5 Awesome Things from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1 Episode 6: Absolut Drag Ball

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

Category is: Awesome Realness. The final four compete in the first-ever RuPaul’s Drag Race Ball, with a fruit-on-fruit theme, as it were. But the most awesome thing involves what didn’t make it to air.

This week features the origin of another RuPaul’s Drag Race tradition: the Final Four Ball. After a voguing mini-challenge, Nina Flowers, Bebe Zahara Benet, Rebecca Glasscock, and Shannel are tasked with coming up with three looks for the Absolut Vodka Realness Ball. The looks:

  • Sexy “Unspookable” (?) swimwear
  • Executive Realness
  • Extravaganza Eleganza Evening Wear

As an added quirk, each queen has to emulate one of Absolut’s fruit flavors. That’s better product integration than Project Runway‘s “sell yogurt, get adjectives from the customers, then play carnival games to get your fabric and materials” (that really happened).

Bebe, who was lost even before she was assigned the particularly challenging raspberry flavor, ended up winning the challenge. Nina was a close second, leaving Rebecca and Shannel to battle it out for the last spot in the Drag Race finale. However, during her critique, Shannel said she didn’t want to be on the show anymore because the judges weren’t telling her she was pretty enough. RuPaul granted Shannel’s wish after the Lip Sync for Your Life.

Although a bit of a let down from the last two episodes, there was still some awesomeness to be found in this challenge.

Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. This week’s mini-challenge—the only one ever to take place on the Mainstage—had the four queens competing in a Vogue-off. If that seems a little random, here is some herstory: Vogueing came into prominence in the New York Ball scene and entered the mainstream thanks to the documentary Paris is Burning (which is currently streaming on Netflix). The main challenge, specifically the Executive Realness portion, is straight (as it were) out of the movie. I am all about having a Vogue-off whenever and wherever, and challenge winner Nina Flowers did not disappoint. WERK, Loca!

Halloween’s over, gotta hide that candy. During the WalkthRu, Ru had a specific question for Rebecca after seeing her sheer, short dress: “How are you going to hide the candy?” Rebecca shrugs, and Pop-up Ru appears, brandishing some duct tape. Hehe.

Cuchi, Cuchi! I know campiness is supposed to be part-and-parcel with this community, but Charo doesn’t really register for me. Maybe if I were a few years older she would be in my sphere, but I have plenty of kitsch to fill that particular gap. Despite this, her guest appearance in this challenge was a nice breather for what was shaping up to be an intense challenge. Her warning that “spooning leads to forking” is sage advice, and the pop-up graphics included some interesting tidbits. To wit: Charo holds the record for most Love Boat guest appearances and “Cuchi, Cuchi!” is a reference to a childhood pet.

Miss Mandarin chianti and some fava beans. Each presentation on the runway featured an interview question or response. In the swimsuit portion, each queen had to announce their assigned fruit and give a little pageant wave. Shannel tried to get all sexy by introducing herself as Miss Mandarin. She was 98% of the way there, then did the Hannibal Lecter slurp thing, apropos of nothing. Merle Ginsberg and Absolut’s Image Czar Jeffrey Moran were demonstrably squicked out.

UNAIRED AWESOMENESS: “HOW DARE YOU?!” I mentioned this back in the rundown for episode one, and the time has come for me to lip synch for my life explain my theory. I don’t think Logo had anticipated how big this show was going to be. The shoestring budget and production values alone show how they probably thought this was going to be a one-off thing and not a pop culture phenomenon. As a result, the characters of Ru and RuPaul as edited to that point have been nurturers, but with a firmness reminiscent of Mary Poppins. The only histrionics s/he had engaged in at that point was in the she-mail for the screen test challenge, but that was to convey what was expected in the challenge. The freakout, as portrayed in the clip in the first episode, would have been completely incongruous with the character(s) we had experienced up to this point. However, it is also quite possible that the clip was filmed as b-roll to be a red herring, but Shannel’s inelegant request to be eliminated would have been a genuine trigger for the reaction we saw. It is an excellent example of how editors are able to respond to fan reaction in creation of the final product.

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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