"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 5: Scent of a drag queen


Another hilarious episode with great challenges. This season is really on a roll; I can’t think of an episode yet that didn’t deliver. And this week’s was arguably the most entertaining yet. We got hot shirtless guys with bulging packages and drag queens acting the fool (some intentionally, some not), plus some salty guest judges and serious back-stage bitchery. Well done, “Drag Race” team.

The episode began with Roxxxy Andrews apologizing to Jinkx Monsoon for coming at her in the previous episode, before Roxxxy had to lipsynch for her life and had an emotional on-stage meltdown. I suspect Roxxxy wishes that segment had been shown last week, because she got savaged online by many, many people, and Jinkx actually had to step in and ask her fans to show Roxxxy some compassion. (It was a rough week for Ms. Andrews in general, as her drag mother died right after last week’s episode aired.) Personally, what I’m seeing with Roxxxy is someone who is increasingly unsure of her place in this competition, and she’s lashing out wherever she can. Last week it was Jinkx, this week it was Alyssa. It’s not a flattering portrait of her, and she’s starting to self-destruct a bit. It’s the Curse of the Big Girl all over again.

The mini-challenge was like the childhood game Memory, except for with 100 percent more beefy men dropping trou. Twenty-something dudes were brought out and the queens had to systematically have them pull down their pants until they found all the matching underwear in the group. Children, on what other show are you going to see this kind of entertainment, this kind of good taste? None! The Emmy should go to RuPaul! All the Emmys! Ivy Winters got all the matches the fastest, but as RuPaulsaid, the true winners were every straight woman and gay man in America. And hi, Ronnie from “Make Me a Supermodel”! Please eat a sandwich, you look really skinny.

The main challenge tasked the queens with developing their own signature fragrances, just like true sell-out superstars looking to make a quick buck. They had to decide everything, from fragrance name to what it smelled like to bottle design, and had to shoot an accompanying commercial. Several of these turned out to be hilariously awesome, with a few queens turning in some really clever work. Others were duds that showcased the queens’ lack of creativity and professionalism. And yet another was a blatant attempt to kiss Ru’s ass, and a copycat to boot.

Alaska really owned this challenge, showing a confidence we’ve never seen from her before. I want more of it. Her fragrance, Red for Filth, was a slam dunk and included an uproarious video that made good use of her comedy chops. She also really changed it up on the runway this week, ditching the prom gowns and going for something a little freakier. (I hate to say it, but it looked to me like something Sharon would wear, just with much crazier make-up.) Alaska got the win, and she deserved it. A great week for her. Build on it, Alaska!

Jinkx Monsoon also really nailed this challenge -- she's also surging at the right moment -- and her Delusion perfume and ad were smart and well executed. The slightly downtrodden flapper look worked for me on the runway, and she has made such a dramatic turnaround with her make-up skills. The continued blossoming of both Jinkx and Alaska gives me hope that a comedy queen could win this thing this year.

Detoxfinally decided to show up again after what seems like weeks of phoning it in. Her commercial for Heroin wasn’t on quite the same level as the previously mentioned queens, but it was a solid effort with some funny moments. Still, she’s not really growing. Am I the only one who thinks she’s bored by the whole competition? Juliette Lewis nailed her on that weeks ago.

Coco Montresewas deemed safe, and that is the biggest crock of horseshit I’ve seen on this show all season. Where to begin? Coco’s fragrance was named RuAnimal by Coco. This is a blatant attempt to suck up to the head judge, and beyond that, it made absolutely no sense. Why would a superstar name a “signature fragrance” after someone else? Would Jessica Simpson have a perfume named Brit Brit? But what was even more egregious to me is that Coco lifted her entire commercial from other contestants. Her look -- leopard-print body suit, huge lion-mane wig -- was an EXACT COPY of BebeZahara Benet’s iconic look from S1. There’s no way RuPaul doesn’t remember that. The dude in the lion mask? Totally ripped from Alaska in the Snuggie mini-challenge a few weeks back. This episode convinced me that Coco is a total hack. She’s made it thus far relying on gimmicky drama, by wisely using her teammates’ strengths to her advantage, or by straight-up stealing other queens’ acts. I am amazed that not one person on panel has called her out for this. She should have been up for elimination tonight.

Roxxxy Andrews narrowly avoided a second consecutive trip to the bottom for her Thick & Juicy perfume. The idea wasn’t bad -- a perfume that smells like food for big girls who are confident in their figures. But Roxxxy didn’t seem to have a script and her concept -- school-marmish mod get-up that is quickly removed for glamorous amazon underneath -- was unsurprising given who it was coming from. Roxxxy also got blasted by Michelle for her unprofessionalism. She’s clearly struggling at this point, and I’m not sure if she’s going to be able to get back on track.

Alyssa Edwards DID make her second B2 appearance in a row. Alyssa once again bombed the main challenge, admitting that she wasn’t 100 percent sure what she was doing. Alyssa seems so very dim, but I love her. I cherish her. I thought her video shoot was hilarious. Who else names her fragrance Alyssa’s Secret and then hasn’t thought through an answer when the head judge asks the obvious question: “What IS your secret?” No clue from Alyssa. Bless!

But it was Ivy Winters’s first and last trip to the bottom for her perfume, Dress Code. Ivy seemed to be adrift nearly from the beginning, changing her original concept (Poison Rosebud, a riff off assholes but clunky and not at all youthful) and then not knowing what she was doing during the actual shoot. This was not the first time I found myself wondering how intelligent Ivy is (I have the same questions about Roxxxy and sometimes Coco -- Alyssa is obviously not getting a MENSA invitation any time soon). I’m not saying you need to be a Rhodes Scholar to be America’s Next Drag Superstar, but you do need to have some wit about you. Ivy seemed to lack that. Great runways and what seems like a total sweetheart. But really more of a supporting cast member than the lead. Alyssa clobbered her in the lipsynch. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Alyssa took that round. And good on Alyssa, because she needed the win.

On “Untucked” Coco vaporized whatever lingering goodwill she had by openly attacking Jinkx and then daring to act offended when people told her she was acting like a bitch. What a tired old queen she is, good lord. Exasperating and exhausting to watch. Not even her sweet video message from her husband, or the very sad story about both of her parents dying of cancer, was enough to redeem her. Everyone in my viewing party is sick to death of Coco and we want her ass gone next week.

Well, in two weeks, I mean. No new episode next Monday. My friends and I are taking the opportunity to watch “Paris is Burning,” the Episode 1 of “Drag Race.” Except not terrible!