Drag Race Down Under, Season 2, Episode 2: Pablo Picasso’s Kate Mulgrew

The jokes are writing themselves at this point.

If the Season 1 queens can be grateful for anything, it that at least they weren’t subjected to being part of a Drag Race acting challenge.

Of Shade and Sash

For this week’s What-we-shall-generously-be-calling-a-Mini-Challenge some of the queens were getting the chance to become betitled in the All Tea No Shade Pageant, not everyone however would be getting a title because this is Drag Race Down Under and do you know how much personalised silk sashes cost? So they had splurged on four (4) sashes

as to deciding who got what title, in a continuing global trend, democracy was being thrown out the window and instead the sole arbiter of said process would be last week’s winner Hannah Conda EXCEPT IT’S NOT! Because Molly Poppinz actually won and I had a complete mental collapse over it – this was my Berenstain/Berenstein Bears, My Shazaam, My Henry VIII’s Turkey Leg! I so vividly remember Hannah winning, I watched the episode 3 times – I HAVE A NOTE THAT SAYS “Why did Hannah win? Molly should have.” I literally felt how Beverly Kills looked in the acting challenge

I spiralled, I screamed, I dramatically lay down on the floor to stare at the ceiling… and then I ate 2 bowls of cereal and I felt much better about myself. But I did watch the ending of this episode 4 times and carved “SPANKIE JACKZON WINS” into a rock that I am wearing around my neck just to make sure I don’t forget and prescribe Hannah another win (it was tempting though.)

The titles were the standard fare: Biggest Competition, Trade of the Season, Worst Taste and Next To Go – except they had been put through the American English to Australian English translator and we started rather distressingly

they were not however about to out someone for being incredibly unhinged and transphobic on Twitter, although given this particular iteration of the franchise’s history MAYBE THEY WILL? GC was actually Greatest Competition which went to Yuri Guaii, seemingly as a compliment but you also knew the moment she put that sash on she was targeted for a bottom 3 placement

it’s a blessing and a curse.

Spankie Jackzon got the worst dressed award because there’s only so many times you can wear half an outfit – 2 times is too many. Kween Kong got the award for being the hottest one because… it’s basic science

And then lastly Molly had to decide who was going to be the next one going – initially being torn between wanting to besash Aubrey or Minnie but deciding that Aubrey had been kicked enough times that morning for having a bad outfit on the runway and then not wanting to choose Minnie because Minnie was doing all the kicking so she went for that totally neutral and not at all slightly neurotic choice of Beverly Kills

I’m sure this won’t have any repercussions at all.

However, it was all a bit of a trap as Ru revealed that the sashes had actually determined the teams for this week’s Maxi Challenge and Molly would be joining the Sashed Queens, which does make me think that Molly being given the win last week was mostly because Ru just really wanted to say the line

and that’s valid.

Prison, Honey.

We were of course being treated to the first ever acting challenge on Drag Race Down Under – swerving an acting challenge is perhaps the one thing that Season 1 can be grateful for because WOOF all round. The teams had obviously been split into two:

Team 1: Molly, Beverly, Kween, Yuri and Spankie
Team 2: Aubrey, Minnie, Hannah and Pomara

except they weren’t really because by the time the skits came into being Team 1 was actually Team 2 and Team 2 was actually Team 1 – incredible production standards from the entire crew which is actually just 1 guy wearing 15 different hats, so the teams were ACTUALLY

Team 1: Aubrey, Minnie, Hannah and Pomara
Team 2: Molly, Beverly, Kween, Yuri and Spankie.

but Pomara was actually in both scripts, mercilessly killing any kind of energy as the warden called “Chick Akita” which… I don’t know about anyone else but I felt deeply uncomfortable with this character, just something about the script and the way Pomara played her felt very Bad Vibes™

I don’t know if there’s an actual show that this script was pulling from, other than the scant few OITNB references here and there – I’m generously assuming Spankie’s accent was aiming for Kate Mulgrew and just unfortunately landing in the Yes Guy from The Simpsons territory

but Spankie was in Team 1 2 and we must return to Team 1 who were telling the story of Chantelle Minogue, played by Aubrey, and her daring escape from prison. I didn’t actually think Aubrey was that bad in this challenge – her opening monologue was genuinely quite funny, as was the fact that she just looked like Willam

but then Bad Vibes Pomara entered and it really killed the energy of her performance as the jokes became a lot less funny and just generally unpleasant – I still think that when she “squatted and spread” she should have had black underwear on – or just anything but only the slightly baggy fishnets that make her legs look like snakes shedding their skin

Art Symone is doing kind of an unofficial Pit Stop on her YouTube channel, which is very interesting and genuinely quite good and she and Passion Couture talked at length about black knickers in the Australian drag scene and how they’re kind of an important staple and the norm and anyone wearing nude knickers is generally made fun of for doing so – it was a really great discussion, I thoroughly recommend checking them out.

The other half of Team 1 were Hannah and Minnie who I can only describe as having gone completely fucking feral with Hannah looking like the ghost from a J-Horror movie

or the Babadook’s grandmother, and Minnie looking like someone in a 70s teen movie had given Gollum a makeover as played by a particularly annoying Jack Sparrow cosplayer

Pomara’s bad vibes are forgiven (they’re not) because this was a lot… and really I can only compliment them for really committing to the bit which the entire punchline of was that they were drinking Hannah’s piss-wine, a curious joke to put in after Michelle thoroughly drove the toilet humour bus over Etcetera Etcetera last season

not that the piss-wine plot actually mattered because that wasn’t what this was about, instead Minnie and Hannah were helping Aubrey escape by distracting the guards with a performance to CoverGirl featuring Minnie occasionally yelling “KOALA GIRL!” instead

she’s a treasure and it was pretty evident that she has some theatrical training given the choices she was making and Team 12 probably could have used someone like her to anchor them a little more securely in their performances because Michelle Visage sure as hell wasn’t being very helpful! Once again she fell into the trap of giving the queens little to no freedom with their performances and just labouredly giving the same line reading over and over again. I just need them to bring in a guest director because they certainly wouldn’t have yelled over a take to the point that you can still hear Michelle shouting “RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!” as Hannah, Minnie and Aubrey dashed off screen – once again, great production standards everyone.

Kween Kong got the worst of Michelle’s bad directing advice because apparently her character wasn’t ditzy enough which is true but there also wasn’t really much of an opportunity to build the ditziness into the routine because she about 10 seconds of screentime, her only prop was a pavlova and her only scene partner was Molly Poppinz dressed as Madonna’s Madame X Era, which belongs in prison

she also made a good point that at this point the queens have spent like 3 production days together and don’t really know one another so it’s hard to riff off and improvise with the other queens, especially if you’re a little more reserved but she probably could have done more than standing to one side and picking her nose

and to be honest, that’s her fault, there are a million other choices she could have made.

Yuri had a similar struggle with in her performance as a character that she was supposed to kind of be playing a little like Natasha Fatale but instead she was going full Eastern European Cock Destroyer with it

she really hated every second of this challenge, clearly very aware that her scene partner, Pablo Picasso’s Kate Mulgrew, was blowing her out of the water with her ever changing Russian-Bulgarian-Italian accent

and by the end of it Yuri Guaii had just completely resigned herself to being in the bottom and had nothing left to do but dejectedly squeeze her tits

sometimes you just have to ask yourself “What Would Sophie Anderson Do?”

This group’s story focused on the execution of Beverly Kills whose crime was that she wrote all of the scripts for the Drag Race acting challenges, so we’ve now reached the point of the writers writing self-execution fanfics – are they ok? Are they being fed in whichever bunker WoW Presents are keeping them holed up in? I did also enjoy Molly stating that she was in prison for doing the lighting on Season 1 when there has barely been a change in the quality – it is still lacefront city, you guys need about three more Kino Flos before you’re there, maybe spend less money on deli meat?
Beverly did kind of get the choice role because she had maybe three lines, one of which was just making fun of the Drag Race writing algorithm for inserting random memorable lines into these scripts

and then the rest of it was just screaming when she got electrocuted – my biggest take away from the role was that she was wearing yellow converse sneakers for some reason

I imagine the prison characters were told to wear flat shoes (because the realism was essential to these sketches), most of whom just put on slippers but Beverly only had her converse because ~she’s not like other prison girls~ and then Minnie Cooper needed something with better arch support

although in the final cut she was barefoot because the one guy manning the whole thing decided to put on his videographer disguise for the afternoon and realised the green in her shoes would be keyed out too.

Bugging Out

I LOVED this week’s Insect runway theme, I wish we got more like this, It’s not as though it’s a one and done runway, there are like 10 million species of insect, you could keep this runway going for an eternity! Or at least until someone does a Giraffe Weevil

at that point they’ve won the theme, there is no need to continue.

Quicking off the runway relatively strongly was Molly Poppinz as the first of our two bookending Mantises? Manteese? Manti? Mantes? Mantis (pl)? which was also giving me shades of Cosmo the Alien

as much as it is mostly just a bodysuit, she at least managed to elevate it with the 3D shapes and different textures, but the strength of the look is very much in the face and her nuclear septum piercing

everything is wonderfully cohesive, and it is very difficult to get greens to match up so well, and of the queens who defaulted to sticking a couple of bedazzled styrofoam balls into victory rolls to make a vaguely insectoid head, I think hers was my favourite.

Kween Kong was next and according to Very Obviously ADR’d Michelle Visage, she was doing the Death’s-head Hawkmoth

which is a bit disappointing because given the intricate pattern and just the concept of the Death’s-head Hawkmoth in general, this is a little plain and I’ll be honest, reads much more like she was doing the Superb Bird of Paradise than an insect – and I’m not entirely convinced that it wasn’t a repurposed bird outfit

I assure you that is in fact a bird and not the Lorax’s evil twin, I would very much like an entire runway dedicated to doing the various species of Birds of Paradise though, they’re basically the drag queens of the avian world and I’m surprised more people haven’t tapped them for inspiration.

Giving us the obligatory 1997 Mugler “Les Insectes” reference was Aubrey Haive

sorry, Aubrey Haive…

who I’ll give credit to for at least pulling the reference off – Mugler is a bit like Iris van Herpen in that people often claim to be inspired by them and then very much do not look even vaguely within the same oeuvre

but I think we have now bled the Mugler well dry, or at least we can stop with 90s Mugler – there’s so much delicious camp from his 80s era that doesn’t get as much attention, or even the gaudy tackiness of the his early 2000s stuff.

And if Aubrey had just walked the runway like a normal person, she honestly probably could have clawed her way to a respectable safe place but no, she was going to play ~a character~, of course defaulting to the Drag Race staple that is Executive Business Lady Obviously Inspired By Meryl Streep In The Devil Wears Prada

which is fine and cute, I can’t blame her for it, putting on some sharp tailoring does always make you want to yell “FUCK OFF!” down a mobile phone. But then it all went a little bit south for her, I think? I can’t tell how much of her handbag opening and dropping what honestly just looked like gnocchi all over the runway was a mistake or on purpose

but the editors wanted to make sure we thought it was a mistake by cutting to Michelle looking like Edvard Munch had painted a member of Twisted Sister

and you would think Aubrey dropping her lunch all over the runway was the worst this would get and then it came to her “big reveal” because she had a trick up her…. sleeve

and of course RuPaul watched Aubrey struggling to pull her ripchord as she plummeted to earth with the smug look of someone that knows they’re about to get the opportunity to eviscerate a young queen for prioritising gimmicks over personality

it’s what keeps her young.

I had expected more butterfly inspired looks on the runway and yet the only butterly look came from Minnie who just looked really pretty – as a note, what does a girl have to do to get them to properly light the back of the stage?

as the judges pointed out, it’s a relatively simple dress but it’s always going to be flattering. And I really liked the fabric it was made out of, a butterfly wing print can often look a little cheap, but this looked really rich and just gave the dress a significance. And her wig was really cool, these sort of coloured tendrils are having a real moment in the drag scene

it is hard to ignore the fact her foundation doesn’t even remotely match her skin, which you probably wouldn’t notice in the majority of her looks, but with the off the shoulder gown it is a little glaring.

Beverly Kills was repping the mosquitos

I might have just left the wings entirely, or just opted for a plastic pair that draped down the back, the sheet sails just never look particularly convincing and I think often detract from looks, because the rest of this is really fun – I love the detail of having the thorax bustle in red as though it’s filled with blood, and of course there’s the fact she glued the proboscis to her forehead which I greatly enjoyed when she was sitting backstage during Untucked

the girl could not see SHIT! But every time it cut to her during Pomara and Minnie’s argument I cackled, I was just disappointed the proboscis didn’t get passed around like Daya Betty’s googly-eyed glasses.

Speaking of Pomara, she was next in probably the simplest of the looks on the runway and honestly just looked a bit like Cybertronic Minnie Mouse

I say it was the most simple but you know, at least it went beyond her mid thigh…

SPANKIE STRIKES AGAIN! I mean there is something just divinely camp about Spankie Jackzon’s little black wings that she VERY obviously just stole from a child’s Halloween costume and her headpiece basically just consisting of a series of impossibly tangled necklaces and what might be belts?

I do think the judges overpraised this look merely because it’s a vast improvement on last week’s outfit but it is also not *not* last week’s outfit in a different colour.
Pomara’s outfit meanwhile lived and died by the wing cage she had on, which I actually quite liked and thought looked pretty cool

I do wish there had maybe been a stronger contrast between the dress and the caged elements, but it’s still a perfectly fine look.

And then we have Hannah Conda who, and I’m sorry to be hyperbolic, but was honestly wearing one of my favourite looks to ever grace a Drag Race runway

she looks incredible! I think why I love it so much is that my gran used to have a book called “The Butterfly’s Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast” which had these gorgeous illustrations of slightly anthropomorphised insects and Hannah looked like she could have been from the pages of that book, which I was obsessed with

it’s such a sumptuous, decadent look – I just think it’s a complete and utter knockout from the perfectly chosen fabrics, the shape of it all and most of all THE MAKEUP

good for her for surviving the lighting situation.

And lastly we have Yuri Guaii as as the second of our bookending mantises

it does border on being a little bit cluttered but I think that perfectly captures the a likeness of the orchid mantis

and I rather loved the maximalism of the whole look – it gave it a very anime feel, obviously any animator would hate you for making them render so many ribbons and bows but it would make for one hell of an action shot as she dramatically decapitated someone.
And her makeup was really cool, which is kind of expected from Yuri at this point

and I love the detail of the bedazzled trim on her fringe to give the wig a more defined mantis-like shape. I don’t know if I love the black around the lips, but the rest of it is great.

An Insect Look Ranking

  1. Hannah Conda, MOTHer of The House
  2. Yuri’s AniMantis
  3. Minnie’s Butterfly of the Ball
  4. Mugler Reference No. 268
  5. Molly Poppinz’s Mantis Runner-up
  6. Beverly’s Mozzie Award
  7. Kween Kong’s Dubious Moth
  8. Flies Down, Legs Out
  9. Pomara’s Glamorous BeetleBorg
  10. Aubrey’s Runway Presentation

In the top this week were Hannah, Minnie and Spankie. I would personally have given the win to Minnie and I’m honestly surprised they didn’t, even if it was in part just to fuel the drama between her and Pomara – which is honestly some of the funniest, pettiest stunt casting drama since they put Farrah Moan and Gia Gunn in the same room to see who would eat who first. Minnie apparently saying “I don’t mind that Pomara does drag, but I don’t like that she gets paid for it” is such an incredibly harsh read and the fact Pomara has held onto that for EIGHT YEARS is… well, actually supremely upsetting to be honest but also quite funny that she’s been dying to bring this up since she clocked Minnie at the table in the first episode.
But it was a redemption order for Spankie and the fact she decided to wear tights this week clinched her the win. AND HANNAH DID NOT WIN.

As for the bottoms, it was pretty obviously going to be Aubrey, Kween and Yuri. Kween was always destined to be in the bottom two the moment she failed to take Michelle’s incredibly precise directorial prompts, whereas Aubrey and Yuri both kind of got to their characters eventually, so with them it came down to the runway and considering Yuri didn’t manage to trip over a ribbon and take Lucy Lawless’s eye out with one of her massive claws, she was deemed safe which meant it was Aubrey vs Kween in the lipsync.

Out of Touch

Their lipsync song was I Touch Myself by The Divinyls, which I can’t say is a song that I’m at all familiar with but it sounded exactly as I expected a song called “I Touch Myself” to sound. Aubrey also gave exactly the sort of lipsync I would expect from someone who hasn’t been performing for very long to give with the song – it was just very on the nose and overly literal, like patting herself down during the “I search myself” lyric like she had just got to the cashier and realised she’d forgotten her purse in the car

I will give it to her, I did enjoy that she whipped the phone out, this time unencumbered by her handled rugby ball, during the spoken word break, that was pretty cute. Less cute was the part where she pretended to masterbate by… furiously scratching at the hem of her skirt?

it’s like she’s trying to light a match with her inner thigh? And she doesn’t look like she’s enjoying, which neither am I to be honest.

I think what made Aubrey’s performance that much more uncomfortable was that Kween was just a better vibe with the song and moving around the stage with such ease and grace, while Aubrey, having a terrible time doing a mime’s job, had to very much dash out of the way quite a few times, and really it was over the moment Kween did a flying barrel roll like she was a cat-burglar trying to dodge an alarm system

the immediate cut to Beverly Kills saying “What the fuck?” in her confessional was very much the mood

and it wasn’t really surprising that Kween stayed and Aubrey was the second queen to be eliminated

RuPaul will be expecting her 3000 word essay on the importance of 80s soap operas to the drag community by this Friday.

And so, we’re down to 8 queens

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