Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK the inaugural batch of queens well and truly knocked it out of the park, slaying the competition from start to finish. And, in my not-humble opinion, served up the best season of Drag Race since All Stars 2. Let’s just take time to remember the highlights – Scaredy Kat shat out her own head, Michelle thought The Vivienne was rocking a fake nose, much betta, the combination of Trump and Thatcher in Snatch Game, Frock Destroyers storming the charts, Sum Ting’s stamp look, Crystal grinding her garment, hodge podge, Gothy’s rawr, Cheryl’s iconic bottom spree and yes, yes, I know it was part of the Frock Destroyers, but DDC’s epic whistle tones.
While The Vivienne rightly took the crown, the entire cast won my heart. Meaning these new girls are either going to blow me away or … nope, good vibes only – they are going to blow us away. I can feel it in my Maxine Waters, by way of Monique Heart.
The parade of new queens kicked off with Scotland’s own Lawrence Chaney in all technicolour wonder, as iconic as the Loch Ness monster. She then likened herself to Susan Boyle and well, that’s enough to love her. Cherry Valentine almost knocked herself out as her headpiece smacked the doorway on her way in. Thankfully she slayed her second try and I love her and how funny she found her fuck-up. She has only done drag for 12 months and it is one of three jobs, including mental health nurse and she is the BEST. Tia Kofi was up next in cheetah glory and doesn’t care how she looks, she just wants to slay with the performances. They were joined by Bimini Bon Boulash in full Barbarella realness.
Oh and she is a vegan, which we were reminded of multiple times. Oh and she describes herself as super slutty and I love her. As did Lawrence, as she quickly adopted her.
Ginny Lemon was up next and was camp, crazy and full neon yellow and I love her and she needs to win. She is wacky, OTT and well, I think she and Baga would be best friends. Ellie Diamond was up next serving pastel pink babydoll realness, with Lawrence heartbroken to share the title of first Scottish queen in the competition. Oh and she makes everything she wears despite being a baby and I live. Could she be the UK Trixie? Sister Sister was next and flooded my basement out of drag and was camp, perfectly styled and I’m so excited for her. Tayce was next on the scene serving supermodel realness and given she lives for Cruella de Vil, I live for her like Ginny lives for her accent.
Next was Joe Black, clocking herself for being the second coming of Glenn Close before I had the chance and instantly, she has become my favourite. They were joined by Veronica Green who described herself as Goolum to glamourous and well, now she is my favourite. She is a super nerd out of drag – in a v hot way – and is stunning in and I need her to succeed at everything given she is so delightful. Next was Asttina Mandella serving tailored glamour before throwing down, telling everyone that she is the best dancer and can turn a lip sync. Rounding out the cast is A’Whora serving slutty Dorothy realness and I live for her look, despite Tia alluding to the fact that she is not well liked among the queens on the scene.
Their jubilant celebrations about making the cut were interrupted by Ru who arrived to announce that the first mini challenge of the season would see the girls pose in a glorious Wimbledon inspired photoshoot, serving Wimbled-hun realness. With the new and improved Pit Crew, much to the delight of sweet Veronica.
Lawrence was hoping to turn her lack of athletic prowess into a total serve, which she did, given her charm and penchant for the f-bomb. Tayce went full model eleganza, Bimini was a neon, slutty dream, Joe Black proved turbans are like hats by keeping hers on, Cherry Valentine was a smutty, moaning icon, Ellie Diamond begged for the balls and sold me on the fact she is Pearl and Trixie’s love child.
Ginny was an absolute bonkers delight, Asttina cared only about the photo and well, it turned out amazing, so it paid off. Veronica Green continued to work her way further into my heart and I want to adopt her because she is the damn sweetest. Sister Sister served Heathers realness, A’Whora was an ‘80s workout dream, Tia Kofi deserved the win for catching tennis balls in her wig before directing the Brit Crew to elevate her. Despite a dozen strong performances, it was Lawrence Chaney that ultimately took out victory. Looking an absolute mess, in her own words.
Before Ru departed he announced that for this week’s Maxi Challenge the queens would need to stomp the runway serving UK Gay Icon realness. Oh and then turn a second look, showcasing why they’re the queen of their hometown. With that the girls ran around chaotically to secure a workstation before de-dragging. Much to Tia’s delight. A’Whora quickly fangirled over Joe Black, talking about how much of an icon she is with Joe sharing she applied to challenge herself and show something different about her.
Meanwhile Lawrence still hadn’t taken off her make-up, admitting that she isn’t very confident as a boy and doesn’t feel conventionally beautiful and as such, was scared to show herself to the girls. Thankfully the queens reminded her that she is a charming, fun, beautiful delight and not to be hard on herself. And I love them all.
Elimination Day rolled around with everyone splitting up to get to work on their first looks before Bimini pointed out that Tayce and Asttina had both opted for Naomi Campbell for their UK Gay Icon. Though rather than having a fight, they spoke about the fact they didn’t have many people of colour to look up to growing up and as such, it is a nice statement for both of them to stick with it and hopefully become gay icons for the future generations. Talk turned to the looming elimination, with A’Whora speculating Asttina and Tia will likely be the first and damn, I love when a queen leans into being the villain. It is just such a joyful edge, so let’s hope it stays in this light and shady way.
On the Mainstage Ru, Michelle and Graham were joined by the stunning Elizabeth Hurley and urgh, I love her. For the gay icon runway, Joe Black served David Bowie realness and I loved everything she did. Asttina was glorious and stunning as runway Naomi, Ginny rocked Kate Bush and I love her before Tia Kofi swerved with an Alan Turning look and I love me a nerdy, history queen. Bimini was a sexy, punk Princess Julia, Lawrence honoured my lovely Diana Rigg – may she rest in peace – Cherry was a glorious Freddie Mercury, Veronica was adorable as Boy George in Boy George’s second hand shoes. Despite them not fitting. A’Whore was a messy Vivienne Westwould, Sister Sister was adorably chaste as Dusty Springfield, Ellie Diamond slayed as Lily Savage and Tayce also served as Naomi.
Though I do have to say, Asttina had the better look.
On the hometown runway, Joe Black’s Brighton look was meant to honour the pavilion though I couldn’t really see it. Asttina served East London streetwear – in the best way possible – while Ginny rocked Worcestershire Sauce realness in a mustard suit, Tia was stunning as Robin Hood realness, Bimini was amazing as a slutty football fan, Lawrence was a pop art wonder in ode to stained glasswork, Cherry was smoking as a train. Or a clock, I don’t know. Veronica Green wore a glorious red ball gown, A’Whora also went with Robin Hood realness in a stunning elfen number before Sister slayed as a scouse housewife running errands. And then Ellie Diamond was inspired by Dundee’s Dennis the Menace but looked like the hottest Freddy Kreuger ever, And then Tayce was literally a Welsh Dragon and I live.
Particularly when Liz Hurley quoted AUSTIN POWERS.
Ginny, Tia, Cherry, Veronica, A’Whora and Tayce were quickly deemed safe, leaving the tops and bottoms to find out how they did on their first try. While Joe Black looked stunning, the judges didn’t think that either of her looks were iconic enough to come through. Except for Liz who loves some history. Asttina received universal praise for everything she did and the judges look forward to seeing how she mixes it up next. They loved Bimini’s slutty Norwich look but felt her personality wasn’t coming through. Lawrence was universally beloved by the judges, with Michelle quickly identifying her as the one to watch. Sister’s Dusty look was deemed a little lacklustre and while Graham and Elizabeth loved her hometown look, Michelle thought it should have been bigger. Oh and then Ellie was praised for being beat to the gods and tailoring such glorious outfits.
Backstage Tayce was heartbroken to be safe, though was thrilled to not be in the bottom. A’Whora suggested that the group could have been the tops and bottoms with Tia asking who she would have put in the bottom, with her saying Tia and Asttina should have been in the bottom. Based on only entry looks, because Tia’s hair was thirsty. A’Whora read Asttina for wearing ASOS before Ginny pointed out that they’re just intimidated because she is fierce. The other girls joined them, with Joe talking about how heartbroken she is to be in the bottom and the fact they didn’t get her. The girls were shocked that Asttina was in the top, while Sister was annoyed to be in the bottom. Oh and Bimini was so anxious about lip syncing in ten inch heels, no underwear and arse out.
On the BEEEEEB.
Ultimately Lawrence Chaney was deemed safe as was Ellie Diamond, as Asttina Mandela took out victory – much to A’Whora’s shock, no doubt – while Sister Sister narrowly avoided the bottom two, leaving Joe and Bimini to battle it out to the iconic Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Both queens slayed the lip sync, getting every damn syllable and being true to their own style. But when Bimini did a headstand and started riding a bike, it was all over. As the sexy queen flooded Liz’s basement and saved herself, sending Joe from the competition.
Poor, poor Joe. While the cabaret legend was positively gutted to exit the competition first, she was thrilled to find her old pal slinking about in the Werk Room. As this little episode was filmed before the pandemic fully put 2020 on ice, I took her into my arms, held her by the face and told her how sickening she is. From about an inch away – isn’t that terrifying to think of doing now?
I first met Joe on the cabaret scene in the early aughts when I was pretending to be the real Sally Bowles. While she and everyone else saw through the very-obvious-in-retrospect lie, she kindly took me under her wing and made sure the others were kind to me. Did our friendship start with me playing the wounded bird act? You betcha, but thankfully the years since have gifted me with one of the most beautiful friendships I could hope for. And as such, I knew the only way to cheer her up was to whip up some Joe Black Olive Tapenade and toast her glorious, tragically short run.
A little bit tart and a whole lot tangy, tapenade may not be everyone’s favourite dip to have but it is a very important part of the classic Italian trio. And I personally love it and its ability to enhance even the most bland recipes. I want to say it is its umami-ness, but I’ve probs misunderstood that flavour because I’m not a masterchef.
Joe Black Olive Tapenade
180g kalamata olives, pitted
1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
3 anchovy fillets (I hate them too, but they’re necessary)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Now brace yourself, this one is really going to stress you out so make sure you read to the very end of the recipe before you begin.
Place everything in a food processor or blender and blitz until well combined. Serve immediately with crusty bread or transfer to a steralized jar for later.
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