“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Episode 1501 and 1502 Recap: Sweet Sixteen

This is a recap of RuPaul’s Drag Race episode 1501. Spoilers below.

Let’s start with a harsh reality. In the nine months since my last Drag Race recap, drag has become a culture war. A deadly culture war. Of course, gender nonconformity has long incited violence from fascists, but now drag — specifically Drag Story Hours — have become conservatives’ latest bullshit “save the children” campaign.

It’s gotten so bad I’ve found myself defending Nina West.

Here’s the thing, racers. I know the temptation in the face of attack is to unite — but when it comes to drag, being a cunt is how you unite. So my recaps will be just as catty as past years. And, thankfully, this year has enough queens who will be right there with me. Season 15 will not be RuPaul’s Best Friends Race.

This was a two hour and 15 minute premiere — with no commercials for the first hour! — plus Untucked and there are 16 queens this year so let’s jump right in for our first introductions.

We begin with Irene Dubois, Bosco’s drag sister and one of the bitches of the season. Unfortunately, this alien queen of Seattle forgets that bitchiness needs to be backed up with performance.

Next up is Luxx Noir London. She says she’s the prettiest queen in all of New Jersey and personally I’d believe it. Irene immediately starts in on Luxx saying her 40-inch wig isn’t 40 inches and making a brick joke.

Before any fights can break out, enter Aura Mayari. She’s from Nashville and describes herself as Beyoncé + Rihanna + Justin Bieber. Yes, she can dance. Or at least she’s hot enough that people have told her she can dance. Irene says she’s already out of breath.

Marcia Marcia Marcia walks in with her wig covering her face. She flips it back to reveal a broken nose — a reference to when her Brady Bunch namesake got hit with a football. She has a BFA in musical theatre and has been on Broadway.

Then we have Anetra. Six letters, three vowels, as she’ll later inform us in song. She’s from Vegas and calls herself sexy glamorous. With her metal spiked leather headpiece — and jokes about being broke — I was sold.

Next up is Malaysia Babydoll Foxx looking like a furry fantasy as a glamor fox. She’s the first queen from Miami and her day job is celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist — clients include City Girls.

This season is the TikTok season — more on that later — and first up is Princess Poppy whose I’m homo… phobic intro is apparently a reference to her viral TikTok. Ru loves a girl who can brand! True to her name she’s very princessy but she says her performance style is eccentric.

And finally, the legend herself, Sasha Colby. Former Miss Continental, Kerri Colby’s drag mother, and someone who is arguably too good for this show, Sasha is the obvious frontrunner. Trans queens will continue to dominate.

Speaking of legends, Ornatia walks in. For those of you who weren’t watching in season six, Ornatia is the fake head attached to Vivacious’ entrance look. But this time it’s guest judge Ariana Grande hidden in the outfit! Marcia loses her mind.

Ariana Grande was a guest judge back in season seven. She clearly has a real love for this show and it’s nice to see her back. I’m just surprised Ru let her overshadow his entrance!

He makes up for it by announcing the prize money this year is $200,000 and that the mini challenge is a recreation of the season one sprayed-in-the-face photoshoot.

We have a lot to cover so here are my quick notes from what amounts to a hazing ritual: Aura is extremely horny and extremely hot. Lexx deserves to win. Irene does win.

The main challenge for the week is the One Night Only talent show extravaganza — but first a group number! There’s some back and forth between Aura and Marcia about who will choreo and Sasha tries her best to manage the children.

While they’re still figuring it out, this gargantuan episode rewinds for a new beginning. We have eight more queens to introduce in the workroom. It’s a lot for one episode — but at least the premiere is over after this week. Ultimately, I think I prefer an overwhelming first night than spending three weeks before the season actually gets started.

The first of the next group is Salina EsTitties, an LA queen based in WeHo who identifies herself as a “chola from the hood.” She notes that she does TVfilmcommercial work so we’ll be blessed with that talent if she makes it to an acting challenge.

Next is a very exciting Drag Race first. Amethyst is the “mean queen of Connecticut” and is proud to say she’s the first queen — nice or mean — from the state. She also says she’s the first queen on the show to go viral on TikTok. Too bad when she finds out about the brilliant homo… phobic joke.

Not the only TikTok queen and not the only Connecticut queen?? Poor Amethyst. But lucky us because the next queen from her state is Jax. Jax says she’s the Simone Biles of drag — a pint-sized competitive gymnast with the style and energy of a preppy cheerleader. I love her.

But that’s not all! Connecticut Queen #3: Loosey LaDuca. She’s a construction worker by day and has been doing drag for 12 years.

Then we have Mistress Isabelle Brooks who is from Houston and says she’s big, beautiful, and glamorous. She’s shady and — unlike Irene — she’s good at being shady. The other queens make fun of her for wearing a kitten heel but she says the fat queens always twist their ankles and she’s not taking any chances.

Three Connecticut queens was weird, but four is hilarious. Robin Fierce is Diahann Carroll meets Mariah Carey meets Beyoncé and yes she is also from Connecticut. She and Amethyst have hooked up but she says not to ship them and I will respect that. (Also because I like Robin more than Amethyst.)

And that’s it! Those are the fourteen queens competing this season!

Ugh. Fine.

There’s also Sugar and Spice — twins, TikTok stars, and my mortal enemies. They are so annoying! And not in a fun way!!! They have barely performed offline and they don’t stop talking. They’re immature for 23, and 23 is already really young.

Ornatia comes out again but this time it’s actually Vivacious and she’s just there to introduce Ru. The mini challenge is a tribute to the season two premiere — still with wind machines, no longer with a Gone with the Wind reference. Progress!

Sugar is struggling. Spice takes off her wig (???) and then also struggles. Salina does the best. And Loosey wins.

The other group is finally getting their choreo together when Ru arrives, the new girls in tow. Ru says that yes there are 16 queens BUT a queen is actually going home this week. I wish it was two queens. Two queens who look the same.

Back in the work room, those two queens are learning the lesson that Mistress and Irene being bitchy to each other doesn’t mean they’re enemies — it just means they’re drag queens. There’s also some discourse about social media vs. IRL drag but I don’t care about that.

The judges this week are Michelle, Ross, and Ariana in a cone bra. Everyone keeps making Wicked jokes and that really tickles me because the Wicked movie isn’t coming out until TWENTY TWENTY FOUR.

Despite the chaos, the opening number turns out pretty well. If only I could say the same for the talent show. It’s not that most of the acts are bad! I just feel like… if all you do is lip sync for a talent show, it better be really, really good.

Unfortunately for most of the people who do something different, the risk doesn’t pay off. Princess Poppy’s parasite puppet lip sync is decent. But Loosey who sings live, does not sing well. Amethyst who sings “All Around the World” with an actual baby she can’t find, doesn’t make it more than a one-note joke. And Irene absolutely bombs with her bit of… making ice water.

But let’s talk about the standouts. Sasha Colby does a lip sync to “Zombie” by The Cranberries and it is truly special. Marcia does an inspired dance to “Make Love to You” dressed as a horny teen girl — and dreaming about Ross Matthews. And Anetra and Jax also lip sync but Anetra incorporates breaking wood boards with Tae Kwon Do and Jax LITERALLY JUMP ROPES WITH HER HAIR. Have I mentioned that I love Jax?

The runway theme is “Who Is She?” where the queens are tasked with showing a look to introduce themselves. Aura was one of the mid lip syncers but her real talent was being hot which she shows again in a leather and lace look. Sasha is once again a step above in red and black with a bead-dangling hat. And Anetra is wearing a gold and black futuristic look that she sewed herself.

The bottoms are Irene, Amethyst, and Loosey. The tops are Marcia, Anetra, and Jax. I wish Sasha had been in the top too but I’m just not sure which of those three I’d replace. She’s safe along with everyone else — including the twins, who, alas, did earn that.

Loosey pleads for her life and it works — Irene and Amethyst are the bottom. Anetra wins! Anetra and Jax were my favorites even before the talent show but now I feel like I can’t call them my favorites because it makes me seem like a fair weather fan. Sorry I just have taste!

The lip sync is to “Seven Rings.” It starts out close, but by the end it obviously goes to Amethyst.

I hoped Irene would have a good night. Alas, it was goodnight Irene.

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

+ The sun signs of all the queens:
Amethyst – Aquarius
Anetra – Cancer
Aura Mayari – Pisces
Jax – Aries
Loosey LaDuca – Taurus
Luxx Noir London – Virgo
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx
Marcia Marcia Marcia – Scorpio
Mistress Isabelle Brooks – Cancer
Princess Poppy – Aries
Robin Fierce – Libra
Salina EsTitties – Libra
Sasha Colby – Leo
Spice – Cancer
Sugar – Cancer
Irene Dubois – Cancer

+ Sasha says she couldn’t let Kerri be the most famous Colby and I do love that as the reason for her being on the show.

+ The funniest part of Irene’s bit was Marcia reacting in character.

+ If I needed another reason to love Sasha, she talks about her mommy issues in Untucked.

+ Also in Untucked, we learn that Amethyst was a very bad texter and Robin was very busy and that’s why it didn’t work out. I say this as a well-documented lover of air signs, I guess this is what happens when two air signs try to date.

+ Queen I’m rooting for: Jax and Anetra — the season of the athletes! Other queens I really like: Sasha, Marcia, Mistress, Luxx

+ Queen I’m horniest for: Aura and Sasha

+ Queen I want to sashay: Sugar and Spice

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 553 articles for us.


  1. So glad your recaps are back, Drew! I missed them during all stars and love your takes on the queens.

    I agree across the board and feel like more queens tried… weird” things during the talent show because they clearly saw that set Willow apart last season. But the payoff wasn’t there for most queens.

    The twins are annoying but they have a consistently point of view, so I’ll be curious to see how far they go. And if they will ever stop having their runway looks be related to one another.

  2. So many queens and yet none of them has managed to impress me yet. But it is ofc very early days and I’m excited to see who will emerge as the new Bosco/Willow (aka queen of my heart).

    The TikTokification is unfortunate but to be expected I guess…

  3. Yesss so glad Drew’s recapping this season!

    Jax was one of my favourites from meet the queens, but now Anetra has absolutely joined her. Her saying that Jax ‘landed on her titties?? ever so gently??’ really cracked me up.

    Kinda worried for Mistress after that sliding split at the end of her performance – that stage is hungry for knees and I really want her to stick around a whuile.

  4. On the whole I think this was one of the stronger talent shows; the safe performances were better than last year’s. Like you, Drew, I prefer an overstuffed premiere to three weeks of dragging it out. Hopefully the abundance of queens this season will lead to fewer non-elimination episodes.

    Sasha Colby is the obvious winner. It’s funny that after years of avoiding Drag Race she ended up doing it just so Kerri wouldn’t be the most famous Colby. All the better for us!

  5. Yessssss so stoked for the return of your recaps, Drew!
    I’m watching this with some chosen family so we’ve started a fantasy league and it’s truly making me much more engaged even with the ones I… could do without.
    Also: so many Cancers on this season??? I expect to see exceptionally teary Untucked or I will feel CHEATED

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