I can’t believe Drag Race is in its ninth season. More than 100 drag queens have pranced down that runway. Michelle Visage has asked to see “the real you” at least 53 times. RuPaul has found someone’s Inner Saboteur at least four times. There have been multiple busses which have run over any number of queens. Incredible.

For Season 9, thirteen (or is it?) queens are ready to werk and I’m ready to screenshot, and provide colour commentary, until we settle on America’s Next Drag Superstar. Does it help that I’ve been performing in drag for around five years? Not really. Can anyone recap this show? Maybe. Would they be as funny as me? I mean anusthing is possible.

Part 1: The Workroom

Alright, here we go—first impressions!

Peppermint

Peppermint is a legend in NYC and has already accomplished more than half of these queens. But you know, Drag Race exposure bumps you up from coach to first class overnight so you better get it, Peppermint!

The hair is fantastic, no question. The shoes looks perilous, no question. I love the colour of this, um, robe? Tarp? Pool cover? She’s been in the game a long time so I’m sure we’ll see a few looks but as far as first impression, I’m more in love with her personality.

Valentina

OK girl, ten months on the game and you already look like this? Valentina is for sure 100% a Tumblr queen who snatched a great drag mom* and got put through the ringer before joining the Race. In five years of performing, I never once looked this polished. From the roses in her hair, to the matching jewelry set and bitch even her arms are stoned? Come on! This is a soft queen who knows how she wants to look.

*Drag Mom: An experienced queen who takes a baby queen under their wing and shows ‘em the ropes.

Eureka O’Hara

Here we go, here’s a mouthy one. I mean, bless her for serving to the kids in the swaps of Tennessee but Eureka’s coming in with a huge chip on her shoulder (and some dip on the other one). This show wouldn’t be half as fun without some shady ladies and from the jump, Eureka’s going in. That said, she’s got a pageant background so she’s probably more prepared for this competition than the old man in her hometown who built a bunker to survive the next Big One.

Charlie Hides

Do you like jokes about being old? I hope so because we’re gonna hear a lot of them until Charlie is eliminated. Originally from Boston (hey hometown!), but a working queen in London, Charlie’s got a little fame under her belt already. She’s described herself as a crafty queen which is code for, “I make a lot of cheap props.” This is a cute look for the club but if I was walking into that room, I’d be turning out my second best drag to intimidate these gals. I have to give her a shout out for those shoes though. Seventy-three years young and still stomping the runway. Bless.

Farrah Moan

Body queen! We got a body queen! For the uninitiated, body queens are the gals who love to show off their body. Creative, right? Farrah’s a Vegas girl so I expect there’ll be a lot of intricate costumes or a lot of whatever is going on here. Is this from a Carmen Electra estate sale? And why wear white (WHITE!) panties underneath? Girl, get something metallic to maintain the illusion.

Sasha Velour

Ah yes, the art queen of the season. Every year, they snatch one gal who is fully entrenched in the, “DRAG IS PERFORMANCE ART,” mindset. I’m not going to argue that it’s not but, like, you’re also in an elaborate pageant that praises queens who go full red carpet glamour while making puns about being incontinent. In any event, Sasha does have a fantastic look—it’s very high fashion with pop art elements. And I love a distinctive brow because, as you know, the eyebrows are the window to the face.

Alexis Michelle

Well goddamn, trade* alert! Alexis looks great in face but I’m happy to look at him out of it too. Here’s another pageant gal who’s gonna give the cast a run for their money. Say what you want about them but there are some pageant gals who build an outfit head to toe with their bare hands. I dunno if she stitched this bodysuit herself but I don’t care, it’s sickening.

*Trade just means he’s hot

Shea Couleé

This is a lot of look. Like, A LOT. I think that’s Pearl from S7 on her dress and all the shag carpeting left in North America on her back. You ever meet those people who think if they wear some fur and pair it with eleven different accessories they’re fashionable? It’s early but I like to go with my gut on these assumptions.

Trinity Taylor

I’m gonna use the P word again: pageant. Until S5, they never really talked about how all the pageant girls would already know each other before getting on the show. Eureka and Trinity have competed against each other several times already so this should be interesting to watch. And Trinity is a textbook Florida queen. There. Just. So. Much. To. Look. At. The thing that bothers me the most about this one is that unnecessarily huge scarf. Why is there? What’s it covering? What’s her story?

Kimora Blac

I had a hard time figuring out if Kimora was entering as a single contestant, or with her ass as a pair. Those pads are out of control. I mean, she’s beautiful but she can never sit down so I feel bad for this one. Just walking around the club for hours. Leaning against a wall for respite. Now we have two Vegas girls so get ready for costumes Costumes COSTUMES.

Jaymes Mansfield

Aw, look at this weird comedy queen that’s going to get read for filth on the runway for hiding behind a character. I like Jaymes and her look, and I’m interested to see how she’ll perform under the pressure of a Drag Race challenge but I really hope that puppet stays in the bag for most of the season. Puppets aren’t cute. They fine for a taste but unless I’m watching Miss Piggy hi-yah a misogynist, I’m over it.

Nina Bo’nina Brown

OK, here’s a queen that knows her way around a glue stick—and don’t you dare call her crafty. I’d say she uses more paint than actual make-up to pull of these looks. Again, the judges will immediately say, “We wanna see Nina,” which I find insulting because queens like Nina, or Jaymes, or even Trixie from S7, are showing you themselves. Drag is an extension of yourself. Nina sees herself as all these characters and I live. What the judges really want to see is a glamorous RuPaul facsimile. But I think Nina can give it to them.

Aja

Come on, baby Brooklyn queen! If you don’t feel the confidence radiating from this bitch then you aren’t even half alive. I like this plastic fantasy she walked in with—feels like a throwaway from the American Gladiators set. It’s cute that the dress underneath matches and the little boots are patent leather so she’s giving you shiny from head to toe. I’ve watched this gal flawlessly lip synch to Busta Rhymes online so for sure keep an eye on her.

Lady Gaga

Yeah, it’s really her! Of course, they spoiled this surprise weeks ago but who could blame them? It’s fantastic marketing. And what can I say about her? The bitch is snatched head to toe.

Part 2: The Runway

Kicking off this season, Ru gets the girls to give us a mini pageant complete with a hometown look and a Gaga-inspired look. First thing I noticed was the new stage—thanks, VH1. Second, RuPaul isn’t in full drag!

And third—and maybe most important—YOU CAN SEE THE JUDGES’ LEGS.

When does that ever happen? Never! It’s the little things. Anyway, lots of looks so let’s get into it:

Peppermint

Obviously, you pick the Statue of Liberty if you’re from NYC. It’s cute but that American flag print is really throwing off the overall statement. If you’re gonna use one colour then don’t deviate! And what’s it adding to the story? That the statue is in the US? Thank god we cleared that up. Her Gaga number is fantastic. It’s almost a replica. No faults.

Valentina

I love her East LA outfit. It’s very fashionable and tows the line of campy mariachi style. Also, v clever hiding her bare chest with the scarf. The Gaga look is simple and fashionable but not iconic. I mean, is that a low rent Gaga Halloween costume? Was it called Fashion Monster when it was purchased? These are questions we need to ask.

Eureka O’Hara

Oh wow, someone from the country making a country hick joke. Fascinating. If you’re from the middle of nowhere Tennessee, I get that you want to rage against the hay baler machine and rip on the folks that probably made your life hell. But it’s so expected. I would have loved to seen a solid Sunday Church look instead of this trailer park pastiche. At least she picked a recognizable Gaga look.

Charlie Hides

Goody Hides had a cute puritan thing happening and then I’m assuming the tear-away betrayed her because that awkward swishing of fabric into the easy pilgrim look was about as smooth as the Mayflower sailing. I hated those homemade buckles on her shoes but she made up for by killing her Gaga piece.

Farrah Moan

Is she from Vegas or did she spend One Night in Bangkok? I felt like I was watching the opening to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when she walked out. For a body queen, she sure covered up every inch of herself in both outfits. It’s cool that she reproduced the Alejandro robe but it’s so big! Her face is so tiny in there and we wanna see that mug!

Sasha Velour

I’m 100% in love with her NYC (by way of Brooklyn) look. It’s based around pop art so more is more is more and it’s pretty hard to mess that up. The Artpop Gaga is good but why the mauve palazzo pants and shawl? The best part about Gaga’s Applause face was that it was so stark against the black backdrop. It looked like she panicked before going on the runway and threw on any pair of pants nearby.

Alexis Michelle

Girl, this pop-up mural you’ve got going on looks like your nieces and nephews made something for Auntie Alexis to wear on TV. You live in NYC and the best you could think of was an apple that said I ❤️ NYC? The apple isn’t even coloured in! And don’t get me started on the finger painted swimsuit. She redeemed herself with her other dress but I mean, if they didn’t say it was Gaga at the Golden Globes, would any of us had known? Doubt it.

Shea Couleé

Bitch, she’s from Chicago! I would have been equally as happy if she walked out as a deep dish pizza. Same as with her workroom entrance, there’s a LOT going on here but I think that’s what we can expect from Shea this season. I like her Gaga dress though it seems halfway there? It loses a little structure near the bottom but whatever, that hair is fantastic.

Trinity Taylor

Has Trinity been watching episode of Skin Wars with RuPaul? Leave it to pageant girls to bring in these insane murals. You see, the thing about murals is they’re either really good or really not. And this is really not. There’s no definition in any of the design and she’s totally lost in it. As far as American Horror Story Gaga, I see what she’s doing but again there’s no definition as far as the bloody neck. It just looks like slapped on some red and thought all she needed was a black glove for a complete.

Kimora Blac

None of these Vegas gals went for the traditional showgirl look. NONE. I understand that styles evolve but I mean, girl. I saw this look once before and Trinity K Bonet from S6 looked fantastic. It’s cute that she thought of Gaga on the Go for her second runway but this reads more video ho than iconic pop star.

Jaymes Mansfield

I’m udderly unimpressed with the cow dress (too much?). I don’t presume to know much about Milwaukee but I do know the Green Bay Packers and the Cheeseheads, and if you don’t think the rest of the nation wouldn’t appreciate that reference then you’ve wasted your time. Let’s appreciate that Jaymes is dedicated to the character of Jaymes and inserting her into any look including an instantly recognizable Lady Gaga moment like the cover of Vogue. Let’s also mourn the loss of potential with that look.

Nina Bo’nina Brown

If you go to drag shows in your hometown (and you should if you don’t) get ready to see a lot of Georgia Peach replicas because Nina just gave a whole new swath of queens their identity. The artistry here is incredible. The paper is blended into her face so it actually looks like an extension of her face. That is some blockbuster shit on top of that cute lil Sunday dress. And then to walk out in one of the most replicated Lady Gaga outfits but in pink with a breast plate that could sink a ship? Yes, well done.

Aja

I enjoy this Statue of Liberty outfit more than Peppermint’s because the crown is actually a crown and it sticks to the single colour palette. It’s simple but effective. The statement behind the Comme des Garçons outfit is beautiful but I wouldn’t have known if Lady Gaga had worn it or not.

Part 3: The Verdict

Oh my god that’s a lot of recap and queens. I’m gonna be keeping it tight next time but how could I not get all these looks in there? They deserve attention! Shout out to Nina winning this first challenge. If this was S6 or even 7, I don’t think she would have swept the pageant so I’m glad to see Drag Race recognizing more avant-garde drag. Of course, they end with a cliffhanger by introducing a 14th contestant but cutting it off just before the reveal. I hope the rumour are true and it’s Cynthia Lee Fontaine (S8) but either way, it’ll be great to see a former contestant come back Shangela-style.