Last night on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens were challenged to sing out the life story of Cher. And babe, somewhere Chad Michaels is spinning in her make-up chair. Do you believe in life after “Unauthorized Rusical?”
Cher is so adored by the gay community that she’s basically a religion. But the many of the remaining queens are not well versed in the book of this ageless diva, and that made for a rocky mainstage challenge. But I’m getting ahead of things. First, RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars season one winner Chad Michaels popped up for a cameo, and blessed us with her catchphrase, “I’m Cher, bitch!” Then Ru appeared for a Moonstruck-inspired mini-challenge where the contestants lined up to get slapped. Also, we learned Ru pronounces “gif” as “jif,” because even our idols are flawed.
As a surprise to no one, the mini-challenge winner was Asia O’Hara who Ru slapped for real, and who reeled from it with on-point comedic timing. Then she got to slap Aquaria, which might be an even better prize than the bedazzler package. And Asia kept the fun going on Twitter:
So happy to announce that after months of litigation, I am the new owner of @wowreport and @vh1. You can now find @rupaulofficial working at Burger King in Atlanta. 🍔 Tune in soon for an all new season of Asia O’Hara’s Drag Race! 💚👸🏾— Asia O'Hara (@AsiaOharaLand) May 9, 2018
-… https://t.co/WywP53mXYJ pic.twitter.com/pg9KHPmzt9
Ru paired each queen to a particular Cher era (or “Cher-a” as Carson Kressley would say). And recurring Ru guest Todrick Hall turned up to teach the queens some Cher-worthy choreography. Just about everyone struggled in rehearsals. But The Vixen got audibly exasperated by Eureka, who stumbled at singing, and did you know Vixen super hates Eureka? Look. In early Untucked eps, Vixen made great points about the weaponizing of white queen tears to make her look like the villain. This savvy Millenial knows her optics and has been fighting back by bringing race politics to the spotlight. However, her beef with Eureka has overtaken her onscreen moments, and that’s because Vixen won’t shut up about it or stop giving shady reactions to every single thing Eureka says!
Vixen is hurting though. Last week four queens (none of whom were Eureka) said she should be the next to go home. Feeling rejected, Vixen decided this is not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race, and sunk into her sulk and solitude. But Asia understood this 26-year-old queen. “Every time in her life that she’s had to take a backseat to someone that has more privilege than her,” Asia explained in the talking head interview, “All of that anger in her has been bottled up and is channeling it at Eureka. Is Vixen handling it the wrong way? Yes. Do I understand where the Vixen is coming from? Absolutely.”
Vixen doesn’t want to let it go of her fight with Eureka, because that would seem like a submission of her position. Their talk about “Angry Black Woman Syndrom” was remarkable because it didn’t downplay Vixen’s pain or her politics. Asia validated both, then offered some Ru-like advice. Even if Eureka gets it easy because she’s a loud white queen (a more popular/accepted brand of drag), “What’s getting mad at her going (to do to) help the Vixen?” Asia urged Vixen to focus on her own work because that is something she can control. “The only people that need to know that you are strong are you and them judges out there.” The final beat of this moment was Asia’s insightful summary, that urged sympathy for this fiery fighter, “The Vixen is still that kid trying to prove that she is worthy of being heard, and being loved.”
So, this made the Lipsync for Your Life brutal, because not long after this heart-to-heart, Asia and the Vixen ended up in the bottom two. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s turn back time.
Kameron Michaels kicked things off with a soft and emotional ’60s Cher. And while I thought it was solid, the judges went wild for it, giving Kameron her first win.
My pick would have been comeback queen Monet X. Change, who had down the hair flips and worked that problematic headdress for all its worth.
Miz Cracker underwhelmed the judges with “Believe” number; Michelle Visage clocked her for doing too much Cher schtick. But at least we could tell it was Cher!
Eureka’s insecurities tripped up rock star Cher. It took her half the number to find her footing.
And Asia, Aquaria and Vixen were rightly in the bottom 3, because each performance begged the question, “Where’s the Cher?”
Though her divine glitter look had the judges gagging, Aquaria seemed to save herself by telling that anecdote about how her number’s best gag was her idea.
This left Asia and Vixen to faceoff over “Groove Is In The Heart.” And frankly, I assumed Asia was a goner out the gate because this was Vixen’s third time in the bottom. And she’s proved a lipsync assassin who will pull out gimmicks and tricks to grab the judges’ eye and stay in this gig.
The Vixen tore her paper dress in half (which is less impressive when you know she made it in a day), and gave that dance and good face that’s gotten her through. But maybe the judges have tired of her tricks, because while Asia’s performance was less showy, it was alive and came out on top.
The Vixen was a polarizing figure. Some found her an outspoken hero, others a sharp-tongued queen born for the villain cut. But whatever you think of her, at least you think of her. In a season with so many spectacular queens, this Chicago rebel will not be forgotten.
Next week on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens will face a comedy challenge judged by Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. And fans of the podcast RuPaul: What’s The Tee? won’t be surprised that the inspiration for this challenge is Ru’s current TV obsession, Westworld. Things are gonna get weird, y’all.