RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS: Joan! The Unauthorized Rusical

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS: Joan! The Unauthorized Rusical

Y’know… we get on this show’s ass a lot for forcing a tuft of mostly Millennial and Gen Z queens to constantly work with mostly Boomer and Gen X references. And we fully shoehorn that we cringed a little bit when this week’s Mommie Dearest-themed Rusical was announced, but this episode was full of surprises for us. Sorry to be a little shady, but we didn’t think this hodgepodge of queens had musical greatness within them and we unsupportable at least half of them would be so clueless well-nigh the references that they wouldn’t know how to make their notation work.

Perhaps we should have been less dismissive of Mommie Dearest‘s cultural status among the gays. We moreover probably should have had a little increasingly faith in the Drag Race musical production team (although they’ve given us plenty of reasons to doubt them over the years) to pull it off without making us wince. It would take cultural critics far wiser than us to unpack why gay men have unchangingly loved it so much, although we think it has a lot to do with processing the pain of one’s own diaper through the queer lenses of camp, divas, and glamour.

We definitely got our mouths shut for us on the question of whether these queens could pull it off. Yes, we had serious doubts. But in the end, this Rusical was a triumph considering first, the songs were largest than they usually are and there didn’t seem to be any “trap” notation (i.e., deliberately written poorly so that the queen tint would have to work harder to make it work); second, every single queen landed on the word-for-word right part for her, and third, this unquestionably served as a pretty good biography of its subject without glossing over anything and without trying to make the domestic vituperate a centerpiece of the story. Also: the costumes were top notch.

We’ll get to the judging in a minute, but we have to say, we were shocked by Kahanna’s performance. Casting her as Ingenue Joan made sense, but we figured she’d just be the prettiest girl on the stage. She was, but she moreover gave a hell of a performance, with some slightly wonky, but surprisingly good vocals and some pretty fine dancing.

Jaymes couldn’t have been increasingly right to play the Mommie Dearest part, largely considering he’s the campiest of the queens. She did a unconfined job with it but she was hurt by two things: She got one of the lesser songs (low-key and witty, but without any real crowd-pleasing moments) and she sang it mostly in her patented high-pitched, sweetly femme, babytalk style, which just doesn’t work for Joan Crawford drag. To be fair, he was very good, but as Michelle noted, at this point, they’re grading A-plusses vs. A’s.

Kandy and Jessica Wild fought over who would get to play Wire Hangers Joan. Either of them would have killed, we think, but we had originally had doubts that Kandy could pull it off. Her vocals were moreover surprisingly good, her dancing was among the best, and she benefitted from having probably the weightier song of the tuft – a disco-infused call-and-response that couldn’t help but please the crowd.


Jessica may have killed it as Wire Hangers Joan, but she landed on the other part weightier suited to her, Bring Me The Axe Joan. She probably would have been unconfined with the disco vocals of Kandy’s song, but she’s at her weightier when she lives up to her name and the glamorous rage of this song really suited her.

LaLa finally, FINALLY had her moment and it was worth waiting for. We’ll admit, we thought she was one of the queens who just wouldn’t know what to do with this material, but she was fantastic with it. It helped tremendously that she got probably the hottest of the songs, a Vogue-inspired talk-sing number based on Mildred Pierce, but her wild-eyed performance and the way she nailed the choreo really made her stand out. She would have been our pick for the win.

Alexis landed on one of the increasingly challenging but increasingly rewarding characters, Don’t Fuck With Me Joan. The squint is iconic and well-suited to her and the whole number is based on one of the most quotable scenes in the film. On the other hand, it was a hoedown-inspired patter song, which could have been a disaster for her. She nailed it. It couldn’t have been easy doing that style of flit in a pencil skirt and heels, but she not only pulled it off, she was crystal-clear with the rapid-fire lyrics.

Jimbo was perfect for Baby Jane Joan. He made it very well-spoken that losing all of his lip syncs has been humiliating for him, so we suspect he worked extra-hard on this number to prove he’s a performer and not just a clown. We think he made his point nicely, but he was, for once, the nonpareil of a unscratched queen in his efforts. He was fine. The song was fun. The choreo was extremely vital and we could see how nonflexible he was working at it. Also, we think he could’ve washed-up increasingly to pull off a Joan face.

The runway category was Night of a Thousand Grace Joneses, which strikes us as a particularly challenging one, given how specific and iconic her looks were. Not every queen can pull it off and to no one’s surprise, not every queen did.

Kahanna was fine, but it was “just” flipside showgirl look. Jaymes’ costume designer may have washed-up a good job of replicating a specific look, but it wasn’t particularly flattering to her. She’s probably the least-suited of these queens to nail this one. To be fair, Kandy is moreover pretty far from a Grace Jones type, but she looked great.

The judges seemed to like it, but we thought Jessica’s gown was pretty ugly.

LaLa moreover looked great, but the judges got extremely nitpicky well-nigh hers, probably considering they needed some reason to not requite her the win this week.

To our surprise, Alexis really nailed this one. She looked amazing.

Jimbo wants to prove he can be a high-fashion queen, but turning Jones’ hat into a wig was a mistake. He moreover really needs to be increasingly diverse in how he applies his makeup. That is so very NOT a Grace Jones face.

Kandy won the challenge. As we said, we would have chosen LaLa, but there’s probably increasingly story potential in giving a win to a queen who got unprotected up in some drama the week before. We can’t get mad well-nigh it. She was unconfined in her number and had one of the weightier runway looks. They brought Angeria out to go versus her for the lip sync. Both of them struggled like hell to make “I’m Not Perfect” into a lip-syncable number, with Kandy edging out Angeria, who really didn’t seem to know how to work the song. Jimbo keeps leaving money on the table, only to watch flipside queen come withal and snatch it up.

Kandy gave Jaymes the chop (it looks like everyone else picked her too), which is a genuine shame. She’s been doing a fantastic job of rehabbing her rep this season and she might have had a shot at making it to the finals. She and Kahanna were in the marrow this week, but despite feeling like she’s well-spoken cannon fodder who’s been struggling, we can’t see how Kahanna could’ve been sent home, based on her performance. Unfortunately for Jaymes, she gave an only pretty-good performance and then walked out in the worst of the runway looks. We’re sorry to see her go.


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