This was my only facial expression during PE too.
It’s back after a delayed shooting schedule because of the minefield that was 2020 but it finally arrived with a pretty fantastic cast of Queens and it’s just refreshing to have a normal series opening after the three weeks of limbo that the US version has found itself in.
Making an Entrance
One of the biggest criticisms of the first series of Drag race UK was the lack of diversity – both the English-centric nature of the casting and that only a fifth of the cast weren’t white. So this year they did much better in that we have 2 Scottish queens, a Welsh queen and a quarter of the cast aren’t white! Leading the way is Glasgow native Lawrence Chaney wearing the mono-print drag Queen staple
And her fellow Scot, Ellie Diamond has shown up looking like a very well put together baby doll nightmare
It’s impeccably made, by herself, but I could honestly do without an 8 foot Bride of Chucky reboot!
Also going for Barbie pink and… a different kind of doll is Bimini Bon Boulash who comes in screaming that she’s a vegan
It’s certainly one way to make sure that the catering gets your dietary requirements right. You also might as well heavily angle for some sort of a Quorn brand deal while you’re here. Bimini might look like a Barbie in drag but out of drag she looks alarmingly like Simon Pegg in drag
Also making quite the entrance is Cherry Valentine, whose slasher flick Morticia look is somewhat shattered the moment she loses her headpiece to the top of the door
These are men in heels, why is that door not 9 feet tall? HEALTH AND SAFETY PEOPLE! I’m mildly in lover with Cherry, partly because she’s a local Queen but also because she has the audacity to have only been doing drag for a year and looking LIKE THIS:
People could only wish.
Another local Queen is A’whora, who unfortaunetyly isn’t getting the backing from BBC Look North because they can’t say “Welcome to A’Whora!” on the six o’clock news. But her Dorothy Gale entrance look was fun
Unfortunately for A’Whora her reputation precedes her and fellow Queen and part-time giraffe, Tia Kofi tells us that she’s a bit of a brat to work with and given her predilection to gossip, I think we know who the villain of the season is. To me it seems like more of a Laganja Syndrome – she’s a young queen and still kind of trying to justify her place in the drag world and kind of just acting like a 1 woman production of a Best of Drag Race Montage.
Also doing The Most is the chaotic spawn of Sue Pollard and any one Sesame Street character, Ginny Lemon who is determined to make “FANCY A SLIIIIIIICE?” into the next “Brown Cow, Stunning!”
I think Ginny is the perfect representation of obscure, off the wall British drag, they tried to do it with Crystal last series but she was also trying to be FASHUN! but Ginny couldn’t give two shits that she looks like someone drew their nan with crayons and it’s delightfully refreshing and I expect will get completely railroaded for it in Week 4.
The obligatory Liverpudlian queen of the series Sister Sister is also bringing a more unconventional approach to drag by seemingly just drawing things on her face
It seems to be her “logo” and I for one fully support overt and entirely obtrusive self-branding, this is after all the age of drag queens desperately trying to make themselves into a meme.
And now for something a little more tradition with the Grande Dame of Brighton, Joe Black looking alarmingly like Glenn Close
and dropping every single Sunset Boulevard reference she could in the 10 seconds she had to stand there a pose – she’s truly doing the Lord’s work. And the other Queens go WILD for her – she’s a very prominent Brighton figure and one of the few Queens I knew before the show, so that’s fun!
Also entering the work room and causing quite the stir was Asttina Mandela, which hoenstly might be my new favourite drag name of all time. And she looks incredible as a fashion Sith Lord
She seems like a hoot and a half and I for one cannot wait for her to be crowned.
Giving her wig a run for its money is the first Welsh queen on the scene, Tayce who is certainly going to get her money’s worth out of all 50 inches of it
A stone cold stunner, I’m completely and utterly obsessed with EVERYTHING about her – she could choke me with that wig and I would thank her.
Having a less successful time in terms of wigs is Tia Kofi whose wig everyone calls dry and thirsty but I didn’t think it looked too bad? Certainly not on screen:
I also don’t mind a bad wig if you have the personality to push through it and Tia certainly has that in BUCKETS. I could watch her fake out reveal on loop forever
She’s also on my list of favourites despite the fact I feel it my bones that she’ll be out within the next three weeks but I’ll still get 3 weeks of enjoyment at watching the human/giraffe hybrid trying to walk on the runway and look like an elegant woman.
And then last but not least (or a little bit least) is Veronica Green who looks a little bit like an audience member at Drag Con that got chosen to have a makeover
She looked absolutely GORGEOUS in her Meet the Queens video and I think she just didn’t quite know how to paint for TV at the point, it happens to a lot of queens and it’s most glaring with her because her foundation has clearly oxidised and gone much more orange than her actual skintone. But she’s just the purest delight and spends most of the time telling everyone how big a fan of them she is and all of them looking slightly bemused and eyeing up the panic button under every workstation.
Balls to the Wall
The first Mini Challenge of the series is for the Queens to pose for a tennis photoshoot being shot by renowned photographer and former member of boyband V, Kevin McDaid who has such renowned clients as CGI Godzilla Nightmare Rita Ora, Jessie J and Cheryl (Formerly Cole, not Hole). The mini challenge, as ever, is entirely pointless and exists more to allow Ru to shout as many innuendos as he can in the space of the hour it took to film it all. You’ve got to get it out of your system somehow.
I was slightly disappointed that the queens got to change out of their entrance looks for the photoshoots – I was looking forward to Ellie Diamond trying to play tennis while dressed as the American Girl x Trixie Mattel collaboration. However it did mean we got to see Bimini’s idea of tenniswear
It’s like Zoo magazine goes to Ascot, she’s an absolute treasure.
Lawrence Chaney was the runaway winner (and fairly obvious one too) because she humped the tennis racket
It’s RuPaul, crotch humour is the quickest way to his heart. She also got approximately three times the screentime of any other queen, except for maybe Veronica who they were absolutely trying to Gothy Kendoll and then she showed up on the runway looking FUCKING INCREDIBLE. But it’s fair to say that the one Brit Crew member in her photo was completely stealing her spotlight
What an angelic little smile.
For me the winner was Tia Kofi, just her hating every second of having tennis balls lobbed at her face and catching them in her already fairly tangled wig was endlessly entertaining
And then of course just the sight of the two guys trying to lift this woman with legs up to her neck and struggling to find her centre of gravity is an early contender for TV Highlight of the Year
As was Sister Sister trying to dodge the balls that threatened to smudge the literal target she had painted around her mouth.
So Drag Race UK seems to be setting the precedent that its series premiers will always be a 2 look runway, one of which has to relate to a hometown. It’s not a bad idea, I just love a disaster of a sewing challenge but at least this gives every queen the chance to show off at least a few of the looks they likely payed through the nose for (stares at Honey Davenport who payed over $20,000 for her Drag Race closet and was booted in Week 3).
The two looks the queens have to wear are one representing a gay icon and the second showcasing why they are the Queen of their hometown.
The Gay Icon category brings up an interesting conversation between Tayce and Asttina who have both opted for Naomi Campbell because they couldn’t really think of another black, British gay icon (SCARY SPICE IS RIGHT THERE) and so their place on the show is incredibly important to them because they could be that black, British gay icon for a lot of people who are starved of that representation. And for what its worth they both did Naomi proud with these looks
Both of them are STUNNING. I think Tayce is more recognisably Naomi – it’s purely down to the recurring wig but the fact remains that both of them are going to be incredible on the runway this series.
Also dipping into the fashion world for inspiration was A’Whora whose Vivienne Westwood was mostly good
I’m not a fan of the colour story and I get where she was going with the makeup but for me she overly crapped it up and it looks less of a fashion statement and more like a toddler had a go at her face with a Sharpie.
Bimini dipped into similar waters with her Princess Julia look, who I am entirely unfamiliar and thought she was being either Vivienne Westwood or Pete Burns
The fluffy shoes completely steal the show and she doesn’t really show the outfit off very well, she turns her back to camera A LOT and I think it made the suit look more formal than it was.
Tia also went for a more men’s wear inspired look with a rainbow binary powersuit to honour the achievements of Alan Turing
It’s her pretending to type on a keyboard that really did it for me – it’s just so delightfully stupid and she’s giving Olivia Lux a run for her money to be RuPaul’s Next Mime Superstar. Can you imagine trying to explain any of them to Alan Turing? In the future, a man is going to dress up as a woman to honour you for the role you played in ending World War 2 on the BBC. I love her mind.
Joe Black honoured David Bowie with a suit/gown combo that kind of works but also could have used a lot more shape
I don’t know what the Hell Michelle was talking about when she said she wanted a more commercially recognisable Bowie look when this from the Life on Mars video, a song that is frequently dubbed the Best Song Ever Made and has sold 600,000 copies since 2004 and was recorded IN THE 70S. Just say you wanted her to draw a lightning bolt on her face, that’s what you obviously wanted.
She probably would have been better off just doing the full suit, a bit like how Veronica did Boy George, a choice that has turned out to be rather problematic considering the events of The Transphobic Summer of 2020
It’s a very well executed look and capped off by the fact she has Boy George’s actual shoes – and doesn’t seem to know how she got hold of them which does make it sound a little bit like she stole them from him. And I for one fully support the stealing of a transphobe’s shoes.
In terms of doing a drag look inspired by a male icon, I think Cherry Valentine had the right idea going for Freddie Mercury in the I Want To Break Free video complete with a hoover that she stoned herself
And this is commercially successful enough to be an acceptable reference for Michelle.
The only other queen to opt for an icon with an actual drag look (not that Bowie and Boy George weren’t doing drag) was Ellie Diamond who went for Lily Savage and I still cannot believe Paul O’Grady didn’t appear in season 1
I don’t think he or Lily Savage even got a mention! But Paul O’Grady is a bit busy doing every show about rescue dogs he can do, and who can blame him? Ellie’s looks very good, it’s just a straight up Lily Savage look but she paints her face so beautifully – it’s genuinely some of the best beauty-drag makeup we’ve seen across the franchise.
I found it interesting that neither of the Scottish queens opted for a Scottish gay icon as Lawrence went for Diana Rigg as Emma Peel from The Avengers and completely camped it up and was nothing but a joy to watch
It’s very early to say this but I think the season is pretty obviously being set up as a two horse race between Lawrence and Ellie to be The First Queen of Scotland.
Joining Lawrence in a very campy runway presentation was Ginny Lemon’s very drunk Kate Bush which was literally just Noel Fielding as Kate Bush for those of us that remember Let’s Dance for Comic Relief
And then on the other end of the insanity spectrum was Sister Sister with her very sedate and ever so slightly too small Dusty Springfield
It’s a beautiful but it does feel like something your nan might wear to the family Christmas get together. And how are you going to let Freddie Mercury out-wig Dusty Springfield?
A Queer Icon Ranking:
- Freddie Mer-queer-y
- Lawrence Chaney’s AvengeHER
- The Duelling Naomis
- The Reincarnation of Lily Savage
- Noel Fielding Does Kate Bush
- Oh Boy, George.
- Life on Mars is a Very Successful Song, Michelle.
- Alan Turing Does Drag
- Vivienne Meh-stwood
- A Bimini Bit Misguided
- Musty Springfield
I always love this runway challenge because it’s a balancing act of trying not to be too obvious while still remaining recognisable, lest you accidentally wear the same thing as another queen – and in the past it has given us such delights as Blue Hydrangea dressed as the Harland and Wolff Cranes.
Both Ellie and Lawrence managed to swerve the obvious Scottish pitfalls of Haggis, Tartan and Nessie (although I absolutely want a Nessie look at some point) with Ellie opting for a gender bent Dennis The Menace
And once again, it’s entirely homemade and looks VERY polished, there’s something weird happing at the back of it but I think that’s more to di with the microphone packs the queens have to wear than an actual fit issue.
Lawrence went for a dress that at first read as Mondrian to me but was in fact based on the art of Charles Rennie Mackintosh
It’s a stunner of a dress and I just wish she hadn’t put on the necklace – it’s a touch jarring with the rest of it and a gown like this doesn’t need it. And while we’re talking about crapping something up, here’s Sister Sister as a Liverpudlian housewife
This was a really fun idea and well presented, I just think it needs a point of interest – the outfit blends into one amorphous pink, satine blob and the makeup and the hair, while funny, kind of boggle the eye and overwhelm her and that cursed purse made another appearance
If it’s not a teeny tiny purse, I’m not sure I care.
Also falling slightly foul of the challenge was Bimini who came dressed as both the centre fold of a FA Cup themed pornshoot and a DJ from an early 2000s music video
It is simultaneously iconic and the best thing we’ve ever seen on this runway and absolutely horrendously awful and every time I look at it I change my mind. I think they should have given her credit for walking in what I fully believe are the tallest shoes to hit the runway and having the audacity to show off her tucking tape to all and sundry
It does take Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent to do that. The best thing about Bimini’s Slut City Football Club outfit was the fact it then made everyone else’s vaguely revealing outfits look positively demure, take A’Whora’s Robin Hood for example
At any university she’d be the sluttiest one there but on this night she might as well be wearing a chastity belt and this must have looked much better in person for her to escape the bottom 3 entirely.
Tia Kofi, also being a Nottingham native went a similar route instead going for Maid Marian and barely looked like she’d pass at a Renaissance Faire
There’s a lot of interest in the outfit, the colours are good, the fit is interesting but it’s just not stunning.
Cherry Valentine also went for a period inspired look, channelling the Darlington Clock (the only interesting thing about Darlington) into a sort of Steampunk Mary Poppins
I think it could have used a skirt, the steampunk community does not flash their crotches. I think she perhaps went a little overboard on the soot smudges on her face because she’s started to look kind of like a cat.
Also struggling for any sort of recognisable hometown features was Veronica Green who blagged her way through wearing a giant red dress because she’s from Lancashire and Lancashire Roses are red!
It’s a STUNNING gown and a complete surprise because they were lining her up as the first boot and then this somehow materialised out of her trunk like Mary Poppins pulling a lampshade out of her carpet bag.
Speaking of Queens from a hometown famous for one thing, here’s Ginny Lemon dressed up as a the best Worcestershire Sauce saleswoman in all of England:
I do actually really like this look, it’s fun and perfectly Ginny and the nod to drag king Vesta Tilley was a nice touch.
While I think Ginny was very overlooked this episode I think Tayce was UTTERLY robbed, her Naomi was fantastic but her Welsh Dragon mini-dress was incredible
The sculpted hair just really makes the whole outfit sing and I can’t believe the judges sent her backstage. Although it was a hard choice with Lawrence and Ellie looking good in PVC and then Asttina coming out looking like this:
This outfit is EVERYTHING. The silhouette is bold and interesting, there’s so much character to it and it’s just an ASOS coat, which A’Whora was very salty about and really shouldn’t have been given that she was dressed like a fancy dress Robin Hood. People in glass houses.
And lastly we have Joe Black dressed as THE INTERIOR of The Brighton Pavilion
Could she have done something more emblematically and obviously Brighton? Yes, she could have. But this really isn’t that bad an outfit, certainly not as bad and off the mark as the judges made it sound – it has all the gaudy opulence you would want from a Brightonian legend!
A Hometown Looks Ranking:
- Asstina For ASOS
- Denise The Menace
- Tayce the Magic Dragon
- The Best Worcestershire Sauce Saleswoman in Worcester
- Lawrence Rennie Mackintosh
- You See, It’s an Upside Down Rose
- Mary Poppins’s Massive Clock
- Brighton Pavilion’s Interior Decor
- Slut City FC
- A Liverpudlian Meltdown
- Maid Marian’s Leg Day
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights
As per the judging the top 3 are Asttina Mandela, Ellie Diamond and Lawrence Chaney – I think Ellie and Lawrence had quite similar looks so I would have only kept one of them and put Tayce up there and I think I preferred Ellie just a scooch more than Lawrence.
The bottom 3 is quite frankly completely bonkers with Bimini, Joe Black and Sister Sister all landing in there and somehow both Tia Kofi and A’Whora scraping through almost by shear force of the potential drama and conflict that might spawn between the two of them.
Because of the whole WHY WEREN’T YOU WEARING WHITE AND LITERALLY DRESSED AS THE BRIGHTON PAVILION LIKE THAT EPISODE OF THE SIMPSONS WHERE LISA DRESSES UP AS FLORIDA? Debacle, Joe Black lands herself in the lipsync alongside Bimini who is about to lipsync in those insane shoe and with absolutely no pants on and only a strip of clear tape and a prayer holding in her junk. May God have mercy.
The lipsync is to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and at first you would be forgiven for thinking that Joe Black was going to win, she has the judges eating out of the palm of her hand is gurning at the rate of Two Jake Woods
But then halfway through she suddenly forgets the words and mimes using an elevator?
I genuinely can’t work out if she’s doing a comedy bit or if this is the panicked frazzled brain of a reality TV contestant on the brink of a backstage meltdown. Meanwhile Bimini is basically having sex with the stage
I hope she bought it a meal afterwards! And the moment we knew the deal was sealed and that Joe was going home was when Bimini did a handstand splits and didn’t expose a single one of her testicles
THE LEVEL OF TALENT. We have no choice but to stan.
Alas that did mean Joe Black would be bidding fairwell, a particularly cruel fate given that she had taken us on a tour of her drag closet earlier in the episode and shown the other queens all the wonderful wigs she had bought in order to push herself out of her comfort zone… Oops.
And so 11 Queens remain…