RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13, Episode 6: Disco-Mentary
Disclaimer: These are my opinions! Drag Race can be a contentious topic of discussion among sectors of the fanbase. So let’s be cool, calm and collected, and enjoy opinions in levity. Support local drag, and the dolls in the cast.
The episode starts with a messy altercation between Kandy Muse and Tamisha Iman who had a heated Untucked last episode. The challenge this week is for the girls to dance their way through a Disco-Mentary about the life and times of Disco. On the runway category is Little Black Dress. Oliva Lux wins her very first challenge. Kandy and Tamisha land in the bottom and Tamisha sashays away, with class, and alluding to an inevitable All-Stars return.
The Mini, The Pairings & The Maxi…
The queens begin with having to make a quick dress with Spoonflower patterns in teams, which they must choose carefully! Gottmik rocks, but Tamisha and Elliott win this.
RuPaul announces this week’s challenge is a Rusical about the History of Disco or a Disco-Mentary! Where they will be covering The Birth of Disco, Disco & Sex, Studio 54, Disco Fashion, and the end of the genre with Disco Sucks! The queens must learn choreography by Miguel Zarate and embody the spirit of the genre.
Let’s Just Talk About Disco for a Moment
A dominating genre born in the 70s, it’s unsurprising that the bulk of RuPaul’s references come from this time in music. As stated in the episode, Disco is a blend of rhythm and blues, salsa, and funk, and its undeniable groove was started by Black, Latinx, and Queer creators, who took the genre to new heights across the world.
Disco moments that were alluded to are I Feel Love by Donna Summer, Upside Down by Diana Ross, Take Me Home by Cher, He’s The Greatest Dancer by Sister Sledge and most importantly, Sylvester’s Mighty Real as a beacon of queer expression and gay liberation.
Another reference was Studio 54, a club in NYC known at the time for being a mecca of culture, and the place-to-be to experience the heat of Disco. A Billboard Compilation from 2018 gives us a more concrete idea of the myth with a photo album showing surreal scenes: Bianca Jagger arriving on a white stallion, Andy Warhol chilling with Debbie Harry, and Grace Jones living her very best life.
Lastly, Disco Demolition Night (The Death of Disco) was an actual event which happened on July 12th 1979, in Chicago. This was the climax of the Disco Sucks movement, as a genre with deep roots in Black and Gay culture, its eradication was a response rooted in bigotry. To learn more about it visit The Night Disco Died by Zoe Jackson or a 1979 Rolling Stone Year Retrospective by Dave Marsh (riveting stuff, I know!)
In highlights for the Disco-Mentary, we had the unstoppable Tina Burner, being an absolute standout in her Birth of Disco segment. Her Disco Fringe Dress by Manuel de la Mora did not go unnoticed by the judges either, they ate her up this episode.
Also looking stunting was Elliott with Two Ts in her Gold Disco Jumpsuit, performing Disco & Sex, her movement vocabulary was visible and it was a sensual time. Rosé’s overall performance in Disco Fashion was very strong, and her Purple Jumpsuit was a Yas Qween. No one could take their eyes off Olivia Lux, however, performing the hell out of her Studio 54 section and wearing a Self-Made Sequin Red Dress and Blonde Afro.
She stole the show and perhaps overshadowed Utica Queen’s performance which received a lukewarm review that I personally disagreed with. Yes, she did look like a hippie art teacher having a camp time at the club, but that is how Utica would have been in the 70s!
Category Is… L.B.D. (Little Black Dress)
This week’s category relied on the queens for inventive interpretations if they wanted to impress, and we definitely got that with Utica Queen’s Earring Dress. Now, did the judges understand the concept right away? Mmm not really… but did it fulfil the runway category to a tea? Actually, maybe not to a tea. But did I live for the creativity and randomness, yes, absolutely, it might be my favourite look of the week.
Another highlight was Gottmik’s Literal Little Black Dress by Marco Marco (also responsible for Mik’s Body Bag Runway last week), barely covering her naked body, proudly featuring her top surgery, and paying homage to trans lives and their unapologetic visibility; yas.
Similarly, Symone’s Braided Black Bikini by the House of Avalon was a very creative ode to black culture, and inspiration for her hair came directly from RuPaul’s Back To My Roots video. Responsible for the hair recreation is Malcolm Marquez, who was also responsible for Tinashe’s Hair on my favourite album of hers, Songs For You.
Lastly, Kandy Muse’s Commes De Garçons Recreation by Pierretta Viktori, whose work with Sasha Velour haunts my dreams, is a nugget of references I would very much like to unpack: Starting in 2012 amidst tabloid chatter about her weight, Lady Gaga wore this design in response. Then, Aja wore a recreation of this dress for the premiere of Drag Race S9 in 2017, and painted on Kandy’s dress you’ll find a faint resemblance to Princess Diana’s Infamous ‘Revenge’ Dress, because, why not?
Lowlights of the Week
This week I thought Rosé had a high chance of winning until she came out in her Mitochondria Bress which was a no for me. Also, a no was LaLa Ris Very Fitted Black Top that she tried to pass for a dress, that was not it. And lastly, Tina Burner’s Fire Themed Little Black Dress, beautifully designed (by Florence D’ Lee) but not the riveting interpretation we were looking for.
Lip Sync… For Your Lifeee!
This week Kandy Muse and Tamisha Iman lip-synced to Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) by Blue Cantrell. Tamisha absolutely kept up with 49 years of age, wearing an ostomy bag in the process, but Kandy embodied the climax of the song with a fiery passion that in the end kept her in the competition. Sending fan-favourite and drag veteran Tamisha Iman, back home.
Werkroom Moment of Grace!
Oliva Lux briefly discussed her weight loss journey and her difficult years as a closeted teenager. Her story made her win a very satisfying end to the episode, and continues to reveal a very promising queen, hungry for her next win!
Quote of the Week
“ I’m grateful for the lady in my community that took a chance on me. That’s why I became who I am: the mother of the House of Iman. I always wanted to make it to Hollywood, I’m actually living my dream, who would’ve ever thought?”
– Tamisha Iman marking the impact an ally had, encouraging her talent for ‘flipping’. Reminding us all to be grateful for allies and be allies ourselves wherever possible.
Unseen Lewk of the Week!
I got to spotlight Kahmora Hall’s Little Back Dress, a 1920s stunner designed by Bob Mackie. Also, if you were left underwhelmed by Gottmik’s performance this challenge, she has put out a Disco-Mentary Redemption video, performing to Kylie Minogue’s Where Does the DJ Go? and looking amazing.
Images from Symone & Olivia Lux