May the Best Drag Queen Win!

On the 14th January, Drag Race UK returned to BBC iPlayer for season two, and what an incredible first episode it was! I, like many other Drag Race fans, have been waiting for the second season for far too long. I think it’s safe to say I was far from disappointed. While I’d watched the queens give their interviews before the episode was released, it was still really hard to tell who the front-runners would be, and who would fall behind early. However, this episode definitely gave me some ideas of who to watch out for. Unlike last season's eight queens, this time there's 12 of them, which makes the competition even tougher than ever!

Naturally, the episode began with the queen’s entrances into the ‘Werk Room’, and a few of my first impressions were as follows:

  • Lawrence Chaney, 23, from Glasgow: The first Scottish queen to be on Drag Race! From Lawrence’s entrance, I immediately felt like she was one to watch out for. Her personality, humour, and bold purple/orange aesthetic definitely places her high on my watchlist! I can really see her flourishing in this competition just from her entrance alone, and failing that, she’ll definitely provide humour! However, could her bold and hilarious personality cause drama? Part of me hopes so!
  • Cherry Valentine, 26, from Darlington: Her look was so stunning, that even her head-piece getting caught as she attempted to walk through the entrance was quickly forgotten (though I must say, a hilarious mishap). The headpiece was glittery-red hearts, and she wore a stunning black and red catsuit with cascading, flowy sleeves. Not only did I love her outfit, but I adored her laugh and smile. She also mentions that she’s only been doing drag for a year, and is able to juggle three jobs! I’m expecting great things from Cherry!
  • Tia Kofi, 30, from South London: When I saw her walk out, her hair immediately caught my eye; so beautifully big and curly! Not only this, but her gorgeous leopard print dress and her long black boots just brought her whole aesthetic together. She argues that she’s more focused on entertaining than looks, leaving me excited to see just what entertainment she has in store.
  • Bimini Bon-Boulash, 26, from Norwich: I live near Norwich, and you never hear of anyone from around where I live, which admittedly already left me excited to hear more! The three queens in the Werk Room already were gagging over Bimini’s boobs, but I also loved her pink entrance look. Bimini coins herself as the ‘bendiest b*tch’, which makes me intrigued to see what kind of performance she gives!
  • Ginny Lemon, 31, from Worcester: She seems to be known by most of the queens already in the room (with Ginny stating that she ‘rules the scene in the West Midlands’), making her one to watch. I loved her over-the top personality and bright and campy yellow aesthetic. I feel as though Ginny knows who she is, which makes me think she’s bound to do well!
  • Ellie Diamond, 21, from Dundee: Ellie is our next Scottish queen (which Lawrence doesn’t look too pleased about), and comes out in the most adorable pink and puffy gown and big blonde hair (not to mention the cute heart cut-out on her chest!), with a seemingly lovely character. It’s also revealed that she makes her own clothes, so surely this makes her a contender? It’s soon revealed that Lawrence and Ellie know each other, which perhaps will make for an interesting dynamic!
  • Sister Sister, 31, from Liverpool: She argues that she’s a rather ‘kooky’ queen with a ‘dry’ sense of humour. She worries that her humour won't come across well, but from hearing her confessional as she walks out, I have no doubt she’ll provide laughs.
  • Tayce, 25, from Newport: I’m instantly in love with her black and white suit-type dress, as well as her confidence in her dancing abilities. Her accent seems to have caught the attention of a lot of the other queens, perhaps labelling her as the ‘trade’ of the season?
  • Joe Black, 30, from Brighton: It’s immediately clear she’s known by most of the queens. I adored everything about Joe’s look, with the black and green gown, bewitching jewellery and makeup, giving me Maleficent vibes! Joe asserts herself with confidence, with something in her character coming off as particularly intriguing to me. I really feel like she could go a long way; after all, she’s been doing cabaret shows for 13 years!
  • Veronica Green, 34, from Lancashire: Her entrance look seemed to me the most simplistic of all with her plain purple gown and matching bow, but simple can also be very effective! Veronica comes across very sweet and funny, but I almost get the sense that she’s quite unsure of herself; even going blank when asked ‘who is Veronica Green?’. However, hopefully drag race will allow her to flourish!
  • Asttina Mandella, 27, from East London: She coins herself as ‘rude, and rowdy and disrespectful’, which doesn’t give off the most welcoming of impressions. However, everything about her screamed talent to me! Her beautiful black long wig which she flipped in confidence, as well as her stunning grey and black outfit; almost appearing like a suit-dress. She describes herself as capable of anything, in a way that makes me entirely believe it! She even warns ‘good luck in a lip sync against me’, which shows me she means business! I loved everything about her, even though she implied that she may have a nastier side…
  • A’whora, 23, from Nottinghamshire: this queen seems to have already formed a reputation for herself, according to Tia, who claims it's perhaps not a positive one. However, I was absolutely in love with her Wizard of Oz style outfit, with her ruby red boots, legs for days, and self-conviction Let’s hope I’m as obsessed with her as I am with her outfits!

After the queens all arrive in the Werk Room, Ru enters and announces that the UK’s next drag superstar will win a trip to Hollywood to make their own series! He then swiftly announces that this season will be ‘much betta’ (a phrase famously used by Baga Chipz in season one) than the previous series, and with this line-up I wouldn’t be surprised! Ru then announces the first ever mini-challenge, and sticking to tradition, it’s of course a photo challenge; titled ‘Wimbled’hun’. Each queen was placed on the fake set of a tennis court, and have tennis balls thrown at them by the ‘Brit-crew’, all whilst trying to look fabulous! This challenge was won by Lawrence Chaney, and rightly so in my opinion…she was hilarious! Queens like Tayce and Asttina, did really well in this challenge too; managing to model it out despite distractions. I also particularly enjoyed Ginny, with her ability to make Ru laugh while pancake-flipping with a tennis racket!

After Lawrence is crowned as the winner, Ru announces the main challenge of the week. He asks the queens to present two looks for the judges: one dedicated to a British gay icon, and the other to pay tribute to their hometown. Afterwards, Ru swiftly exits, leaving the queens alone. The queens begin to ‘untuck’ after battling it out for the best workspace, and they’re all able to see each other out of drag. Tia and Asttina, in their confessionals, jump straight to talking about which queens are most attractive out of drag, with Tia commenting how different they all look, except Ginny, who she states ‘looks the same’! However, Asttina says that ‘not one of them is cute’, to which I’d have to disagree. However, while many of the other queens have completely de-dragged, Lawrence is still wearing makeup. When the queens ask her about this, she talks about how drag makes her feel ‘untouchable’, and she wants to feel that way out of drag too. I think its so important that this scene was included, as I think it's so important to broach how bullying affects people and their confidence, and more importantly that self-expression is nothing to be made fun of.

We’re then taken to elimination day, where viewers are quickly made aware that both Asttina and Tayce are both doing Naomi Campbell for their icon looks. I think I speak for everyone when I say I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the typical drama to unfold (like it does when two queens want to perform the same character on ‘Snatch Game’!). However, the pair actually began to discuss the all-important topic of POC representation within the UK, stating that the lack of representation of black people is probably what influenced them to both be limited in choice. However, not everyone is getting along so well…of course! A’whora discusses who she thinks is going to be eliminated today, stating that she doesn’t think Asttina is well prepared, and claiming that she can’t ‘see it’ in Tia…harsh!

On the main stage we’re introduced to guest judge Elizabeth Hurley, as well as Graham Norton and Michelle Visage returning for another season! It’s worth noting that I thought this runway was one of my favorites I’ve seen in a long time; everyone looked stunning! One of my favorites was Asttina, who chose to stick with Naomi Campbell, presenting the judges with the most gorgeous black tulle dress and black long hair as well as her East London look exuding sass. While Tayce’s Naomi was still beautiful, I don’t think it was quite as impressive as Asttina’s. I was in love with Tayce’s feathered Welsh dragon dress and horned wig though! Lawrence’s latex stained-glass Glasgow themed gown was also stunning, as well as Cherry Valentine’s Freddie Mercury look from the I Want to Break Free music video. Not to mention Joe Black’s gorgeous Brighton Pavilion inspired golden gown, Ellie Diamond’s Dennis the Menace gown (I mean…she made it herself!) and Tia’s Robin Hood inspired look (an ode to Nottingham).

Once the queens had all presented their two outfits, Ru declared that Ginny Lemon, Cherry Valentine, Veronica Green, A‘whora and Tayce were all safe. While I think this is fair, I was in love with Cherry’s looks, and would’ve loved to see her in the top! The rest of the queens were then critiqued, with the judges loving Lawrence, Ellie and Asttina, and finding problems with Sister Sister, Bimini and Joe’s looks. As the judges deliberate, we get to hear what the ‘safe’ queens are thinking in the Werk Room! Many of the queens such as Tayce and A’whora are upset to just be ‘safe’, and A’whora continues to be shady about Asttina and Tia, getting angry because Asttina is wearing an ASOS jacket. Ginny however quickly steps in to their rescue and states that people are just jealous of Asttina, which I think is definitely true; as Tia makes clear, if she can win in an ASOS jacket, she must be amazing! As the queens return to the main stage, we hear that Asttina has won the challenge (take that, A’whora!), and Sister Sister’s Liverpool look (the most stunning pink silk pyjamas!) was just enough to save her. This ultimately leaves Bimini and Joe to lip-sync. While I loved Bimini’s Norwich City FC bodysuit, I agree that perhaps it wasn’t as polished as it could have been. I thought that Joe, however, was flawless. But, the judges said that her Brighton look was too unlike Brighton Pavilion (too gold), and her David Bowie look was too vague. While I didn’t want either to be in the bottom, I also don’t know who else I would have picked either!

As Joe and Bimini prepare to lip-sync to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, my heart breaks for them both; I don’t think anyone deserves to go home this week! Their lip-sync proves my point perfectly, as both were amazing. While Joe provides the humor and Bimini has amazing dance moves, it’s undeniable that both can really lip-sync! As the song ends, I’m praying that both can be saved…but as I hear Ru tell Joe Black to ‘sashay away’, I’m in shock. Though I’m so glad Bimini gets to stay in the competition, I also really didn’t feel Joe deserved to leave so early either. Joe’s talent is undeniable! This elimination was truly one of the most frustrating in drag race ‘herstory’, and I think many will agree with me; especially after I found out on social media that the inside of Brighton Pavilion is in fact…gold! I almost feel like if the judges knew what Brighton Pavilion really looked like, then perhaps Joe would have been saved too. Despite this shocking elimination, I truly believe this to have been an amazing episode, with such strong competition.

Season two will be an exciting journey, and I think the winner will be almost too close to call!

 

Words By: Ellen Churchyard

Edited By: Dasha Pitts-Yushchenko