Draped in his finest Phantom of the Opera eleganza, RuPaul crowned the first-ever virtual Drag Race winner on Friday.
After welcoming all 12 non-disqualified queens to the “stage,” the 90-minute event began with a montage of messages from the show’s celebrity pals, all grateful to Drag Race for giving them an escape during these trying times. “Being in quarantine was nuts, and it really helped to watch a lot of nuts,” Adam Lambert said. Other familiar faces included Whoopi Goldberg to Rachel Bloom, the latter of whom had this to say: “Ru, thank you for this excuse to get dolled up for the first time since giving birth about six weeks ago — and for the excuse to show off my pornographically large breasts, which are filled with milk.” (This feels like a good time to remind everyone about the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song “Heavy Boobs.” Click here to enjoy it, and have fun down that YouTube rabbit hole!)
Next came a series of one-on-one interviews between Ru and this season’s final three queens: Crystal Methyd (in Springfield, Mo.), Gigi Goode (in Los Angeles, Calif.) and Jaida Essence Hall (in Milwaukee, Wis.), giving each of them one last chance to reflect on their experiences throughout the competition. We also got to spend some quality time with their family members, including Jaida’s hot brother and Crystal’s glamorous mom…’s boobs. (“She’s always got those girls out. I mean, she paid good money for ’em!”)
This was followed by an emotional tribute to Jacqueline Wilson, a legendary Drag Race co-executive producer who passed away in late 2019. Countless queens from seasons past — including Monet X Change, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Peppermint, Sasha Velour, Bob the Drag Queen, Scarlet O’Hara, Latrice Royale, Adore Delano and Alyssa Edwards — poured their hearts out, sharing fond memories of their experience working with the Emmy Award-winning producer.
Then came the first lip sync of the night: a three-way battle to the tune of RuPaul’s “Bring Back My Girls,” with only the queens’ faces at their disposal. And all three queens indeed gave good face, to the point where I really couldn’t possibly choose a winner. Were I forced to pick, I might give it to Jaida, if only because she exhibited better spacial awareness than her competitors.
The second round of lip syncs, however, was another matter. Crystal was the clear winner there, spinning a full mother-child narrative by way of Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird.” The makeup was impeccable, the puppetry was amazing, and I honestly don’t think anything during quarantine has made me laugh as hard. Guys, we watched Crystal regurgitate food into her own mouth. That alone should have earned her the crown. Just watch:
That said, Gigi and Jaida also turned it out when it came their time to shine. Gigi transported us into a black-and-white wonderland, recreating A-ha’s iconic “Take On Me” video with moves and looks to spare (click here to watch!), while Jaida turned her living room into her own personal club, dancing the frack out of Ciara and Chamillionaire’s “Get Up.” (Click here to watch!)
Even after drinking in all three performances, RuPaul still needed to see more. Rather than eliminating one of the finalists, Ru announced that all three would proceed to the final lip sync, a “cross-country battle royale” set to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” Gasp!
But first, it was time to hand out a slightly smaller (but no less dignified!) crown. Nina West made a special appearance — along with Dolly Parton, who may or may not just be Leslie Jordan in a wig — to crown this season’s Miss Congeniality… Heidi N Closet! (Anyone surprised? No? Cool.)
Then. It. Was. Time. A toilet-scrubbing Yvie Oddly crashed the party to cue up the final lip sync battle of Season 12, the one that would ultimately determine whether Crystal, Gigi or Jaida would walk away — er, stay at home — a winner. As Ru explained, each of the three finalists were sent the same stage dressing and technical equipment to level the playing field.
And what a battle it was. Gigi got things started immediately with an air violin intro, then got jaws dropping with a mid-performance costume change, fully transforming into Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She even managed to seamlessly swap out her boots for a pair of ruby slippers. Honestly, I feel like there was some witchcraft afoot. Jaida also gave us a Ru-veal, ditching her big cape for a sexy bodysuit midway through the battle. She was easily the most physical of the three performers, pulling out every trick in the book for a truly show-stopping display. As for Crystal, I feel like she was (and I hate to use this phrase) a little out of her league. Sure, she won her last lip sync face-off, but that was against Jackie Cox, not this savage twosome. I maintain that Crystal gave us the best solo lip sync, but after this three-way melee, I didn’t have high hopes for her victory.
And the winner is… Jaida Essence Hall! Did you see that coming? Vote in our polls below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on tonight’s results.