Amidst the chaos and sadness a pandemic-induced lockdown brings, Season Two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK was a welcome tonic. Warning: this piece contains spoilers!
As Season One arrived on our screens in autumn 2019, Drag Race fans and architects alike were anxious: would this flop? Would the world understand British drag?
And yet the opposite became true: the first season was a complete hit, and Drag Race fans over the world lapped it up. RuPaul himself quickly became obsessed with saying “alright hun?”, and American fans followed suit: some had no clue what was going on, but loved it regardless.
The premiere of Season Two last week was a complete delight. All week, I’d been counting down the minutes until 7pm on Thursday, when I could finally absorb what I expected to be the most diverse premiere of Drag Race yet. And I wasn’t wrong: when Ginny Lemon walked into the workroom dressed head to toe in yellow, furry hat included, I knew I was in for a treat. Fancy a slice?!
The British drag scene is incredibly diverse: the fact that one small island can produce such an array of gender-queering talent astounds me. To be at a place where drag personas like Bimini Bon Boulash and Ginny Lemon can compete in the same competition brings me such queer joy.
To begin with, the queens of Season Two were tasked with the brilliant ‘Wimbled’hun’ mini-challenge, of which the linguistic genius is unfounded. With tennis balls thrown left, right and centre, the contestants showcased their best poses, papped by celebrity photographer Kevin McDaid. McDaid has worked with the likes of Jessie J, Cheryl, and Rita Ora, so the pressure was certainly on.
British drag is often more political, more punky, and less polished than its US counterpart. In an interview with PinkNews, Joe Black perfectly epitomized the essence of British drag: “Female illusion is not what drag is…it’s the fantasy, the transformation, it’s transportive, it can be so many things…Popstars, a lot of that is drag, Mae West was drag, Marlene
Dietrich was drag.” Bang on. This sentiment shone through in the runway, and I was astounded to see Bimini make the bold choice of Princess Julia for the gay icon category and overjoyed to see Ellie Diamond represent Lily Savage. I was mildly disappointed that no one chose Charity Shop Sue or Heather Trott, but fair enough. Too niche?
It’s safe to say that the judging of Thursday’s episode seemed fairly off, and begs the question: is Season Two set to be the harshest in Drag Race herstory? Tia Kofi was “safe” with that questionable Alan Turing drag which has been transformed into a hilarious meme by Twitter gays the world over.
Similarly, Sister Sister’s brilliance was wildly slept on, if you’ll pardon the pun: her Scouse gal rollers and pyjamas look was genius. I was profoundly shocked to see Joe, Bimini, and Sister Sister land in the bottom three, whilst two separate, fairly weak Robin Hoods from Tia and A’Whora respectively were let slide. We get it, you’re from Nottingham. Next.
In one of the most controversial eliminations in Drag Race herstory, Joe Black sadly became the PorkChop, or Gothy Kendoll, of Season Two. Here, there is an argument to be made regarding American judges swanning in and claiming expertise on British culture. Of course, Michelle and Ru were supported by British counterparts Graham Norton and Elizabeth Hurley, but many found the judges’ comments on Joe Black’s looks concerning.
For his gay icon look, Joe dragged himself up as quintessential Life On Mars Bowie. With an innovative take on the blue suit, which Joe transformed into a floating dress, ginger, sparkling wig co-starring, he was told his “Ziggy lacked Stardust.” To many, it doesn’t take expertise to identify this iconic Bowie look. And that Brighton Pavilion look? Also iconic. Yes, the Pav is gold on the inside, judges.
At least we were fed with that lip-sync to queer anthem ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. It’s safe to say that this season’s premiere took many twists and turns, from emotional DMCs (for the Americans: this stands for deep, meaningful conversation) to the gaggery of Cherry’s Freddie Mercury. This season is set not only to be the most competitive, but the
most entertainting in Drag Race herstory.
Image via BBC.