Alexis Michelle (#110 of 5)

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 9, "Your Pilot’s On Fire"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “Your Pilot’s On Fire”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 9, “Your Pilot’s On Fire”

Girl, call Tilda Swinton. Because we need to talk about Nina Bo’nina Helen Gurley Brown. And, because really only one significant thing happened in this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (namely, one of the most tragic lip-synch misfortunes in human record), be aware that spoilers are higher up in this rucap than usual. Having said that, we really need to talk about Nina Bo’nina del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Brown.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 8, "RuPaul Roast"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “RuPaul Roast”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “RuPaul Roast”

For the benefit of the children, or those clearly old enough to know better by now, let’s start our seminar on the fundamentality of “reading” at the very beginning, courtesy of a lesson plan most famously expounded by Paris Is Burning’s Dorian Corey, and forgive a thorough bitch for quoting in full:

“[Picking at] those little flaws, that’s because that’s a part of shade. That’s the idea; knock ’em out if you can. Get ’em any way. Hit ’em below the belt. Shade comes from reading. Reading came first. Reading is the real art form of insults. You get in a smart crack, and everyone laughs and kikis, because you found a flaw and exaggerated it, and you’ve got a good read going. If it’s happening between the gay world and the straight world, it’s not really a read. It’s more of an insult, a vicious slur fight. But it’s how they develop a sense of how to read. They may call you a faggot or a drag queen, and you find something to call them. But then when you are all of the same thing, then you have go to a fine point. In other words, if I’m a black queen and you’re a black queen, we can’t call each other black queens because we’re both black queens. That’s not a read, that’s just a fact. So then we talk about your ridiculous shape, your saggy face, your tacky clothes. Reading became a developed form where it became shade. Shade is: I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 7, "9021-HO"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 7, “9021-HO”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 7, “9021-HO”

There comes a subconscious tipping point during every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race that defines how good or un-good that season is, and it’s the point where eliminations stop feeling like a relief and start feeling painful. The most stellar of seasons reach that point at least midway through; season eight never reached that point. Though the jury’s still out on where season nine will fall in the Drag Race canon, it seems difficult to deny that this particular moment has occurred well ahead of schedule.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, “Kardashian: The Musical”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, “Kardashian: The Musical”

“This is RuPaul’s best friend race!” exclaims Alexis Michelle as three or four other RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants kiss and make up in the workroom. What happens when queens all get along? Producers manufacture drama, silly. And, even for a show that wears its fabrications and intentionality on its rhinestoned sleeve, the machinations start to seem just a touch mannered. Following a series of episodes that effortlessly drew personality (or lack thereof) from a cast that seems more look-oriented than personality-dependent, the fifth episode of the show’s ninth season is a marked regression. And not only because I now, after all these blessed years, am forced to finally write the names of all the Kardashians, a situation for which it will take me some time to forgive Mama Ru.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 1, "Oh. My Gaga!"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Oh. My. Gaga!”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Oh. My. Gaga!”

Opulence! O-P-U-L-E-N-C-E! You’d think season nine of Rupaul’s Drag Race would have it rough matching up to the show’s still-ballooning legacy. Season eight maybe didn’t mark itself as distinctive in many respects, but it at least afforded itself the chance to dance like Beyoncé in the end zone about reaching 100 episodes/100 queens. But the recent All Stars season truly elevated the entire Drag Race universe to new levels of sickening. Even fresh off the heels of Mama Ru’s Emmy win, though, apparently World of Wonder still has something to prove on the runway. Why else would the franchise shantay its slot all the way from Mondays on Logo (the perfect time to commemorate the total evaporation of a weekend’s worth of hangover) to Friday nights on VH1? (Cue the shade rattlesnake sound cue.)