Have you suffered great distress due to the shrill repetition of the term “sissy?” Are you or someone you love in danger of muting your television for minutes at a time just to make the shrieking stop? If the word “sissy” has caused you wincing, eye-rolling, guttural screams, sailors’ legs or fits of spinning crazies, we’re here for you.
You have the right to remain over it.
At least that’s how I feel after this week’s Canada’s Drag Race. Like the Heathers and RoLaskaTox before them, the Sissies are the latest Drag Race clique to grate my last gay nerve with their incessant branding. It’s central to a team performance this week, and it’s a phrase now and forever seared into my brain.
With only seven queens remaining, frustrations are setting in. Scarlett is dissatisfied with her persistent safety and eager to rub the judges’ growing impatience with BOA in her face.
But if there’s salt to be found rubbing in anyone’s fresh wounds, it’s Priyanka’s. Coming off a disappointing Snatch Game impression of famed psychic Miss Cleo, this week’s mini-challenge has all the queens channel their own inner empath as hotline fortune tellers. The queerent calling? None other than Drag Race U.K.‘s Canadian darling, Crystal (showing a bit more personality on her home turf.)
Most of the girls are funny, and those that aren’t are mercifully brief. Almost everyone gets at least one shining moment or joke, but my favorites have got to be Jimbo (part Elvira, part del Toro creature, all drag queen), Rita’s old crone and Lemon, our mini-challenge winner.
In fact, Lemon almost ran away with this whole episode. (Almost.) Her ditzy psychic squirrel-friend (a term even I’ve lost track of the true meaning of) earned her the right to create teams for this week’s maxi challenge. The gals will concept and shoot a late-night lawyer parody commercial.
Lemon picks Priyanka, and the two create the case for the Pussy Protectors, two legal eagles that defend their clients’ nethers. Both gals stick every punchline, but Lemon slips back into that signature, old-timey “funny voice,” that I’m sure for all her friends back home this is, like, so funny at parties, but feels like a retread here. Through a high-speed filming sequence, the queens pack in a ton of material, tongue-twisting punchlines and narrative turns. Most notable is Lemon’s poom-poom pounding jumping split into a sustained stretch while delivering her lines. It was impressive to watch.
Power players Rita, BOA and Jimbo launch a legal service for drag queens in distress at the hands of badly behaved bachelorette parties. We’ve all seen it. Jimbo steals the scene as a Bridezilla, and Rita delivers a dual-language performance that manages to wring laughs out of the kinds of small moments and decisions most queens ignore for over-exaggerated or shrill performances.
Speaking of shrill, we’ve got to talk about the “Sissies.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I love owning “sissy” as both way to further disrupt gendered language and to reclaim some power from the playground putdown. There’s just a lot of Big Gretchen Weiners Energy around trying to make sissies happen.
Bobo and Ilona actually pull off an otherwise good enough commercial, despite the seemingly haphazard filming and difficulty aligning on the approach. Had they excised about 70 percent of sissy repetition out of the script, it would have been much stronger! Watching Ilona hock a loogey at Bobo, and then Ms. Scarlett whacking Ilona with a hardcover book was the funniest moment of the three sketches. Unfortunately, their irritating characters ultimately make it less fun to watch.
Before this week’s denim-on-denim Canadian tuxSHEdo, BOA shares a really chilling story about getting attacked by someone she brought home. It’s a harrowing tale that left BOA violently attacked and robbed. The post-attack photos are disturbing, and I’m glad to see her recovered and sharing her story, as heartbreaking as it may be. Y’all, be careful out there.
The runway here warrants particular attention, as the ladies’ choices weigh heavily on judging. For starters, we’re joined by guest host Tom Green, who surprisingly fits perfectly into this circus. I do love the moment where he interrupts the panel to call his mother and make her describe his church play costume from childhood where he played “the wind” with wings made from blue fabric strips not unlike what BOA walked down the runway.
It’s not only very sweet and charming, but it is also a devastatingly accurate takedown of BOA’s disheveled denim wings from hell.
BOA looks BAD, but Lemon is an abomination. Wearing scraps of mismatched denim, Lemon’s runway would be laughed off the set of Project Runway: Junior. Lemon’s got a bright personality, but that highlighter shake-and-go wig and freegan fashion sense are not so fresh. Ilona hit one shrill note in the skit, and her otherwise chic outfit is spoiled by an exposed posterior the judges find not ready for primetime.
On the plus side, Bobo looks amazing in an acid-wash denim get-up with neon details that would feel at home in a Joel Schumacher Batman film. Jimbo slays the runway in a Leigh Bowery-esque denim patchwork fantasy that truly blows everyone else out of the water.
The judges opt to give this week’s win to Rita, whose secretly savvy French lawyer was good, but her tuxSHEdo is a real let down. Both Rita and Priyanka opted for what appeared to be more of a denim-colored fabric that lacked the structure or edge that defines denim fashion. To me, Bobo and Jimbo had the week’s best lewks, but Jimbo had the better commercial performance. How Rita ends up with this one is a real head scratcher for me.
Before dismissing the girls, they get the question all contestants dread: Who should go home and why?
Bobo, Jimbo, Ilona and BOA all put the squeeze on Lemon for her (admittedly) horrendous runway look, but Lemon, Rita and Priyanka opt to give Ilona the heave-ho for another disappointing challenge. Backstage, BOA twists the knife even deeper, claiming Lemon is fake and full of herself and officially pushing Lemon into full “NOT HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS” mode.
It’s not long before Lemon gets the last laugh when she’s spared for safety, leaving Ilona and BOA to lip sync — but not before an epic snub, sashaying right by BOA’s attempted olive branch.
Ilona and BOA are left to lip sync to “Scars To Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara, and it’s … very not good. Not bad, per se, but very not good. The absence of good. Ilona gives it more passion, but almost no motion. BOA on the other hand 5-6-7-oh whatever’s her way through the least empowering performance of a self-love anthem I can imagine.
The judges ultimately opt for Ilona’ full, bare ass over BOA’s half-assed lip sync. As an early frontrunner and someone who is just now landing in the bottom for the first time, it’s a bit of a shock to see BOA depart so soon. But after that lip sync, it’s tough to argue the call.
Where does that leave our remaining Canadian queens? Let’s discuss in our rankings below.
- I’m ready to put it all on Jimbo. Rita may be our statistical lead, but, while Rita is clearly a great drag queen, Jimbo is a great artiste. The combo of drag and clowning and art come together so perfectly in everything Jimbo does. I didn’t love her Snatch the way everyone else seemed to (sue me!), but it was easily the strongest of the bunch. Week after week, Jimbo walks a thoughtful, provocative, fully-considered presentation down that runway. We know choreo isn’t her strong suit, but it’s not like Alaska was Alyssa Edwards when it comes to pulling off a assemblé with aplomb. There’s a gap between Jimbo and everyone else for me at this point in the race.
- That’s not a diss to Rita, a queen who has risen to nearly every challenge put before her this season. Rita brings a level of experience and professionalism that most of the other queens just aren’t capable of yet. It’s rare to see a queen excel at a comedy challenge with such measured, muted moments, but they absolutely worked here. I find all of her runways competent, but rarely thrilling. Her humor is passable, but not groundbreaking.
- What happened to Priyanka? (What’s her name?!) I found the judges to be needlessly picky about her totally satisfying runway. No, it had nothing on Jimbo, but next to Rita? I don’t think she was that far off! Even though her signature manic energy isn’t as easy to spot as Lemon’s old-timey, Transatlantic affectation, it feels just as well-worn. I miss the chatty, clever queen we were getting in interviews. As the field narrows, Priyanka needs to reestablish some dominance.
- I gotta give the edge to Lemon next, even though Scarlett may be ahead mathematically. Yes, Lemon’s lows have been lower, but her highs have been higher. The argument could even be made that I prefer Lemon’s personality and Scarlett’s drag. They’re certainly neck and neck for me. The main difference, I guess, is that Lemon could always hypothetically buy better wigs and clothes.
- I don’t mean to be cruel to Bobo, but I’ve grown to really dread her in a comedy scene. Her characters for the heritage moments, Snatch and this late-night infomercial were all thin and grating. She generally looks fierce and serves attitude on the mainstage, and I think her punk rock clown routine is something fresh and fun. Less sissies, more swallowing fire.
- I’m not sure I’d give BOA the boot this week. Yes, that lip sync was, in a word, craptacular, but she’s banked enough goodwill between the tiny titties on that recurring breastplate to at least get one more week. The commercial performance was mediocre, but not worse than that.
- At the same time, I wouldn’t want to lose Ilona just yet. OK, fine, her butt was not Nicki Minaj music video-ready, but I actually dug the rest of the outfit and styling. Ilona has a lot of talent and a unique point of view when it comes to her fashion, but she’s a bit outmatched in the performance aspects of this competition. I hope to check back in with her in a few years and see where she’s taken the Ilona experience beyond just impeccable outfits.
How would you rank the queens?