Monday night we got the second part of the Season 6 premiere, and it was worth the wait. While I absolutely enjoyed the seven queens in Group 1, the 10-minute preview of Group 2 that aired last week made it clear that most of the exciting queens (with the exception of Ben Delacreme and Laganja Estranja) were in the second batch. The challenge results were stronger from Group 1, but the action was more entertaining in Group 2, and I found myself LOL-ing throughout the entire episode. (And “Untucked” was mercifully free of forced, staged emotion.)
The final seven queens in Season 6 are:
Bianca Del Rio: I found her abrasive in her “Meet the Queens” video, but of course, that’s the point. Bianca is an insult comic, and she’s very good at what she does. My fear from the pre-show clips was that Bianca was going to have an attitude of “I’m better than everyone, and better than this show” -- but that was totally not the case. Yes, Bianca is a bitch. Or at least she plays one on stage and TV. But already she showed some very human reactions in between some quick, cutting jabs. Bianca can also sew (she won the first challenge), has musical-theater experience, and has no shortage of charisma. I expect Bianca to be running these queens ragged by episode 4 or 5. She is a major contender. Her only note from the judges: tone down the eye make-up. (Although personally, I like it -- it perfectly suits her character.)
Trinity K. Bonet: I go back and forth on Trinity. She’s a stunning queen, but the illusion is ruined the second she opens her mouth and that Quaalude man voice pours out. She seems…not the sharpest, and yet her Queen Amidala reference for the main challenge was both fun and unexpected. She’s clearly a pageant gal, but she’s got some edge to her. I don’t think she’s in the top tier this season -- not by a longshot -- but there are more facets to Trinity than I previously imagined. I still can’t with that voice, though.
Joslyn Fox: Speaking of “not the sharpest,” we have Joslyn. Jos is very pretty, very sweet, and VERY perky. She reminds me of a 5-year-old, which I’m not sure is really a compliment. What I can’t decide is if the airhead thing is an act, a la Goldie Hawn on "Laugh-In," or if Joslyn really is just that dim. She said she misunderstood the point of the main challenge (they were each assigned a party-themed box and told to make an outfit -- she thought she had to use as much in the box as possible, so it looked like a Michael's store ejaculated all over her), she seemed stumped when a producer questioned her malapropism (“black horse” instead of “dark horse”), etc. And her fangirling over Courtney is embarrassing.
MILK: So, MILK is amazing. I am not going to be able to separate my own personal delight over MILK from my analysis, so you’re going to need to accept that right now. MILK is an avant-garde shock queen from NYC, but who is originally from Syracuse. (MILK is also brutally hot as a guy, though that’s kind of irrelevant.) (Wait, no it isn’t.) MILK intentionally makes herself uglier as a woman, painting a giant fake gap on his teeth, wearing bizarre, unflattering clothes, and constantly pushing the envelope -- and it is only Episode 1. MILK had me with the toilet paper stuck to her shoe, won my love by wearing acid-wash hot pants in the work room, and then took me higher by creating a runway look that included a bare-breasted “Xanadu” jumpsuit, a lilypad on her head, and a GODDAMNED FAKE BEARD. I am in love with this queen. I hope she stays forever.
Courtney Act: Is unquestionably a frontrunner. Courtney is already a celebrity in her home country Australia, where she was a contestant -- in drag -- in the first season of “Australian Idol.” I assume Courtney’s passage to America was underwritten by Chicken of the Sea, because this queen is the fishiest contestant EVER on this show. Courtney can totally pass as female -- and, in “Untucked,” said that she has in fact seduced more than one supposedly straight man whilst in drag, referring to herself as, “a glamorous stepping stone across the pond to homosexuality.” If Courtney was just all look and body, she’d still be a threat. But she’s more than that. She’s a singer, a performer, and she has oodles of personality. Her reaction to the pillow-fight photo shoot was adorable, and she’s likable even when throwing a little shade or patting herself on the back a little much. She biffed the first challenge, but accepted criticism well. If she remains this cool throughout the competition these others hos are screwed.
Darienne Lake: I also can’t pretend to be objective about Darienne. She is, of course, our hometown queen, and I’ve both interviewed Darienne and seen her perform numerous times. Her fans have waited years for her to appear on “Drag Race,” and it’s so exciting to finally see it happen. Darienne was terrific in her entrance, her talking heads, and her interactions with the queens -- sharp, funny, bubbly, quick. It’s everything Darienne fans expected. But Darienne totally whiffed the main challenge, turning out a St. Patrick’s-inspired outfit that was both plain and unflattering. And I suspect she knew it. Darienne did not object to the judges’ criticisms -- in fact, if anything, she took her low placement as an inspiration to do better. That’s what you want in a contestant. Thing is, Darienne knows how to sew. So I’m not sure what happened there. (Time constraints?) Thankfully, Darienne also knows how to deliver a motherfucking lipsynch, and she did a great job to Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn the Beat Around,” giving great energy, humor, and some serious booty shaking. (Our viewing party was disappointed that, with the party theme, they didn’t do “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore; missed opportunity, show.)
Magnolia Crawford: Magnolia joined Darienne in the Bottom 2, and she was eliminated. Let’s unpack Magnolia for a second. When the cast was first announced, and I watched all of the “Meet the Queens” videos, Magnolia was hands down my least favorite of the cast. In her clips, she seemed almost bored to be there, and out of shits to give. It was just so ODD. Then I watched her audition video, and I realized that the “over it” vibe is largely an affect; it’s part of Magnolia’s “trash queen” act. I found that weirdly endearing. But after watching this episode, I’m back to my first impression. Magnolia had a terrible attitude throughout this entire affair. It was almost like she was trying to pick a fight. She hated her “country hoedown” assignment, hated her materials, glued a Holstein-print piece of fabric into a tube dress and slapped a ribbon on the back, and then talked back to the judges when they did their job by, you know, judging her. RuPaul did NOT look amused. In “Untucked,” Magnolia literally told the girls that she did not care if she got eliminated -- she was simply there for exposure. She got on the show, people knew her name, she got what she wanted. She also said that any of the queens who adapted their style to suit the judges were “boring and have no spine.” That is pretty damned bold. In fact, it was so bold, that again I wondered if it all wasn’t an act. But as one of the other queens (Trinity, I think) argued, there are hundreds of queens dying to get on this show, and Magnolia threw away a spot just to boost her ego. It’s a fair point. Ultimately Magnolia struggled with the words of the lipsynch, moved around awkwardly, and more or less couldn’t wait to get back to her hotel room for a few weeks in Sequesterville. I don’t know. What a bizarre situation.
At the end of the episode, the remaining queens from the two groups merged in the Work Room, and the tension was palpable. I’ve heard people complain that the split-premiere format robbed the first two episodes of some of the frenetic energy that typically define “Drag Race” premieres. I guess that’s true, but what was gained was a level of exposure for each competing queen that most past early eliminees surely wish they had (seriously, I feel like I have a sense of all 12 remaining contestants at this point). And Episode 3, when things typically start to level off, is now primed to be particularly explosive as we have, essentially, rival drag-queen girl gangs rumbling for the first time. I love it. I am loving this season. RuPaul, don’t fail me now!