Headlines would have you believe that the world at present is a terrible place — and they’re not wrong.
But in the small, wonderful corner of the world that is RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7, where TV icon Vanna White gets to marvel at a parade of top-tier drag queens channeling her legendary looks, all feels right. If even just for an hour.
That exact scenario just so happens to play out in the season’s third episode, now streaming on Paramount+, in which RuPaul throws an epic “Realness of Fortune Ball.” (The name feels like a bit of a stretch, but far be it for me to question Ru’s commitment to camp.)
The gag? The queens have no idea that Wheel of Fortune star is awaiting them at the end of the runway for the ball’s first category: “Vanna White Realness.” The queens’ genuine reactions to seeing TV’s preeminent letter turner in person make for a major highlight of the episode. (Trinity the Tuck’s instinctual scream is my personal favorite.)
And this all-winners cast doesn’t disappoint. Aside from Yvie Oddly, who hits the runway in a giant red wig for some reason, most of the queens successfully capture White’s essence. But only two queens would make Pat Sajak do a double take, and those queens are Trinity and Raja. I mean, come on…
White sticks around as the ball’s emcee, announcing the second Wheel of Fortune-themed category: “Before and After.” And some of these queens really outdo themselves. Jinkx Monsoon as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (Fonda)? Brilliant! Yvie as Cardi B(ea Arthur)? Inspired! The Vivienne as Princess Diana (Ross)? Unhinged!
The final category (“Realness of Fortune Eleganza”) tests the group’s sewing ability, which is always risky business. But much to my surprise, all eight queens — even Monét X Change, who admits that she hasn’t sewn anything since cursing the Drag Race zeitgeist with her infamous sponge dress — pull together solid looks. Stand-outs include Jaida Essence Hall’s “sickening dark superhero,” Trinity’s red latex masterpiece and Raja’s unspeakably stunning gold gown.
Trinity and Jaida are announced as this week’s top queens, each nabbing a Legendary Legend Star before facing off to the tune of Beyoncé’s “Green Light.” Both lip sync assassins play to their strengths; Trinity finds every possible opportunity for a joke, keeping the judges laughing with her comedic interpretation of the song, while Jaida commands the stage by channeling her inner Queen B.
Jaida takes the win, though she’s less excited about what comes next. “I don’t want to think too hard about strategy because I’ll confuse myself, that’s a real fact,” she says while deciding which queen deserves her Platinum Plunger. “That said, if I gotta block a bitch, I’ll do it,” she adds, passing the sparkly curse to Jinkx.
For everybody keeping score at home, here’s where the queens now stand…
Jaida Essence Hall: 1 star
Jinkx Monsoon: 1 star
Monét X Change: 1 star
Raja: 0 stars
Shea Couleé: 1 star
The Vivienne: 0 stars
Trinity the Tuck: 1 star
Yvie Oddly: 0 stars
Your thoughts on this week’s Vanna White Party? Drop ’em in a comment below.