Condragulations, lovers of sequins, wigs and everything camp! RuPaul's Drag Race is back for its third season with new contestants, challenges and catwalk drama.
In the first episode, Drag Race's newest batch of ladyboys (Ru's term, not mine) have already-thank the drag gods-come out with their sass guns ablaze. During introductions, the air is immediately thick with tension and bon mots when queens Phoenix and India arrive in remarkably similar looks.
These workroom exchanges are generally what makes Drag Race so appealing. Why tune in if not to hear the queens be so artfully bitchy to one another? Sure, Phoenix calling India "old school drag" seems fairly lightweight, but we have to consider that, at this point in the show, the ladyboys have yet to discover each other's strengths and weaknesses. As the competition intensifies, so will the jabs.
The queens' first challenge is to participate in a Christmas-themed photo shoot while jumping on a trampoline. Why Ru decided to air a Christmas theme episode in the middle of January will remain a mystery to us all, but at least we get to enjoy the results. Some of the queens struggle more than others, particularly those who are a touch heavier. Much like with Drag Race's unofficial parent America's Next Top Model, size has become a major point of focus.
Speaking of America's Next Top Model, you might recognize drag queen Raja as Sutan, ANTM's lovable makeup artist. (Loved by whom? Me. The answer is loved by me.)
Sutan/Raja immediately emerges as a frontrunner after winning both the greeting card challenge and, later, the runway competition.
For the runway, the queens are asked to create a Christmas look using thrift clothing and ornaments. Some, like Raja, create their looks without breaking a sweat. Others, like Mimi Imfurst, have emotional breakdowns at their workstations.
For me, the queens' sense of community is the second best thing about Drag Race. Sure, they might insult each other, but, ultimately, the insults are simply another element of performance. When the time comes to help one another, like it does when Mimi panics over her lack of sewing skills, most of the contestants seem compassionate enough to lend a hand. It's lucky for Mimi-not only does she stay in the competition, but her look gets praised for its creativity.
The unlucky queens whose looks land them in the bottom two are Shangela, a returnee from season two, and Venus D-Lite, a Madonna impersonator who's undergone plastic surgery to look more like Madge (according to the other contestants, plastic surgery is a big no-no in the drag community). To determine who goes home, Shangela and Venus must "lip sync for their life" to Vanessa William's "The Right Stuff." During their face-off, things turn oddly aggressive and RuPaul is not amused.
Because of her shoddy look and runway shenanigans, Venus is told to "sashay away," which is Ru's beautiful way of saying that she's been given the boot.