The premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race season eight drew so much from the show’s history that I felt like references were flying past me faster than ping pong balls out of a drag queen’s tucked-place. But it was an episode worthy of the milestone, from the jokes to the challenge—which was actually more like 12 challenges in one, with each queen doing something completely different. Here were some highlights for me in the season premiere.
RuPaul had the best line and sight gag of the night. For the mini-challenge, all eight winners—seven seasons and all-stars—returned to be photographed with the new queens. Well, all winners except one. RuPaul said, “Bianca del Rio could not be here so we just hired a circus clown.” And there was, indeed, the most cliche clown imaginable.
Although she wasn’t there, Bianca was photoshopped in to the picture above, instead of the clown, which I guess is nice for her but wouldn’t it have been better with the clown?
The judgement begins
That first challenge not only tested their ability to be photographed and stand out in such a prominent crowd, but also gave the queens a chance to interact, and by that I mean judge each other, and by that I mean throw some shade. Acid Betty called the winners “wannabe-ass drag queens,” and Sharon Needles needled more than one queen who got in her way.
Most recognizable reality star
In drag, Derrick Barry looks almost exactly like Britney Spears. As Britney, Derrick has appeared on America’s Got Talent and Toddlers and Tiaras, in addition to music videos for Eminem and Katy Perry. As she said, though, “I have to prove that I can do more than Britney.”
A blast from the past challenge blast out of an ass
To find out which “legendary design challenge” each queen would be assigned for the main runway show, Robbie Turner was randomly selected and asked to pair people and challenges. The random selection occurred by a ping pong ball flung from Morgan McMichaels’ nether regions into RuPaul’s waiting hands. It was, he pointed out, “In honor of the drag classic Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”
This is one of those moments when Drag Race prioritizes a joke over any kind of reality television competition coherence. Did she first randomly draw a ball before launching it? Was there a lottery machine tucked away beneath her legs? But I guess who cares, right? There was a ping pong ball flung out of a faux vagina to choose a contestant!
RuPaul said that the challenges came “from the anals of RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
During RuPaul’s Tim Gunn visit, which was more Tim Gunn than usual since they were all actually constructing their main stage outfits, Bob The Drag Queen—who I love and not just because he joked “Bob” stands for “big ol’ bottom” and “The Drag Queen” was his dad’s last name—showed he’d done his homework. He said that he listens to RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast, and learned “there is no reason to pretend to be modest.”
A mother who doesn’t know what her son does
Drag Race can sometimes cut through the drag and directly to the core of our shared humanity as the contestants talk about their experiences growing up. In the premiere, Kim Chi shared, “My mom thinks I’m a makeup artist.” When he’s showed her pictures of himself in drag, “she doesn’t recognize them as me.”
Can I get an amen?
Naysha Lopez, who was ultimately the first queen sent home, had the episode’s big self-empowerment moment. When another queen said that doing pageants were like gambling, Naysha said, “Anything you do is a gamble, remember that. Are you really living if you’re like, Well, I’m not going to do it because I don’t know the outcome. Really? You don’t have to compromise who you are when you do stuff … be you.”
Every entrance ever
To celebrate the 100th episode and the show’s 100th drag queen, Logo put together this compilation of every drag queen entering the workroom.