Every Monday, Joe from Guy At The Movies be recapping the latest arm of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.
Welcome to the very first RuPaul’s Drag Race recap here at guyatthemovies.com! We’re starting off with the latest version of the show, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, hailing from… yes, Australia. The series is streaming on WoW Presents Plus here in the U.S. every weekend, so join me as we make our way through the ten Drag Queens vying for the crown.
As a disclaimer, I am a big fan of the franchise for the artistry, talent, and representation it aims to put on full display (though it admittedly falls short sometimes). What you’ll get from me each recap are my thoughts and opinions, not necessarily the in-depth analysis of runway choices (aside from surface-level reactions) or make-up critiques… not my wheelhouse and there are many more bloggers out there that can speak to the specifics. What I will bring, however, is a look through the eyes of the average gay consumer. Expect “simple make-up” and “Marshall’s-looking dress” adjacent comments along with honest critiques of what I am seeing. So with that, here we go!
Episode 1 – G’day G’day G’day
I have to start off on a negative foot here due to the fact that the show opens promising Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi as a special guest before completely botching that. More on that soon. But other initial reactions are that the Werk Room is hella small and everything seems scaled down from what we’re used to here in the US.
We start, of course, with the initial entrances from each of the ten Drag Queens selected to be on the show
- Art Simone – Bubbly and well known in the drag scene in Australia. Very polished, great colorful entrance look.
- Maxi Shield – Lets hear it for the big girl, a 46 year old queen who you will see is padded like crazy! Obviously a comedy queen.
- Jojo Zaho – All of the plastic was not doing it for me.
- Elektra Shock – Could use some polish. No way she had been doing drag for 8 years.
- Scarlet Adams – She is giving me total Naomi Smalls/Brooklyn Hytes vibes.
- Coco Jumbo – Already obsessed with the energy, hunor, look… EVERYTHING!
- Kita Mean – Campier, crazier, more pop (if possible) than Trixie Mattel. Not totally sold on her.
- Etcetera Etcetera – Came in looking like a cockroach. Looked like pipe cleaners on her head. Meh.
- Anita Wigl’it – Crazy energy (Detox? Utica Queen?)
- Karen From Finance – In love. Campy and goofy.
Right off the bat, my top three are Art Simone, Coco Jumbo, and Karen From Finance.
In comes Ru Paul who does the typical welcome, adding “You are in for the ride of your mother-tucking rides.”
We learn that the Mini Challenge will have each of the queens starring in Thar, a rip on Thor, which is currently filming in Australia. The queens are told that director Taika Waititi would be directing them, though he shows up in what are clearly prerecorded bits that were neutral enough to be thrown in wherever. This gets to the annoyance I voiced at the top of the recap: if World of Wonder is going to continue to spin-off RuPaul’s Drag Race throughout the world like this, you can’t do a cheapened version of it. This whole Taika Waititi thing is just a tease without any delivery; every time Ru “asked” him what he thought, it was a generic, quite dumb response. As a franchise, you’re asking for fans to get investered, but you cut corners everywhere you can. Did I mention the prize is $30,000? I know you start somewhere, but show us that you care if you want us to care. End rant.
Anyway, back to the Mini Challenge. Ru says that they’re looking for an intergalactic superhero and they soon go straight from the Werk Room, without changing, to read lines from cue cards. The catch, besides the really handsome Pit Crew members providing distraction, is that they are to be from the planet Thickening. This means that on the cue cards, ever ‘s’ was replaced with a ‘th.’
My crazy notes during the Mini Challenge:
- Art didn’t do a lot besides the reading, but she was funny.
- Maxi was run through a series of emotions, starting by faking an orgasm, which was quite weird. Gave it a lot of energy, a character.
- Jojo had to show angry first, which was hilarious and reminisceint of the Hulk.
- Scarlet was asked to serve laser boobs, which was totally like the fembots in Austin Powers.
- Coco was funny, but forgettable.
- Etcetera came out with a vaudeville accent. Meh.
- Kita sounded like Roger Rabbit.
- Anita… ugh. All emotions looked the same.
- Elektra screamed like crazy when told to, then read the lines really angry. Probably the winner.
- Karen was told: “If you stop dancing, the room will explode.” She had trouble reading, but it was funny.
As predicted, Elektra was the winner of a necklace set from Fierce Drag Jewels. How did the other queens feel? Well Jojo said “consolation prize for that mug,” throwing some quality shade that really had me cackling.
We then learn about the Maxi Challenge. Ru says that they’re “throwing a get to know you ball” that will require two runway looks: Born Naked (nude drag allusion) and No Place Like Home (inspired by hometown).
Back in the Werk Room, the No Place Like Home look allows us to be able to talk about some of the troublesome history in Australia. We focus on Jojo who shares that he lived in a mission, which he describes as a concentration camp for Black people. He explains that permission was always needed for them to do anything, with the intent to keep them out of the town (segregate them).
Over at the makeup station, Kita explains that he has been nervous his entire life with his body, because he had gastric bypass surgery.
And then Scarlet’s costume rips.
BRING IT TO THE RUNWAY:
Ru looks absolutely stunning in a dark, blue shiny dress, but not all is as it seems. We’re introduced to Rhys Nicholson, an Australian comedian, who will be a regular judge alongside staple Michelle Visage. But then we see Ru out of drag sitting behind the judge’s table. They very clearly attempted to get creative in editing, but the cuts between in-drag Ru and out-of-drag Ru were cheesy and dumb. The rumor is that Raven, previous contestant and Ru’s makeup artist, was in quarantine and unable to make it. Still, figure this out. You’re starting a new arm of the franchise and this is the bow out of the gate? Weak sauce.
To the looks!
- Scarlet – Literally just a naked suit
- Maxi – “90s madonna vogue with see through trenchcoat”
- Elektra – Shoulderpads and big hair… meh; homage to Ru
- Coco – Big eyes and big comedic earrings with a nude suit underneath
- Etcetera – Gender non-binary – representing a conflict between his masuline and femine.
- Jojo – pre-colonization goddess
- Karen from Finance – Cam eout with a caftan over what ultimately is a bathing suit that she rips off to reveal yellow goodies
- Anita – Like Eve, just a bodysuit with a vine.
- Kita – Nude illusion bunny suit with fluffy balls hanging off.
- Art – Two-face esque, one side completely nude, the other colorful and unique.
No Place Like Home:
- Scarlet – Black Swan, red hair, green dress
- Maxi – dressed like a giant prawn – rip the head off, eat the body.
- Elektra – land of a hundred lovers. Looks like a bedsheet with a feathery rainbow flag on the back and hearts stapled on.
- Coco – Modified ape outfit-looking outfit.
- Etcetera – Looked like poison ivy.
- Jojo – Aboriginal Empire – “always was, always will be” sovereignty was never ceded.
- Karen – straight white woman in her mid 30s, came out funny and drunk. Bombastic top on the dress.
- Anita – literally a sheep.
- Kita – Loud and proud rugby uniform
- Art – comes out in all-black, then reveals a grungy look underneath, flips the coat around to see color. Represents the grungy side of Melbourne.
Karen From Finance is declared the winner, which is honestly no shock considering how beautiful she looked throughout this entire episode. Michelle referenced how Karen comes with a reputation and that she lived up to it tonight.
Before getting to the Bottoms of the Week, some other comments from the judges/observations:
- Elektra – had to explain how her outfit was Aukland; judges not pleased.
- Coco – idea was there, execution was not
- Jojo – all the pieces are there, just felt unfinished.
- Art – the judges loved her born naked look.
Back in the Werk Room, Jojo is incredibly upset,m feeling like she let herself down. She’s listening to music and preparing to lip sync as Coco tries to console her. Elektra is also feeling like she’s about to be up for elimination.
Back on the runway:
- Scarlet Adams
- Art Simone
- Coco Jumbo
- Elektra Shock
- Jojo Zaho
The lip sync was quite entertaining, with the song being Tragedy by the Bee Gees. Elektra was all over the place from the very beginning, showing a lot of energy and jumping into splits left and right. Both Elektra and Jojo played off of one another on stage a bit, providing a comedic angle, but Jojo never quite took off. It was clear from the way Ru was reacting to Elektra where she was leaning.
Eliminated: Jojo Zaho, leaving and saying: “Anything is possible if you let your faboriginality shine through.”
Ultimately, it is always nice to see a set of new queens, especially ones that you otherwise wouldn’t based on country or anything else. This felt like a little bit of an underwhelming week and I’m hoping to see some more creativity in future episodes. Jojo seemed good at the beginning, but her outfits were a bit of a mess, though her use of her platform is noble and welcomed. The show seemed to stumble out of the gate and, based on the preview for next week, is diving right in with Snatch Game this early. Let’s see how this all plays out.