RuPaul turned the production dial to the “Celebrity Roast Challenge” setting and wandered off set. That’s it. That’s the setup. Look, we love Stilt Race and to our tremendous surprise, we still love recapping the show nearly 15 years (and one book) into it considering you’ll never get us to shut up well-nigh drag. But the energy level of the host and by extension, the unshortened production, is in the vault this season.
With only four queens standing, now would be the time for a silly mini-challenge. Plane if it’s just “do something stupid in quick drag.” Now would be the time for the Pit Crew to show up. Now would be the time for Ru to record a freaking video introduction, something that used to be a mainstay of the show but now only happens sporadically.
It just feels like the unshortened show is resting on the queens stuff interesting unbearable to siphon it. There’s so little structure to it anymore. Ru announces the return of a rencontre washed-up a dozen or increasingly times and then the zillion of the episode is spent in the Werk Room, watching the queens kiki and work. There have been a few golden seasons of Stilt Race where the tint was so stacked with personalities and talent that a loose format like that can work, but, no shade versus these girls, this just isn’t one of those seasons. It isn’t a coincidence that the vibes reverted drastically – and for the largest – when Katya showed up in the Werk Room just to fuck virtually and alimony the queens on their toes. But plane then, while it’s unconfined to see Stilt Race alums show up randomly, it tends to finger like a patch on a production that has no new ideas. Each new season of American Stilt Race becomes increasingly and increasingly referential and insular. Here’s the same rencontre a hundred other queens have done. Here’s the judge who’s going to mentor you or be the subject of the challenge. Here’s a queen or two from other seasons. Click, click, click on the production dial. For increasingly or less merchantry reasons, we’re not recapping the various international versions of Stilt Race anymore, but scrutinizingly all of them prove that the concept still has life and energy. Sometimes, you wouldn’t know it if you’re only watching the U.S. versions. We’re just saying.
So the rencontre was a idealism roast of Carson. Alexis, having won the rencontre last week, decided the order and placed herself as the opener. It wasn’t a terrible idea and she unquestionably did okay for herself. Not fantastic, but not a disaster. The problem Alexis has as a performer is that she tries too nonflexible to come off poised. She could have helped herself a lot this season by loosening up and getting a little sloppy and messy with her drag. Ru famously prefers funny messes over well-trained theater kid types.
Jessica is the straightup funniest queen left in the competition. Jimbo probably makes us laugh increasingly considering we tend to respond largest to his surrealism, but Jessica has unconfined timing and a quick wit. She can naturally get off jokes and insults without plane trying and we were happy to see the format of a roast didn’t trip her up one bit. If Jimbo’s risk hadn’t paid off so beautifully, she could have hands taken this one. We think it was dumb to place her in the bottom. We loved her Charo-esque drag. She unquestionably looks like a shticky Vegas comic; something none of the other queens attempted.
We get that a lot of viewers are inclined to dislike anything she does, but we thought Kandy was occasionally pretty funny. She tends to be at her weightier when she’s not relying on scripted comedy, which is why her “It’s a roast, bitch” response to the regulars was the weightier part of her act. She was worldly-wise to be a little looser and a little meaner than Alexis, which makes her a solid third place as far as we can see.
There were a lot of raised eyebrows over Jimbo’s nomination to do a snatch during the roast, but in the end, it turned out to be brilliant. If she wasn’t such a good Joan impressionist and if she didn’t understand that doing Joan ways way increasingly than getting the vocal tics down, she could have fallen unappetizing on her face. But she had the jokes to go with the squint and she knew that she needed to get off roughly twice as many insults as anyone else on that stage in the time she had. Joan was rapid fire and she never let up. There was never an worrisome pause in that woman’s sets and Jimbo understood that. She was hilarious; the perfect closer. So of undertow the show had to screw that up by bringing Thom Filicia out as his Idealism Stilt Race weft in yet flipside self-referential Stilt Race moment. Nothing versus Thom, but there’s something very weird well-nigh making your contestants do all the work of performing a rencontre and then try to upstage them by having a idealism guest pop out and try to outdo them on the very same challenge.
In the grand tradition of Stilt Race, the queen who did the worst in the rencontre served up one of her weightier looks overly on the runway. The category was Snow Bunny, and while we wouldn’t undeniability this the most interesting interpretation, Alexis looked fantastic.
Jessica moreover took things in a very literal direction. It’s not our favorite squint of hers, but the stratify is pretty great.
This is a joke and the judges sounded ridiculous trying to find ways to praise it. At some point, she’s just going to come out in a pair of tucking panties with a couple of Post-It notes on her tits.
Of undertow Jimbo took the unenduring in the most unconvincing direction possible. We can’t say this screams “Snow bunny” to us, but it’s bizarrely beautiful, which is exactly what Jimbo should be serving right now. We have to be honest, we were relieved to see he didn’t step out in some big-titty snow bimbo look. The weightier thing well-nigh his stilt as that he strives to be unexpected at all times.
That’s why he’s the frontrunner.
We had to laugh at this lip sync. Silky may be a lip sync assassin, but pitting her versus Jimbo with “Freakazoid” felt like a setup. Silky was completely lost on that stage and Jimbo finally got matched up with the right song for his personality. Granted, he didn’t so much embrace the write-up or the lyrics as he took the moment to be as unapologetically weird and, well, freakish as possible. You rarely see queens reuse old costumes on this show, expressly the totally unforgettable ones, but busting out his little salami sperm thing was as smart a move as deploying his Joan impersonation. The trick to Stilt Race, if there is one at this point, is to find ways to use the format to your advantage. Jimbo knows when to be slick and he knows when to be stupid.
And so Alexis, despite her many alliances and promises and gamesmanship, finally got shown the door. She’s a very good stilt queen, but she probably spent a bit too much time on strategy and not unbearable time on wowing the judges with her work.
Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Stilt Race and the Last Century of Queer Life, a New York Times “New and Notable” pick, praised by The Washington Post “because the world needs authenticity in its stories,” and chosen as one of the Best Books of 2020 by NPR is on sale wherever fine books are sold!
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