Episode 2 brought us seven new queens. While I was dazzled by their personalities and some of their runways, I thought this was a much weaker crop when it got to the talent show. I’d be curious to know how Production split the group up. I can’t imagine it was random. While I think Group 1 was characterized by warmth, this group was all about charisma and wit (with a few notable exceptions). Let’s break them down.
Angeria Paris VanMichaels: Confession: Going into this season, I absolutely hated that name. I thought it sounded unpleasant on my tongue. It has a harshness in the vowels and consonants. However, when Angeria herself says it in that lilting Southern drawl, it’s as sweet as tea. I fell for her instantly. What an exotic beauty! What a lovable personality! And my god, the fashions. Angie is one to watch and easily the most exciting of the second group.
Daya Betty: Another drag name I didn’t understand going into the season, but which makes more sense once you realize she’s diabetic. It still feels weird to brand yourself around that, but OK. (We need to have a drag-name clinic, I swear to god.) Daya is the sister of Season 12’s Crystal Methyd. I liked Daya quite a bit in her entrance. She has a great personality, very inviting. The runway look was a good idea executed poorly (there was no silhouette; in the words of Jasmine Masters, she gave straight up-and-down pole body). But it was ultimately her lipsynch/magic show talent number that did her in. It was something you would see as an opening act at any regional drag club. That is not for the main stage at RuPaul’s Drag Race. A shame, as again, I liked her and think she had potential.
Deja Skye: Still not sure what to make of Deja. Promo look? Toot. Entrance look? Boot. Work room interactions? Toot! Great energy and quick witted. Talent show performance? Poot (I don’t think anything could have made that cheerleader routine funny). Runway? Absolutely toot. Lipsynch? Terrific. She is all over the map and I worry for her in this group overall. She is starting off on really uncertain footing. Can she find her place?
Jasmine Kennedie: Jasmine is the queen I keep forgetting about in this cast, and I mean the overall 14. There’s nothing about her that really stands out to me. The name is, again, as basic as it gets (tell me you started watching Drag Race with Season 7 without telling me you started watching Drag Race with Season 7). The fashions seem like a young girl borrowing an older queen’s clothes (see: Olivia Lux last season). She’s a great dancer, no question there. But most of her talent routine was her waiting around to do tricks. Out of this entire cast, she is the one that most screams “filler queen” to me.
Jorgeous: I did not see Jorgeous coming, at all. Aside from Angeria, I think she made the strongest case for stanning in Episode 2. She is beautiful, great fashion sense, incredible presence, and is clearly an A+++ performer. Based on her talking heads I am concerned she might not be particularly sharp, which worries me. But from a performance and aesthetic perspective she’s got the goods.
Lady Camden: On the other hand, I was super excited for Lady Camden going into this episode, and felt slightly let down by what she ultimately gave us. Enjoyed the entrance look and her photo shoot. The talent felt a bit like it was reworked last minute in a desperate bid to please the judges, but that could have been editing. The runway look, though a fun idea, didn’t really give me polished or elevated. I like her very much as a person and I continue to hope she blossoms, but for her first episode she was strictly middle of the pack.
Maddy Morphosis: Unquestionably the story of the episode, Maddy made history as our first straight male cisgendered Drag Race contestant. She walked in giving us Guy Fieri Realness, which I found HYSTERICAL. Maddy played blues guitar for the talent show, which was at least something different than a GD lipsynch. But the number was very downtempo, and delivered in an outfit that gave me a real Chico’s kind of day. Maddy seemed to want to convey emotion in this performance, but once thing I kept finding during the episode was actually a lack of emotion from Maddy. It was all very subdued. At the end she capped off the number by playing the guitar with her tongue, which we could not see. That got her dinged from the judges. The runway was a real wow moment, a headless Marie Antoinette number. This has proved quite divisive in Drag Race fandom. It’s bold and attention grabbing, but it’s unquestionably a costume. Beyond that, it’s a costume that has been done many, may times before by many, many other queens. Maddy will be one of the big stories of the season. But as we discussed in our Twitter Space, is it fair that a straight male is dominating the conversation of what has traditionally been an unabashedly queer show? It’s an interesting dilemma.
Speaking of our Twitter Space, if you missed it, here’s the recording. We invite you to join us every Saturday at 2pm EST on Twitter at @culture_debate for a discussion of the previous night’s episode. Share your thoughts and help us Toot & Boot the looks for points in our Drag Race View Pool!
Next: THE BALL! Two balls, actually. A pair of balls. Nice.