Attack of the Cicclones: The Madonna Runway on ‘Drag Race’ Season 8 Was a Madge-or Flop
From the moment the latest batch of RuGirls first clicked their heels into the workroom, Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has proven to be one of the series’ fiercest competitions: The personalities are as overwhelming and vivid as the wigs towering over their heads (Bob the Drag Queen, Acid Betty and Derrick Barry’s ongoing battle of the egos is worthy of a spin-off show in its own right), the talent is top and/or bottom-notch, and each Lip-Sync For Your Life has been sickening…for the most part. (Sorry, Dax ExclamationPoint and Laila McQueen.)
When RuPaul ru-vealed that last night’s episode (April 4) would be a one-two punch of Snatch Game and a Madonna-inspired runway — one of the series’ most beloved celebrity-spoofing challenges paired with an ode to the Queen of Pop’s iconic catalogue of looks — it seemed the Ru crew almost surely had one of their best episodes to date in the bag.
Who knew it would be a complete and utter bore?
The episode started off on the wrong stiletto with a sub-par, totally snoozy round of Snatch Game: Apart from Thorgy Thor as Michael Jackson, Chi Chi DeVayne as a cat-obsessed Eartha Kitt and Bob the Drag Queen pulling double-duty as both “Crazy Eyes” from Orange Is The New Black AND Carol Channing, the entire panel was an awkward, lifeless mess.
There were too many missteps to count: Naomi Smalls froze up completely as New York in arguably one of the worst Snatch Game performances of all time. Derrick delivered the look of Britney with none of the personality (Season 2’s Tatianna wiped the floor with Derrick’s — watch and learn, y’all). Kim Chi made up a Kim Jong Un-esque North Korean character that could use some tips from Margaret Cho’s own. Robbie Turner gave us a humorless Diana Vreeland that even Gigi found basic. And Acid Betty’s Nancy Grace was…Acid Betty with a dusty blonde wig on.
Miserable, until the Night of 1000 Madonnas began on the runway — and that’s when love really didn’t live here anymore.
Kim Chi came out wrapped in a red kimono. Sure, yes! “Paradise (Not For Me)” from the Drowned World Tour. One of Madonna’s many looks from the Ray of Light era — and a somewhat more obscure choice from her discography. So, that’s a great pick. Go on, Kim Chi!
Then Thorgy Thor came out…as “Nothing Really Matters” Madonna. Oh! Another kimono.
Then Naomi Smalls came out…as “Nothing Really Matters” Madonna. Oh? Another kimono?
Then Derrick Barry came out…as “Nothing Really Matters” Madonna. Oh…another kimono…
All in all, four queens went down that runway in red kimonos. (Well, technically three — Derrick went with a white version with Madge’s face plastered on the sides, which is arguably even more infuriating.)
Props to Acid Betty for giving us Madonna in her Björk-y experimental stage with “Bedtime Story,” Robbie Turner for going out in left field (literally) for A League Of Their Own Madonna, Chi Chi giving us Blond Ambition Tour Madge (HELLO, CLASSIC M!) and Bob for supplying a political statement with Madonna’s Boy Scout GLAAD Awards look, but it was hard to appreciate the other girls’ looks with a kimono-wearing elephant in the room.
How, with an entire 30+ year oeuvre of Madge to work with — “Like A Virgin,” “Like A Prayer,” “Material Girl,” “Vogue,” “Express Yourself,” “Erotica,” “Hung Up” — could this have happened? Since when is “Nothing Really Matters” a career-defining Madonna look? You don’t have to be a Little Madonster to appreciate that she’s supplied decades worth of drag-ready ensembles, and surely the girls all saw each other making those outfits at the same time in the workroom.
But, far worse: how did RuPaul and company let them get away with that?
Aside from a light scolding in the form of pointing out the obvious plethora of kimonos on the runway, nothing came of the utterly bizarre attack of the Cicclones. Shouldn’t they all have had to explain/express themselves a little better? Or been forced to lip-sync in an all-kimono showdown? Michelle Visage, the M-Dolla Super Stan on the panel (who pulled off her own excellent M look for the record), had to be especially pissed. (I guess none of them watched the drag tribute to Madonna at the 1999 MTV VMAs.)
But hey, at least the “Causing A Commotion” Lip Sync was a nail-biter to the end.
Here’s hoping for a Madonna runway re-do on Season 9. If you can’t dress like your own Madge, how in the hell you gonna dress like somebody else?