RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13, Episode 3: Phenomenon
Disclaimer: This recap is made from a healthy mix of informed opinions and facts to be enjoyed as entertainment. Amidst a global pandemic, much like Drag Race, this article is here to bring much-needed light and levity into our lives. So, let’s begin!
At the beginning of the episode, the ‘losing team’ of the premiere lip syncs enter the Werk Room looking cute, ready to redeem themselves. Their main challenge is to write verses and perform choreography to RuPaul’s song Phenomenon. The runway category is Sheer, Tamisha Iman enchants, but Denali and Rose impress the most and get top two of the week. They lip-sync to If U Seek Amy by Britney Spears and Denali takes the cake!
Lady & The Vamp Runway Time (Again!)
We once again start with the Lady & the Vamp Mini Challenge! With the Queens serving a Daytime moment and a Night Time lewk.
There are a couple of highlights for the Daytime portion, admittedly Tamisha Iman and Kahmora Hall, who definitely served the category to a tea. Tamisha’s Joan Crawford-inspired number made an impression with its fuschia lace coat, as did 50s Christian Dior-inspired all-white coat dress by Domingo Cholula.
But Kahmora also impressed for her Night Time fashion! Wearing a very sultry, all-black vintage Mugler dress with a cross pendant, invoking the spirit of Madonna and really making up for the fact that she was late to the runway!
But if there was anyone who completely destroyed the runway both times, it was Rosé. Her Daytime dress was breathtaking pop art, inspired by Moschino Spring 2020 collection. It was designed by Casey Caldwell (also responsible for Jan’s iconic Buttons and Bows runway), and hand-painted by Lagoona Bloo (a fellow member of Rosé’s girl group Stephanie’s Child).
Rosé’s Night Time lewk, sigh, is a glorious Diego Montoya design, inspired by the McQueen Spring 2013 lampshade collection (fashion is wild). The level of craft and attention to detail was unparalleled, and whilst these weren’t easy lunch or dinner looks, we have real competition in Rosé.
Lastly, I want to shout-out Utica Queen for bringing herself to both looks, although not straight-forward favourites, her Edwardian Night Time look was curiously reminiscent of
of Rita Repulsa from the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, and so as a fantasy— I bought it.
Losing their lip syncs as soon as they arrived, these queens had something to prove and watching this performance it showed. The choreography was complicated, impressive and the verses were (for the most part) entertaining.
Denali had that athlete’s determination to win this challenge and her verse was the resounding rap standout of the night; kicks and splits included! Rosé sang her verse and it sounded stunning. Her dance costume was by Eddie Couture. (also featured in the last episode on Olivia Lux); it was pastel and on-brand and a lucky charm, two winners in a row? Overall a Much Betta performance than last week.
Category Is… We’re Here. We’re Sheer. Get Used To It.
Do we have highlights tonight! Let’s start with my favourite, Tamisha Iman wearing a sheer gold gown, self-made, and walking a red carpet coming near you any minute! (pandemic be damned but you know, post-pandemic).
Another big standout was Kahmora Hall, giving that signature Mackie-inspired look, specifically referencing 1974 Met Gala Cher, and wearing kilos of blonde hair to compensate for an understated performance in the challenge.
Rosé’s sheer outfit was almost called ‘crafty’ by Ross, a critique that has been stamped out by fans for being classist and, a lot of times, racist. Read Connor Garel’s Buzzfeed Piece for proper context, but to summarise: To call art ‘crafty’ is to call it ‘cheap’, and the cost of material should not be part of a constructive critique when discussing art (shout out to Shea Coulee’s ‘crafty’ Metamorphosis Look, it was fierce, and it deserved better). Back to the garment though! Beautiful, not a fan of the toned-down colour loofahs, but well-crafted and a definite highlight.
Lastly, another personal highlight was Utica Queen’s Stevie Nicks-inspired fantasy. She described it as a watercolour coming down the runway and I couldn’t have agreed more! Is it as polished and straightforwardly beautiful as the others, perhaps not! But her style is a great palette cleanser from everybody else, and it is much needed.
Lowlights of the Week
Trixie and Katya often talk about how one’s own perception of how drag queens should look says a lot about what we think a woman should look like.
So in that spirit, I will, conscious of my bias, be putting Joey Jay’s non-wig wearing head as a lowlight. Listen! His explanation for why he doesn’t wear wigs (not feeling like himself, etc) was heart-warming and super valid. But having a signature style you don’t deviate from is a huge Drag Race pet peeve, variety is the name of the game! So, hopefully, he’ll be diversifying before he can get the boot.
Lip Sync… For Your Lifeee!
This week’s song was If U Seek Amy by Britney Spears (bop!) from her 2008 album Circus, and the Top 2 were Denali and Rosé. Denali served dance, voguing, splits, several other fierce adjectives, whereas Rosé performed the song more literally, leaning on her comedy chops. In the end, Denali redeemed herself by winning the lip sync, the challenge and a $5000 tip!
Werkroom Moment of Grace!
Kahmora Hall made herstory by being called out by producers while still getting ready. There is nothing more embarrassing than hearing “we need Kahmora on stage immediately” through huge speakerphones. That got my sympathy, bless her.
An alternative moment was when Joey Jay was asked by the group what he was planning to do for his verse he confidently said “I’m not a singer or a rapper, but I am gay” and that spoke to me on a deep level. So, wig or no wig, that was funny.
Quote of the Week
“ You look rich. I would rob you in a heartbeat. I would take everything off of you. You are beautiful!”
– Nicole Byer being endearing + encouraging judging Kahmora Hall’s runway
Unseen Lewks of the Week
Sharing their unseen Sheer runway presentations this week we have Elliott with Two Ts, looking stunning in a dress by Calvi Marquez Jr, and Tina Burner’s Hades-inspired look designed by Florence D’ Lee and built by David Dalrymple.