Just when you thought Willow Pill’s Enya-themed bubble bath was the weirdest thing Drag Race would give us in 2022, along came Tuesday’s premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Vs. the World to make us hold its beer while it pelted us with deli meat. (But more on that later.)
The franchise’s long-awaited first international edition kicked off in spectacular fashion, with three of Drag Race UK‘s finest taking the stage to represent the United Queendom. Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea and Cheryl Hole — all standouts from Season 1 — were buzzing with excitement as they prepared for their Ru-match, and the competition only got fiercer from there. Enter Janey Jacké, the show’s lone representative of Drag Race Holland, who brought enough beauty to power every last windmill in the Netherlands. (That’s what powers windmills, right? Beauty? OK, just checking.)
Canada also came to slay, with Jimbo the “big-titted drag clown” making an unforgettable entrance that included flying food. (“That was a cheese and ham toasty she just threw at me!”) Food became a running theme in Jimbo’s strategy this week, but again, we’ll get to that later. And speaking of food, Lemon proudly showed off her post-Drag Race glow-up, from the tip of her gorgeous mug to the bottom of her very expensive shoes. Color me impressed.
Another queen strutting solo is Drag Race Thailand host Pangina Heals, who’s also experiencing life as a contestant for the first time. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from looking at her; the seasoned professional had all the queens gagging before they even saw her face.
Then came the Americans, at which point the show’s entire mood shifted… and not necessarily for the better. As much as I love Monique Heart (the “ooh-ah-ah” sensation is real!) and Jujubee (fourth time’s the charm!), the good-natured banter began to feel a little less good-natured when they showed up. Monique was reading Cheryl’s leotard for filth within two minutes of arriving, while Jujubee waited until they were alone to hate on Baga’s black bra/white dress combo. (Meanwhile, no comment on her own aunt-of-the-bride entrance look?)
With all nine queen-testants at last assembled, it was time for this week’s maxi challenge: another talent show! As expected, most of the queens lip synced or “sang” to their own original tracks, but few were memorable — save for Lemon’s insanely high fall into a split, Pangina’s high-speed whacking, and Blu’s one-woman cheer squad (one of whom was definitely drunk).
The judges seemed to love Baga’s “Much Betta” performance, but I don’t get the appeal. And as for Jujubee’s song, I have to side with Jimbo: “I would put my lighter in the air for that… and then I would put it right at the bottom of that dress.” (Besides, after being booted first from Queen of the Universe, why give us another ballad? Isn’t doing the same thing with the expectation of different results the very definition of insanity?)
As previously referenced, the real showstopper this week was Jimbo, who had my attention from the second she appeared on stage in a full-body white latex suit. The manic screaming, the empty “talent” suitcase, the overall clownery — it was all very Jimbo, and it was all very wonderful. With that apparent baby bump, I figured Jimbo would give birth to something on stage, but I didn’t have the forethought to choose “slices of ham” in our office pool. Yet that’s exactly what she did, and the judges ate it up. Hell, RuPaul was so giddy after catching a flying slice, I thought she’d taken another “coffee enema.”
The season’s first runway theme (“I’m a Winner, Baby!”) gave the queens a chance to cosplay as champions. Lemon stayed true to her motif in a yellow and gold pageant gown, Monique paid tribute to her African heritage in a regal green ensemble, Janey hit the stage dripping in red crystals, Baga gave us her version of the Oscar statue, and Jimbo served “evil chess piece realness” in a black-and-white bondage dress.
Cheryl slapped two big star-shaped cutouts on a white dress and called it a day, Jujubee looked lovely in a glittery purple gown (which paled in comparison to the actual finale look she served in All Stars 5), Pangina unleashed her inner goddess with a Thai-inspired feast for the eyes, and Blu became a “BDSM Troll doll that just had sex with a highlighter pen.” Because why not.
With an assist from extra-special guest judge Melanie C., the judges selected Jimbo and Pangina as this week’s top two, while Lemon and Janey found themselves on the chopping block. Personally, I would have sent Lemon to safety and replaced her with Cheryl or Jujubee, but that’s just me.
After hearing what Lemon and Janey had to say for themselves, Jimbo and Pangina faced off to the tune of — what else — The Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There.” Poor Jimbo could barely move in that enormous dress, and even when she removed the bulk of it, she remained slightly limited by her ludicrously high heels. Did she purposely trip over Pangina? Who’s to say. All I know is that Pangina turned it out and absolutely deserved her big win.
But with great power comes great Ru-sponsibility, and Pangina was forced to choose… Lemon. “I’m honored to have even been here,” the Canadian queen said before sashaying away. “I’m a little shook up, but thank you.” (Uh, that makes two of us!)
As Lemon walked to the back of the stage, Jimbo told her, “I’m so sorry. I wish I was a better dancer,” implying that Jimbo would have saved her Canadian sister and sent home Janey.
Did you agree with the first elimination? And which queens are you rooting for, now that you’ve gotten reacquainted? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your full Ru-view.
New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Vs. the World premiere Stateside on WOW Presents Plus every Tuesday at 4/3c, day-and-date with the show’s BBC airing.