Drag Queen of the Damned

What, me work?

Poor Akashia just cannot catch a break! And for once, I feel sorry for her.

Her exit interview segment is incredible. She opens like a flower and spills out a shower of jaw-dropping humility: “Shannel deserved to win…” “I had so much fun, and I’m so happy to be here, and I’m so happy for the other girls…” It goes on and on.

“I have not cried in, like, four years,” she wails. Honey, maybe there’s something to that.

I think she’s relieved. All that pressure to out-bitch everyone else. They’re not crocodile tears. Now she can be a real girl.

We started out a little weak in this episode. Jade took the Oprah challenge way too literally, all but smearing a burned cork on her face and putting on a minstrel show.

And then Shannel proclaims herself expert of all things Winfrey. “There’s no challenge for me here,” she says. No challenge? Oh, you know that’s the first sign there’s a problem. The moment you get that comfy, you’re in deep enough to drown. I’m noticing that the ones who are convinced that they’ve won don’t typically do so well.

I’m still a little disgusted that not a single one of them could pronounce “Ahmadinejad.” OK, it’s a hard word at first sight. But it’s not very Oprah-like to blurt out in its place any old random combination of letters, is it? At least be a sport and sound it out. It’s the vocal equivalent of pounding out the middle row of keys: “sdjfjsdkafajkdsfjkasdfhkasdf”

Then it gets a little better. Nina Flowers with a blow dryer: priceless. And Ongina’s Connie Chung crack exposed enough white guilt in me to make me laugh out loud. (There’s a little bit more of her in the video extras online. Worth watching.)

Unfortunately, I have zero interest in seeing Tori Spelling and her hubby interviewed. I would rather have seen her as a judge. Instead, this insertion came off as poorly executed cross-promotion. Dean does get one point, though, for painting his toe nails and trying on a pair of heels.

Akashia was the predictable diva bitch on the floor. No grace at all. On the opposite end, was fur-festooned PETA nightmare, Nina Flowers. Her language barrier worked against her at first, but her playfulness won me over. Of all the contestants who screwed up her lines, she was the best at admitting it and moving on.

Shannel — what a talker, again. She was interviewing herself. She says she was being sincere and true. Yes, but sincerely and truly a self-indulgent bore.

It seemed poetic that she should be covered in snakes in her runway session. She is so slick and untouchable, poised and still, and very sharp and dangerous. Total Las Vegas surface. Meanwhile, pixie-like Ongina was a cutie pie in baby-doll chic. Some girls need the big hair, but I love how good this one looks bald.

Rebecca Glasscock is g-g-gorgeous, statuesque and classy, but I still feel like she is holding something back. She is so safe. She doesn’t fail the challenge enough to get cut, and she doesn’t succeed in the challenge enough to win. How long can she hold out?

Jade makes me feel the same way. In her swaying, flossy nightie, she was a little too Eva Longoria-meets-Joan Crawford accepting the Oscar at home. It was an odd shape for her body. And that enormous belly-button bauble — a huge distraction. I love the wink, though, when Ru says she can stay.

Bebe Zahara Benet pulled out some Lion King on us again. God help me, but I still love it. She deserved to win. I bless the rains down in Africa, because we are on fire up in here!

When Nina walked out, Ru totally nailed it: Madonna at 50. It’s the first thing I thought. (Are you there, Madonna? It’s me, Nina.) She has proven herself to be more versatile than I would have expected. In the “Under the Hood” segment, after the girls make fun of themselves for about 10 minutes, Nina walks in.

Loca! (my new favorite catch phrase of the show)

She rips off her wig, looking for all the world like Uncle Fester just stepped away from the M.A.C counter at Macy’s, and blows the roof off the place. I think her linguistic challenge has made her into an excellent improviser. She is always Nina — but show Nina is is constantly unfolding in ways that I think surprise her as well as us.

And then Akashia. I’m mad she fell, mainly because there were already enough reasons to cut her. To add that shame makes the whole thing sadder somehow; she’s almost less deserving of the hook.

The whole time during the runway show, I was wishing we had Tammie Brown back! That would have been her strength. And I can see her wackiness shining through in the interviews. What a loss we suffered in episode two! Shannel rightly gives Tammie props at the top of the episode. (Shannel may be a loquacious know-it-all, but she is also very graceful.)

So, it came down to now standard baseline-setting Akashia and a clearly shocked Shannel. And what an amazing Lipsynch For Your Life it was! First of all, how incongruous for that big-tittied medusa to be singing “I believe the children are our future.” Girl, she believes the children are our lunch. And I never thought I would see a white girl from Vegas — even with a headdress — out synch the Queen of the Damned with a Whitney Houston standard. But she was on it. And when it all fell apart, how inspired — to tear off that drag. Just keep going. Peel off the layers, dig down with those press-on nails, and find the greatest love — something human and vulnerable, inside of me.

Both girls fell and both girls dusted themselves off and got back up and gave us everything we needed — and made the final decision as tough as it should be.

“This is not then last you’ll see of me,” says Akashia, peeling off her bumps later in the green room. I desperately hope not.


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