“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1306 Recap: Sequin Tops and Bell Bottoms

Don’t leave me this way, Tamisha Iman. The problem with having a cast this strong is almost every week is going to hurt. I may love the drama, but I hate the goodbyes! Alas, this is apparently a “reality competition show” and people have to lose. But first! Disco!

We begin in the aftermath of Joey’s elimination. Kandy says her boyfriend went home, but she’ll for sure sleep with the bitch after. My support to all the Drag Race quarantine girlfriends. Olivia brings up last week’s chaotic Untucked and there’s a bit more bickering between Tamisha and Kandy.

The next week, Elliott suggests they leave the fighting in the past and Gottmik says “wishful saying.” Ru enters the workroom and compares himself to Charles Nelson Reilly — none of the queens get the reference, the first of many they won’t get this week. Reilly was a musical theatre legend and the host of Match Game aka the inspiration for Snatch Game. And he was gay! Anyway, Ru explains that the mini challenge is making dresses out of wallpaper.

The teams for the mini challenge will also be the teams for the main challenge, and as last week’s winner Gottmik gets to be a third for whichever pair she likes — and who wouldn’t want Gottmik as their third. The other queens scramble into teams and Gottmik chooses her besties Kandy and Tina. This is having major Rolaskatox energy to me — I think it’s just a matter of time before Michelle warns Gottmik about the clique. But for now she seems happy to be with the cool kids. Paired off rejects Tamisha and Elliott win the mini challenge with a Carole Baskin reference, because Ru loves to give the underdogs a mini challenge win to shake things up.

RuPaul’s queer history lessons have been… let’s say inconsistent throughout the show. His love for easy liberalism often results in a very hetero-palatable framing of queer past. But luckily those impulses weren’t too bad in this educational disco episode!

My ex was in a play about disco, so I was lucky enough to get a pretty thorough history lesson early in my queerness. I’d previously held a lot of the misconceptions that many share and I was surprised to learn my Saturday Night Fever-understanding was a whitewashed and straightwashed version of an era that was so meaningful for Black people and queer people. Or in Ru-speak: “freedom, divas, and bringing people together!”

Denali says she loves disco and this is hers to win. I love Denali, because every episode she truly believes it’s hers to win. She’s paired with Rosé and she’s excited that they’re both dancers and can push each other to perfection. We also learn that Denali used to figure skate on a cruise ship, which is the only thing that could get me on a cruise other than Olivia Cruises standing for Olivia Lux.

Olivia is on a team with Utica and their dynamic is surprisingly delightful. Utica jokes to Olivia that Tina’s wig makes her look small and Olivia tells her to say that to Tina. Utica obeys her new crush and I loved it.

Ru starts walking around the workroom grilling the queens on disco and cracking up at their lack of knowledge. Ru explains Disco Demolition Night when DJ Steve Dahl rallied people to burn disco records. He says the powers to be were scared of the unbridled passion of disco — especially since it was associated with gay people and Black people. It’s really important that queer people know our history, but there’s no shame in the learning! Our history is pointedly kept from us and it takes effort to know even the most basic things. Hopefully, the queens — and viewers at home — appreciated the lesson.

The queens are choreographed by Miguel Zarate who is a RPDR first timer. I hope he comes back, he has such a good rapport with the queens. He encourages them to not take themselves too seriously and to just have fun with it. Tamisha struggles with a hula hoop and reveals in the confessional that she has an ostomy bag that limits her movements. She hasn’t told anyone because she doesn’t want any special treatment. It reminds me of when Yvie Oddly wasn’t disclosing having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I wish the queens felt like they could be open about their illnesses and disabilities on the show without feeling like they’d be judged for it!

Elimination day! Rosé rides into the workroom on Gottmik’s back. And Tina has Kandy and Gottmik say “mean girls” on three. (Gottmik rolls her eyes instead of saying it.) It’s nice that Gottmik is not only casually accepted among the queens but actively desired. Then again she’s an adorable little twink so I’m not going to give any of the cis queens too many ally points.

Olivia says that as a teenager she was 300 pounds. It was a dark time for her and it wasn’t until she found theatre and drama that she was able to feel confident in her body and self. Thankfully, she notes that she doesn’t look at scales anymore and just cares if she feels amazing, but this part still felt gross to me. Since the beginning, RPDR has not been a kind show to its fat queens, so framing a thin queen’s past weight in this way is disappointing. The point of her narrative is far more about struggling as a closeted teen and I wish that had been emphasized more than her weight.

Kandy and Tamisha also open up about adolescence. Kandy says her mom was in and out of jail so she had to take care of herself. She was always trying to maintain control of her anger, but she still struggles with it. Tamisha talks about a woman who started a cheerleading crew and invited her to join. Her grandma was upset when she found out she was doing gay stuff, but the woman still encouraged her. Sometimes these segments can dip into reality TV exploitation, but I really enjoy getting a window into different gay pasts.

Mama Ru is on the radio and ready to take us through her disco history lesson. Tina, Kandy, and Gottmik start us off with the birth of disco. Then Tamisha and Elliott get into disco and sex. Olivia and Utica go to Studio 54. Rosé and Denali show off disco fashion. All the queens do one big group number. And finally Symone and LaLa dance their way through the end of the era. I thought everyone was really solid, but Symone and LaLa were my favorite. Rosé and Denali are the best dancers, but they needed to focus less on being technically perfect and more on showing off their personalities. It ends with everyone doing a Soul Train line to “We Are Family” and I just really enjoyed the whole thing!

The runway category is little black dress. Loni Love is back as a guest judge with Michelle and Carson. The standouts are exactly who you’d think they’d be! Gottmik has the littlest black dress imaginable aka it is just covering her crotch. Symone has big blonde hair referencing Ru’s look in the “Back to My Roots” video and is wearing a dress made of braided hair. And Denali murdered me in her black widow-inspired dress with a web on the back and extra spider eyes on her forehead. Olivia also dazzles in a simple strapless dress paired with gorgeous big hair.

Somehow Symone, LaLa, and Denali are just safe along with Gottmik and Rosé (I would happily take this group as our top five!) — Tina, Elliott, and Olivia are the top, which I found to be just baffling. Meanwhile, Kandy, Tamisha, and Utica were the bottom which made me really sad, but no one did bad this episode, so I can’t complain. I obviously would’ve loved to see Elliott in the bottom, but this was a dancing challenge and she’s a dancer.

After weeks of being safe, Olivia finally gets a much deserved win and shows herself to be a top competitor. Meanwhile, the producers get their wish and last week’s feud becomes this week’s lip sync. Neither Tamisha nor Kandy are word perfect with Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” but they both do okay. What Kandy lacks in technical prowess, she makes up for with intense drive. Tamisha loses.

I might be the only person on the internet who didn’t think this was the wrong call. But my fondness for Tamisha aside, I just respond to Kandy’s competitive energy. I like a queen who wants to win! Tamisha says she’s going to go home, finish her recovery, and get ready for All Stars. And that’s what I’m talking about! I look forward to seeing everyone’s drag mother ready to win All Stars 7.

Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some More Random Thoughts:

+ Elliott says her mom put her in dance class as a kid after she was bullied, which gives me a new reason to hate Elliott: jealousy.

+ Gottmik’s parents have a video message for her on Untucked talking about how they’re so proud of her art and the person she’s become. It’s nice until Gottmik says that the message was the first time they called her by her name, Kade. Ru loves family reunion/family breakthrough moments, but if it took your trans child being on TV for you to use their name, you don’t deserve any praise. It’s easy for people to accept their queer and trans children when they’ve proven themselves exceptional. In my opinion, by that point it’s too late.

+ Tamisha and Kandy reconciled before their big lip sync. Tamisha says the challenge brought them together and that she doesn’t hold grudges. It’s sweet and makes their hug after Tamisha’s elimination all the more poignant. I’m sorry, I’m still rooting for Kandy! I have a soft spot for loud insecure queers.

+ During Untucked, Utica asks if Olivia wants some glitter and then hugs her. Olivia says they should play in the sandbox later and Utica says “I’ll take you on a date.” Excuse me???? What a strange pair and I am absolutely obsessed.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone and Denali

+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Denali and Olivia

+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: Okay so nothing weird about having sexual feelings for Olivia, but they were at their peak when she was encouraging Utica to be mean and that might need some processing.

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 162 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for bringing up the ickiness of the weight loss anecdote. Really like that queen (great name, lol) but it just didn’t sit right with me. More how the show frames it than the story itself, but still.

  2. Sad about the elimination but she made a huge impression and a ton of new fans!

    Agree about the weight loss trope! Love Olivia, it’s just the way the show has gone for the same story over and over again during make-up confessional hours. (But very relieved that Olivia’s backstory wasn’t a set up for her to go home and she actually won!)

    Kandy looked very cute smeared in oil paint? It was a good look for her! And the Princess Diana revenge dress reference made me giggle.

    Umm and much as I like Gottmik and her brazen nudity, she was the worst dancer in a pretty strong group and I think should have been in the bottom really really.

  3. I agree that keeping Kandy is a good decision! Compared to Tamisha, she has more potential to grow in the short timeframe of this season. Looking forward to Tamisha coming back winning All Stars!

    Isn’t LBD the most boring runway theme you can imagine? Boring theme and (mostly) boring interpretations of it. Meh.

    RuPaul quizzing the queens about 70’s disco was such a dad moment!

    • I didn’t want Tanisha to leave, but I’m glad she has more Instagram followers now. I want her to make a lot of money and stay in good health and continue to recover. She’s still learning and adapting to a major life event and surgery, so I really do hope she comes back for All Stars.

  4. Drag Race’s cringy weight loss narrative isn’t the fault of the queens themselves, so I don’t blame Olivia, but I am tired of seeing this theme repeat on a show where currently fat queens are marginalized and probably won’t ever have a chance to win the crown. I remain bitter about Ginger Minj doing so well on her season despite the show’s fatphobia and STILL losing to one of the most lacklustre winners in Drag Race history. RuPaul prefers fat to be a part of your past that you overcame and it’s gross.

    I was also uncomfortable watching the framing of Tamisha’s decision not to reveal her ostomy bag. No wonder she did given that the judges love to accuse people of making excuses when they say they struggled during a challenge, and people with disabilities/illnesses are expected to conceal them for everyone else’s comfort. I’m seeing a lot of fans talking about Tamisha’s decision not to disclose the bag as if it’s ‘inspirational’ and ‘heroic’, which is such a red flag.

    I will miss her, her graciousness to Kandy at the end made it harder to see her go. I wouldn’t have put Tamisha in the bottom at all, and I don’t understand how Tina Burner made it into the top over LaLa Ri, Denali, and Rosé. When will Michelle ask Ms. Burner to leave Ronald McDonald at home?

    • Totally agree about Tamisha and what fans are saying.

      I remember when Evie Oddly had an injury related to her disability, and modifications to the dance were made (or she took days off?) and she still ended up winning drag race. Maybe it was possible for Tamisha to have accommodations made if she were open about it? I wish she had that opportunity and felt comfortable to speak up because she deserved it! I absolutely understand why she wanted to hide it though. I hope the show and fans are more understanding towards disabled queens in the future.

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