Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race kicks off, introducing the new batch of girls, upping the contestants to a solid 12 “girls.” This time around, things seem a bit more heavy on the drama with friction brewing between many of the girls right off the bat, as opposed to the (mostly) friendly competitive camaraderie of Season One. Additionally, many of the girls seem to lack the polish of the Season One ladies, although it’s still very early in the season and they have time to step up their individual game.
A brief run-down of the gals, there’s resident Southern belle, Nicole Paige Brooks from Atlanta. (And yes, her full name must be said at all times!)
Shangela LaQueefah Watley is a drag baby, having only been doing drag for a mere five months and is good friends and former college roommate with stately, Sahara Davenport from New York City.
Jujubee is an adorable Asian who loves glitter and having a good time.
Raven is the group’s self-proclaimed ice queen who doesn’t carry a purse (and needed to shave her pits with some unsightly stubble when the girls were introduced!) Raven is best pals with mouthy (and potentially the biggest drama queen of the season) Morgan McMichaels, having done drag at the same club and are pretty much like sisters.
Mystique is the large n’ in charge drag queen with big ol’ boobies, representing Plus Size queens.
Jessica Wild is a sweetheart from Puerto Rico and her language barrier is someone reminiscent of dear, sweet Nina Flowers from Season One.)
Sonique has a sort of Lady Gaga vibe and is jacked. Out of drag, Sonique’s backstory includes being sent to military school by his/her parents to butch him up a bit. It didn’t work and Sonique came back a drag queen.
Tatiana has been doing drag since 14, loving the attention and feeling at home in drag since going to school all dolled up.
At 37, Pandora Boxx is the oldest of the group (and along with Sonique and Jessica Wild, my favorite in the competition). Here schtick is a combination of Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Cathy Griffin… Oh! And she sews!
By contrast, Tyra Sanchez is the youngest of the group at 21, and also has a son back home. She’s also rocking Rihanna hair and has a gorgeous dress.
After a brief video welcoming the girls, the real RuPaul (out of drag) comes to say hello to the group of starstruck girls. After telling the girls that in order to win the competition, they must possess a mixture of “charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.” Among the fabulous prizes on the line this year, the winner will become the face of Nyx cosmetics, a photo shoot with L.A. Eyeworks, become the headliner on LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Tour sponsored by Absolut, a Project Publicity contract and a substantial cash prize.
One of the first challenges that the girls must participate in is to take part in their first official photo shoot with celebrity photographer, Mike Ruiz. The girls have to straddle a large cannon (phallic much!?) a la Gone With the Wind. Among some of the “props” the girls have in their photo shoots are RuPaul’s scantily-clad male attendants, wearing nothing but a pair of grape smugglers and a nice coat of body oil.
Complicating the shoot is the wind machine, designed to whip the girls’ hair back in a seductive fashion. Or, it could be a device to throw the girls off their game and see how they respond to crazy conditions. Jujubee takes it in stride, telling RuPaul that she’d “never been blown like that in my life,” as her lashes flap back and forth and her wig nearly falls off, lashes are flapping back and forth and her wig almost falls off. Never been blown like that in my life. Morgan, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky with her wig flying off altogether. Shangela nearly has a wardrobe malfunction with her chicken cutlets almost flying the coop.
The winner of the challenge was Raven, who gave a gorgeous photo and a commanding presence in her picture. In winning the challenge, she was given the opportunity to choose first in the Gone With the Wind-inspired elimination challenge. This time, the ladies must channel their inner Scarlett O’Hara and make a gorgeous ensemble from curtains and incorporate home furnishings from consignment shop, “Out of the Closet” into their design.
Raven chooses the super awesome zebra curtains to use for material for her dress, much to the dismay of a lot of the girls who were eyeing them up. Morgan doesn’t endear herself to anyone, either when she and Tatiana scuffle over the same pair of curtains, which Tatiana ends up with. Prior to the challenge, Morgan and Raven seemed to put off a lot of the girls with their lack of shame in disrobing to the full monty while getting changed following the photo shoot, letting their tucks hang out.
Mystique also rubbed several girls the wrong way by griping that her curtains were not “Plus Size-Friendly” and didn’t give her enough material to work with. Morgan grows irritated with her tirades and proclaims: “Mystique is a mistake.” Meanwhile, Morgan runs into trouble of her own when she broke her sewing machine in the process of making her outfit.
Finally finished, it’s time for the girls to take their ensembles and their home furnishing props and parade them before RuPaul (in a fabulous red sequined gown) and her panel of judges: regulars Santino and Merle and guest judge… Kathy Griffin.
Pandora Boxx pays tribute to Kathy Griffin by rocking a red wig that’s looks like he nicked it from Kathy’s closet herself. Another memorable runway moment went down when big girl Mystique “went down” in a full split as part of her routine. Although RuPaul and the judges (rightly) bashed Mystique’s raggedy (and rather unimaginative, save for the giant basket on her head) creation, it was her full split that pulled her out of being placed in the bottom two.
Once all the girls show off their creations, the judges place them into two groups: the girls who are safe and the girls who are at risk for contention to be in the bottom two. Morgan McMichaels and her outrageously punk/African warrior queen ensemble marks her as the winner of the challenge and grants her immunity from elimination next week.
The bottom two who must “Lip Synch… for your LIFE!” are best friends Shangela and Sahara. The judges think Shangela is fun, but still very young and a little rough around the edges and that her dress has no bustline or waist. Sahara, on the other hand, made a beautiful Asian-inspired bustier out of her drapes but her outfit was deemed not quite draggy or fabulous enough. The girls lip synch for their lives to RuPaul’s “Cover Girl (Put the Bass In Your Walk)” and it’s friend vs. friend in a showdown, with the ladies engaging in friendly one-upswomanship. Shangela whips off her skirt and Sahara pulls off some serious splits, acrobatics and even ballet moves with a series of impressively executed fouette turns.
As it turns out, Shangela goes home, handling herself gracefully. Although she had quit her job to be on the show and had something to prove, having only done drag for a mere five months, Shangela was proud that if she had to go home, it was up against her good friend Sahara. Sahara was in tears as her friend shontay-ed away home.
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