By Jake Tickle, Second Year, English Literature
This week we saw Drag Race return to our screens once again, with RuPaul’s Drag UK vs The World. This season pits UK queens Blu Hydrangea, Baga Chipz, and Cheryl Hole against Janey Jacké from Holland, Jimbo and Lemon from Canada, Jujubee and Mo Heart from the US and Pangina Heals from Thailand.
The queens enter on the main stage this year, showing just how high the stakes are. One by one the UK queens enter, first followed by the international queens, and once Mo Heart enters, you can almost cut the tension with a knife. As Blu asks Cheryl later in the episode, ‘Did you notice a change whenever the Americans came on to the stage, like, in the atmosphere?’. It’s clear that the US queens, especially Mo, think they’re above the rest of the queens in the competition.
The challenge for the first week is the talent, and consists of mostly singing and dancing, but a few certainly stood out - some for the right reasons and some not so much. Lemon jumped off a box in a routine far too similar to Aja in All Stars 3, Blu gave probably one of the best shows of the night in which she did a routine to her own song with two bizarre puppet-like mannequins in front and behind her. Speaking of bizarre, there’s Jimbo’s performance in which she dresses as what I can only describe as a pregnant mime with a huge ass, gave birth to some deli meat, and threw it at RuPaul…
Now for the runway - ‘Category is: I’m a Winner Baby’. The queens walk the runway adorning their interpretations of the category, including Baga as an Oscar, Jimbo as a chess piece (with a huge breastplate, naturally), Pangina paying homage to Thailand with, in my opinion, the best look of the night, and Blu as ‘a BDSM troll doll that just had sex with a highlighter pen’.
One thing to take away from this runway is the different approaches these queens are taking to the competition, with the UK queens and Jimbo presenting themselves as campy and comedic straight out of the gate, whilst queens such as Pangina, Mo and Jujubee are taking a more elegant, almost pageant-like, approach to their looks. This is most likely why some of the queens see themselves as more elevated than their opponents, but the various methods of drag are just an element of what makes the artform so exciting in the first place.
This first episode presents the fans with what they love the most about drag race, a variety of very different queens at the top of their game all competing for the crown, which has arguably become more diluted in more recent seasons. This is drag race at its best: campy, hilarious, outrageous, and weird as hell. It’s just like All Stars (even the rules are the same), but with an extra layer of character not seen in recent All Stars – mostly likely thanks to the non-US queens who do drag a little differently to their American counterparts.
Featured Image: IMDB
Tune into BBC Three every Tuesday at 9PM or catch up on iPlayer to see who goes home and how this new approach to drag race will turn out