This is a recap of Rupaul’s Drag Race episode 1402. Spoilers below.
Two steps forward, one step back. If last week’s premiere was a showcase of everything great about Drag Race and what Drag Race has become, this week’s is a reminder of how far we have to go.
The episode begins with our last week’s cast debriefing after Orion’s elimination. June is motivated, Kornbread is validated, and Kerri says if the new queens are as strong as they are then things are about to blow up. Good news, Kerri! They are not.
The first new queen to walk into the work room is Jorgeous (Sagittarius). Her name is a combo of her boy name Jorge and the word gorgeous. And she is in fact very that. She’s wearing a red bodysuit with ostrich feather and says she’s inspired by J Lo and Selena.
Next we have DeJa Skye (Taurus), the only non-binary queen in this bunch. She walks in wearing a pink and white polka dot dress and talks about being a choreographer. Her name is a combination of the Beyoncé song and a puppet from a show she liked as a kid.
Then there’s Jasmine Kennedie (Gemini) in a showgirl dress and big purple hair. Her name is a combination of Jasmine from Aladdin and Jackie Kennedy. She says she’s already starstruck because she follows Jorgeous on Instagram.
And then of course there’s our token cishet male queen, Maddy Morphosis (Virgo). She walks in looking like Gottmik’s straight brother doing a Tina Burner impression. She says it’s a Guy Fieri homage, because I guess she really is here to represent her culture.
Finally a queen worth celebrating: Angeria Paris VanMichaels (Leo). Hailing from Atlanta, Angeria is miles above the rest. She’s wearing a black and white polka dot dress with red accents and a matching umbrella. Last week, she would’ve looked great. But among this group, she’s divine.
Next there’s Lady Camden (Leo) who calls herself America’s Spice Girl. She’s a pastel pop princess with a bikini top and skirt. She really is from North London even though she now lives in San Francisco. But it’d be funnier if the accent was fake.
And last but also least, there’s Daya Betty (Pisces). She’s wearing a short, tight yellow dress and says she’s like a combination between a rock star and a rock star’s girlfriend. She’s in Crystal Methyd’s drag family which you can tell because she’s super annoying.
This bad batch gets a bad first photoshoot with Ru inexplicably bringing back the Tic Tac lunch early. They have to take pictures in a big vat of Tic Tacs and honestly I’m too tired to — again — get into why Ru’s little eating disorder joke should’ve been left back in 2009. Anyway they’re all fine and Angeria wins.
The regression continues as the queens de-drag and Betty starts asking who there is Gold Star. We already covered this in last year’s recaps, because apparently recapping Drag Race is just being stuck in some sort of 2009 queer culture time loop. Betty is obviously bringing this up to fuck with Maddy because she’s the only one that knows she’s cis and straight, but it’s still annoying.
Ru makes his rounds and when he asks Betty where she gets her name from she says she’s actually diabetic and then clarifies that she’s type 1 — you know, not the fat kind. God I really can’t stand this girl! But thankfully she says her talent is just lip syncing so I knew she wouldn’t be bothering us much longer.
When Ru gets to Maddy, he asks her about being cis and straight. The workroom overhears and everyone is shocked. The show wants to frame this as some sort of accomplishment, but let’s get into why Maddy shouldn’t be on the show.
The long-overdue addition of trans women to Drag Race is not about inclusivity — it’s about returning an artform to its inventors. Welcoming a cis straight man to the show undermines that fact. It makes these additions about drag being for everybody. It’s not. Drag is first and foremost a queer artform.
That’s not to say straight people can’t do drag. I think everyone — even cishet people — should experiment with gender and sexuality. It’s just a question of whether the largest platform of drag artists should be centering a cishet performer in the same season they’ve finally welcomed out trans women — when they still haven’t had any queer cis women. It’s also a question of why this man who has dedicated so much of his life to playing with gender is so attached to the words cis, straight, and man. Is it because without this gimmick — and this assertion of privilege — he’d be just another midlevel queen doing the third shift brunch at Hamburger Mary’s?
This is not the same as when someone with a marginalized identity is the first to be recognized. This is someone who is lifted up in every other part of the world deciding that a marginalized space should also focus on them. It’s not gatekeeping to question if maybe, for once, something shouldn’t be for a cis straight white man. Then again, anyone who has watched Drag Race over the years knew that this was the natural evolution of the RuPaul Project — he is a performer and a businessman who has spent at least the last decade and a half running toward a white audience, a cis audience, and, yes, a straight audience.
I don’t have anything against Maddy. (Honestly, I’ve known enough “straight” people to not even trust Maddy’s whole thing is even going to stay her whole thing.) I do have something against RuPaul and his team choosing to include her and using it for press the way he does with other firsts. It’s as if when the Oscars were criticized for a lack of women directors, they nominated Greta Gerwig and then threw Tom Hanks into the Best Actress category to really shake things up.
Anyway, Maddy’s talent is playing guitar, because exactly what I want on my queer TV show is to watch a cis straight white man play guitar.
Alicia Keys is announced as the guest judge and then she makes an appearance from behind the mirror in the workroom. Angeria is very excited and it’s sweet!
On the main stage, Ru spares us another little dance. We get right into the talent show with Jorgeous… lip syncing? At least she’s hot and good at dancing. Then she’s followed by Jasmine who is… also lip syncing?? Jasmine is a dancer and doing flips all over the place but it’s still like, okay, sure, lip syncing. Luckily, Betty arrives with an exciting performance of — no, wait, right, she’s also lip syncing. And she doesn’t even know how to dance! Three lip syncs in a row? This is a talent show, not the season 13 premiere!
Thankfully, Lady Camden is here to do some ballet in six inch stilettos. My only note for her performance is she either should have committed to lip syncing or dropped it altogether instead of half mouthing the words. But her dancing is good enough that I’ll forgive.
Then we have DeJa who does a cheerleading comedy routing. I was really excited for this! Something different! But as Michelle will say in the critiques, she stood out, just not necessarily in a good way. Why are queens who identify as comedy queens always the least funny??
We’re then subjected to Maddy’s slow guitar playing. Ru has a dead look in her eyes as she watches this straight man play guitar. What have I done? I imagine her asking herself. What. Have. I. Done.
Once again, Angeria is here to save the day! She performs an original song and it’s so fun and good! She doesn’t have much competition this week, but even with the rest of the cast I think she’s going to really stand out.
The runway category is Sickening Signature Drag. Jorgeous is wearing a purple dress that rips off to revealing a sparkling catsuit. DeJa is in skintight black lace with blue flower-patterned accents. Jasmine is wearing a gold dress with big titties out. Maddy is in a Marie Antoinette look where her head is literally off — it’s admittedly cool and a fitting homage for a queen who is the pinnacle of privilege casting herself as a victim. Angeria is in a deep red dress with a rose on her shoulder and looks absolutely stunning. Lady Camden is wearing a white and pink bodysuit that has peacock feathers that fly up. And Betty is in a skintight ribbon dress that is quickly falling apart.
All the judging is generous and fair. Carson says Jasmine looked like she was ice skating without skates which reminded me of future All Stars winner Denali. Ru tells Maddy that she needed more of an angle to her performance like if she’d played her guitar with her penis. I get the feeling part of the appeal for Ru is getting to have power over this cis straight man — I just wish he’d work that out in therapy instead of making us all watch.
Lady Camden and Jorgeous are safe. Angeria wins! Jasmine is also safe. Maddy, DeJa, and Betty are the bottom. Maddy is safe. And DeJa and Betty are lip syncing to “Fallin’.” DeJa does really well, but Betty is a MESS. She scratches herself (on purpose?) and is bleeding everywhere and her dress keeps falling apart and her nipples are out.
Betty goes home. And next week this batch of queens is going to learn they won’t be far behind.
Teleport Us to Mars!! Here Are Some Random Thoughts:
+ Betty uses the excuse that she doesn’t have a lot of money. But, babe, you’re in Crystal’s drag family? It’s not like you’re some total unknown from a small town.
+ Maddy and Trixie Mattel look similar out of drag and this makes total sense to me. Even if you like Trixie (I don’t) it’s not a coincidence that the most successful queen from Drag Race looks like a regular dude out of drag and a Barbie in drag. Getting a straight version was the natural next step.
+ During Untucked, the queens are all talking about queer childhood trauma and Maddy is just… there.
+ Look, being raised within the confines of cishet masculinity sucks. Trust me. I know. It just really bothered me the way the show framed being cis and straight as something to praise. Maddy doesn’t get bonus points for getting to take off her faggot costume and be normal at the end of the night. That’s not something to celebrate.
+ Queen I’m rooting for: Angeria (from this group)
+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Honestly, I’m still just thinking about Kerri