Photo: Courtesy of VH1/WORLD OF WONDER
When RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race announced a week or so ago that, from here on out, its competitors would be competing in “signature Drag Race challenges,” many viewers, including myself, naturally had to wonder, “Does that include Snatch Game? Because that sounds like a bad idea.” As it turns out, it does include Snatch Game, and it is, in fact, a bad idea.
From the second the Queens Supreme tell the remaining competitors they’re playing the Snatch Game, you can tell the celebs are terrified. At least a few of them knew it was a possibility, and they’re not stoked. As Mark “Thirsty” Indelicato relays in the confessional, “I’m an actor, but impersonations are totally different.” AJ “Poppy Love” McLean is shaking in his dance shoes because all his fellow contestants are actually working actors, whereas he’s just been in an episode of Welcome Freshman, an episode of Disney’s, and that terrible all-boy-band zombie movie .
For whatever it’s worth, it does seem like the contestants have been well prepped for Snatch Game. They all have their characters picked out and ready to go, with two even tackling characters previously played by the Queens Supreme. (Chakra 7’s Eartha Kitt and Chic-Li-Fay’s Céline Dion.) I like the idea of Thirsty Von Trap tackling Erika Jayne, because she does have that sort of dead-eyed sexiness thing on lock, but Poppy Love tackling Bowie is dumb. Just because you like and admire someone doesn’t make them funny or make you actually good at impersonating them. As Jujubee relays in prep, “Yes, you’re impersonating someone, but you must be funny.”
Of course, all the celebs are getting the help of their glam squads for their celebrity makeovers as well, meaning they all look great. Céline’s look is insane, and Chakra looks the most glamorous she has to date. The show also gives all the Snatchers a pretty friendly and quick edit, cutting out all the duds and making everyone look like a solid pro. The only person who they suggest laid a few goose eggs is Poppy Love as Bowie, who does seem a bit like a deer in headlights half the time. Oftentimes in Snatch Game, the contestants are praised for being in character the whole time, even when they’re not being questioned, and it’s unclear whether that particular concept was relayed to these celebs.
Either way, Eartha Kitt gets in some good pepper-mill prop work; Céline Dion gets in a dig on Ru; and Erika Jayne answers an Italian restaurant question with a joke about her disgraced lawyer husband, Tom Girardi, who’s been “aged for 81 years.” I’m not 100 percent feeling Thirsty’s Erika accent, which is a little postnasal drip for me, but I do think she’s the clear winner here, with her quick scramble to grab Céline’s discarded Heart of the Ocean, cracks about downgrading to a 3,000-square-foot bungalow, and pitiful “what about me?” whines. Brooke Lynn Hytes also wins in my eyes, just because she got to call Jujubee the “sexiest thumb alive.”
After Snatch Game, it’s time for individual lip syncs, because that’s just what this show is I guess? This week’s category is “Yaaas Gaga,” paying tribute to the Fame Monster herself. First up is Chic-Li-Fay, who I would argue drew the short straw with “You and I.” It’s a swell song, but it’s hard for her to convey any of the emotion, especially when she’s clad in a way-too-big Alyssa Edwards wig, hair gems, and a totally immobile piano tutu. This song calls for a dirty tank top and ripped jeans, all tinged with the feeling that, as Brooke Lynn puts it, “you’ve had sex with all these people and you’re reminiscing.” The judges don’t really read her in any way after, though, other than Ru saying she was sad the wig got in her hair near the end of the track. They all thought her Céline was very funny, so at least there’s that.
Thirsty pulls “Bad Romance,” a song that she says was very significant to her when she was first coming out. This week, Thirsty seems to have realized that a lot of not wanting to be vulnerable or look stupid stems from being made fun of as a gay child, but thinks that perhaps embodying Gaga will help her “find the balance between Mark and Thirsty.” She looks cute, and I think she does a perfectly serviceable “Bad Romance,” but the judges eat it up. They say Thirsty’s “found it” and they’re so proud of her, with Michelle adding, “You allowed yourself to be ugly.” I didn’t see that, but sure, okay.
For her performance, Chakra 7 turns “Paparazzi” into a period piece about Marie Antoinette, meaning she’s rocking a huge wig and impressive décolletage. I always feel like Chakra’s performances are a little low energy or empty in some way, but she does look good, and Carson admires how she captured the “Bridgerton goes to Frederick’s of Hollywood” vibe. “You can see the work you put into this number, and this week it showed on a whole different level,” Michelle tells her. Chakra gets in a little zinger about how “mamas can be whores too,” and all the judges laugh. She’s ultimately safe, which feels fine.
Poppy is using her “Born This Way” lip sync to express herself as both AJ and Poppy. This is the first week the makeup department isn’t covering Poppy’s tattoos, which she seems to think is a big deal, because “that is a part of me.” The production’s vibe is “doll come to life,” and there’s a flip-off wig reveal and a lot of genderfuckery. That could just be because Poppy still looks kind of like a big ol’ dude in the way she carries herself, but I suppose in this song that actually works because it is about the fluidity of gender experience and accepting everyone for who they are. Either way, I can see AJ bringing out his take on “Born This Way” during some future Backstreet Boys tour medley, and Ru praises Poppy for doing “this thing where you don’t lose the choreo but you acknowledge the audience, which makes us feel seen and comfortable.” That, of course, is probably something she learned with literally decades of practice, but I suppose it’s worth acclaim in this circumstance, as long as the other girls aren’t being judged against that same standard.
There’s no fast-forwardable recap this week, and Thirsty Von Trap is quickly declared this week’s winner. While I do think she did the best in Snatch Game, I was left a little lukewarm by her Gaga. Then again, I didn’t love anyone’s Gaga, so sure, let’s give it to Thirsty. She needs an arc, anyway.
Confusingly, though, Chic and Poppy land in the bottom this week. Poppy I can see, because that Bowie impression really ran out of gas quickly. Chic lands there pretty much by virtue of it being a coin toss between her and Chakra, I think, so maybe Ru really did hate that big ol’ wig. I’ve never thought there was a ton of rhyme or reason as to who won or lost each week of Secret Celebrity Drag Race, but this week it feels especially inscrutable. Because the judges don’t dump on anyone, viewers are just left to sort it out themselves somehow, and it’s a fool’s errand.
Either way, Poppy and Chic do “Edge of Glory,” and despite all of Chic’s floor work and knee slides and comedic falls, Poppy walks away the winner, presumably because of how she went into the audience and spent most of the song interacting with the crowd. It made her look cool and thoughtful, whereas Chic looked remote and a little afraid up on that stage in comparison. What a bummer.
Here’s where I’ll say that Chic-Li-Fay was my pick to take the whole thing. I thought she had what it took looks-, comedy-, acting-, and dance-wise, and I feel like she got the whole vibe of what they were all supposed to be doing in drag more than everyone else. (That’s all relative, of course, because they’re all just plopped in drag every week and have no characters built out or backstories or performance history, but I digress.) I’m incredibly sad to see Chic go, and I have no favorites going forward. There’s part of me that thinks AJ is going to win just because he’s the most famous and it’s a better “for the masses” Today Show–type story to give the masculine straight man the Drag Race win, but blech, how gross. I really don’t know how anything’s going to play out next week, but in my dream scenario it would be a sewing and design challenge, in which they’re also tasked with doing their own padding and makeup. If you’re going to challenge these girls, then fucking challenge them! Lord knows that the viewers have certainly been challenged this whole season, that’s for sure.
• How long are these goddamn tapings? I feel terrible for the studio audience, who must have to sit not just for the filming, which always takes a long time, but for all the costume changes and stage resets and everything. This one in particular must have taken a full day or something. I hope everyone at least got snacks.
• Thirsty gives, which has been doing a great job on everyone’s hair this season, a nice shout-out. Love them.
• If next week’s challenge is the typical “you all are going to make a video for one of Ru’s songs” finale jams, I think Poppy Love will win, because who would be better prepared for that? If it’s anything else, I could see Chakra or Thirsty taking it, but I think Chakra is happy just to be there, and Thirsty’s still not doing it for me. That being said, I do think production is crafting an arc for Thirsty, so who knows. It really could be anyone’s game.