It’s time once again to walk into the club, so let’s turn that shit up… that’s totally a current pop reference right? We’re going to be hitting a major element of the drag world tonight but looking into the legendary club scene, though not by giving club kid looks like we did way back in season 9. So, while we’re still reeling from the Season 11 Cast Reveal (any favourites? I’m Team Vanjie or Team West based on what we know at the moment), let’s get even more revealing by seeing what goes on in the creation of a legendary club.
Enter the Werkroom
Walking back with Latrice back in the show feels right. Latrice will always be the most beloved queen to ever walk onto the show and the fact that she went home, even if it was deserved based on her performance here, felt wrong because of just how truly important she is to the history of this show. I hope that she’ll really be able to push through and show off just how incredible she is. This episode really is a show of Latrice showing just how incredible she is and that she deserved the chance to come back and show off just what she is able to do. While we know she definitely shows off this week (we’ll get there), she needs to show that off every week
We also get another glimpse into the very confusing mind of Valentina, who is a genuinely great queen that I actually adore, but I swear I have never in my life seen a person who is more convinced that she’s winning even when she isn’t. It makes for good TV seeing her in her own world, talking like she’s in a soap opera at all times even if that good TV comes with moments like her interrupting Latrice in order to talk about how fabulous she is. I swear, at all times, she’s about a minute away from walking into a room, saying “I just came to tell you how fabulous I am” and then walk out looking for trade. That one moment right at the start told me pretty much instantly how this episode was going to go, which is a testament to the editors who pulled the right moment to pull and foreshadow just what we were about to experience.
This week, the main challenge actually has something to do with Ru’s career. This hasn’t happened in a while, early seasons were all about “When I was starting, I did this” and lately it’s been a lot less of that kind of challenge so it’s nice to see them returning to that well. The queens have to break off into teams, selected by our returning queen Latrice, and create three clubs that people can go to, clubs that have three walls and about five guests that probably work on the show and were just easily available for the shoot (why not get other queens to be the guests? Why isn’t Henny one of the guests? She’s been in more episodes than Naomi at this point, why isn’t she there for this?). So let’s talk about how each team went, in order of how they showed them and absolutely not in order from worst to best.
Valentina & Naomi
What was this? What, specifically, was all of this? I mean, besides a hot mess, what was I looking at. The room looks like the Interior Illusions Lounge if the concept of Disco became a sentient being and exploded right in the middle of their room. The thing that makes it work most is Naomi, not only can you tell that she was the one doing most of the work but she was selling the hell out of it. Every time that she whispered “Club 96”, it was one of those glorious over-the-top things that I’ve seen. She looked good, she sounded good, and she probably smelled good, she was the reason to turn up. Valentina, somehow, sank into the background of this specific section of the episode. Considering that she basically lives in a permanent state of needing everyone to see her, it’s stunning that she just seemed like she wasn’t all there.
This section of the episode really shows one of the big things about Valentina that bothers me, at least in the context of this series. When she doesn’t want to give 100%, she doesn’t seem to give anything. Sure, she’ll make a bit of a spectacle by turning up to paint in her underwear and heels, but you can tell that she was a little checked out and off in her own world, which clearly affected her performance because she didn’t have time to plan. We saw this last time when her lack of planning threw her into the bottom and by the time we leave Club 96, it’s no secret that she’s going to be back down there again and she’s dragging Naomi down there with her. The only other high point, beyond Naomi’s whispering “Club 96”; in the entire sketch was when they brought up the Red M&M’s (a reference to an alleged element of Valentina’s rider that made her seem like a diva)
Basically, it’s a really average club that looks like it belongs in a middle school play that’s being put together by the middle schoolers but it was also only done by one person, with an occasional assistant who was more focussed on herself than her club.
Monique & Monet
While their club might be a little cheesy and tacky, I can’t help but actually love it. They had a very fun concept, a great club name (The Black Hole? Genius) and who wouldn’t want to be at a club with these two fun high energy queens running the party. The alien baby in an incubator is one of those weird fun things that is a hilarious use of a prop that I live for. I also just in general love that they had Bryce, the Pit Crew Member, pretend his name was Scotty so he could serve them a drink called Beam Me Up. I’m sorry but I’m here for that kind of gloriously planned subtle joke and it made me want to actually go to this club.
What sells this entire thing was just how fun the hosts are. Monet managed to grab everything Monique threw out and make the jokes last longer, the two of them have this effortless chemistry that works any time they’re together. Even in Jersey Justice, when everything crumbled, you could see that Monet and Monique had an ability to bounce off each other that could carry them all the way to the end if they keep having to work together… now watch as in a few weeks they both end up in the bottom and this exact thing gets brought up.
Latrice, Manila and Trinity
Un-bee-leavable. Bee-fore my eyes this hive of queens bugged out and stung us with the need to know the buzz about club Hive… and made me OD on how many Bee puns they could fit into three minutes. Honestly, their club was obviously the best and you could tell within seconds. It felt inviting and warm, like a place you wanted to go to every single night. They actually worked the Judges into the show, the only ones to even think about doing that and when they were on stage hosting, the show was next level. It’s an easy joke to do a Strip Spelling Bee and then have a hot guy walk up and make him spell “Erythromycin” (no, I don’t have that word up on a browser as I type it to make sure that I got the spelling right, how dare you accuse me of that) but it’s a joke that works when delivered by Trinity.
This one was the best of the bunch, it wasn’t even a contest. Trinity and Manila kept coming up with great jokes that worked and showed off their skills as hosts, while Latrice was the large powerful force of love that we’ve come to know and respect. You wanted to spend hours with them, days if you could manage it. Honestly I was sold from the start but I knew this team was in the top the second they released the bees, the only question became who would actually win and for that we need to look at the runway.
The runway this week is Plastique Fantastique, so we’re not going to see anything conventional and I love it.
Latrice walks out in this glorious latex cartoon creation with a giant string of anal beads coming off her head, giant cartoon eyes on her breasts and a design that looks like a giant purple melting ice cream. It’s the kind of look that makes you sit up and take notice. She’s not here to play, she’s here to destroy everyone because this is the best look that Latrice has ever pulled off. The form is flawless, it fits everything perfectly and when she’s walking that runway it looks amazing. Plus, the shape around the bottom just screamed Divine in Pink Flamingos, a reference that Latrice has made before and this time she made it perfectly.
Manila walks out looking like a gift basket with a giant clear plastic version of Naomi’s paper outfit from season 8. Almost the same cut but in clear plastic and with a basket on her head and I LOVE IT. I love that shape, it bursts out the top of the giant orange belt and just looks like she’s got crystals all around her. It’s pure cellophane and I’d be shocked if it even cost that much to get all the material to put it together, but when the light hits it just right you would swear she was wearing a million dollar outfit made out of every jewel you ever heard of.
Trinity’s outfit is so specific and so perfectly styled that you have to respect it. It looks like she was blowing a bubble and it got really big, exploded on her body and she went “Screw it, that’s my outfit now” and made it work effortlessly. The shading is perfect, the form is amazing, the little arm band pieces just work so well. Even her boots match the outfit colour perfectly, that burst of red on the top of her head is the exact right amount of contrast. Trinity is a hard person to judge because she never gives anything less than a complete look and I love it.
Naomi Smalls can do no wrong on the runway. She’s covered in red discs and on anyone else that outfit would look ugly as sin, but Naomi sells it with the bright yellow framing it and the way she moves. I swear we’re at the point where Naomi could walk out in a burlap sack and no makeup and if she just poses, it’ll be on the cover of a fashion magazine. It’s a skill that no one else who has been on this show possesses quite like Naomi does.
Valentina came out looking like a Barbie doll and I really do enjoy this idea. I do wish she’d maybe put on something to show where the joints are and… OK, not sure how else to word this, smoothed out her tuck so it was completely flat. I did love that she walked like a Barbie doll would, the clear plastic gloves were a really fun addition and her face has never been so perfectly beat. She looks really good, but there are tiny details that I really wish she’d done to kick this up even more because I know she can do that.
Monet was wearing clear plastic that was stoned perfectly to create futuristic battle armour that, much like Manila’s cellophane, looked incredible when it hit the lights in just the right way. Her hair was nice and big and pink, her makeup was perfect. This might be the best Monet’s looked all season. I also love that she not only had an outfit that fit with the runway but she found one that felt like it fit with the club that she’d made, the only one so far to do that.
Monique comes out in a look that references Josephine Baker, a fascinating reference that made me go look her up because my school was dumb and didn’t teach me the things I should know. The big difference is that Josephine used actual bananas for her outfit and Monique did not. Now, I understand why she can’t just bring a bunch of real bananas with her for one look, but because those bananas are flat it makes that part of the outfit look bad. I kind of wish she’d just 3D printed a bunch of bananas to put on her outfit and give it some more shape.
After the critiques, where Michelle seems to forget what outfits Valentina wore or that black holes are part of space so therefore it makes sense for a Black Hole nightclub to have a space theme, the bottoms are revealed as Naomi and Valentina. Sadly, that feels about right, the other two teams were genuinely great and engaging so unless someone bombed the runway, it was going to be Naomi and Valentina. Meanwhile the top two are Latrice and Trinity which is really a nice change. We finally get to see Latrice win, and Trinity is now on her third win. In the workroom we get the exact moment that we always knew Latrice would give us, that sweet motherly moment where she tells Valentina that she should feel OK to show her emotions. It’s a genuine moment between the two of them that shows why Latrice is one of the favourites of all time.
Lip Sync For Your Legacy
The lip sync is to “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead or Alive, one of the best disco songs ever and a song I genuinely expected to see before now. With Latrice and Trinity as the two competitors, it’s anyone’s game… or at least, that’s what it looks like when the show starts. Let’s start with what Trinity did.
Trinity came out in a leopard dressing gown that tore away into a disgusting outfit that had her looking like a porno version of the old Six Flags mascot. I have nothing against doing a lip sync in a giant silly outfit like that, Shangela did it last season and destroyed everyone, but this was awkward and uncomfortable to watch. It was a shtick with no relevance to the number, there were times when she was just licking her lips like some kind of creepy pervert instead of lip-syncing (though that could’ve been the editing) but it just had no real point and was a visual shock that had no actual payoff in the number.
Latrice, meanwhile, did the exact thing we expect her to do and it was amazing. She knew every word, she moved around that stage and took command of the room. She had such an incredible presence that made you look at her even when she was several feet behind Trinity. Her bright blue lips really make you have no choice but to pay attention and notice that she knows every single word, it’s a pure Latrice performance and it’s so nice to see her properly back in the game.
The easy winner was Latrice Royale, meaning that she has to send someone home and the one she decides to send home is the one and only Valentina. It’s sad because Valentina could easily have won either season she was on but once she gets in her head, she crumbles. She’s easily one of the most talented queens to walk on the stage and no matter what, she’ll be something special. She’s already proving that by landing the role of Angel in Rent Live, which is airing in a few days. She gets to go from being eliminated on this show to being one of the most important characters in another show; I think she’ll be fine. Still, she will be missed on our screens so if she’s touring near you then go see her. Buy her merch (SHE HAS A FAN FAVOURITE SHIRT!? Someone buy me that, in size fat) and watch Rent Live in support of this iconic queen… who is so iconic that, apparently, VH1 aired Selena just after the episode aired, which is hilariously shady and I kind of love it.
Oh, also, last minute addition here. If you see any fans going in on Latrice for eliminating Valentina, REPORT THEM TO WHATEVER SITE THEY ARE ON. I’m old enough to remember what happened the last time Valentina went home and while Valentina is now actively telling her fans to not do this, some are going to choose to ignore that request. If you see it, you report them and you don’t stop reporting them until they’re gone. This fandom has its problems sometimes, we have people who react poorly to eliminations or even to new queens that look a little different and those of us who aren’t like that need to step up and stomp that shit out the second we see it. It’s on all of us to keep them in line.
Next week is the makeover challenge so… maybe Naomi will get screen time, who knows!
Valentina: Sending me home doesn’t make sense with my fantasy
Valentina: You’re skinny, I’m sometimes skinny when I want to
Valentina: [Dramatic Gasp]
Valentina: (looking at a grey wall) This looks better than the Mona Lisa
Trinity: After you leave this evening with Carson, you’re going to need to go to the clinic tomorrow and get you some Erythromycin
Michelle Visage: I can tell how horribly uncomfortable you are, which makes me really happy
Valentina: But, bitch, let it be known she left with a crown