On last night’s (May 10) RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens performed a brand new musical based on their Cher’d interests: Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical (not to be confused with the authorized Cher musical about to hit Broadway). With just seven queens left, the judges are getting more particular and any minor slip-up (glitter-free shoes, perish the thought) can land you in the bottom. But when landing you in the bottom means you get to lip sync to Deee-Lite’s iconic “Groove Is In the Heart,” is it even a punishment? Regardless, from Cher impersonations that made us “Believe” to runway looks that had us gagging (a crazy glitter clown? More like John Wayne Gay-C), here’s what Patrick Crowley and Joe Lynch thought of the episode.
Joe: Obviously the specter of Cher is always hanging over RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Chad Michaels to Chaz Bono to Ru’s endless Cher-isms, but isn’t it crazy that we’ve never had a Cher Rusical until this point? Who were your favorites, both in terms of performance and looks? I thought Monet X Change and Eureka nailed the Cher ticks the best, and while I was overall impressed with Kameron Michaels’ look/performance, that was not top of the charts for me. I did not get it, babe.
Patrick: I’m glad I’m not alone — I actually thought Kameron was one of the weakest this week? She was clearly nervous, and I didn’t think there was anything especially “Cher” about her mannerisms. I thought Monet was the closest, but no one truly nailed it for me — and how could they? The only person who could truly nail this was Chad Michaels.
Asia was the least impressive to me, but not sure I’d put The Vixen in the bottom. She seemed to have the most complex choreography and she nailed it. The judges’ critiqued her for being to “in her head,” but gave Eureka a pass for virtually the same thing because she sold it by the end of her performance.
I love Cher, but this challenge seemed off to me, honestly. It seemed strange to make everyone try to embody the same character, and the queens who were stuck with arguably the least iconic Cher moments were in the bottom. Where the heck was Burlesque Cher?
Joe: Asking “where the heck was Burlesque Cher?” might be the gayest thing you’ve ever said. Yeah, The Vixen at least nailed the choreography, but I almost wonder if Ru put her in the bottom for her reaction to the judges’ critiques. Ru hates excuses, and the whole “I didn’t have long hair so I couldn’t do the hair flip” thing was very much an excuse.
Patrick: That’s true. I’m just sad to see The Vixen go. She’s a fierce, intellectual queen and — as someone who considers themselves pretty “woke” — she did challenge me to see things through a new lens. She really brought some necessary conversations to one of the biggest TV shows in the world. I wish that she was able to get a little more closure before her departure, but at least she had that super sweet moment with Asia.
Joe: Yes, the reaction to The Vixen has been both fascinating and troubling. For instance, I was watching last night’s ep at a Manhattan gay bar (a departure from what I usually do, watching from a BROOKLYN gay bar) and the whole crowd — including the queen hosting the viewing party, who I think it’s worth noting was black — cheered when The Vixen was sent home. While there’s certainly a racial element to the online vitriol directed at her, I think there’s an additional issue: She’s truly challenging people in a realm where that’s not the norm — people watch Drag Race, for better or worse, for entertaintment or escape, and bringing too much realness into that brings people down, kills their buzz, etc. They don’t want it, and they react negatively to it. That’s at least my take on the vitriol directed at her. But personally, I do think there was a bit of closure right after her elimination — when she was crying, you got the sense of “okay, she’s fierce and unafraid intellectually, but emotionally, she wants this — and acceptance — just like anyone else.” But we could psychoanalyze people all day — but why do that when we can talk about SLAPPING?! What did you think of the challenge, particularly Ru’s gaffe?
Patrick: I feel like a few of these mini challenges have been created solely to generate meme-able moments, but a good meme isn’t planned. I mean: look at Miss Vanjie. That meme still has legs! This slapping challenge was super random, but it was a lot of fun. After Ru accidentally slapped Asia though, there was no way she wasn’t winning that challenge. Can we talk about the Deee-Lite lip sync though? I think both queens had fun with it, but there were some nuances in that song that could have made for a really fun, campy take. I would have loved to see what Monet or past queens like Manila or Detox would have done. That song has never struck me as a solid track for a lip sync, but it was great!
Joe: Yeah after they finished, I genuinely didn’t know who won, that was a tight one. Runway-lewk-wise, who were you feeling the most? Although I barely remember her during the Rusical, Aquaria really had me gagged with the rhinestone-covered eyes and the Catholic imagery — very on point for this year’s Met Gala theme, too! I love that she’s had not one but two looks that basically involve her not being able to see anything. She’s bold and inventive, and I have to say I disagree with Miz Cracker’s Untucked critique. I think for her to be endlessly confident, even when other people are second guessing themselves, is fine. Especially on this show — like, how many times in past seasons has someone half-jokingly, but not really, talked about sending a competitor home? I just feel like compared to the level of conflict we’ve seen in past Untuckeds, Aquaria’s confidence barely registers as ‘mean’ or inappropriate.
Patrick: Yea, I’ve never gotten that vibe from her — and I don’t think confidence is a bad quality? Aquaria’s runway was stunning. Again, I’m not sure what the love for Kameron’s look was… Maybe they wanted to toss her a win to justify her hanging around this long? I also loved Miz Cracker’s runway — and, something that rarely happens — I disagree with Michelle: I don’t think she needed a lash on the crystalized half of her face. I thought it was a lot of fun!
Joe: OMG yes, what a look. That glitter barfing skull. Basically me on a Sunday morning.
Patrick: Speaking of Sunday morning, I’m going to be moderating a panel at RuPaul’s DragCon at 10:30! I’ll be talking about the art of impersonation with Derrick Barry, Chad Michaels, Coco Montrese, Venus D-Lite and Hot Chocolate (a fierce Tina Turner impersonator). I’m actually not sure if it’s a panel, or if we’re just doing a live version of Snatch Game. Either way, I have my best Adele drag ready. But y’all better be following @BillboardPride on Instagram for some DragCon action all weekend.