Joining me this week to discuss the Drag Race is IMP QUEEN! She recently celebrated her very first year of drag, but she's already an indelible presence in the Chicago scene. (Photo by Jo Control with styling by Daniella DeLuna)
Chad: I was so thrilled with this week's episode -- I think it might be the high point of the entire season! There's plenty of fun stuff to talk about, but first, let's dig into the workroom drama between Naomi and Derrick. What do you think was at the heart of their bickering?
Imp Queen: I think last night they reached the point of the competition where politeness and tact and desire to appear "unbitchy" on TV went out the window. Derrick accused Naomi of attacking her to cover up her own insecurities, but sometimes I think the behavior you imagine you are seeing in others is really the behavior you are refusing to see in yourself. I think Derrick seemed really shaken by the journey of the competition, the struggle to find his own "authentic" identity in drag. And I think Naomi was rightfully annoyed that Derrick kept criticizing Naomi's objectively superior visual drag. Also, as much as this is "the big fight of the season," there really wasn't all that much animosity, just spirited disagreement. This wasn't a Shangela/Mimi or a Phi Phi/Sharon moment. Which I think speaks to the increasing media savvy of the queens each season.
Chad: One of the reasons I enjoyed this episode so much was that, even after all that animosity, Naomi and Derrick made an effort the following day to talk and help each other out. It was very humanizing and warm -- the bonds of their sisterhood were evident.
Chad: Naomi was described this week as the underdog of the season, but honestly, I had been thinking that was Chi Chi's storyline! Who do you think deserves a spot in the final three?
Imp Queen: I've been saying since week one that Kim and Bob are locks for the top 3 to me. I just could never for a moment imagine the season going any other way. But the third spot could really go either way. Both Naomi and Chi Chi have performed extremely well in all aspects of the competition. They both are endearing. I think Chi Chi's edit has a little more storyline, but only because the judges were kinda sleeping on Naomi at the beginning of the season for some reason. Pageant answer: they both deserve it. Non-pageant answer: I pick my Neverland sister Naomi.
Chad: I would truly be happy to see either in the final three, alongside Kim and Bob, of course!
Imp Queen: Also, like, heaven forbid Kim Chi gets cut next episode-- it would be really cool to see an all Black top three, especially since there hasn't been a black queen in the top three since season 2.
Chad: I can't even contemplate such a thing -- No Kim Chi in the final 3? I think that's officially sacrilege, especially in the city of Chicago.
Imp Queen: Yeah, exactly. It's actually just not possible to comprehend.
Chad: I have two questions for you: Are you a fan of Strangers With Candy? And were you a fan of the queens' performance that paid homage to it?
Imp Queen: I LOOOOOOOVE Strangers With Candy! I thought the queens' performance was like the Ball challenge opening numbers always are-- silly, pointless, sloppy, and wonderful. It was a lot of fun to hear Amy singing (I would LOVE a Strangers With Candy musical...) but like, what was with the false teeth they were all wearing? None of them were able to lip sync!
Chad: I know! That was the weirdest part of it. I'm also a huge, huge fan of Amy Sedaris and her work on Strangers with Candy, but I agree entirely with your summation of the homage. But... at least it was short!
Imp Queen: Kinda great, though. One of my favorite lip sync moves is to do the Coco Montrese point-at-your-mouth thing, but then get all the lyrics wrong.
Chad: HA! I love that so much. I wasn't initially thrilled with the Book Ball challenge -- I was worried that the use of paper would echo the Money Ball from Season 3. But I actually LOVED the autobiographical theme of the challenge, and the runway looks slayed me. Which were your favorites, and what are your thoughts on their construction/innovation/concept?
Imp Queen: Kim was hands down the winner of the Ball. The queens were joking about it in Untucked, but she really did "embrace the material"-- and not just paper, but the whole idea of an autobiography challenge focused on your relationship with drag and your mother. She went deeper conceptually and emotionally than any of the queens, crafting a clear and compelling visual story that HAD ACTUAL CONTENT!!! Her looks said something deeply personal about her life experience, something that has a real emotional cost for her to share. She didn't win because of her flawless construction and her perfect taste. She won because she showed us something special and sad and beautiful about herself.
Chad: I thought Kim's looks were utterly stunning. Her story and her performance were so masterful!The way the challenge was constructed to allow the queens to visually convey their history and character was fantastic, but I think it was particularly suited to Kim's skills -- she knocked it out of the park! I adored both Naomi and Chi Chi's eleganza looks -- what did you think of them?
Imp Queen: Naomi's was absolutely stunning-- the silhouette when she leaned back was just gorgeous. I don't know if you're aware of this, but I look exactly like Naomi Smalls. We're practically twins. (lol in my imagination) I think Chi Chi was also great, especially the hair and face pieces. I think both Naomi and Chi Chi's looks felt a little bit similar to their looks from the wizard of oz challenge, but amplified. I think that makes a certain sense; you're creating all of these pieces so close together, and I know my drag sort of moves through phases of similar visual obsessions.
Chad: I agree -- I'm obsessed with those hairpieces that Chi Chi made. And the earrings, too. I had to draw her close up, because the angles were stunnnnning. I thought her use of the varied textures were really interesting, but I wasn't quite as drawn to the overall gown.
Imp Queen: Yeah, the way she placed the earring to extend the lines of her bone structure was super QT
Chad: I guess you're quite knowledgeable about unconventional uses of paper applied to one's face, aren't you?
Imp Queen: lolol what can I say, I love a nice natural lash... just one pair of 3001s. I actually really liked Bob's look, too.
Chad: Yeah! The colors were gorgeous, and I loved that hair on her.
Imp Queen: I think it's very smart to spray yourself a strong color if everyone else is walking out in off-white.
Chad: Do you feel like she skirted the challenge by using primarily cardboard?
Imp Queen: I mean, I guess so, but i don't get the sense there's a real advantage to cardboard over paper-- so it doesn't feel like cheating or dishonesty, just like missing the opportunity to give the judges what they really wanted. I'm glad cardboard-gate didn't turn into tulle-gate 2.0
Chad: Bob got a lot of shit from the other girls about her makeup -- what do you think of her paint?
Imp Queen: I mean, it's not good... Kim said it best-- it looks like she wears lips and lashes. But like Bob said, her paint isn't really the point. So, like, I think I can be a sickening drag queen even if I can't death drop or tongue pop or serve you Rihanna in a one-armed leotard. And i think Bob can be a sickening drag queen wearing one pair of 301s and some strawberry lipsmackers. It's all about what you DO have to offer. That said, once you get to a certain level, maybe it's time to step your pussy up (and I think Bob has, paintwise. She looks so much better now gigging the gig than she did shooting a year ago.)
Imp Queen: I LIVED for her Sylvester lip sync!!!!
Chad: Ha! It was fabulous! And I was so tickled by the song selection!
Imp Queen: One of my favorites, and you could tell Bob really loves the song, too. Derrick did a great job, too, but she was definitely the supporting actress.
Chad: I took a million screengrabs during the lip sync for reference, and I was struck by how many wonderfully expressive and varied faces Bob was pulling at every moment in her performance.
Imp Queen: I loved the moment when Bob slid on his knees, and then Bob and Derrick sort of scooted along the floor together in sync.
Chad: And then her moment with Derrick after Bob was told to stay -- I think that was a magnificent moment of tenderness between them. It was an incredibly WARM episode. They've been through a lot, but there was a lot of reconciliation this week.
Imp Queen: Also, like, from an appearing-on-reality-TV standpoint, that was really smart. Like, Bob knows some shit went down with him and Derrick, he doesn't know 100% how the edit will go down, so he makes a point of saying, in a very public moment, how positive he feels about Derrick and how much they've grown.
Chad: I think Bob is EXTREMELY smart with how she comes across onscreen. Compassionate and fun and creative.
Imp Queen: She and Kim both I think are being very genuine, but also playing the TV part of the game very intelligently-- like Bianca and Willam did, where it felt like they were holding up little storyline signposts for the editors to pick up on and use. That's Kim's ultimate embrace of the material.
Chad: HA! Brilliant. That leads me to my final question: When's dinner?
Imp Queen: lololol seriously though, I'm hungry.
Chad: Did you have any other topics you'd like to discuss?
Imp Queen: Last little thought about Kim Chi the entrepreneur--- I think Trixie and Katya changed the game last year in terms of how to market yourself online and IRL during the airing of your season. And I think Kim is really taking what Trixie did and going, like, ten steps further. She's far and away the best businesswoman to ever be on the show. Releasing gorgeous Adam Ouahmane photos of every runway look, a new limited edition T shirt of every catch phrase... She's playing the fuck out of this game, and building the kind of platform that will keep her one of the top Ru girls for years to come.
Find Imp Queen on Instagram, SoundCloud, and Snapchat! (@impqueen) She'll be performing May 4th at Hydrate's #FACE, and she'll be at SmartBar's Queen! on May 8th. She'll be performing and hosting at IT Presents' next party May 12th at Berlin, and then at Neverland's Animal Farm IML party at Charlies. Every Monday, she's at Annex at the Boom Boom Room, and every Thursday, she's at Debonair Social Club for Neo. (Photo by Erik Michael Kommer)
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