5 Awesome Things from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1 Episode 4: Mac Viva Glam Challenge

RuPaul's Drag Race (Photo: Logo)
RuPaul's Drag Race (Photo: Logo)

The six remaining queens film screen tests for the Mac Viva Glam ad campaign. Then, one of the most famous moments in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory brings tears to the runway.

You guys, this episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race is my absolute favorite. Not only does it have several incredible moments (it was tough to cull this list to five), it was also one of my first forays into recapping. Were we ever so young? Here’s the short version.

The mini-challenge had the queens offering each other some constructive criticism before becoming each other’s test subject for makeup 101. Jade won and got extra time for the main challenge: a screen test for Mac Viva Glam and its AIDS research ad campaign. Ongina, Nina and BeBe rocked the challenge. Any one of them could have been named the winner, but that honor went to Ongina. Shannel’s unintended Sally Jesse Raphael realness did not go over well, but it was Rebecca Glasscock’s lack of pizzaz and Jade’s lack of tucking tape that faced off in the Lip Sync for Your Life. However, Jade was far too reserved throughout the competition and was asked to sashay away.

Now for the awesomeness:

Putting the “T” in trust. The mini-challenge began with some group therapy of sorts, with the queens offering each other some constructive critiques on how to improve in the competition. Think of it as “The Library is Under Construction.” No one said anything too hurtful or scandalous, but not everyone is equipped to handle critiques *cough*Shannel*cough*. Then, each critiquing pair had 30 minutes to paint each other’s face. They should do this challenge again—it shows off skills and adds drama without it being too obvious.

Mac Viva Glam. So this campaign, which is now 19 years running, has raised over $224 million for AIDS research. Good job, team!

Nina’s Screen Test. Nina drew the short straw and had to go first. Her main concern with the challenge had to do with translating her thoughts quickly enough, as she has a considerable language barrier to overcome. However, her slow delivery fits the glamorous motif perfectly, as her voice combined with her look had a sexy Lauren Bacall quality to it. She also took full advantage of the Pit Crew (work it, grrl), frantically telling Kenyon at one point “Papi! Turn the fan on!” I still use that phrase around the house. Nina was always a frontrunner this season, but I think this challenge allowed her to lock up Miss Congeniality.

Ongina comes out. Ongina’s screen test was flawless as she had a personal message about celebrating life which dovetailed beautifully with Mac’s mission without becoming heavy-handed. At one point in the video, she releases a bunch of helium balloons, which is the synecdoche of the piece. Ongina’s Naomi Campbell fierceness on the Mainstage secured a win, which caused her to break down. And then the show got REAL. Through her sobs, Ongina announced she had been living with HIV for (at that point) the past two years. I’ve watched this episode several times, it’s almost five years later, and I still get choked up at that moment.

“Would I Lie to You?” Jade and Rebecca battled it out to the classic track by Eurythmics. Jade delivered the first LSFYL splits of the series while Rebecca delivered the first chokehold. There was some controversy following the elimination, as Jade believed Rebecca broke the rules, but Jade had also grabbed Rebecca by the delicates throughout the performance. If you cancel out the offenses, Rebecca was the more compelling character. Sorry, Jade. You still have amazing abs!

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv