Hello and welcome to another post on The Blogging DJ. Today we will be continuing to recap the first ever season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. For years British fans of the US show have been waiting for RuPaul to make the trip across the Atlantic to judge the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent of some of our best home-grown drag performers. There are now just five contestants remaining, after a great opening series that have tested everything from sewing skills to acting and performing talent. Last week, the queens were split into two rival girl groups to perform their debut (and break-up) track. In a first for the show there were three winners of the challenge in Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea and Divina De Campo, whilst Crystal became the fifth to sashay away.
*Warning: This recap contains spoilers as to who gets eliminated*
The episode begins with the five remaining queens reading the lipstick message on the mirror of the eliminated Crystal. I felt that she brought a different dimension to the competition and was sad to see her go, but I felt that she didn’t recover after just missing out on winning the design challenge to Divina in week three. There is immediate drama though as The Vivienne, when asked who she would have picked for her team, said Cheryl Hole straight away and when questioned by Divina, replied that Cheryl would have had fresher choreography than what the latter would have done, despite doing it for fifteen years. Divina is clearly annoyed, but then the argument is taken to boiling point when The Vivienne says Divina is twenty times the drag queen than in the outside world, where they just wear a red wig and a silver dress. This is the biggest drama that we have had in the workroom this series and I can understand why this would affect Divina, someone who is tough on themselves, as much as it did. But, at the same time, I am really living for that moment and the expression on everyone’s faces in the workroom.
Before this drama can leak into the following day, RuPaul appears through the door to give the competitors their mini-challenge for the episode. The Brit Crew appears, accompanied by several of their friends, and the queens have to decide whether they are wearing boxers, briefs or commando (pants). This is a fun little challenge and it helps to diffuse the tension in the room. Divina gets the most correct questions and wins a phone call with Drag Race alumni Katya.
It is time for the main challenge; to create and market their own brand of bottled water. They will be in charge of every element, from the name and packaging to starring and directing their own promotional video. Cheryl Hole is nervous about her product from the off, not helped by The Vivienne and Baga telling her to get away from the Essex girl character she has shown all series and try something new. RuPaul steps back in and gives Blu some advice on showing different tricks rather than just filth. They also are critical of Baga Chipz’s initial idea, making Baga want to change it completely. The Vivienne is very confident on the character they will bring in the challenge. On the flip side to that, Cheryl has still got no confidence, until RuPaul tells Cheryl that they believe in them. Divina is designing a mermaid costume instead of her storyboards and when prompted by Ru, brings up their earlier argument with The Vivienne. This storyline may well end up with at least one of them ending up in the bottom.
It is time to record their commercials with Graham Norton. Blu doesn’t use any props and chooses a series of crazy facial expressions and filthy words and movements towards the bottle to sell their product. Cheryl makes Blu and Graham laugh with an amusing finger point in one of her scenes, but just dances around for the rest of it. The Vivienne’s character comes across in a funny way, leading Blu to worry that her advert was bad compared to the others. Divina’s voice-over sends Viv and Baga to sleep, before proceeding to mock-pee into a bucket and be a mermaid surrounded by plastic bottles. Finally, Baga is her usual crazy self, but perhaps a bit too random for Divina’s taste.
It is then time for Divina’s phone call with Katya, except she hangs up after a couple of seconds. In reality, Katya is just around the corner… and surprises Divina with a face-to-face chat. They both suffered with confidence and self-belief in their seasons, despite being consistently funny. They are told to mentally put everyone else below her, so that they feel like they are gracing the others with her presence and ability, and to always trust gut instincts when thinking outside of the box. I think this was a real eureka moment for Divina and I can see them only getting stronger once they do their own thing more in the competition.
Upon putting on their make-up on elimination day, conversation turns to drinking and taking drugs in the club scene, which most of the competitors come from. Cheryl states that she has been on three or four day binges where she didn’t even go home due to drinking. The Vivienne then heartbreaking reveals that they used to have a big drug problem, which led to several of their friends dying and wanting to change their life before they died themselves. Upon getting help in Spain and meeting their partner, The Vivienne now hopes to be an example to others and be able to help them when they fall into the same trap, a more human side of them that we have barely seen throughout the competition.
RuPaul is looking splendid in red for the runway portion of the challenge. Joining them, Michelle Visage and Graham Norton is the extra special guest judge, pop superstar Cheryl. Upon the reveal that she was judging, Cheryl Hole was stunned and excited to meet their idol. The category for this runway is “Rainy Day Eleganza”. Here are what each of the five brought for this runway show and my thoughts on the looks. You can see all of the looks on Drag Race UK’s Instagram page, through the link here.
|Just because something is sparkly, doesn’t mean it looks good. This look is pedestrian, even with the duck impaled on the upside-down umbrella on her head. It is very Baga though so the judges will like it.|
|I loved the colours and make-up on this outfit. They brought the most energy out of everyone on the main stage, even if the silhouette was pretty expected.|
|A change in direction with this metallic outfit, though it is all one colour so it is very hard to make out details. She does look more polished than usual tonight.|
|Divina De Campo|
|A clever twist on that ugly yellow raincoat and hat that has been stalking the nation for decades, turning it into something relatively fashionable whilst still being fun and British. I wish she had bigger hair though.|
|The most-out there look on the stage tonight. It was apparently inspired by a painting and it looks gorgeous on her, even if it is a similar silhouette to several looks she has brought this season.|
Divina was praised for her advert and having the most fully-formed idea about what her advert will look like visually. Cheryl is ecstatic on stage about meeting her childhood hero but that quickly changes upon hearing it got repetitive towards the end, but her energy was praised. Baga’s comedy chops are praised but also faces criticism for her advert seeming shambolic and having mixed messages about the USP of her water brand. The Vivienne’s characterisation of the Scouse housewife was praised, as was the theatrical runway look that was a different image for her. Blu’s runway look is praised, but her advert is said to have the thinnest concept and had much less going on due to the lack of props.
Back in the workroom during deliberation, The Vivienne was happy with her performance after the events of the previous week and Divina felt vindicated by the judges’ critiques after none of the other queens understood her concept. However the most shocking reaction comes from Baga Chipz, who has all but given up and doesn’t even know the lipsync song. This is veering towards the Tammie Brown reaction in the very first season of the US show, and it paints Baga in a negative light that we have not seen from the front-runner of this competition.
In the end, The Vivienne was named as the winner of the challenge, getting her third RuPeter badge to equal Baga Chipz. Divina is also praised and was safe. After naming all three of the remaining queens, Baga was told she was safe and could leave the stage, shocking her. I think that she was kept in due to her potential and track record, as she would be destroyed in the lipsync song, “Call My Name (Wideboys Remix)” by Cheryl, by either Cheryl Hole or Blu Hydrangea.
In the lipsync itself, Blu shows a lot more energy throughout than Cheryl and at one point it looks like the person named the best dancer in the competition would be leaving in front of her idol. But she shows off her death drops and choreographed movements and manages to stay in this competition, whilst Blu Hydrangea is told to sashay away, becoming the sixth casualty of the competition.
What did you make of this episode? Who had the best advert for you, and did you agree with the bottom two? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to like and subscribe to get notified of new posts via email! I’ll see all of you next time for my recap of episode 7, the makeover challenge.