You know that moment when you see a friend or family member for the first time in a few years and you struggle to recognise them because it’s been such a long time, and you can’t tell if they have had significant work done or changed hairstyle etc. That’s how I felt watching the first episode of this season of Ru Paul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race! There are a few similarities between season one and season two which helped me regain my excitement for the show but there are many, many differences. In fact, I think that season one and season two could have functioned as two completely separate spin-offs – the former being a celebrity drag race and the latter being a secret celebrity drag race, so that there can be even more phases into the Ru-universe (the Ru Paul universe.) The new format of Ru Paul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, which was introduced in the last episode, sees an almost Masked Singer-style twist with a greater focus on the performative side of drag! Where the nine mystery celebrities are given a drag makeover, with mentoring from three of the most successful Ru-girls to ever appear in the show and must each perform a lip-sync, with the two worst performing queens having to battle against each other. Whichever queen is selected to go home from these two must then Ru-veal their identity from outside the show – which is exactly what happened at the end of the last episode with Fabulosity being exposed as none other than Loretta Devine! On the other end of the competition was the brand new queen “Poppy Love,” who was declared as the winner of the entire episode.
In my review of the last episode, I commented on the lack of a cohesive theme that ties all the performances together. In this episode, they used the vague and broad category of “dance” where each of the performers had to showcase their dancing skills. I was really shocked that no one opted for the song Vogue by Madonna as it is an iconic song that is linked to drag (and would have us bonus points for Michelle due to her doing this number during her time on Strictly). But if I was on this show then I think I would have chosen the iconic Singing in the Rain/Umbrella mash-up made famous by Tom Holland in that iconic Lip-Sync Battle episode. This choice would have allowed me to showcase my limited tap skills, includes an outfit reveal and would have been a spectacle to watch! The episode itself re-introduced to the queen supremes Jujubee, Money X-Change and, most interestingly for this episode, Brook-Lyn Hytes (who is in fact a trained dancer). I have to admit that I don’t quite fully understand the purpose of these mentors as each performer is allocated to one of these queens which are mentioned infrequently throughout the episode. It doesn’t quite instil the “team warfare” that shows such as The Voice create in their shows and at times I do find myself forgetting which celebrity is working with which queen, which is not ideal.
Despite saying that I would attempt one of the greatest showcases that I have ever seen on TV, I am not actually a great dancer so I know that I would personally struggle with the theme this week and I also feared that Jackie Would might also struggle, as last week the judges commented in how the personality is extremely entertaining but the choreography required a lot more work. My pick to win the entire competition, Chic-Li-Fay opened the show with her performance of On the Floor by J-Lo where she showcased how great a dancer she really is! It is very clear that whoever is behind the make-up (which I think is becoming more and more obvious week by week) is a trained dancer in their day-to-day life which they are using to their advantage in every performance… so this week’s category really worked to her advantage! Next up was Thirsty Von Trap, who delivered a high-energy performance of the Dua Lipa song Physical which is a big song to take on considering it was recently performed by Laganja Estranja on All Stars six. This iconic performance has been deemed by some as one of the greatest lip-sync performances in Drag Race herstory so Thirsty has added pressure for her performance. However Thirsty seemed unfazed by this added pressure as she gave a wonderful performance that clearly wowed the audience! My favourite performance this week would have to be Millie Von Sunshine who also did a performance of a song that was already iconically performed on All Stars. She decided to do “Dancing on My Own” with was originally done by Jujubee (one of the queen supremes on this show) during the first season of Drag Race All Stars. Debatably, I think I actually prefer Millie’s comedy-infused performance which told the story of her husband who to be left her for a man! This hilarious and entertaining number held a focus in storytelling as she went through a series of emotions while dealing with the loss of a relationship but I also really enjoyed the nod to Elvis with her choice of outfit!
Jackie Would finally graced the stage and promised an extremely energetic and fun performance of Pump up the Jam by Technotronic. The retro aerobics dance class-infused number was extremely entertaining to watch but, as expected, she struggled with the more dance-heavy sections of the number. I do have to say however that it is clear that Jackie is having so much fun performing in drag! When the time came for last week’s winner Poppy Love to grace the Secret Celebrity Drag Race stage the bar was already set extremely high after last week’s performance. She is clearly the most talented dancer of the group with her performance of Show Me How to Burlesque from the movie starring Christina Aguilera and Cher. This performance was fantastic to watch and could have easily been done by someone who has done drag for many, many years! At this point in the competition, I think the top two is a close race between Poppy and Chic-Li-Fay, as so far their performances have always been incredible to watch. This is why I thought it made total sense when Poppy was announced as the winner of this week’s episode! At the bottom, however, was Electra Owl and (at a complete shock to me) Thirsty Von trap – who had to battle against one another to the song Shut up and Drive by Rihanna. This song had also previously been done on All Stars when Alyssa Edwards and Tatiana battle to return to All Stars two, which people also argue is one of the greatest lip-syncs in drag race herstory! Thirsty chose to do a very sensual and fluid performance to this song so I thought it made total sense when it was announced she would stay and Electra Owl was told to sashay away. Before she left however she was forced to reveal who she was behind the drag was none other than singer and songwriter Taylor Dayne!
Overall, episode two of Ru Paul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race did have a much more coherent theme that tied all the performances together! Both Poppy and Chic-Li-Fay showcased their incredible dance talents and cemented their place at the top of the competition even this early in the season. I do want to ask where we can sign up for tickets to be in the next season as I think this would be an experience I would love to be a part of!