RuPaul's Drag Race: ABSOLUT Vodka Drag Ball
The opening to this show is like last summer’s movie version of Speed Racer, only with RuPaul. And mercifully shorter in length.
Good mornings all around as the girls enter the workroom. Rebecca, last week’s unjustified winner and all-around bane of my existence, talks about how she is glad to be getting so close to the win. She also says that she knows that no one likes her, and that includes me.
Shannel says that she knows that it is a fake person that lies underneath Rebecca’s cosmetics. Word.
Time for our Mini-Challenge. The contestants meet RuPaul/Tim Gunn on the runway for a “vogue-off,” inspired by Paris is Burning and Madonna. RuPaul/Tim Gunn will pick the winner.
Bebe is up first, and she lets out a whimper before beginning. She isn’t that bad, though. Rebecca is up next, and she is good. She does this little make-up application dance that is mildly amusing. Nina Flowers is the bomb. She got this mini-challenge in the bag. Shannel does a lot of gyrations and posing and . . . a cartwheel. She a fool.
During the midst of the mini-challenge, RuPaul/Tim Gunn yells out such things as, “EXTRAVAGANZA POW-AH! HOUSE OF LaBEIJA! FACE! OPULENCE!” For the uninitiated, put Paris is Burning into your Netflix queue. Now.
The top two are Nina (yay!) and Rebecca (boo!). As an aside, Shannel says that she was surprised because she thought “it should have been Nina and myself” in the finals. I have to take a detour here because of Shannel’s shameful grammar. “Myself” is used incorrectly here because it is a reflexive pronoun. “Me,” an objective pronoun, is correct. “It should have been Nina and me.” Correct others who make this mistake, and the world will become a better place. Detour over.
Nina and Rebecca compete in a vogue duel; however, this isn’t really a competition. Nina wipes the floor with Rebecca. Wisely, RuPaul/Tim Gunn agrees with me and declares House of Flowers as the winner. Rebecca says that Nina won because she is older and “was probably at the club when vogue-ing started.” Rebecca has an ugly character that her discount nose cannot hide. She is a pureblood hater.
RuPaul/Tim Gunn announces that the main challenge this week will be a drag ball sponsored by ABSOLUT vodka. The contestants will be judged on three categories: swimwear, “Executive Realness,” and evening wear. For those wondering, Executive Realness means passing as a real business woman, not a drag queen. The contestants may use their own clothes for executive realness, but they will have to, otherwise, make the other outfits.
Jeffrey Moran from ABSOLUT vodka comes out and blathers needlessly about flavored vodkas. Quit talking, and pour me a drink, vodka man. Each gal will represent an ABSOLUT fruit flavor. Nina, as winner of the mini-challenge, will assign the flavors.
Nina Flowers – Miss Mango
Bebe Zahara Benet – Miss Raspberry
Shannel – Miss Mandarin
Rebecca – Miss Citron
Each contestant gets a bag o’ fabrics with colors assigned to match her fruit. (Mango is green, by the way . . . not that a mango is actually green, but whatever.) Bebe is totally lost. She doesn’t know where to start or where to begin or what to do. She says that the colors are not working: they are too candy, too bubblegum. Shannel is also struggling because she does not sew.
Continuing tonight’s rivalry, Shannel says she sees many different sides of Rebecca. Some, she says, are beautiful, but some are underhanded. She accuses Rebecca of constantly stirring the pot and making drama. Uh, that’s the pot calling the kettle dramatic.
RuPaul/Tim Gunn comes around to check on everyone. RuPaul/Tim Gunn asks Shannel about how she is going to show more “realness.” There is a level of expectation to uphold, she says, and she is worried that she is doomed to failure. She doesn’t believe in herself.
Rebecca won’t tell RuPaul/Tim Gunn any of her “secrets.” She wants RuPaul to be surprised on the runway. Whatever. I’d be surprised if Rebecca can count to twenty-one without getting naked.
RuPaul/Tim Gunn tells Bebe that she looks defeated, but Bebe says that she is only frustrated, frustrated because it is hard to dress a six foot, two inch frame with two yards of fabric. RuPaul/Tim Gunn reminds her that this is what makes it a challenge.
Nina Flowers has cut up a shirt to use as a pattern, and RuPaul/Tim Gunn is impressed with Nina’s ingenuity. Nina talks about how her role model for this challenge is her dear, departed mother because she embodied “executive realness.” It’s sort of sweet, but also . . . odd.
As a surprise, RuPaul welcomes Charo to the stage! This is why I love this show so much. In the midst of an episode, the audience is thrown a random curveball. The fact that this curveball is 58 years old, big busted and dressed in multi-colored ruffles only makes it that much more perfect. Did you know that Charo’s real name is María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Raste. How awesome is that?!?!? She says crazy things like, “Spooning leads to forking” and “You owns [sic] the world!” HA! Everyone starts dancing, including the Pit Crew, the muscle men in tiny green shorts who brought out the vodka. An episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race cannot have too much of the Pit Crew!
Before leaving, RuPaul/Tim Gunn tells the contestants they must incorporate the assigned real fruit in the evening gown outfit. Bebe bemoans the messiness of raspberries, and Nina worries that mangos are tacky, completely oblivious to the irony of her statement.
The next morning, the girls walk in, stressing out. Shannel, operating on two hours sleep, says that she doesn’t even know why she should bother with this challenge. “I don’t know what more of myself I can give.” She also says that if Rebecca was to win, “it would be a very sad representation of what drag is supposed to be in America.” Shannel wears me out, even if what she says is true.
Now we arrive at my favorite part of the episode, Nina Flowers walking around in nothing but her padding, pantyhose, and stick on boobies.
Main Stage Time! RuPaul walks onto the stage in a canary yellow sequined gown and looks flawless. She has on a blond afro with it that I love, just not with this dress. Judges: Merle Ginsberg, Santino Rice, Jeffrey Moran (ABSOLUT vodka image czar, WTF kind of job title is that?), and Maria Conchita Alonzo (actress and former Miss Venezuela). Ok, we have to stop here for a second. Maria Conchita Alonzo has more plastic in her face than a Tupperware party. It is, quite simply, a damn shame.
Category 1: EXECUTIVE REALNESS
Bebe emerges, representing Zahara Enterprises. She has on the same outfit from the Oprah challenge with a smart, short wig. When asked, Bebe explains that she should win RuPaul’s Drag Race because she would let people know that there is dignity in what drag queens do. She says that it does not make you less of a man to dress like a woman. I know some people who will disagree.
Nina Flowers is out next. I don’t know how much executive or how much realness is conveyed in her lime green dress with a flower-y coat, but Merle Ginsburg thinks she looks like Geena Davis. Nina says that she should win Drag Race because she has given fifteen years of her life to female impersonation, and she wants to inspire the world. Aw.
Shannel is out third, in a tangerine top and black skirt. She really looks great. She ruins it all, though, when answering the question of why she should win RuPaul’s Drag Race. This heifer says that she should win because she loves herself. Gross.
Finally, Rebecca Glasscock comes out looking bad. She has on this black, pinstriped pantsuit with a yellow, fringed top underneath. It’s not flattering. She says that she should win RuPaul’s Drag Race because it’s her dream. It’s my nightmare.
Category 2: SWIMSUIT
Bebe rocks it in a raspberry-colored bikini with a fabulous wrap and feathers in her hair.
Nina Flowers gives her a run for her money in a green one piece with a sheer olive-hued cape and huge green flowers in her hair. It’s the bomb.
Shannel comes out in a bright orange bikini with an Amy Winehouse hairdo and an orange fabric ruffle around the beehive. Again, she ruins it by introducing herself by sucking her lips, Hannibal Lecter-style. She is truly her own worst enemy.
Rebecca Glasscock comes out in a bright yellow one piece with lemons in her hair. She is so boring.
Category 3: EVENING GOWN EXTRAVAGANZA!
Bebe channels Diana Ross in a hot pink form-fitting gown. There is an explosion of ruffles and tulle from the knees down. Raspberries are woven through her updo.
Nina Flowers is out in a minty green gown. There’s a very exaggerated collar with mango pieces and sequins attached. Nina’s gown looks like something one of the women on The Lawrence Welk Show might wear.
Shannel is out next. Her gown is spectacular with an exaggerated explosion of ruffles at her shoulder. I can’t seem to see the oranges anywhere, though.
Rebecca Glasscock is up last, and her gown is not cute. It’s a yellow, halter-neck number, but the bodice has these vertical strips of yellow fabric running up and down. To me, it looks like banana peels. Also, there are lemons in her rats’ nest of a hair-don’t.
The girls are all brought back on stage for judging. Standing next to one another, you can see how much shorter than the other girls Nina Flowers really is. Bebe and Nina receive a shower of accolades. Shannel is told that although she looks beautiful, her answers to questions are not connecting. The judges appropriately hate on Rebecca’s dress (Santino says it looks like corn, and I instantly wish to hang out with him).
Before excusing the contestants, RuPaul asks each contestant which of the other contestants should be eliminated tonight.
Rebecca – “Do we just get to pick one?” She is one hateful ho. She finally answers, “Shannel because she is annoying.”
Nina – “Rebecca” because she lacks experience, dignity and respect.
Bebe – “Rebecca” because she is “on a lower level.”
Shannel - “I nominate myself because I don’t want to be here anymore.” Mess. She whines on and on about how she has been judged on a stricter level and because no one ever tells her she is beautiful. Double mess.
Once the girls are excused to the Interior Illusions Lounge, deliberations ensue. The judges think that Shannel may have made such a big scene as a strategy. Bebe’s gown was compared to Valentino (I love Bebe, but give me a break). Merle says that Rebecca is the weakest of the four. Everyone adores Nina’s way of surprising them.
After calling them back, RuPaul announces that Bebe is the winner! In doing so, she refers to Bebe as Raspberry Benet, and I chuckle. As a prize, Bebe has won a custom made dress from Miami Elite Designs. Nina is also safe, and she will join Bebe in the finals.
Tonight’s bottom two: Shannel and Rebecca. FINALLY! AND IT ONLY TOOK SIX WEEKS! These two will lip sync for their lives to “Shackles” by Mary Mary. Watching the lip sync performance, I am certain that Shannel will scrape through tonight. She is simply better than Rebecca . . . until she lifts up her dress and shakes her thong-clad ass, video hoochie-style. It’s disgusting, and it seals her fate.
Rebecca: Shonte, you stay.
Shannel: Sashay, away.
Nina says that Shannel’s desire to win this got the better of her. True dat.
Next week is the finals of this show, and, by now, you all should know for whom Pearl will be rooting. Miss Bebe Zahara Benet better pull this thing out next week! See you for the finale then!
Season 1, Episode 6: Absolut Drag Ball (originally aired March 9, 2009)
For more on RuPaul’s Drag Race, click here.
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Photographs courtesy of Logo Online