“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1401 Recap: Surprise! Centering Trans Queens Results In Good Drag!

This is a recap of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 14 premiere. Spoilers below.

Ru is back! And so am I! One year and approximately two hundred spin-offs later,  Drag Race has returned with another premiere that promises to be different than all the rest.

But, actually, this year is more of a return to form. Instead of last year’s three-part chaotic lip sync spectacle, we get our first seven queens introduced, a talent showcase, and then someone goes home. I appreciate Ru’s desire to shake things up but sometimes a format just works.

The first queen to enter the work room is Alyssa Hunter (Pisces), a hottie — out of drag — from Puerto Rico who seems determined to cast herself as the season’s villain. She’s wearing an outfit inspired by her last name that’s vaguely cavewoman, vaguely Indigenous, but with the cultural specificity of a Natural History Museum exhibition from the 1950s. It’s not even specific enough to be offensive, it just made my eyes roll.

Next up is Bosco (Gemini) who feels like a next generation Jinkx Monsoon — my highest compliment. Not only is she from Seattle and non-binary but she’s also a quirky queer whose drag persona is glamorous. She comes out wearing a polka dot Maleficent look and explains that her signature eyebrows are inspired by anime villains.

Then we have Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté (Capricorn). Last year brought us our first Capricorn winner (Symone) and our first trans woman winner (Kylie), and Kornbread might just be second for both. She’s wearing a leather jacket dress that I am OBSESSED with and is immediately just so funny and delightful.

Next we have the season’s underdog, Willow Pill (Aquarius). Living up to her sun sign, Willow is the best kind of weirdo. Yvie Oddly is her drag mother and that says it all. She’s wearing a white crop top that says “angle” (yes, angle) and little white shorts and a hat. Very strong mid-00s energy for this genderfluid queen.

The trans queens continue with the stunning Kerri Colby (Leo) and she is not subtle about it. She comes out wearing a silky trans flag inspired dress with white fishnets. Kerri and Kornbread know each other in LA and it’s just so fun having all these out trans queens on the season! Four out of these first seven with two trans women! AND they’re the four immediate standouts.

Next we have June Jambalya (Gemini). She’s also an LA-based queen and Kornbread is thrilled to see her. And I am too! June was one of my immediate favorites from the “Meet the Queens” special. She’s wearing a blue patterned jumpsuit I can imagine the judges critiquing, but she’s so pretty I think she pulls it off.

And, finally, we have Orion Story (Cancer), the show’s first Michigan queen. She comes out with a hamburger phone (shoutout to Juno) and does a whole skit. She’s wearing a fembot jumpsuit she made herself.

That’s it for the first half of the premiere! Ru comes out and ruveals that unlike last year one of them will, in fact, be going home this week.

Another Drag Race tradition brought back is the chaotic first photoshoot. I don’t know if the budget is tight or it’s a Covid thing, but Ru just straps these queens on last year’s finale wheel and calls it a day. Some of the queens struggle more than others but mostly it’s just silly. Kerri wins which is honestly so impressive considering how much tulle and hair she has flipping around.

They all de-drag and everyone agrees Bosco is the biggest transformation. They’re also all horny for Alyssa. The maxi challenge is a Charisma, Nerve, and Talent show — I guess you still can’t say cunt on VH1 — and the queens start discussing their talents. Kornbread says she’s doing competitive eating and the other queens believe her. In the confessional she laughs and says, yes, eating up the competition. I love her.

We learn that Kerri’s mom is evangelical and that she and Kerri have a complicated relationship. I feel like Ru is going to do whatever he can to get that mom on a video call and I really hope he fails. I hate those manufactured reunions as much Ru sure loves them! I wonder if Ru’s newfound acceptance of trans people is because parents of cis gay kids became just too tolerant.

Lizzo is the guest judge and she pops into the work room. This was filmed at a time in Covid when the guest judge could meet the queens but had to keep a good fifteen feet of distance. She gives them all a pep talk and it’s cute. Kornbread says she’s LA’s number one Lizzo impersonator — a title she bestowed herself.

Ru starts off the talent show by doing her own little thing. Good for her! She’s earned the right to be publicly mediocre! The judges get to showcase their own talent — acting— when they compliment Ru’s performance.

The first queen to compete is June with African Dance. She’s good but her headband keeps falling down and it seems to throw her off. Then Bosco does a burlesque performance wearing a rose where she pulls off her dress’ petals and eventually gets fully naked. (Kornbread is hollering from the sidelines.) Alyssa claimed she was playing guitar but she actually just plays air guitar?? Kerri lip syncs to “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj while doing a super impressive jump rope routine. Orion does a comedy sketch and bombs. Kornbread lip syncs to her own song and kills. Willow lip syncs to “Only Time” by Enya and surprises everyone when the performance involves a bathtub, wine, spaghetti, and a toaster. It’s original and excellent and thankfully shuts up Alyssa who didn’t even bother to learn her real name.

The runway is Signature Showstopping Drag. June looks gorgeous in a gold jumpsuit with a train. Bosco again evokes Maleficent in a black body suit. Alyssa is doing an ostrich feather My Fair Lady. Kerri is wearing a fur coat that opens to reveal a bikini of chained Ks — she calls herself a Leo queen and she sure lives up to that! Orion is wearing an outfit that looks like the Grinch is about to steal her Christmas and does a reveal to show three exposed boobs. Kornbread has on a metallic body suit that wraps around her head with no wig. And Willow is wearing green plastic boot leggings, a blue coat, and blue headphones.

The judges oscillate between harsh and kind. Michelle criticizes June about her visible shorts, holes in her tights, and falling headband. But when June starts to cry, Lizzo is really sweet and comforts her. Lizzo then compares Bosco to Marilyn Monroe! All of them are relatively nice to Orion but criticize Alyssa for not revealing anything about herself in her performance.

Michelle criticizes Kornbread’s song for being too hard to understand and Lizzo is like ABSOLUTELY NOT and begins to praise her. Ru then adds that he could also understand Kornbread because he “speaks Black.” It’s so rare for Ru to call out Michelle — even in this jokey, lighthearted way — when it comes to her casual racism, but I’m so glad he did. He then goes full Ru with both Kornbread and Willow, giving some afterschool special speeches and getting those tears. He really loves Willow AND loves making the same joke about how she’s not a big pill she’s a willow (like wittle) pill. He seriously makes that joke like four times in this one episode.

Bosco and Willow are safe. Kornbread wins!!!! And Kerri is safe too. For those keeping track at home, yes, the four trans queens are the top. Alyssa, June, and Orion are the bottom and Alyssa is safe. I get this decision but it also frustrated me. Sure, Alyssa was more polished, but she was also less interesting than June and Orion. They lip sync to Lizzo’s “Water Me” and both do a decent job.

June wins — thank God — and Orion goes home. She’s definitely the weakest queen of this bunch but I’m still mad we didn’t get to see more from her. It’s tough to get by on weirdness when there were two more “weird” queens who were also polished.

The best part of last year’s premiere structure was how many episodes all the queens got to showcase their talents. By the time Kahmora went home, I still felt like I knew her drag. Then again three episodes with no eliminations was… a lot. Sorry, Orion, but I don’t think we need another sixteen episode season — even if we are still stuck at home.


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

+ Willow met Yvie because she did a documentary about her in college! So cute! When Willow said that to Ru I did wonder if he remembered who she was talking about.

+ Ru says Orion’s audition video was introspective. I’m so curious what that means!

+ Kerri calls Bosco “Bosco’s Chicken and Waffles.” lol

+ During Untucked, Alyssa apologizes to Willow for underestimating her. She’s all emotions and it seems like this poor first performance has really shaken her villain confidence. I’m interested to see which side of her sticks — if she’s around long enough.

+ Orion says she didn’t have time to do her original talent because her cat was sick. This tender little Cancer. Poor baby. Wishing her and her cat all the best.

+ This week we got four trans queens. Next week we only get one — and we get that cis straight guy. Ugh.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Kornbread

+ Queen I have the biggest crush on: Kerri, June, and Bosco (I will not pick!!)


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Drew Gregory

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 299 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. Kornbread and Willow are clear standouts so far. They both had such well-conceived and well-executed talent performances, and I could have seen the win going to either queen. Kerri is stunning and charismatic in the confessionals, and June just seems lovable. Alyssa and Bosco just aren’t grabbing me, and I’ve basically forgotten about Orion already.

    Jinkx is my all-time favorite winner, and Bosco’s going to have to do more than be from Seattle to earn that comparison! There’s a real vulnerability to Jinkx that I’m not getting from Bosco yet. Jinkx has described her character as a single mom with dreams of stardom, so it’s not just that she’s quirky and glamorous. She has a real point of view, and so much of her humor comes from the specific perspective she’s embodying. Bosco might have a point of view I’m not seeing yet, and maybe she’ll grow on me, but I was pretty bored by her burlesque routine.

  2. I’m so fucking happy that the world can get to see Kornbread shine. I started seeing her perform when I first moved to LA in 2018. I had been hanging with some strangers at a pride event where she performed, and this girl said she knew that Kornbread was going to be a star on Drag Race. And I agreed and we were right! I’ve also been lucky enough to be in a competition of hers and she is absolutely lovely, and I love how she judges drag competitions equally across gender lines, which is unfortunately rare in competitions.

    I’m so excited to see her do more amazing things and I really hope she wins!! She absolutely deserves it.

  3. so many queens that I love already!! I’m OBSESSED with Kornbread, Willow and Bosco — all of their talent show performances were truly amazing — and I am excited to see more from Kerri and June as well :)

    Alyssa is the only queen I’m not actively excited about (as well as Orion – RIP) but I’ll be interested to see how she develops. also Alyssa is extremely hot out of drag which i enjoy watching. YES i am bisexual!!! SUE ME!!!!!!

  4. Drew! I’m so happy you’re doing these recaps again! No one else calls out RuPaul’s (and Michelle’s) nonsense so enjoyably.

    I actually loved this back-to-season-six premiere. Yeah, it’s a bit rough on Orion and whoever becomes the other Kelly Mantle/Magnolia Crawford (my guess is Lady Camden??) but it feels time to be a bit decisive after last year’s shenanigans.

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