The library opened, the girls had to sell themselves, controversy found its way into the Werk Room and our “sheilas” headed to the bush.
As usual, the episode opened with the queens’ returning to the Werk Room after last week’s elimination. The girls were still quite emotional after losing Anita Wigl’it.
“How can you send home someone like Anita?” said Karen From Finance through tears.
“Oh, quite easily apparently,” replied Kita Mean.
“I’m going to miss her – the most aggressively positive person I’ve met in my life,” said Art Simone.
“As I get to know all you guys more and more it’s going to feel so much worse to send you all home,” quipped Kita.
We also saw the genesis of a New Zealand versus Australia competitiveness. “The Aussie girls think it’s their show,” said Kita.
“If you can take two, I can take three,” Elektra responded.
“I’ve never taken two!” joked Kita.
Etcetera Etcetera was still banging on about her poor critique and being judged worse than Kita in the challenge. When RuPaul entered the room the queens were told that the library had opened and that they needed to be able to dish it out as well as take it. We waited to see who was the shadiest, the quickest, the meanest and who just wasn’t funny. We weren’t disappointed and the NZ vs Aussie conflict continued with some of the shadiest and most hilarious lines.
Etcetera said she finally understood Elektra Shock’s name as, “I’m shocked she’s still in the competition.”
Kita struck back with, “This competition is full of fierce Australian queens, hilarious Kiwis, etcetera etcetera”.
But it wasn’t all trans-Tasman rivalry. Maxi Shield said of Scarlet Adams, “The only time she has something between her ears is when she’s sucking dick.”
No one was safe from the acid tongue of Art Simone. She started out with, “happy to be coming to the covid-free region that is NZ, however, Elektra should get a covid test as she’s clearly lost her taste”.
Then, “Out of drag, Etcetera uses the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’, for example, ‘they haven’t been in the top so we won’t be seeing them in the final’,” and finished with, “I’d say top that but clearly this is a buffet of bottoms”. Which left her the winner when the library closed.
For the Maxi Challenge, the queens had to develop their own yeast spread product. They had to name it, package it and market it with a lip-smacking commercial. Again, Ru dropped a big hint with “give the customer what they want and what they want is you”. Basically, they had to repurpose Vegemite and make it funny. No one mentioned Vegemite or any other yeast extract spread ending in “mite” so clearly they weren’t able to drum up a sponsorship deal.
Unfortunately, some of the girls overthought this and missed the mark completely when they tried to be too clever. At least the Pit Crew were featured in every infomercial and gave us something more interesting to watch. Even special guest Suzanne Paul, the queen of infomercials, remarked, “just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse”.
Viewers were treated to Karen’s “Discharge”, not the worst but not Ru’s favourite. Scarlet’s “Snatch” elicited “just vulgar” from the judges, while Art’s “Yeasty Yank Extractor” had a little bit too much packed into it. Etcetera’s “Piss” was “too crass and not interesting” and Maxi’s “Horn Bag Yeast Concentrate” had Ru surprised she didn’t do better.
The standouts were the two Kiwi queens. Kita’s “Yeasty Nuts Donut Filling” was a homage to Divine and Pink Flamingos, prompting Rhys Nicholson to say, “As the audience for drag gets younger and younger we do kind of loose references like Divine. And if just one 14-year-old girl Googles who Divine is and watches Pink Flamingos then we have done our job!”
However, it was Elektra’s “Topped” that the judges picked as a job well done. It was “stuffed with Charisma, overflowing with Uniqueness, packed with Nerve and the only yeast spread on the market that’s full of – and Talent”.
While preparing for the runway, Art asked, “Has Anyone done anything in drag that they regret?”
“My first three runways,” said Elektra, the only light moment in the subsequent discussion.
“I’ve said and done things in drag that I regret a lot,” revealed Scarlett. “When I was a lot younger and stupid and naïve, just trying desperately to make people laugh… recently I got called out on it… I have in the past done black face, which I really regret. I’m disgusted in myself that I did those things.
“I didn’t know any better. Not that that’s an excuse but it’s hard to unlearn things that are ingrained into you as a child. I know that I’ll never be able to fully atone for the things that I did in my past, but I can try,” she said.
Art responded with, “It’s strange to appropriate someone’s culture to make a joke of it.” However, it was Etcetera who was the most succinct when she said, “I’ve never looked at something like blackface and thought that that could be an honest mistake. While people of colour and trans people are still facing violence every single day from the systematic oppression that we live in, it isn’t a joke to me. Going forward there should be a lot of steps of reparation and not just saying sorry but doing things to show that you’re sorry and I think that’s really important.”
Elektra then said to Etcetera, “I’m so impressed with how knowledgeable and smart and worldly you are. People like yourself are the reason why I think we’re going to start to see real change, I hope.”
For the Runway, the queens were given the theme, The Finest Sheila In The Bush. If you’re wondering what a “sheila” is, it’s an out-dated Australian slang term for a woman. Even Australians needed that reference explained as no one still uses it.
Kita wore a beautiful and safe butterfly dress while Karen’s Chanel Does Country Fire Association had Michelle Visage saying, “It’s fun when drag queens can make a political statement in their own way,” and also left her safe.
Maxi’s Picnic At Hanging Rock realness was more Gone With The Wind and less Bush Sheila that once again placed her in the bottom. Art provided an Outback Steakhouse that seamlessly transformed into Kath Day-Knight, complete with signature dance moves. While her lewk was excellent, her infomercial pushed her into the bottom three but, in the end, she was safe.
Etcetera gave us a rich and fresh bush coat that, with a flash of fire, transformed into a burnt tree stump that then regenerated into new life. However, while her lewk was high fashion her infomercial was low brow which left her in the bottom.
Scarlet recreated the iconic flowing silver lamé outfit from the bus scene in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. The judges loved it. Then Ru dealt with the Werk Room exposé and gave Scarlet the opportunity to address the matter. After her mea culpa, Ru said, “There are people that would want me to cancel you right here, right now, but I’d rather this be a lesson in humility and accountability and I pray that all of us can learn and grow from our mistakes.”
In the end it was her outfit that saved her from the bottom.
Elektra’s beautiful silhouette was a tribute to the land she comes from. A New Zealand princess with a Huia bird (now extinct) on her hand and a fully realised infomercial had her this week’s winner.
Maxi and Etcetera were left to lip-sync for their lives to Vanessa Amorosi’s Absolutely Everybody. Maxi said she had a few old-school drag tricks up her sleeve and she literally did – a hilarious silver microphone prop which she used like the old pro she is! In the end, Maxi prevailed, proving that a good lip sync can still trump tricks like cartwheels and splits.
At the end of the episode, there were still unanswered questions. Firstly, has anyone yet properly explained why Art Simone was brought back? And, secondly, when did jokes that are “too crude” suddenly matter on Drag Race, a show that has peddled in very cheap double entendre since its inception?