Chad Michaels would be proud. I feel relieved and quite pleased to say that “Cher: The Unauthorized Musical” on last night’s RuPaul’s Drag Race was a delight, through and through, and was certainly not the disaster it could’ve been in unskilled hands.
At this point in the game, halfway through the season, it’s truly anyone’s game, and this is when this show finally picks up. When the stakes are raised merely because everyone in the room is so talented, the contestants enter some sort of fugue state where they compete as if it is their last job on earth or they allow their inner saboteur to take over.
This week, a Rusical that features live singing (yes!), Todrick Hall (all right), choreography (!!), and the seven remaining queens’ interpretation of Cher through the ages, from ‘60s Cher to ‘90s comeback Autotune Cher. We do believe in life after love! I mean it. Thankfully this maxi-challenge meant a very delightful mini-challenge during which harkened back to the finale of the second season: an acting challenge that saw Ru fake-slapping Tyra Sanchez, Raven, and my sweet Jujubee. It was funny that time, but this time, it was funnier, because when RuPaul went to fake-slap Asia O’Hara in the face, he actually... hit her by accident???
Please feel free to remember this moment by watching it here. I will watch it at least once a week.
Before Rusical and runway, we must, very briefly, talk about the Vixen, whose penchant for drama and willingness to scrap with everybody and anybody that gets in her way has sustained her to this point. It’s not that the Vixen isn’t talented—she is, very much so—but her personal inner saboteur combined with what Asia accurately clocked as insecurity and a sense of injustice that stems from life as a black, queer person in America conspire against her. These circumstances made for a lot of unresolved anger that has, as we’ve seen throughout the season, been directed at a person who represents that privilege, at least in the Vixen’s eyes: Eureka O’Hara. Race has long been the elephant in the room on this show and it’s really something to see it dealt with not on Reddit, but on the show, where it belongs.
“Sometimes to be strong, you have to be a little soft,” Asia tells her—a sweet way to let the Vixen know that she sees her.
This maxi-challenge was solidly fine; the runway, much better. Category is: Glitterrific. Let us see what there is to see, yes?
Perhaps the lesson of this week’s episode is “Don’t sleep on Kameron Michaels like you have been for the entire season because it seems like she might be a contender.” Her ‘60s Cher struck the correct balance between Jack from Will and Grace’s Cher, Cher the real person, and a horse. I wasn’t wild about it, but I recognize its competence. Her runway look, however, is stunning? A sparkly gold lamé jumpsuit! This cape! Pay more attention to Kameron, I guess!
Listen, Monét X Change is a trained opera singer and so the singing portion of this week’s proceedings went smoothly. As ‘70s Cher, she managed to make some sort of beautiful chimera out of Cher’s essence and eau de Monét—a crackerjack performance that would’ve landed her in the top had this sparkly black bodysuit been a teensy bit more together. Something about the editing at the top of the episode after Monét told the girls that she thought she deserved to win the Snatch Game made me think for a brief second that she was going home. I am glad she is still here, but come on babe, please step it up just a smidge!!
To the Vixen’s point, the Cher that she was tasked with doing is not a Cher that is as universally recognizable as the other Chers. Her ‘70s Cher look is the look from the Jackson 5’s performance on The Cher Show, which is a reference that feels sliiightly more esoteric. Regardless, her Cher was not great, though her runway costume impressed me with its ingenuity, creativity, and the sheer force of will the Vixen has to complete Hercluean tasks, like making a structured gown out of construction foam dipped in glitter.
Here’s Aquaria, two ways: dressed in what Lady Gaga would’ve worn to this year’s Met Ball had she attended and doing some version of Cher that, for someone born in 1996, is pretty good. Michelle Visage said it was like Madonna at the Brit Awards, which is not an inaccurate statement, but I must say that Aquaria continues to surprise me, despite myself. Also, she made little eye veils that she covered in rhinestones for her runway look and the effect is truly something special. ENHANCE.
This is the correct amount of extra. Thank yew.
There is nothing positive to say about Asia O’Hara’s movie star Cher, so I would much rather shift focus to her runway look, which proves just how much of a little glamour weirdo she truly is. This sparkly clown bodysuit with editorial shoulders is brilliant, as is the hat, the makeup, and the hair made of what I believe is paper. Aquaria may turn looks, but money cannot buy quirkiness, creativity and a sense of humor, okay! She ended up in the bottom two because her Cher was atrocious, but mark my words: she will win this thing.
Eureka’s homage to Cher’s Bob Mackie-designed fishnet bodysuit from the video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” is great and her performance, once she warmed up, had some bite despite the fact that singing in public is one of her personal triggers. The runway look was really spectacular—a disco ball, a statue tiled in shards of glass, what the Kim Kardashian perfume bottle should’ve actually looked like. It was perfection!!
In this episode we learned that Miz Cracker grew up with no money and with no access to pop culture, meaning that she came into learning about so many things way later in life. Her Autotune Cher looked good, sounded decent, but didn’t impress the judges, but her runway look? This gilded skull—reminiscent of Ornacia—was puking glitter onto her body and her beautiful face and it killed. When will she win a challenge? Soon? Yes, please.
Your winner this week: Kameron Michaels, girl! Your bottom two: Asia O’Hara and The Vixen. This lip sync, to “Groove is in the Heart”—a perfect song—was really no contest. Asia O’Hara is the best part of this program—the den mother, the beating heart, and the bitch who will outperform you after giving you an Oprah talk in the workroom, and do so while dressed as what can really only be described as a fashion clown. The Vixen gave it her all and then some, but her pluck and sheer stamina were not enough. To Chicago she must go, but she returns a star.
Next week—we’re going to Breastworld!