Less than a year since Season 2, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is back: bringing scandal back to BBC 3 (and spoiler alert, anytime there is something vaguely vulgar, Ru is back to remind us that, yes, we are on the BBC). Obviously, Drag Race UK is fantastic: a show that highlights the unique energy that British drag has. And what more could you want than me giving you a weekly roundup of all the drag goings-on.
This isn’t about me, obvo, but some housekeeping before we get started. You may remember from summer that I started a Love Island roundup which disappeared after two weeks. This was for two reasons: one, I found it to be far too much commitment to watch SIX hours of poolside chat a week. Two, it reminded me of my own loneliness, and frankly, that’s a bitter pill to swallow. I do plan on having these articles out FAIRLY promptly, but unfortunately this week I was too busy having a life. That is probably an anomaly.
God that got sad quick- so onto the queens. Ahead of this season, there were two points of conversation (or even controversy?) surrounding queens Victoria Scone and Choriza May. Victoria Scone is the first cisgender female drag queen. Some have suggested that women can’t be drag queens- but I think her presence highlights that drag isn’t just ‘a man performing in a dress’, but an art form that often critically examines gender and queerness. The welcoming of Victoria Scone by the other Queens into the competition highlights that other Queens find her presence to be positive: so that’s all the verdict you need.
The other controversy surrounded Choriza May: a Spanish drag queen competing in the UK edition. Sadly, Choriza must have felt she had to justify her presence on the UK edition, stating that she became a drag queen in Newcastle, therefore she is a British queen. It’s absurd that she had to justify herself: her name is literally a pun on our previous Prime Minister. Anyone who thinks Choriza shouldn’t be on British drag race is a) forgetting that immigrants are part of the country’s fabric and b) showing some very Brexit-means-Brexit-go-back-to-your-own-country views.
The Queens that stood out in the initial introductions were:
- Veronica Green, who we saw last season and had a massive potential, squashed by Covid.
- Kitty Scott Claus, who epitomises the camp British scene. Very Gemma Collins.
- Choriza May, who had the most iconic opening line ever, ‘Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful… hate me because I’m an immigrant’
- Charity Kase, whose drag is so different to anything that has been on Drag Race before. I’m personally all for that, but it’s to be seen whether she’s a little bit too ‘I’m not like other drag queens’ and whether that becomes jarring.
We were then introduced to the first mini-challenge of the show, ‘Dirty Charades’: which felt like a cross between an awful team bonding “ice breaker” and something you play three proseccos down at a hen-do and only one, overly competitive ex-hockey player gets into, while the rest of you drink more prosecco to get through it. Cringe.
As per tradition, the first week required the queens to have two runway looks: Queen of my Hometown and ‘my favourite thing’.
The first runway looks that really stood out were Crystal Versace’s Kent look: a really glamorous look that evoked the green countryside of England. Vanity Milan also had one of my favourite looks, representing South London’s Jamaican community. It mixed both a high fashion concept with an outfit that really felt South London: an effective look. River Medway’s inspiration was a hometown statue that frequently gets coned- something our statues know well and the whole execution, including her pointing, was intensely amusing. Charity Kase’s Rose look was both true to herself, and took inspiration from Lancaster. I liked it.
Less effective was Kitty Scott-Claus’ look. The outfit took inspiration from chocolate, and was utterly lackluster. Elektra Fence’s Coal Miner Girls look didn’t quite hit, while Anubis’ Brighton inspired helter skelter just felt… a bit basic.
Onto the second look, which was ‘My Favourite Thing’: sweet, right? The best look was, undoubtedly, Victoria Scone’s Afternoon tea look, which was just… strong. I also loved Elekrta’s ‘my birthday’ look: a look that was rich with humour.
Both River and Scarlett Harlett went for music: the sort of thing I’d expect a kid to describe as their favourite thing. Look, I love music, and I think there was such scope for some really creative interpretations of an intangible concept, but both looks to me just sort of… failed. I think Choriza’s look- inspired by art-showed her own drag style and Spanish identity, and that distinct drag look is so effective. She’s currently my favourite to win.
Kitty Scott-Claus decided to go for an ABBA look. It was another disappointing look. If it was a fancy dress party, you’d applaud her, but on drag race? You just expect more.
Finally, Charity came up with a freak show look. I don’t know, maybe her favourite thing is freak shows: but again, it felt like there was just a need to be different. The penis jack-in-the-box just felt like a failed attempt at humour, honestly.
In this week’s tops were Victoria Scone (fair), Krystal Versace (fair) and Scarlett Harlett- who, especially compared to some other queens, didn’t really stand out. In the bottoms were Anubis, Elektra and River. Considering there were some really mediocre looks from some other Queens, this was not the obvious lineup.
Now, here’s where there was a twist. TWO lip syncs: one for the RuPeter badge. Victoria Scone and Krystal Versace were told to lip sync for top position to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Considering that RuPaul has been so committed to Jess Glyne, an iconically camp song was a relief. Even though Victoria put in an incredible performance, apparently Krystal’s was the one to win the RuPeter badge. Fine.
The second lip sync was back to the old, disappointing form, with Anubis and Elektra made to lip-sync to Little Mix’s Sweet Melody. Despite working with the sort of song you hear on the Outback dancefloor at about 1pm, Elektra put on a chaotic performance- allowing her to stay. While I’m glad Elektra stayed, I found Anubis charming, and was sad to see her go. But as is the cruel world of Drag Race.