Trump Ruins Everything, Even ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ [RECAP and RANKINGS]

Yikes. After last week’s lip sync bloodbath, the pressure was high to deliver this week on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The gals tried their best to step it up, but some truly lackluster creative left us with one of the limpest episodes in the series’ 11-season stretch.

With a field of competitors that still feels bloated three eliminations later, it’s more important than ever to shine under the spotlights.

Unfortunately, with challenges like these, it’s even tougher to put on a good showing.

Take last night’s mini challenge. The queens had to get in Rachel Maddow drag (am I a bad feminist for initially thinking it was a Hannah Gadsby-inspired challenge from last week’s preview?) and then deliver breaking news from a teleprompter.

Few queens even tried to approximate Rachel’s Maddowisms, with only Nina, Brooke, Yvie and Ariel registering any Rachel at all. Scarlet, whom I would slot in fifth, was awarded the win somehow. I don’t know if anyone really knocked it out of the park, including Maddow whose own read was interspersed. The copy was bad, the drag was bad and watching the queens struggle with the language wasn’t nearly as funny as they intended.

Her prize included the power to assign roles in this week’s big lip sync performance, TRUMP: The Rusical. Ugh. This is my escapism, can we just not? Everything is such a mess in the world, and the sharpest comedic minds have already wrung every drop of humor from this. After seeing the queens’ simply reading the news in the mini-challenge, I don’t need to see them *finger wag* reeeeeeaadd the news, ya know?

Scarlet wielded her power mostly responsibly, sincerely attempting to pair girls with parts that suit them. Mercedes attempted to throw herself at the largest role, which caused everyone a bit of alarm. I understand her thinking here, trying to take a big swing, but, gurl, know your limits.

Silky also wasn’t thrilled with her assigned role: Oprah. Which, huh? What are we doing here? How is Oprah involved?

Whatever.

There was minimal squabbling over parts before the group went to choreo with famed Deadpool ballet dancer, Yanis Marshall. In addition to being a ballet assassin, Yanis is not afraid to cut a bitch with his words. Brooke impressed Mr. Marshall with years of professional ballet training, while Ra’Jah chimed in to share she’s trained various styles. O RLY, GURL?

Turns out, that training was some 15 years ago. Ra’Jah is 33, so that basically means she was a child when she was taking dance training. It’s not the same as Brooke, not by a longshot.

Ra’Jah struggled to keep up, Scarlet looked awkward, but it was Ariel who really seemed the most shooketh. Saddled with the largest role, the Instagram queen was already feeling a little insecure. At one point during rehearsal, she completely froze.

Luckily, she did better in the performance itself. The entire thing was structured as a sort of parody of Grease, except it followed all the women in Trump’s orbit. (The less anyone tries to discern a cohesive plot or narrative arc, the better.) Even in the canon of Rusicals, this was one of the weaker entries. It was saved by some real stand-out performances from Yvie (as Kellyanne Conway), Nina (Sarah Huckabee Sanders), Brooke (Ivana Trump) and Silky (Oprah).

Oddly enough, it’s Silky that picked up the win, despite the other three queens named above outshining her (in my opinion, at least). Vanjie, Ra’Jah and, of course, Merceds fail to make an impression impersonating Rosie O’Donnell, Omarosa and Ivanka, respectively.

Most of the girls werked the runway for an Orange Alert theme, as guest judges Tiffany “New York” Pollard and The Soup‘s Joel McHale whooped and hollered. McHale irked Michelle Visage with his shouting, treating the runway more like March Madness than Mystery Science Theater.

It came down to Ra’Jah and Mercedes in the lip sync, and, really, the writing was on the wall before the track “Living In America” even began. Ra’Jah gave a lot of energy, and, even though she lost her wig during the performance, it was Mercedes’ time to go.

Let’s dive deeper into the individual performances in our rankings below.

  1. After a strong start and a few subsequent middling weeks, Brooke Lynn Hytes is back on top, baby. She took the relatively small role of Ivana, and she spun it into gold. She knew the character she was playing, she made smart choices about how to heighten it and delivered it flawlessly. Add to that Brooke’s futuristic knockout runway, and she is surging. (Plus, her little ‘ho-mance with Vanjie will be a storyline too delicious for producers to pass up any time soon.)
  2. This was a great week for Yvie. She was robbed of that win. Her performance in the Rusical was far and away the strongest. She made a full character out of Kellyanne that elevated the cheesy material to the next level. She didn’t just serve haggard, she served “Bitch, I’ve been on four morning shows, physically wrestled the President’s cell phone away, attended two couples counseling sessions, and it’s not even noon!” I loved it. On the runway, the citrus circus ensemble was a highlight, especially alongside so many similar showgirl looks.
  3. Even though I may be the world’s biggest Silky STAN, I wasn’t nearly as enamored with her performance this week as the judges were. Her Oprah was on-target, but I don’t think she brought anything extra to the part. She also didn’t wow me on the runway. Silky is still a strong (and strange) competitor, but I would only give her a B+ this week.
  4. Vanjie may be down, but she’s not out. Rosie O’Donnell is probably the toughest character to portray. Should she have fired some koosh balls? Maybe put on a fat suit? (No. No, she should not.) It’s a shame, because even her lyrics were strikingly devoid of jokes. It was a little bit of a raw deal. I might feel even more sympathy if Michelle wasn’t spot-on in her critique, calling out the sameness of Vanjie’s runways. I hope this is a wake-up call for Vanjie, and she comes soaring back next week. (Also, it was nice to hear Ru echo my own assertion that there is a direct line from Alyssa Edwards to Vanjie.)
  5. I was surprised to see Plastique overlooked this week as well. Her Milania makeup and mannerisms were spot on. Even her reactions and moments out of the spotlight stayed consistent. Don’t sleep on Plastique.
  6. Another unsung shero this week was Nina West. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Nina nailed every single moment on stage. Her little solo was perfect, and she imbued every note with appropriate emotion. She gave Sarah tics and mannerisms that both made sense and made fun. I loved her thinking when it comes to the Hello, Dolly runway, but it may have been a bit too literal of an homage to Barbra Streisand.
  7. It finally felt like A’Keria landed herself in the right place at the right time. Stormy Daniels wasn’t the star of the show, but at least she wasn’t stuck in a dead-end like with the Mariah show last week. I was in love with her nude illusion, fringe lewk on the runway with long, long, long, orange wig. A’Keria is exciting in a way that makes me look forward to a time when she’s sharing the screen with less filler queens.
  8. Am I the only one not totally into Scarlet? I just don’t think there’s a whole lot of there there that we haven’t seen yet. Her drag looks expensive and refined. Her aesthetic is classic. Her acting chops are solidly average. I wasn’t crazy about her Betsy DeVos. What was with the martini? Is DeVos a drunk? I thought she was just an idiot. I liked her runway, but the same fabric head-to-toe made it seem like it was created by the absolute most talented person in a freshman fashion design college course.
  9. Shuga is fading into the background for me. So much so, in fact, I forgot to include her when originally working on this post. I enjoyed her Hillary, and I wish we heard the judges’ reactions to her gender-bending runway. Treading water in the middle of the pack is costing Shuga dearly.
  10. Ariel was fine. She was fine in the challenge, she was fine on the runway. She’s fine. I’m waiting for her to go full villain (as opposed to the semi-villain all people who build their brand on Instagram become), which may make her more interesting — and keep her around longer.
  11. When it comes to Ra’Jah, it doesn’t seem like she’s lacking talent. She also doesn’t strike me as inexperienced. It doesn’t appear that her skills don’t translate to this competition. It’s my belief that what’s holding Ra’Jah back is HUBRIS. Oh, the hubris. Her over-singing in the Mariah show and the way she volunteered that dance experience like it was yesterday was almost shocking. Her attitude seems to indicate she has quite the inflated sense of self. That lack of awareness is going to be a huge disadvantage as she makes decisions as a performer under pressure. Her Omarosa was so … small … , and that runway felt truly Junior Varsity next to some of the more exciting ensembles. She needs a more self-critical eye to avoid further pitfalls.
  12. Goodbye, Mercedes. As Drag Race‘s first Muslim queen, I’m glad you were able to share a bit more about your experience as a Muslim person with this audience. She was just way over her head. Granted, Ivanka is almost more about being devoid of personality, but even the wig was bad. (As an aside, if you haven’t seen Comedy Central’s brilliant Jared & Ivanka series starring queer comedians Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, drop everything and do that right now.) Back to Mercedes … if Ra’Jah’s runway was JV, Mercedes’ look was Pee-Wee league. The lip sync was also lacking. It was her time.

How would you rank the queens?

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Mueller Probe into Russian Interference in 2016 Election Completed, Delivered to Attorney General

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and it has been delivered to Attorney General William Barr. The report is said to be “comprehensive.”

The AP reports: “Mueller’s report, still confidential, sets the stage for big public fights to come. The next steps are up to Trump’s attorney general, to Congress and, in all likelihood, federal courts. It’s not clear how much of the report will become public or provided to Congress. Barr has said he will write his own report summarizing Mueller’s findings.”

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The NYT reports: “Mr. Barr told congressional leaders late Friday that he may brief them within days on the special counsel’s findings. ‘I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,’ he wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.It is up to Mr. Barr how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered.”

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Developing…

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Mueller Probe into Russian Interference in 2016 Election Completed, Delivered to Attorney General

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and it has been delivered to Attorney General William Barr.

The AP reports: “Mueller’s report, still confidential, sets the stage for big public fights to come. The next steps are up to Trump’s attorney general, to Congress and, in all likelihood, federal courts. It’s not clear how much of the report will become public or provided to Congress. Barr has said he will write his own report summarizing Mueller’s findings.”

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The NYT reports: “Mr. Barr told congressional leaders late Friday that he may brief them within days on the special counsel’s findings. ‘I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,’ he wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.It is up to Mr. Barr how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered.”

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Developing…

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Wade Robson, Ben Platt P!nk, Jimmy Carter, Cardi B, Nathan Westling, United Airlines, Patrick Crowley: HOT LINKS

94.172. Jimmy Carter just became the longest-living president. ‘The record comes more than three years after Mr. Carter announced that he would receive treatment for cancer that had been discovered in his brain.’

OKURRR. Cardi B wants to trademark it.

NATHAN WESTLING. Top model comes out as transgender. “He hasn’t sprouted any facial hair, to his mild disappointment, but otherwise Westling looks like just another Santa Monica skater boy — albeit one with an otherworldly beauty about him.”

ROGER STONE. I plead the Fifth. ‘Roger Stone is declining to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee’s request for documents in its investigation into President Trump‘s administration, business and campaign, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. In a letter sent to the committee on Monday and obtained by The Hill, Stone’s attorney wrote that his client won’t produce the requested documents “on the advice of counsel.”

UNSPECIFIED. United Airlines to begin offering nonbinary options on tickets: ‘The effort comes as two big trade groups – Airlines for America (A4A) in the USA and the global International Air Transport Association (IATA) – have recently approved a new international best-practices standard that suggests accommodation for travelers using “non-binary IDs.” The suggested standard will create an option for “unspecified” or “undisclosed” for passengers booking tickets. That option would be in addition to the options for “male” or “female.”’

OBSESSED. Trump still wants Hillary “locked up”.

THINK ABOUT IT. George Conway continues his anti-Trump tweetstorm. “THINK about the fact that we don’t just have a mentally unstable president—but a president who thinks he needs to be re-elected to avoid being indicted. (At least in that one respect his thinking is clear.)”

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ALABAMA. Senate passes bill that would end all marriage licenses: ‘Instead of issuing marriage licenses, two people getting married would submit affidavits or forms to a probate judge, who would then record the marriage. The marriage would be considered to take place the day the individuals signed the affidavit. It would also eliminate the requirement for a ceremony for nuptials.’

TENNESSEE. “License to discriminate” bill advances in House.

MINNESOTA. Rep. Ilhan Omar rallies for bill banning gay conversion therapy: ‘Omar spoke Thursday on the state Capitol steps to a crowd that marched from OutFront Minnesota’s seventh annual Youth Summit at Saint Paul College. The Minnesota Democrat called gay conversion therapy “torture” and said it should no longer be a legal practice in Minnesota or in any other state.’

NEW COUPLE ALERT? Lady Gaga and…. Jeremy Renner?

ON THE RAG. This week on the gay magazines.

PATRICK CROWLEY. New accusers speak out after Billboard Pride editor fired for sexually harassing artists: ‘The accusers are all up-and-coming artists in the music industry, and most are queer people of color. Those who have spoken out include Michael Medrano, a Los Angeles-based indie pop artist; Kisos, a New York-based publicist and musician; Alextbh, a queer artist in Malaysia; and Mosayac, a Nashville singer. The majority claim Crowley requested nude photographs through private messages on social media — although, in the case of Kisos, the alleged request was for a meeting to “Netflix and chill” after the pair met at a networking event.’

ANTONI POROWSKI. How I met my boyfriend.

THE POLITICIAN. Ryan Murphy series starring Ben Platt will premiere on September 27.

WADE ROBSON. Sexual abuse accuser on boycotting Michael Jackson’s music: “That’s not really my concern, I mean, that’s everybody’s individual journey, you know? If I have any hope it’s just that we question, in general, who it is that we’re worshiping and why so it’s beyond Michael.”

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY. P!nk “Walk Me Home”. “The music video was directed by The Greatest Showman‘s Michael Gracey, and co-directed by Stuart Bowen. Her upcoming eighth studio album, Hurts 2B Human, will be released on April 26.

FRIDAY FLASH. Titus Fauntleroy.

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Gay Man in ‘Complete Shock’ After Contracting HIV While on PrEP

Steven Spencer / Facebook

Steven Spencer, a 27-year-old “sexual health and gay community advocate” from Sydney, Australia who has been taking PrEP for five years, says he contracted HIV while using PrEP “on demand,” which is “a dosing strategy involving taking PrEP pills in line with a carefully-timed schedule before and after sex,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Said Spencer to the newspaper: “I was in complete shock, as were my doctors. … What happened to me doesn’t change the fact that PrEP is still the most powerful HIV preventative we have ever had. It is protecting hundreds of thousands of people from HIV in an empowering way, alongside effective treatment for people living with HIV.”

Andrew Grulich, program head of HIV Epidemiology and Prevention at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute, told the paper that “most of the HIV seroconversion cases identified had involved a virus that is resistant to the anti-viral medication contained in PrEP” and also said that “non-adherence” to the regimen was also a factor in many cases.

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Gus Kenworthy Debuts Fresh Pink Hair

Olympian skiier Gus Kenworthy’s not going to be hard to spot when he hits the slopes again because his hair is now the color of an Easter Egg, and his Instagram followers are loving it. Is pink the new hair trend of 2019? Or was he going for living coral?

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Petty in Pink

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Georgia HS Removes Transgender Student from Prom King Ballot, Says He Should Be Running for Prom Queen: WATCH

Officials at Johnson High School in Hall County, Georgia removed a transgender student from the Prom King ballot and told the student he should be running for Prom Queen instead.

Dex Frier, who says he started identifying as male during his sophomore year, told WSB-TV: “They don’t have a clear rule that says you have to be biologically male to run for prom king (or that) you have to be biologically female to run for prom queen. There is no rule that states that.”

A petition to put Frier on the Prom King ballot by members of the student body has nearly 15,000 signatures.

Says the petition: “Last week, the Johnson High School administration was informed by the Hall County Schools superintendent, Will Schofield, that Dex Frier, a transgender male, must be removed from the Prom King ballot. The solution, proposed by Mr. Schofield, was to allow Dex a choice between being listed on the Prom Queen ballot or to be removed from both ballots. Prior to Mr. Schofield’s interference, we, the Johnson High School student body, elected Dex Frier to represent us as a male member on Prom Court—this was a free-response, purely democratic election system in which Dex was one of six males who received the most votes.”

It continues: “Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board. The two core beliefs of Hall County Schools are outlined on their webpage: ‘The Most Caring Place On Earth” and “Character, Competency, and Rigor…For All.’ The decision made by Mr. Schofield fails to reflect either core value of Hall County Schools and is rather an exposition of a transphobic attitude that endangers many more than just Dex.”

An opposing petition has 39 signatures. It says: “If we let this then it will be unfair for the boys to actually be prom king because everyone will be voting for Dex. This is wack bro. We can’t let this happen.”

The school’s superintendent, Will Schofield, released a statement: “First, this school district has never removed any student from any prom or homecoming court. Furthermore, I will not respond publicly, in any manner, to a situation that has the potential to single out any student in any way. We protect the privacy rights of our student body. On a broader note, I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district in a the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community. Prom should be a time for students to fellowship together and celebrate their local school.”

Watch WSB-TV’s report:

https://w3.cdn.anvato.net/player/prod/v3/anvload.html?key=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%3D

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