“We’re going to have a good old fashioned bitch fest…with puppets!” That was the theme of this weeks mini-challenge and perhaps set the tone for the entire “Sugar Bowl” episode which was an all out bitch fest from start to finish. The last few episodes were filled with Alyssa and Coco drama, but out with the old and in with the new as this week’s cat fights encompassed Rolaskatox vs. Jinkx. Almost immediately after Coco was sent packing, Roxxxy became all about the T and shade, as she let Jinx know that it was her against the trio. This became even clearer as the mini-challenge progressed and each contestant dressed and acted out the character of another contestant using puppets. Although most puppets were humorous and good natured, Roxxxy showed an extremely satirical impression of Jinkx. First, Roxxxy makes fun of Jinkx’s sleeping disorder, then claimed that Jinkx was talentless and a bitch to which Ru replies “The Shade of it all”. Alaska was the winner of the challenge with her hysterical Roxxxy performance and her “Where my people at” line.
It is apparent that Roxxxy and Detox do not take Jinkx version of drag seriously. There is a definite line between the type of drag which these ladies perform. Although Jinkx takes the show and her drag very seriously, it caters to her comical side, which is who she is and what she likes. Despite how funny the other ladies can be, this does not mesh well with the beauty queen diva drag which Roxxxy and Detox present, while Alaska blends somewhere in the middle (but obviously leans more toward her two counterparts). For TV viewers at home, this can be considered queer in itself. For those unfamiliar with the drag world, many assume that to be drag is to always be over the top, fabulous and comical. While most of the queens are expected to be this way, as with all acting, there are different types of actors and roles. If before Drag Race you did not know much about queens or did not immerse yourself in their subculture (which is invisible to most of the general public), it is understandable that all drag queens are type cast into certain roles.
This notion is broken down in this episode, as well as many before it, which show that there are various queer identities inside this queer subculture. And although Larry Gross does not really touch on drag queens specifically in his book Up From Invisibility he does state of the gay community “our vulnerability to media stereotyping… derives in large part from our isolation and pervasive invisibility” (15). He further notes throughout his book that it is usually over the top instances in queer culture that get shown in the media. This is why Drag Race is a perfect representation of a show which does well with middle of America audiences. It is outlandish enough that it is not threatening to heterosexual audiences and episodes such as Sugar Bowl where we see the “claws come out”, is that queer aspect about reality television that people love.
Ru announces the first ever “Sugar Bowl” for the main challenge wherein the queens must make three outfits – super duper sweet 16, sugar mama executive realness and candy couture – with the latter being made of primarily candy. There is editing upon editing going on as the ladies prepare their looks. After Ru comes in and reminds each girl of their weakness, the girls each change their looks up a bit to coincide with his remarks. Roxxxy and Detox are nothing but sassy when it comes to Jinkx and take every moment they can to put her down. This includes during practice of the “sugar baby” dance, when Roxxxy threatens to hit Jinkx if she is not careful with her over sized lollipop. With only four queens left, it is not surprising to see an alliance form in reality television however, maybe an alliance is what cost Detox in the end. When it was time to take the main stage in front of the Judges half of the queens candy couture outfits were fabulous, with Roxxxy and Alaska definitely standing out. Detox’s taste level is questioned by the judges, which one can imagine for a Drag Queen is the worst thing they could hear. Earlier in the fitting room, Jinkx mentions that the problem with having a “best friend” in the competition is that “Roxxy is so close to Detox she cant say- Detox that dress doesnt read as candy.” Perhaps had Roxxxy spoken up Detox would have been safe from elimination that night.
And so Alaska is awarded the winning crown, with Roxxxy a close second, leaving Jinkx and Detox to lip sinc for the lives. This is ONLY after Ru asked the most dangerous question of the season “Who does not deserve to be in the top 3 and why?” Jinx was first up and said Detox has fallen short the most often. It then came as no surprise when Rolaskatox instantaneously all named Jinx as the weakest link, accusing her of everything from lack of maturing to inability to step outside of her box to not being the best of the best. After the ladies go untuck in the lounge and the judges are making their decisions, Michelle accuses “Roledex” of throwing Jinkx under the bus so they can make it the top 3 together, which is clear left a bad taste in her mouth. During the lip sincing performance Roxxy obviously has her “best friend” blinders on and announces that Detox is winning, but Alaska clearly sees that Detox is getting “outdanced” by Jinkx. Jinkx was declared the victor and Detox had to sashay away leaving the top 3 dancing their way off the stage, and allowing us one more week of the Roxxxy/Jinkx drama.
Finally, after talking about queer spaces and discursive spaces this week, I realized that we can consider the fitting room a discursive space for both the queens and the at home audience. Although it is an open space as it is shown to the public through the television, it is absolutely a place where norms and expectations are set, where society learns/gains knowledge about the “drag culture”, has its own linguistic code and on the most basic level, the place where the queens converse.