CHAD: Everybody loves puppets, right? Knowing what a crafty queen you are, I feel like you have probably made puppets at some point in your life. What did you think of this week’s mini-challenge?
WORK: I’m so glad we finally had another mini-challenge! The mini-challenges are some of my favorite parts of the show because the girls can just get silly and showcase their personality. This season, we didn’t really get any new minis at all, and I think the show suffered because of it. I think Sasha slayed the other girls in this puppet challenge, shading Trinity AND Nina expertly. Trinity is so comfortable at making fun of herself, and Sasha’s botox/silicone jokes were hilarious. I wish we were able to see more of the other girls’ performances. We barely saw Peppermint’s jokes about Alexis, but I loved the green spray paint! I was wondering what Peppermint would do since we know Alexis is sensitive about her body. Honestly, the other girls barely brought the jokes!
CHAD: I’ve heard some complaints about this season along the lines of: the queens are too self-conscious of the cameras, playing things too safe, and not stirring up enough drama. And that might be true of most of the queens this season, but it is certainly not the case with Alexis. I personally like Alexis and have known her for a VERY long time, but I’m shocked by her lack of self-awareness on this show-- she’s unwittingly transformed herself into the Roxxxy Andrews of Season 9! Even Roxxxy worked hard to avoid that fate in All Stars 2. What did you make of Alexis and her time on the show?
WORK: Sigh, Alexis! I think she’s super talented, but you’re so right about her lack of self-awareness. I hope we look back on this season and appreciate that she spoke her mind and brought some pettiness to this season. Like, the same folks who want drama are mad at Alexis for being dramatic?? She came off as a know-it-all, but her looks just didn’t have the uniqueness and point-of-view of, say, Valentina and Nina. She never gave up, though, and she gave a cute lip sync after some of the most lop-sided lip syncs we’ve ever seen on the show. She’s a strong competitor, but I can’t believe she blamed the other girls, yet again, for how she looked! “See something, say something?” Girl, your outfit bombed!
CHAD: Were you charmed by the totally ridiculous runway themes of the Gayest Ball Ever, or no? I mean, UNICORNS? Really??
WORK: It was brilliant! I love it when the themes are just bizarre and kind of dumb, like that weird princess/buddy challenge earlier in the season. Gotta say, though, the unicorn outfits overall didn’t excite me. Maybe it was because we didn’t see them constructing these costumes? I would’ve liked to hear what type of pony they were going for, at least, with voice-overs. Shea looked so sinful, though, and I’m sure bronies are lusting after her glamour-hooves.
CHAD: What did you think about the Village People theme? Can you even believe that they included the Native American theme?? Really? In 2017?
WORK: Honestly, when I saw the previews, I got sweaty because, like, how can you do a respectful Native American look? RuPaul, don’t you read Tumblr?! Seriously though, America screwed the Native Americans, and we continue to do so, for example, at Standing Rock. Most iconography we think of as “Native American” is pop-culture referencing Native Americans, too. So I was imagining a scene where one of the girls is talking to the producers, pleading to dress up as the 6th Village Person, whatever that is. And then, speaking of no self-awareness, Alexis wanted this theme?! I felt so bad that she spent her time decorating a sad corset, and then defending it like Derrick Barry. Season 10 girls: don’t spend your time vagazziling a corset!
CHAD: The whole rhythmic gymnastics aspect of the challenge was totally filler, right? Except that it offered some drama with Sasha taking her leadership role?
WORK: Um….yeah, the performance was underwhelming. Thank god it gave us some bickering in the workroom, though! Sasha stood up for herself, and we got to see trouble in paradise for “Sashea!” (That’s what the horny Redditors call Sasha and Shea.)
CHAD: Peppermint seems completely lovable, she lip syncs like a god, and she’s gorgeous. Is she only struggling because of her unpolished looks, or is it something else?
WORK: Peppermint! I love Peppermint so much. Because she’s been doing drag since before the show started, I think some of her looks are great for the club, but maybe not for TV. She started off the season with fairly conservative looks and pink skirts. This episode, her rainbow pride and unicorn look weren’t cohesive. That being said, she brought one of the most iconic looks this season — her club kid Peppermint.
CHAD: You are a cartoonist turned drag queen, and Sasha is a cartoonist turned drag queen. How do you think your visual arts background influences your drag, and do you see that at play with Sasha, too?
WORK: Wow, great question! Like you know, drawing is such a fun and easy way to explore ideas. It’s so awesome to just brainstorm and doodle whatever comes to mind. Drawing is cheap, too! Before I started drag, I was drawing drag faces over and over again, just seeing what kind of fierce femme creatures I could conjure. Sasha and I went to the same cartooning school (the Center for Cartoon Studies) and, for me, it really helped flesh out the narratives in my art. I think cartooning, like drag, lets you play with color and shape and storytelling. I guess that’s why other queens like Raja, Manila, Dax, and Pearl like to draw, too. But Sasha has combined her comic storytelling with drag performance into something so amazing. Her lip syncs combine illustration, graphic design, video...she’s next level.
Personally, I was a little nervous about switching mediums and learning a totally new art form. But my comics began to get really queer, and drag was the necessary extension for that. It’s literally drawing on your face! So I spent $100 on some makeup and began the process of learning drag! I’ve spent...quite a bit more on drag supplies since then. Chad, do you think you’ll ever try drag? I’d love to see what you’d become!
CHAD: Um, I’m totally fascinated by the process of transforming one’s face into a work of art. I think that would be really fun (but expensive) to experiment with. I’ve never walked in heels, and I don’t think my lip sync skills would slay. But next time I’m in Boston, we can totally play dress up!
WORK: Perfect! I'd love to do your makeup! Drag queens are SO talented, and my drag education has only just begun!
CHAD: Is Sasha the Manila of her season? I feel like Manila was known for serving up incredibly sleek and clever runway looks, but they were often overshadowed by Raja’s larger-than-life transformations. Sasha has a similar approach (to a certain extent), but Ru complained that she didn’t really serve up the drama and pageantry you’d expect from a drag ball. I LIVED for Sasha’s runways this week, and I was kind of rooting for her to win. Were you at all surprised by the outcome?
WORK: You’re right, Sasha has been so smart and unique this season. My second favorite outfit of the night was her rainbow look. It was just so clean and surprising, so specifically Sasha. I love her tiny house reveal. I know she’s done it in her live shows before, and I’m glad she found a way to incorporate it on stage. However, it seemed like the judges focused on the final Village People look more than the previous 2 looks. Shea’s was my favorite look overall this episode. It had more technical skill and overall flashiness. The silhouette of Sasha’s cowboy dress was a bit too plain for me, but she obviously looked stellar. I think she stole that red hat from Season 8 RuPaul?
CHAD: Is Trinity the breakout star of the season? What do you make of her runway looks and presentation?
WORK: Yes! Trinity is hilarious and horny and such good TV. She always looks polished and sickening, and she isn’t afraid to act a fool. I actually really loved her rainbow look even if the judges didn’t. Honestly, with her body, she could probably look good in anything. But she takes the time to make sure everything is tucked and fitted perfectly. Hair’s right, butt’s out. I can’t wait to see her live!
CHAD: So… I don’t know anything about sewing. But it certainly seemed like, besides her fashionable interpretation of “construction worker” drag, Shea also demonstrated some amazing craftsmanship in the construction of her final runway look, right? Do you think that cemented her win this week?
WORK: Shea’s look was stunning! I loved her yellow lips, glittery hard hat, and boots. For a drag ball, I think you need to be big and bold, and her awesome flannel cape brought the drama. She used her time wisely. Trinity and Peppermint both looked hot, though they kind of looked like leather police doms.
CHAD: What do you make of this final four? Who would you crown?
WORK: We have a really strong final 4, and I’d be happy for any of them to win. Peppermint has the smallest chance of winning, if only because she’s lip synced twice. The cartooning community is rooting for Sasha, but what if she has to lip sync? Sasha is known for her artier lip syncs, so if she’s in the bottom and has a generic pop song, she might be overshadowed. Trinity and Shea have the strongest chance of winning because they’ve both won lots of challenges. I expected Shea to win the season early on because her drag is so perfect for the show. But...I love Trinity so much. She’s really versatile, from her pageant glam to her club kid look to her southern starfish! Chad, who are you rooting for?
CHAD: Before the season even started, Shea and Sasha were already two of my favorite queens in the entire world. Seeing them both excel on the show and bring out the best in each other has been kind of an amazing, magical gift that seems like the fulfillment of everything I could ever want from this season. I think Shea is the embodiment of a perfect Drag Race queen: fashionable, fierce, and funny. Sasha has the potential to expand what it means to be a Drag Race queen, and I very much hope she does.
WORK: Thanks for interviewing me, Chad! You can find me on instagram at @WorkDish where I share all my drag looks. I’m also the moderator for r/drag on Reddit, where we share lots of drag tips for aspiring artists. For the past year, I’ve been a part of the Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as Novice Penelope Crude, too! The Sisters are a great way for anyone to help out their local queer community, and becoming a clown nun has brought so much joy to my life. See if there’s a house near you! You can also check out my comics on my website. Actually, I’ll have 5 pages about the Boston Sisters in the next issue of Sasha Velour’s drag magazine! (The first photo in the sequence above is by Emilia Lloret, and the rest are by Work!)