Smurf, annoying everyone within shouting distance.
The one person who was sympathetic was Asia O’Hara who pulled Vixen aside and tried to get her to adjust her attitude a little. She also did a great job explaining what she perceived the issue to be to the audience at home. “Every time in The Vixen’s life she has had to take a backseat to someone with more privilege than her, all of that anger has been bottled up and is now being directed at Eureka,” she said. “Is The Vixen handling it the wrong way? Yes. Do I understand where The Vixen is coming from? Absolutely.”
This is a very important point that Asia made. When The Vixen had her altercation with Aquaria a few episodes back, she pointed out the racial components of their feud. I think we need to recognize that The Vixen can simultaneously be right about those implications and also wrong about how she’s handled very specific circumstances, especially surrounding her dislike of Eureka.
Asia also did a great job of empathizing with The Vixen and saying that she understood her anger, she just wanted to make sure The Vixen knew why she’s angry and that she’s channeling that anger in the right direction. Asia told her that sometimes to be strong, you have to be soft and that you have to find your strength from a place of love rather than a place of anger. Though The Vixen didn’t confirm Asia’s theory, it brought tears to my eyes and made me feel for The Vixen—something I never thought I’d be able to do.
After Asia and The Vixen finished up Hallmark Card: The Visual Album, it was a shame that they ended up lip syncing against each other at the end.
It couldn’t decide who should’ve been in the bottom two because those with the worst Cher impersonations had the best looks on the runway for the “Glitterific” theme. Aquaria continued to find an original and inventive way to interpret the theme, this time looking ready for the Met Ball in a religiously inspired golden Hail Mary number. Miz Cracker had an Art Deco scoliosis brace and a skull that was puking glitter all over half of her face, which was both grotesque and hilarious at the same time. Asia was giving sequined Pagliacci on a gay cruise with a kinky yellow glitter wig and a traffic cone hat and I ate up every single inch of it. There’s a reason that Asia is my favorite.
The only one of the bad Cher’s with a bad outfit was The Vixen, who looked like a third grader made a glittery mobile for her new baby brother. Both she and Asia gave killer performances in the lip sync but finally it was finally time for The Vixen to go.
This means that the competition can really begin. Every one of the queens left (maybe even the usually mute Kameron, who keeps growing on me) is extremely talented and I’m glad that we’ll get to focus on them and what they really can do rather than just who The Vixen is fighting against this week. Now is the time for each of them to shine. Just please, for the love of god, no more impressions.
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