Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race hasn’t even ended yet, and already Ru’s girls are working venues across the nation. Saturday night at New York’s Gramercy Theatre, “The Battle of the Seasons” pitted six queens (seven, if you count host Michelle Visage) in a vicious competition for dominance.
OK, so it wasn’t vicious. It wasn’t even a competition: everyone did a few numbers, Michelle made some catty comments, and we all went home with wide grins.
Luckily, I was there as judge (in an unofficial, self-appointed capacity), and I’m going to issue my rulings on who won and who should’ve sashayed away.
LAST PLACE: Season 1
I hate to call anyone a loser, but this is a default ruling: Season One neglected to send any representatives. That’s probably for the best, honestly. Their NYC emissary is Rebecca Glasscock, and I’m comfortable not knowing what she’s up to these days.
HONORABLE MENTION: Season 4
Going just beyond the bare minimum required for consideration, this group submitted a video message from reigning Drag Superstar Sharon Needles. Was Jiggly Caliente really too busy for this?
BRONZE MEDAL: Season 2
Pandora Boxx was her Season’s sole representative, and thus had a lot of heavy lifting to do. Her opening number gave the fans what they wanted: an overtly sexual Carol Channing singing everything “Call Me Maybe” to “Thrift Shop.”
Her second routine was a two-parter. Serving Connecticut ice-queen realness a la The Stepford Wives, Boxx nailed it as a fembot possessed, with with demonic voices from The Exorcist, dairty dance tracks and a snippet from “Mr. Roboto.” She probably should have ended there, but Boxx followed up the audio-video portion of her performance with some stand up that was frankly unremarkable.
SILVER MEDAL: Season 3
Mimi Imfurst, the first contender from Season 3, opened with a song parody about dishonest grindr guys sung to the tune of “I Will Survive.” Though the concept wasn’t wildly inventive, a few fresh punchlines and solid delivery carried her through.
As one of the less-beloved queens on Drag Race, Mimi knew she had a lot to prove. And her second number, a blazing song mash-up punctuated by prank calls from Serial Mom, proved it in spades. Actually, after two costume changes, a wig snatch, an actual birth, and a coke-snorting Whitney Houston “tribute,” I was left kind of exhausted.
Mimi turned up once more with her group, Xelle (pronounced “EX-sell,” apparently), to perform their single “Party Girl.” It was fine, but “Queen” is a better song.
Mimi’s voluptuous co-star Carmen Carrera brought three secret weapons: body, body, and body. Delivering two so-sexy-you’d-go-straight-for-her lip syncs, she spent almost no time on the stage itself, preferring to get up close and extremely personal with the audience.
The guy next to me got whipped by her luxurious hair, a woman from the back row received faux cunnilingus, and we got a full view of all but a few inches of flawless physique. The only problem was that people further back couldn’t see her performance. (It’s live, Carmen sweetie—there are no close ups.)
GOLD MEDAL: Season 5
This win is maybe a little unfair since literally half of the queens at the venue were fifth season contestants. Nonetheless, the best numbers from this group were headdress and shoulder pads above the rest.
Ivy Winters opened with a gutsy rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Air Mail Special,” which is probably almost as hard to fake as it is to actually sing. Her real triumph came with her second performance, though, where she merged her sewing and circus training to show off multiple looks while spinning plates and even juggling some swords as Carmen reclined nervously on the floor.
Like Mimi, Alaska Thunderfuck (yep, they got to say her full name) started off with her own composition—an ode to “Myself” sung to the tune of “My Girl.”
Her edgy side really came through, though, in her second act, when she delivered a spot-on lip sync of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” shocking punctuated with monstrous howls right out of Aliens. Her originality, understanding of shock value and skillful editing nicely encapsulated why Ms. Thunderfuck is more than just Sharon’s other half.
The unquestionable champion of the night, however, was Jinkx Monsoon. For her first showstopper, Jinkx staunchly marched out in Little Edie drag and delivered a brief, perfect monologue from Grey Gardens that segued into a breathtaking live rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”
This was not a recording, squirrelfriends: she belted every last note in what I’m pretty sure is the original key. (Somewhere, Anne Hathaway just got her first gray hair.)
Managing to top that, the musical-theater devotee later paraded out in full Mrs. Lovett regalia, tossing mini cupcakes into the audience while singing a version of Sweeney Todd’s “A Little Priest” modified to poke fun at gay-male stereotypes. (“Try a little twink…”) Monsoon’s creativity, uniqueness, nerve and talent easily earned her the right to close the show in a third appearance, a duet of the title song from Cabaret sung with Season Five co-star Alaska Thunderfuck.
If Jinkx doesn’t take home the crown this season, it’ll be a she-mergency.