[DISCLAIMER] As was announced yesterday just hours before the airing of episode two, contestant Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race due to admitted sexual misconduct and in a title card that appeared before and after the episode VH1 and World of Wonder said “Out of respect for the hard work of the other queens, VH1 will air the season as planned.” Sherry Pie will not be asked to return to the grand finale, to be taped later this spring. Our coverage will inevitably have to include Sherry Vine but likewise, we will do as respectfully as possible to the other queens. Now, on with the show!
You know what happened Episode One. Widow Von’Du and Gigi Goode were Top Two, Widow wins the lip sync and $5000 for actually performing, while Baby Queen and barely-eligible 21-year-old Gigi Goode is convinced that she has the skills to do practically nothing and call it “COMEDY!” The first seven kweens return to the Werq Room and are so amazed by their own accomplishments that they are certain that ain’t nobody else gon’ steal their thunder. Bring on the second set!
Of the second batch of Queens, Rock M. Sakura is first in. She’s painted with the best qualities of All Stars 3 Winner Trixie Mattel and Season 8 finalist Kim Chi’s makeup and styling, with a palpable love for and inspiration by anime manga realness. The lewk itself is very cute and true to what her sensibilities appear to be. Living for those gloves! And, ooh, that is one CUTE boy out of drag: soft features, big eyes, clean cut, and accessorized with only that gorgeous colour blocked polo. You love to see it. We even forgive the large arms (some of us are into that!)
Dahlia Sin is the queen to give Rock M. Sakura some company, and she is wearing distressed blue and white denim with glittery zebra? tiger? stripes and dripping with fringe! Dahlia is a New York queen relocated to Los Angeles, while Rock M. is a San Francisco queen: Dahlia LIVES for comedy San Francisco queens, and serves some shade with her assertion that Los Angeles are more of a LEWK (the implication obviously being that San Francisco can NEVAH BE GLAMOUR). Sakura jokes that the first thing they notice when she gets there is the smell! Dead.
Sherry Pie is clearly a comedy queen. We’ve seen this before. She’s wearing a ribbon labelled “1st.” But we already know that… “She’s NOT first, and I don’t even think she’s second” (quote courtesy of Emmy Winner Delta Work). It’s a rather tragic choice in retrospect. Mimi Imfurst is back, back, back again!
Next, “Just Jan!” walks in (NOT Jan Sport, because that would be a copyright infringement), and, oh my. She’s a very pretty queen, in the tradition of Courtney Act and Cheryl Hole, but oh, that look. That purple sequined Sporty Spice get-up would have been a decent entrance look in early seasons, but it’s Season 12 now, and gone are the days of not caring about how you present yourself the first time out the gate. Okay, gurl. Work with us for a second. If “sport” is your brand, that’s cool, and that’s great, and you should stick to that: Lordt knows it is the road less travelled on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Challenge is: take that mall drag, make it couture, henny, and make us EAT IT!
Jaida Essence Hall is the next queen in, and honey, it’s a mic drop. Bare, glistening shoulders AND poofed sleeves? That hair, that gown, that mug, etc, etc, etc: you are and you own everything. She’s right when she says she smells like money: the scent even wafts through the screen. We live.
Aiden Zhane is the last of the queens to walk into the Werq Room, and okay, we’re into the mug, but the bangs are jagged. The vinyl body suit and that jacket (the print is good) offer a nice contrast.
Ranking the Entrance Lewks
- 1. Jaida Essence Hall
- 2. Rock M. Sakura
- 3. Dahlia Sin
- 4. Aiden Zhane
- 5. “Just Jan”
- 6. Sherry Pie
Rock M. Sakura: it’s a near Shoot. She drew the cape illustration herself! It’s colourful and it’s busy, but it’s tasteful and it works. She IS a drawing come to life! Well done.
Dahlia Sin: it’s simple and it’s expected, but the shape looks good, and it looks good one her! The colour combination of the Orange wig and the yellow dress is great.
Sherry Pie: the sewn-in body suit is a cop-out. Separate gloves and that dress would have been a lot better, but connected by that awful, wrinkly “flesh”-coloured fabric? A good look is now cheap.
Jan: Love the sleeves, love the minimalism of the stripe columned toso, and the floral through-line at the neck and below the waist.
Jaida Essence Hall: Come on waist! Come on hips! Come on cut-outs! Come on print! She looks good, and you have to deal.
Aiden Zhane: Cheap! The dress looks like it is cut from some basic fucking pattern, and the materials are not it. The head piece is the best part, but it’s not anything to gag over either.
Spring Eleganza Rankings:
- 1. Rock M. Sakura
- 2. Jaida Essence Hall
- 3. Jan
- 4. Dahlia Sin
- 5. Aiden Zhane
- 6. Sherry Pie
Fashion for Fall 2020
Rock M. Sakura: Eh. It’s okay. Colour is cute; silhouette is cute (we still love a mermaid tail!): ultimately not very memorable, though.
Dahlia Sin: Ooh, this is SO good. Fur is risky: it can be all-encompassing, and can swallow a bitch alive. But she wore the fur: it did not wear her! Come on unadulterated waist tier! We love to see queens knowing what’s what in Season 12!
Sherry Pie: Come on costumes! We love to remember drag on a dime! We saw the hat that was fished out of a dumpster!
Jan: Who knows what was happening with this look! But she name-dropped Kim Petras, so it must be good, right?
Jaida Essence Hall: Low-key the LEWK of the episode? The wig is right, the beret is right, the sleeves are fur, she is THE skinny legend… Episode Two should have been titled “That Bitch” instead of Episode One, because Jaida E. Hall KNOWS that it is her. Who else could it possibly be? The Spring look was fairly competitive, but this Fall look, henny, it’s a huge chasm between Jaida and everybody else.
Aiden Zhane: Oof, that tuck makes us all feel like we could be Drag Race judges. We all have eyes, we all know what we’re talking about 12 seasons in, and that tuck nearly poked our eyes out. The rest of the look is sufficiently cute, though. Love the hat! Love the tassels hanging from your ears! Love the poncho!
Fashion for Fall 2020 rankings:
- 1. Jaida Essence Hall
- 2. Dahlia Sin
- 3. Aiden Zhane
- 4. Rock M. Sakura
- 5. Jan
- 6. Sherry Pie
Oh, we LOVE to see a queen who knows nothing talking out of her ass! Dahlia was the first queen after RuPaul’s message to ask “what’s a Fosse?” and then pretend to know and love Fosse immediately after! Producers even staged the rare interference, asking Dahlia to state Fosse’s gender, and she guessed everything under the sun. Not your lane, girl. It’s also too late, at this point.
We love a messy preparation for a challenge. When we see one queen off in tears, while the others waste time over arguing who is wasting the most time? That is peak Drag Race. Would love to see La Jaida Essence Hall slay the entire season, while being the lady in wait for that coveted Tyra Sanchez edit.
Once it actually ha’happenedt, wow, it was good. Usually, these haphazardly slapped on production numbers are among the weakest elements of a Drag Race episode, but, here, it was the best. Everyone looked good, everyone smelled good, and we bought it as a Fosse number/challenge (even though you know that half of the girls just discovered who Fosse was).
- 1. Jaida Essence Hall (“And that’s how mother dear will slay the competition” – has a better lyric ever been written by one of the queens on this show? Gurl, it’s good. Bow down.)
- 2. Aiden Zhane (Confident, smart, she doesn’t have to try too hard to land it).
- 3. Jan (It’s extremely try-hard, but that she tries so much is proof of her drive. Cool it, gurl. You’re fine for now)
- 4. Rock M. Sakura (It’s a bit clichéed, even though FART HUMOUR IS WELCOME HERE!)
- 5. Sherry Pie (Once again, ticks and tricks that we have all seen before. Nearly everyone was more creative and challenging).
- 6. Dahlia Sin (The Felicia of the group. Anyone can smell her lack of confidence)
BRING IT TO THE RUNWAY!
The Queens hit the runway: Category Is “Tulle!”
Aiden Zhane is the first queen to the stage. She’s wearing a lime-green gown, and it’s a classic silhouette. It’s quite pretty and it’s correct: while it isn’t exactly an Iconic Fashion Moment, Yas Gawd, it’s probably a good first impression for a queen of her ilk, and she’s likely to pre-emptively dodge the inevitable “weird girl” exhortation to GIVE US GLAMOUR! Good for her!
Next up is Dahlia Sin in red. Her wig is right, and her face is beat (if perhaps a tad too conventional for her first runway of Season 12), but that dress? Hmmm, the construction of it is rather messy and disjointed, and she’s going for a side-boob cut without any boob, and is dangerously close to a nip slip at any moment. Not so good.
Jaida Essence Hall is a girl who unsurprisingly knows her lane, and her yellow tulle gown is PPP: Polished Pageant Perfection. It fits her well, and even if it might be a little too wide at the waist, the flawlessly spaced tiers of tulle correct the silhouette. It’s a very strong look for her first runway appearance, and even if it is not a mic drop, it’s bound to be one of the best looks of the night, and it is a very smart way for her to raise a high bar for herself that she can still no doubt surpass in future episodes.
Jan’s look is both literal and outside of the
tulle toolbox: her pink tulle bodysuit is very feminine, with those poofed sleeves and all, and she contrasts that with a tool belt and a yellow tulle construction worker vest. It’s a good way to introduce herself as the clever queen.
Rock M. Sakura is a beautiful cloud-like pastel loofah of 800-900 yards, and she has a waist! YAS! It’s great to see the new queens learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. The garment itself has great movement, and it bounces as Rock M. Sakura pounds the runway! *insert finger wave*
Sherry Pie’s yellow coat is ugly and BURGEONING, but you know that it’s a segue to a reveal, okurrr? And then she oop! The blue tulle dress underneath is little more than a body tutu, and the lightning bolts are very third grade arts and crafts. Both looks are bad or mediocre: this is decidedly not how you posit a RuVeal! Next!
- 1. Rock M. Sakura
- 2. Jaida Essence Hall
- 3. Aiden Zhane
- 4. Jan
- 5. Dahlia Sin
- 6. Sherry Pie
The girls return for their critiques: Michelle loves Aiden’s lip sync, and compares her performance to Sally Bowles, and Ross is perched to see the multiple personalities that Aiden’s lyrics allude to. Michelle clocks Dahlia’s nerves and is curious to know what Titles Dahlia has earned: Dahlia admits that she’s known for being on the train; being a whore. They didn’t get to know Dahlia enough, and want to see her more for who she is. Robyn praises Jaida for the natural ease of her movement as a performer, and Jaida’s yellow tulle gown and pink fingernails is the personification of Ross’s Gay Easter Fantasy. The judges praise Jan for the details of her look – Thandie Newton LOVES those traffic cone earrings – and Jan gushes about how she wants to be known for paying attention to the details. “A high kick to a fart that can send a grown man back home to his momma” tells Ross that Rock M. Sakura is a Queen Who Has Something Important to Say, and while he thinks that she is swallowed by her outfit like Michelle on her first dates with the menseses, Thandie Newton thinks it is ostentatious and ART! Thandie ruins the streak of her good opinions by comparing Sherry Pie to Meryl Streep for Sherry’s homage to the drag of Mimi Imfurst. Mess!
Once the Queens return, Mama Ru announces that she has made some decisions, and one by one, she addresses each girl. Jan is “A sharp tool” and “Gurl,” she “can belt:” she’s safe. Aiden Zhane has “multiple personalities, and tonight, all of them are safe.” Rock M. Sakura’s “heart is in the right place,” and although she “could have left her fart back in San Francisco,” she is also safe. Dahlia Sin is told that “beauty is only skin deep,” and that the judges want her “to go deeper,” but she’s also safe. The two Queens who received the most positive critiques are the two left standing, and they’re a bit thrown: ordinarily, the last two Queens who have neither been announced as the winner of the week’s challenge or as safe should be competing in a lip sync battle to save themselves from elimination. No surprise to the audience (who are already prepared for the gag after seeing the previous week’s episode), RuPaul tells Jaida Essence Hall and Sherry Pie, “I’m not sorry my dears: you are the Top Two Queens of the week,” and that no one is going home this week. She continues, “But, there will be one winner,” and that a cash prize of $5000 is on the line.
Robyn’s electropop synth dance ballad “Call Your Girlfriend” starts to play, and right away, Sherry Pie and Jaida Essence Hall manifest their perspectives as performers. Both start small: Jaida is serving melodrama and elegance, and apart from a few campy mannerisms, Sherry Pie seems to resist the impulse to lean into comedy as a crutch. That is, until Jaida rips off the tulle bottom tier of her dress, raises her leg in a high kick and lands into a split. Mayday! Mayday! The writing’s on the wall: Jaida has basically already won this faceoff, and a threatened Sherry rolls her eyes. Realizing that she has to do something, she feigns a self-aware seizure that is comedically more Dusty Ray Bottoms than it is BenDeLaCreme: oof, the desperation is so real. Ru ultimately makes the right call: Jaida murdered Sherry in the lip sync, and is now $5000 richer. But, at the end of the day, it’s a rather decent lip sync: “Call Your Girlfriend” is a song where you get the sense that two queens who are fighting for their lives likely would have brought more urgency and emotion than two queens competing in a victory lap.
So, while Sherry Pie and Dahlia Sin were evidently committed to dragging down the collective quality of the second premiere, Rock M. Sakura, Jaida Essence Hall, Aiden Zhane and Jan servedt charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent here on this day, and ultimately Episode Two and its girls > Episode One. Fight me on this!
- Jaida Essence Hall: 1.2
- Rock M. Sakura: 2.0
- Aiden Zhane: 2.85
- Jan: 3.3
- Dahlia Sin: 3.3
- Sherry Pie: 4.85
David Acacia lives in Toronto, Canada, posts regularly on AwardsWorthy forums, and is the self-appointed High Priest of the Church of Meryl Streep. He is also a member of the International Cinephile Society where he writes for film reviews as film festival coverage.