“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1314 Recap: Drag Excellence

I’m so lucky ’cause Ru is giving me the show that I want! We did it, kids. We made it to the last work room episode of Drag Race season 13. It’s been quite a journey, but it’s finally time for our stellar top four to co-write a song for RuPaul.

We begin with the elimination of smile diva Olivia Lux. Rosé is still in coldhearted competitor mode as she says it was Olivia’s time to go. Rosé is ready for the finale. They’re all ready for the finale. And they’re ready to fight. But, like, as cute friends.

It’s a new day in the work room and Kandy wants to know what they’ll all do if they win the $100k. Rosé and Symone say they’ll invest it in their drag, but Kandy has different plans. She wants to buy a boat. No reason, she just wants a boat. Okay, Willam.

The maxi challenge this week is a music video performance for RuPaul’s new song, “Lucky.” The song is not yet complete as all four queens will also be writing verses. Gottmik is SUPER excited they’ll be working with choreographer Jamal Sims again and it is very cute.

Gottmik overall is just very, very excited to be there! She says she feels like “la la rainbows” so her verse is coming out too happy. The other queens remind her that it’s supposed to be a brag track, so she tries to reign in her positivity. “We’re not trying to solve world peace here, gorge,” she tells herself.

I guess Ru and Michelle are taking a break from their podcast, because their interviews with the queens are now on fake talk show Inside Drag Race. They’ve also brought back the Tic Tac lunch which I’d really hoped was retired forever. Ru was like okay if I have to say racers instead of gentlemen at least let me go back to triggering people with eating disorders. Very 2009!! Luckily there are only two brief mentions and it’s not really made into a thing.

Gottmik is the first to be interviewed and we learn so much about her! She grew up going to Catholic school and says the uniform allowed her to be disconnected from fashion and appearance. She only transitioned three years ago and only had top surgery one year ago. The name Gottmik comes from a combination of her last name and her deadname and her real name, Kade, was taken from a porn star. The energy of this interview is so good! So much laughter! So much joy!

Rosé is next. She says that she’s wanted to be a performer since she was in a Christmas pageant at age six. But the Rachel Berry of season 13 has only been doing drag for three years! She feels a freedom in drag that she never felt in theatre and it’s helped her realize that she’s queerer than she ever imagined. Her dreams are to be on Broadway as Rosé and to have Stephanie’s Child on the radio. I’d watch her Funny Girl.

Kandy then shares the origin of her name which was extremely exciting to me personally!! She’s named after Candy Darling. Combine Candy with her boy name Kevin you get Kandy. And Candy Darling was Andy Warhol’s muse so voila Kandy Muse. She jokes that she’s hardheaded but also delusional. She says that everything she was made fun of her whole life has been celebrated on the show and Ru is very excited about this realization.

Finally, my love Symone. She talks about joining the House of Avalon while still living in Arkansas. In fact, the entire house moved from Little Rock to LA. She says that this move was more challenging than she expected and she talks about being shy. Ru goes into full therapist mode as she tells Symone that the power she has in drag is available to her outside of drag. I appreciate that Symone’s journey toward self-acceptance has not been linear or easy this season. Even if she wins, she’ll still have work to do on herself for her own happiness, and that’s just how it works sometimes!

A quick break from feelings to learn some choreography! Jamal says this will be the hardest he’s worked them all season and Gottmik is positively horny for it. Because Jamal has worked with them before, he knows how to challenge each of them. It’s fun to watch the choreography be personalized to each queen not just by highlighting their strengths but by confronting their weaknesses.

On the final day, the queens are all hugging and being cute. Symone is feeling emotional about it being the end and they’re all making fun of a short wig Gottmik brought and thankfully never wore. Kandy teases Gottmik saying that she’d be on 75 more episodes if she could.

They talk about first impressions and how they’ve all grown. Gottmik says that she felt a lot of pressure to represent the trans guy community but learned that the best way to represent the community was by being herself. Symone says she’s been on a similar journey and gets emotional as she says, “I love me. I can say that now.” SO MANY FEELINGS.

The music video for “Lucky” is SO GOOD. All four queens are stellar and it’s so fun to watch them together. The song is not great in that not-great-RuPaul-song sort of way, but it’s catchy and the verses are a lot of fun. Gottmik is really the stand out though and for the first time all season I started thinking maybe Gottmik should win??

This enthusiasm continues on the runway where the theme is Drag Excellence and Gottmik is absolutely that. She’s wearing a long white dress with black polka dots and poodle hair and her face is a mix of the classic Gottmik look with some of her own skin peeking through — very poetic! Kandy is in a sci-fi 60s mesh Jetson look that was fun but maybe not best drag. Rosé is in a gown of tartan and a long ginger wig as she once again wears her Scottishness proudly. And Symone reminds me why I love her so much in a beautiful purple dress with sleeves down to the floor and diamonds in her cornrows.

The judges gush over all four queens as they often do during the top four episode — but this time it really feels earned. Ru starts crying while talking to Gottmik, praising her for her journey with her parents and saying that her presence on the show has provided a roadmap for kids everywhere. I think it’d be really easy to view this moment cynically as a sort of not-transphobic rebrand for Ru, but let me explain why I think this was genuine. No matter your current feelings about Ru — and I’m sure, like me, you have a lot of them — it’s undeniable that her level of mainstream success the past thirty years has been unprecedented. She is a radical figure and also an extremely palatable one. And I think she sees herself in Gottmik. While she may be touched by the AMAB queens’ journeys, I think she thinks, well, they had me to look to. But in her eyes Gottmik had no one. And now here she is excelling and excelling on the terms presented to her by the culture she’s trying to infiltrate. Gottmik loves drag culture, she loves cis gay male culture, and her twinky self fits right in. She is both radical and palatable. She’s exactly Ru’s kind of trailblazer. I think Ru finds that genuinely moving.

More feelings await as it’s time for one of my favorite traditions — the queens talking to their younger selves. Ru clarifies that Gottmik gave permission to show a picture of herself at age 2. Gottmik tells him that his name is Kade and that someday he’ll be able to look in the mirror and say I love you. This made me cry!! And also I love that Gottmik was okay showing her baby picture, because I feel like cis people in my life have been so weird about me being okay with childhood photos!

Kandy gives another emotional speech to the cutest photo of her kid self dressed up like a little painter.  Rosé then tries to spin her happy childhood into a message about spreading that love and it’s sweet but also feels very rehearsed in a Rosé sort of way. Then Symone comes in with the opposite — just a lot of raw emotion and tears. She talks about feeling like something was wrong with her and that she couldn’t be Black and gay. She talks about hating herself but that it’s possible to love herself. She adds that someone who inspires her will someday tell her that she’s great and you just know Ru loves that bit. FEELINGS.

All four queens are lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s “I Learned from the Best.” Ru makes the very wise choice to have them do it separately and they’re all great. Kandy and Symone are my favorite — Kandy reminding everyone why she’s there, Symone reminding everyone why she’s the best. Then they line up for the least suspenseful non-elimination as Ru barely even hints at the possibility of sending one of them home. Good!! They all deserve to be in the finale!!

I love these four so much I feel like Gottmik — I would watch 75 more episodes.

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

+ I’m almost at the four year anniversary of when I came out so Gottmik and I started transitioning at about the same time??

+ Women in Revolt starring Kandy Muse namesake Candy Darling is back on YouTube and you should watch it! It also stars one of my personal heroes Jackie Curtis.

+ During Untucked, Gottmik says if she wasn’t on the amount of testosterone she’s on she’d be sobbing. She talks about how meaningful it is to get validation not only from the other queens but from RuPaul. I am still projecting on Gottmik a lot!!!

+ Rosé’s brother shows up in a video message and it is very sweet. And then Symone’s mom shows up in another video message and it is also very sweet but slightly more complicated. God, just a lot of feelings this week!!

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Symone… and Gottmik

+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: All of them!!

+ Queen I have weird sexual feelings for that I need to unpack: Ru validating Gottmik’s place in the community — yes that is sexual to me, no I will not be taking questions

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 168 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. I’m really happy this top 4 is going all the way to the final! They’re all so talented, and each queen brings something different and impressive to the table.
    Also, watching Gottmik over the season, I’ve actually had these kind-of-poignant moments of identification with some of her wig choices?? I mean, not the Joey-Jay-esque unused alternate, but the others. Her regular black curly hair is a little bit Cher, and a little bit her, but it’s also what my hair looks like when I unbraid it in the mornings, and I love that. A lot of the white queens are usually blondes or redheads, and that’s awesome—they look killer in the best way—but as an Ashkenazi Jewish woman with long, wavy, dark brown hair that I am not-unreasonably vain about, it feels weirdly special when Gottmik looks both so glamorous and so like me.
    I’m certainly not claiming that there’s a dearth of representation of (cis, in my case) white brunette women on TV—it’s just that I’ve found it a really relatable and endearing element of how Gottmik creates her drag.

  2. This series has gone on so long I can’t really remember a time before RPDR season 13. I’m glad they didn’t kick anyone out this week but I do wonder if Gottmik doesn’t want it to end because in the 5 years that have passed since filming started his rent has gone up 200% and everyone he’s ever known has a new partner/baby/dog/president.

  3. “Ru validating Gottmik’s place in the community — yes that is sexual to me, no I will not be taking questions”

    You got this one exactly right and I totally feel the same.
    I think RuPaul had her own revelation during this episode. Not so uncommon for cis gay guys when meeting trans guys who are really really gay btw…
    This is a seminal moment for gay trans men that has been in the making since 1991 when Lou Sullivan died prematurely of Aids.

  4. Your re-caps are working for me because of your respect, not worship, for RuPaul.
    It kinda bothers me when people think Ru was the first and only Drag Queen 🤔.
    Keep them coming please.

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